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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 13, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> sreenivasan: and i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: on the newshour tonight, president-elect trump taps exxon mobil executive rex tillerson for secretary of state, raising concerns even among republicans about the pick's past connections to russia. >> sreenivasan: also ahead this tuesday, a nightmare continues: the syrian government's deadly takeover of the war-ravaged city of aleppo. >> woodruff: and, an artist's take on how to look at art, offering a simple way to enjoy a museum. >> it's a kind of conversation that we're having with each other, so it might sound >> sreenivasan: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> woodruff: another big seat is filled in the trump cabinet-to- be, and it sets up a potential confirmation fight. the president-elect's transition team confirmed this morning that a top oil executive is the choice for secretary of state. after days of speculation, official word of the rex tillerson pick came before sunrise, followed by praise from the vice president-elect: >> we just could not be more grateful that someone of rex tillerson's proven leadership and accomplishments is willing to step forward to serve our nation as next secretary of state. >> woodruff: tillerson, a native texan, is currently c.e.o. of oil giant exxon mobil, among the world's largest publicly traded companies. he rose through the ranks over four decades, and as chief executive, he's expanded exxon mobil's business overseas, including its operations in russia.
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in a 2013 interview with charlie rose for cbs news, tillerson made clear his company will go wherever there's oil. >> my philosophy is to make money. ( laughs ) so if i can drill and make money, then that's what i want to do. but it really is, for us, about making quality investments for shareholders. >> woodruff: to that end, exxon mobil began working closely with the russian state-owned oil giant, "rosneft." that, in turn, brought tillerson into close contact with russian president vladimir putin. since then, he's received the russian "order of friendship," and he's said he opposes u.s. and european sanctions against russia over its intervention in ukraine. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell today highlighted tillerson's experience, and said he looks forward to supporting his nomination, but the top democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, ben cardin,
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said he is "deeply troubled" by tillerson's vocal opposition to sanctions on russia, and republican senator marco rubio voiced "serious concerns" about the planned nomination. there's also word that another texan-- former governor rick perry-- could be tapped to be energy secretary. but the transition at energy could be rocky: the department said today it will not provide the names of employees who've worked on climate change, as the trump transition team requested. there are also reports that montana congressman ryan zinke could be tapped for interior secretary. meanwhile, president obama criticized mr. trump's lack of interest in receiving a daily intelligence briefing. he spoke last night on the "daily show:" >> it doesn't matter how smart you are, you have to have the best information possible to make the best decisions possible.
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and if you're not getting their perspective, their detailed perspective, then you are flying blind. >> woodruff: back at trump tower today, the president-elect met with microsoft billionaire bill gates: >> we had a great conversation, about innovation. >> woodruff: others he met with: pro-football greats jim brown and ray lewis, and entertainer kanye west. tonight, mr. trump is making the latest stop on what he's calling his "thank you" tour, this time in wisconsin. >> sreenivasan: back in this country, the environmental protection agency released a long-awaited report on the effects of "hydraulic fracturing," or fracking, on drinking water. it found the oil and gas drilling technique can contaminate underground water in some cases. at the same time, it said there is not evidence to estimate the severity of the risk. the report dropped an earlier finding that fracking has not caused "widespread, systemic" harm to water supplies.
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>> woodruff: ohio's republican governor john kasich has vetoed a closely watched anti-abortion bill. he rejected a measure today that banned abortion once the first fetal heartbeat is detected. he said federal courts have already struck down similar laws elsewhere. kasich, however, signed a separate bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. seventeen states already have similar laws. >> sreenivasan: president obama today signed a sweeping law with new spending on cancer research and drug abuse. the "21st century cures act" provides more than $6 billion. it also streamlines the process for approving drugs and medical devices. mr. obama spoke before signing the bill, at a white house ceremony with lawmakers and vice president biden. >> we are bringing to reality the possibility of new breakthroughs to some of the greatest health challenges of our time. i'm confident that it will lead to better years and better lives for millions of americans, the work that you've done. that's what we got sent here
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for. >> sreenivasan: the new law also includes funding for mental health. we'll explore that, later in the program. >> woodruff: in russia, opposition political leader alexei navalny announced he will run for president in 2018. the anti-corruption activist hopes to put pressure on president vladimir putin, who is expected to seek a fourth term. navalny is currently on trial for fraud, in a case he says is politically motivated. if he is convicted, he would be barred from running. >> sreenivasan: a railway strike across southern england today caused the worst railway disruption in 20 years. it is part of a long-standing dispute over whether train drivers or on-board guards should close train doors. the drivers went on strike today for 48 hours, leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded or delayed-- and angry, but union officials defended their stance. >> it's a safety issue. the reality for us is that the increasing level of trains, the increasing amount of footfall in the 21st century, we don't believe that the technology or
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the make do and mend of our victorian infrastructure lends itself to a one-man operation. >> sreenivasan: the government blamed the unions for the impasse. the railway owner announced new talks for tomorrow. >> woodruff: another day, another rally on wall street. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 114 points to close at a record 19,911. the nasdaq rose 51, and the s&p 500 added 14. >> sreenivasan: and, the oldest person in america is another year older-- but don't tell her that. adele dunlap of pittstown, new jersey turned 114 yesterday. she said she is 105, but her family said she always shaves about a decade off her age. either way, people at her nursing home gave her balloons and sang "happy birthday." still to come on the newshour: how exxon's c.e.o. could shape foreign policy as secretary of state; syrians facing an onslaught from government forces in aleppo, record their final goodbyes; where american
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students rank compared to their peers around the globe, and much more. >> woodruff: it's a post first officially held by thomas jefferson: the secretary of state is america's top diplomat. today, president-elect trump tapped the c.e.o. of the world's largest publicly-traded oil and gas company for the job. so who is rex tillerson, and what does the pick tell us about the trump agenda? we're joined now by john hamre he is the president and c.e.o. of the center for strategic and international studies, a thank tank in washington, d.c. where tillerson is a member of the board of trustees. he served as deputy secretary of defense during the clinton administration; nicholas burns was a career diplomat and former u.s. ambassador to nato. he's now a professor at harvard
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university; and steve coll is the author "private empire: exxon mobil and american power." he's also a staff writer for the "new yorker" magazine, and the dean of the journalism school at columbia university. welcome all three of you back to the program. steve coll, to you first, you wrote in "the new yorker" this weekend, that mr. tillerson's life, you said has been shaped by to institutions, the boy scouts and exxonmobile, a company you describe as ruthless and unusually aggressive. is that a contradiction? >> no. i think he comes from the standard oil tradition of ruthless business competition rooted in strong-- strong values and a kind of adherence to the rule of law, modeled by john d. rockefeller, the original founder of standard oil. i think the most important part of his career is that it's all been at one place, 40 years at
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exxonmobile. now that he's been nominated for secretary of state, we really don't have any record of his views about america's place in the world. we only have a record of his views about exxonmobile's place in the world, which is different, i hope. so there's a whole series of questions now in front of us-- what does he think about promoting human rights? what does he think about promoting democracy? is he worried about russia's influence in europe? these are not questions that he's had to address, and that makes him a very unusual nominee for secretary. typically, even nominees who have come and gone from industry have built up a record of views about these fundamental questions of foreign policy. >> woodruff: john hambre, as we said, you know rex tillerson having served on your board at the center for strategic and international studies, what is your understanding of his view of the united states' role in the world? >> i have known rex well. i've known him for 11 years. he's been a very active member of our board. he's-- he's always engaged
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substantively in our discussions when foreign policy. he's remarkabl remarkably insig. he has more experience as a "keanu" than most political political figures in washington. he's able to lead conversations in front of some of the most impressive people in our history and foreign policy, people like henry kissinger and zibrin ski. he fits squarely in american realism, a pragmatic, centrist realism. he sees the leadership of america as shaping a better world. he's actively-- believes strongly in american values, due process, rule of law. but he's also very pragmatic. he wants to know what other people thinks. he listens carefully. that's one of the most important qualities, he listens so well. so you're going to find a very fine secretary in rex tillerson.
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>> woodruff: nicholas burns, based on what you know of rex tillerson, what do you know and what are your concerns? >> woman, he'sab impressive man my all accounts. he's rub our largest corporations. he has had international experience. he was endorsed today publicly, by former secretary of defense bob gates, forme society condi rice. i admire both of those people. but, judy, i think there will be a real challenge to his nomination, and that's his closeness to the russian regime and what he's been saying about russian policy. and i think the backdrop to his senate confirmation will be the extraordinary statements made by donald trump during the campaign. i don't think we've had in 70 years a presidential candidate, and now a president-elect, so accommodating to russia. no criticism by donald trump about russia's illegal annexation of crimea. no criticism about russia's
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division of the ukraine. no criticism of russia's harassment of our nato allies, poland and the baltic states. and no criticism of this barbaric russian bombing of the civilian population of aleppo. a lot of people feel we should be containing putin, and there's a great concern that donald trump and general flynn, the new national security adviser, and perhaps mr. tillerson-- we don't know yet. he has a right to speak on behalf of his own views-- that this administration will be too tilted to make excuses for putin. we might have a weak policy. that's where i think the senators are going to noax foex in january. >> woodruff: well, it's hard to know what donald trump believes, but, steve coll, based on your reporting of rex tillerson and exxonmobile, what do you see as his attitude towards russia? we know he's grown close to vladimir putin. he's received an award from him. >> well, he's been an effective negotiator on behalf of the shareholders of exxonmobile, but now he's being asked to think
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about russia it in an entirely different way, and i agree completely with ambassador burns' critique. this is a very dangerous moment in europe, and part of the reason is because piewten has been pushing the bound reas of western pol trance. also, trump's election is part of a wave of populism and the strengthening of authoritarian regimes around the world that is really going to challenge the united states and its values. i worry about russia. i also worry about the global human rights movement. you know, right around the world today, there are human rights activists, democracy activist, civil society activists that have traditionally relied on the secretary of state's voice speaking up for them when they're under pressure, and the state department pushes a lot of funding, including into authoritarian regimes, to support this kind of activity, human rights research and democracy organizations. so where is mr. tillerson on these issues? i have no idea. he has spent 40 years managing exxonmobile's place in the world, and it will be very
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important to hear him speak forthrightly, because he's now, after the president, going to be the most important voice on behalf of american values in the world. >> woodruff: john hambre, you describe as rex tillerson as a centrist. what do you know about him that would assuage some of these concerns, first about russia? >> well, i-- i agree with what both nick and steve have said that we face a very challenging time with russia. boy, that's why i'm so glad that rex is there because he knows them so well. i mean, knowing someone and agreeing with someone are two completely different things. rex does know russia very well. he knows president putin very well. he knows the dynamics within russia very well. of course, he's going to have to lay out his thinking during his nomination hearing. i'm not at all worried rex is going to stand up for america and american values. >> woodruff: nicholas burns i want to ask you to respond to that but also move on to iran, because there have been questions raised about what rex tillerson would do with regard
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to u.s. posture toward iran, and the nuclear-- the nuclear deal. >> well, i do agree with john that rex tillerson's track record is very encouraging as a centrist, as a pragmatic person, and as a real leader of a big, complex organization. i think those are all in good stead. my questions aren't about him. they're about the president-elect, and his extraordinary statements. and, judy, on iran, donald trump has been saying this is the-- the nuclear deal that president obama negotiated-- is the worst deal in the history of the world. it's going to be very difficult for a trump administration to disengage the united states from the nuclear deal because if we do that, i'm convinced that germany, france, and britain will not walk out with us. they want to see this deal through, and if we walk out, then, of course, iran would already have received sanctions relief, but iran then could walk away on its own and go back to resuming the nuclear program. i think that's a very bad outcome can, and i think a smart decision-- and you'll have
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pragmatic people like general mattis at defense and rex tillerson at state to tell the president-elect that a smart decision is going to be to stay with the nuclear deal, but try to limit iranian behavior in the sunni world, and support those countries that are victims of iranian aggression. >> woodruff: steve coll, quickly, is there something you can shed-- that would shed light on rex tillerson and his posture toward iran from your reporting? >> well, he has been realistic in seeking stability in the middle east. he has advocated for a world that is managed, rather than disrupted. he is skeptical about sanctions, though his allies have clarified in the last few days that he's more worried about enforcing them than imposing them, but they are a very important instrument of american foreign policy that he has often advocated against. now in his public role he may have to clarify his views about that. >> woodruff: quickly, again,
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john hambre, and just finely, if we look to russ tiller ston-- i'm sorry rex tillerson-- in u.s. policy towards iran, to russia overall, what should america think? is this a man who will do exactly what donald trump wants, or will he speak up with donald trump when he disagrees with him? >> well, i have no doubt that rex tillerson will give his private counsel to the president, president-elect, in a very direct manner. i think he'll be quite influential, frankly, with the president-elect. he's-- of not a man who is shy of sharing his views once he has reached them. we really don't need to worry about rex tillerson. i promise you. this is a man of great character. and he is going to have a challenging environment in this administration. he'll do well. >> woodruff: john hambre, nicholas burns, steve coll, we thank you all. >> thank you.
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>> sreenivasan: the years-long battle for control of syria's largest city, aleppo, is over. a punishing bombardment by syrian and russian jets, and deadly ground operations from assad regime forces and its allies, resulted in the end of the months-long siege of the last rebel areas of the city and a major turning point in the brutal half-decade war. chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner begins our coverage. >> reporter: after four years of fighting, the end is at hand in eastern aleppo. word came late today of agreement on a cease-fire and evacuation from the shattered city. >> ( translated ): the agreement includes the groups of fighters and the civilians, but my heart is full of pain, full of emotion for having to ask for a complete evacuation of all civilians. >> reporter: in addition, russian officials announced joint military operations with the syrians, in eastern aleppo,
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have also ended. anne barnard has been covering the syrian conflict for "the new york times" and is watching the situation from beirut. >> so the plan is for them to go to other rebel-held areas, which had been a demand of the civilians and rebels there because they were afraid that if they went to the government side, as tens of thousands of people have done, they would be arrested or face other reprisals. inside the government-held districts of the city, life was going on more or less as normal, but there was the constant danger of shelling from the rebel side. >> reporter: thousands of civilians are already fleeing, and reports are surfacing of mass killings by government forces and their allies, pouring into the city. u.n. officials say more than 80 people were executed in a single neighborhood, many of them women and children.
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other reports told of dozens of children trapped in a building under attack. overnight, activists in the city posted grim goodbyes on social media. >> we are here exposed to a genocide in beseiged city of aleppo. this may be my last message. >> we wanted nothing but freedom. >> reporter: the fall of eastern aleppo marks a watershed moment in the five-year syrian civil war. opposition forces first took part of the city in 2012, but russia stepped in to bolster the syrian military with punishing air power in october of 2015. the onslaught intensified last month, as ceasefire talks brokered by the u.s. collapsed. at the u.n. today, u.s. ambassador samantha power put the onus on russia and syria.
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>> is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child, that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? is there nothing you will not lie about or justify? >> reporter: even the fall of aleppo will not mean an end to the syrian war. president bashar al-assad has vowed to crush the resistance to his rule throughout the entire country. rebel forces still operate in northern syria, and they are girding for an assault by government troops. the chief syrian opposition coordinator insists the loss of aleppo will not make them give up. >> ( translated ): if assad and his allies think that a military advance in certain quarters of aleppo signifies that we will make concessions on the goals of the revolution, that will not happen. >> reporter: meanwhile, islamic state fighters took advantage of the government's focus on aleppo this week, to recapture the ancient syrian city of palmyra.
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for the pbs newshour, i'm margaret warner. >> sreenivasan: today, a group of scholars and middle east experts met at rice university's james baker institute of public policy in houston to discuss options for the new trump administration, a region once again transformed by the fall of aleppo. two of those experts join me now: randa slim of the middle east institute; and joshua landis of the university of oklahoma. randa, let me start with you. what does this mean that military operations are over in eastern aleppo? >> well, it means this phase of the conflict is over, but as the syrian officials have themselves declared, the war is far from over. what also this win-- and it is a win for the regime, political and military win-- means is it spells the end of the negotiation process. until now, assad has paid lip service to the idea of negotiations and political process to end the civil war in
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syria. and i think now he's going to be definitely dead set against it, because he will look at this as-- as-- as, you know, winning-- winning this war, and that there's no need for him to make the necessary concillations to make the political negotiation successful, including, you know, transitioning out of power, which is one of the premise of the political negotiations started in geneva. >> sreenivasan: jonathan landreth, what's the impact of the end of the battle versus the end of the war? >> the center shifts to idlib. that city is dominated by the al qaeda wing of the opposition. the united states and the west cannot support them and al qaeda. it means the rebels are going to have a very hard time getting significant amounts of support. and it also means on a larger
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scale that a new security architecture is being laid down in the northern middle east-- lebanon, syria, iraq-- in which pro-iranian governments are consolidating their grip on the territory and they're backed by russia to a large degree. and this is--s has caused great grief and consternation in saudi arabia and amongst many of the united states' allies-- israel, the gulf countries, the turkey-- because they see this new architecture of security and iranian influence and russian influence as something that's very bad for them. and the united states' course is being pulled in to try to counter that. >> sreenivasan: randa slim, as josh just mentioned, there are so many different actors here. let's take them one at a time. what happens to the rebels now after this military setback? >> i think they have-- they are in for some serious evaluation of their tactics and of, you
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know, what they have achieved and why they have failed until now. i mean, given the odds they were facing. part of them definitely will buy into this idea that, you know, extremism is the way to go. and so the win in aleppo will fuel the narrative of groups like al qaeda, and you'll see more people maybe being-- you know, being attracted to this idea. but also, i think, there will be a group of the rebels that need to focus on shifting strategy away from holding territory and-- because they cannot do that, you know, when faced with the-- with the aggression from the syrian regime and from the russian forces and-- becoming an insurgency, and employing tactics to defeat these forces in a way that make them viable in this battle. >> sreenivasan: joshua landis,
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what about isis and al qaeda that almost seem forgot nen this giant proxy war? what happens? is isis taking advantage of this opportunity, as margaret warner reported? >> yes, isis did. we saw that as syrian troops went to aleppo, isis to go palmyra, but isis' names are numbered. the trump administration has said they're going to concentrate on isis and they're going to work with russia. now, we don't know whether they really will work with russia or not, but it's clear isis is going to be pounded. who is going to benefit from that? it's quite clear the syrian regime in syria as the iraqi regime in iraq is benefiting from america's effort to destroy those opposition forces in both countries. and there aren't any other rebel forces that one can foresee on the horizon that will be able to take eastern syria that's now occupied by isis. but the syrian government will be there. it's weak today, but it's been
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gathering strength. and i think it's likely that in the next few years, you'll see the syrian government retake much of syria. now, this is disputed among experts. there are a lot of people here today at our conference who think that that's not likely to happen, that there may be enclaves and so forth. but i think the assad regime is on a roll. ening it's got the backing of russia and iran and hezbollah, and it's hard to say who is going to stand in their way in this steady fight against the insurgents. >> sreenivasan: randa slim, what happens to u.s. support considering that there is this shift in momentum militarily? what happens to the aid that we're giving to these rebels? >> look, i mean, we have now a new administration that's going to take power in january, and we already have heard from mr. trump during the campaign that the priority of his administration will be focusing on fighting isis, and that he's
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against nation building, against regime change. so i'm going to-- i would expect us to move into some kind of security dialogue with the russians about what to do in syria. however, the russians have the baggage, and that's iranian baggage, they're going to bring to them with any kind of dialogue with americans and you have contradiction in an american administration that wants to engage with the russians be, but also an american administration that sees iran as a great threat. so the question is how you're going to square these two contradictory in a we positions and attitudes as you enter into a security dialogue with the russians. but when it comes to the support of our allies -- and approximately the main ally has been the kurds-- i see the possibility as a result of this american-russian security
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dialogue, i see the possibility of the kurds-- of a deal, in a way, being struck at the expense of the kurds in northern syria. >> sreenivasan: joshua landis, are the kurds the ones who get squeezed out in this process where they have to have the support of the u.s. to continue on, but at the same time, turkey wants nothing to do in and close independence of theirs? >> well, i do believe the kurds are in a difficult situation. they do have some american support. how consistent that will be is unclear. but they have built up a strong military, and they've begun to built the institutions of an autonomous life in northern syria. turkey's enmity towards the kurds and their desire to make sure that there is no independent kurdish state or even really autonomous enclave is going to push the kurds into assad's hands over time. they're going to have to strike a bargain with assad that will keep them in the syrian state and under some kind of syrian authority so that they can have
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the protection of international legitimacy, and the syrian army against the turks. how much-- how they can bargain with assad is unclear. what kind of negotiations they can come to, unclear. we'll see whether they get something like the kurds in iraq, which is a large measure of autonomy, or something less than that. that will be one of the big negotiations to come out of this process. >> sreenivasan: all right, joshua landis, randa slim, thank you both. >> pleasure. >> sreenivasan: we have more online. before aleppo was devastated by war, the city was a thriving hub with a proud history dating back millennia. find images from before and after the destruction, at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: a new law to bolster the united states' mental health system;
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and learning to see art with an artist's eye. but first, international tests are one way of gauging how american kids are doing compared to other countries. traditionally, the u.s. performance has been described as "mediocre," and this year was no different. the most recent test scores show the u.s. is stagnant in reading and science. in math, our country ranks toward the bottom of developed countries. but discussion about them, and what they tell us about educational priorities around the world, is a bit more nuanced. special correspondent kavitha cardoza, with our partner, education week, met with international students to ask them first-hand about the differences, as part of our weekly series, "making the grade." >> reporter: calvin leong loves soccer. >> i've been playing since i was little. i just can't stop playing soccer because its really fun. >> reporter: two years ago, calvin and his family moved to the u.s. because of his father's
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work. his mother margaret says if he was still living in his home country, hong kong, just like his former classmates, calvin would have had to give up soccer. >> calvin's friends in hong kong have to give up playing soccer because they have to focus and concentrate in the studying. >> reporter: she says there are only a few universities in hong kong, so competition is fierce. >> that's why parents would like them to have extra lessons, even after school for almost six hours. calvin still has a balance of life here. >> reporter: other countries have, at times, wrestled with that lack of balance, and some have even turned to high- performing u.s. schools for lessons in building student skills such as creativity and collaboration. but academically, when calvin moved here, he found general classes much easier in the u.s. >> in hong kong, math-wise, its
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definitely super competitive and everyone moving at the same pace. so it's hard to catch up if you fall behind. in america, you can choose your own pace. >> reporter: calvin loves the diversity in u.s. schools and says he's made lots of friends, even if many of them don't know where he's from. >> when people ask me about hong kong, i'll talk about the hollywood movies that feature hong kong, like "transformers" and "batman." >> reporter: hong kong is also known for being a place that does very well on international tests, unlike the u.s., where the academic performance this year was lackluster. the u.s. ranks middle of the pack when it comes to reading and science. in math, it ranked 31st out of 35 countries. the pisa test is taken every three years by 15-year-olds from dozens of countries. what makes this test interesting is that it doesn't gauge what students can memorize-- in other
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words, what you can google. the pisa test looks to see what students can do with what they know. andreas schleicher oversees the pisa test. he says the school systems of today are the economies of tomorrow. >> you look at a country like korea in the 1960s. krea had the level of the economic development of afghanistan today, one of the least developed education systems. but it got education right and it because one of the most successful economies. the power of education to transform societies and generate both economic and social outcomes is just tremendous. >> reporter: economic prosperity, national security, international competitiveness. those are a few of the reasons countries take education, and by extension, these tests, so seriously. as president obama said back in 2009, countries that "out-educate us will out-perform us." the u.s. spends markedly more
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money compared to other developed countries on education, but by high school, american students fall behind. schleicher says it's not about how much a country spends on education, but how it spends the money. he says, in other countries, it's all about teacher quality. >> i'm not talking about making teaching financially more attractive. i'm also talking about making teaching intellectually more attractive. that's probably where the united states is furthest away from some of the highest-performing education systems, where you really have a much greater investment in the quality of teaching. >> reporter: john king calls the results "disappointing." king says the obama administration has championed educational "best practices." for example, an emphasis on teacher quality and early education. many states have adopted the common core, which sets high standards of what children should know at each grade. but, king says:
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>> one of the challenges in our system, different from many of our international competitors, is that it is a highly decentralized system, so change take a particularly long time. >> reporter: a lot of people say its not fair to look at these results and compare us to other countries, which are more homogenous. >> sure, we have to be cautious about these results. at the same time, we can look at canada, that's had a very large influx of immigrants over the last few years and is doing better. we can look at countries around the world, like poland, which is a country that has significant population of low income students, and yet they've made a lot of progress over the last decade. and we should ask why. >> reporter: julia kemspster and her family moved to maryland from new zealand earlier this year. julia gets asked a lot of questions from classmates. >> can you talk for me? can you say the number ten for me? is it true there's one person to every 65 sheep? >> reporter: school is very
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different in the u.s.-- more students, more tests. but the biggest difference, julia says, is that in new zealand, she had to interpret and analyze information a lot more. >> here, you get everything from the book. the facts are the facts. there's a lot of dates you have to memorize. it's not a lot about what you think, but what's in the book. >> reporter: despite the differences, julia's a typical teenager. she loves the social aspect of her u.s. school. in america, you have a lot of >> in america, you have a lot of dances and social things you get to go to which is fun. you get to go out to lunch more. you get to do homecoming, and everything like that. it's fun! >> reporter: american high >> american high schools place a huge emphasis on the social life of teenagers, and that's part of >> reporter: and that's part of the problem, says tom loveless with the brookings institution. he says homecoming, prom, rallies, may help teach teamwork
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and creativity, but don't improve academics. he says we need to look at the role culture plays in reinforcing education. loveless surveyed almost 400 foreign exchange students who spent a year in an american high school, and asked about the relative importance given to math and sports. >> i asked them, "among your friends, how important is it to be successful at mathematics?" the foreign exchanges said, "back home, it's fairly important whether or not you're good at mathematics." "in the united states, not so much." then i asked them about sports. "how important is it to be a good athlete?" and with both boys and girls, no matter from which country they came from, they said in the united states, the emphasis on being a good athlete was much more important in the u.s. than in their home country. >> reporter: there is a bright spot when it comes to this year's pisa test results.
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the gap between rich and poor students in the u.s. is closing faster than any other developed country, but it will take a lot more effort to reach the top. for the pbs newshour and education week, i'm kavitha cardoza, reporting from bethesda, maryland. >> sreenivasan: most of the attention around the big biomedical bill signed by president obama today has focused on faster drug approval and new money for research, but it's a huge piece of legislation, and one key part of it that's gotten less attention targets improving mental health care in the u.s. william brangham has a look. >> brangham: advocates say this legislation is the most significant step forward for mental health care in nearly a decade. the law promotes a range of mental health initiatives, including: more evidence-based early intervention for young people; it expands outpatient mental health care; and to
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coordinate it all, it creates a new assistant secretary position. for more on this, i'm joined now by the lead author of the legislation: congressman tim murphy, republican of pennsylvania. he's also a practicing psychologist. welcome. >> great to be with you. >> brangham: before we get into the specifics of the legislation, i wonder if you could give me an overview of what you see where we are failing in our treatment of mental health care in this country. >> 60 million americans are affected by mental illness. states spend an enormous amount of money, the federal government about $130 billion, spread across 112 agencies-- although most of that is just disability payments. and we're not doing a good job. over the years, we've seen a dropping of death rates for cancer-- it's gone down-- diabetes, infectious disease, lung disease, aids, all declined, increasing for suicide, increasing for substance abuse. and when we close all those big asylums, those big hospitals that were out there for a
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century or so-- we needed to close them down-- but we didn't provide outpatient care. so what did we co? we filled our jails with them. the majority of people in jail, the state and local jails are, people with a mental illness disorder, too. eight out of 10 people in an emergency room have some related mental health disorder. 5% of the people on medicaid are responsible for 50% of all medicaid spending, and those are people with a concurrent mental illness. you see in terms of costs, costs of live, 350,000 last year, related to mental illness, primary and secondar, more deaths than entire combat deaths of the united states in world war i korea, bosnia, disers storm, and iraq in one year. >> brangham: let's talk about some of the specifics. you create an assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse disorders. why is that? >> we needed someone to take the
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helm. what we found in the general accounting office report was there were no accountability for programs and we funded grant programs, a website, a hot line you could call if you were upset about the snow in new england, how to make a fruit smeeght, interpretive dancing, a $20,000 painting hanging in someone's office about mental health with someone sitting on a rock. total waste of money. we had to put someone in charge who can take the 12 of these federal agencies and coordinate evidence-based care, work on prevention, work on nose with serious mentalilness, but someone with the clout behind their name to do that. >> brangham: one of the things we hear about is there are simply not enough beds for people who need them and not enough practitioners for those who need help. >> regard to the practitioners, half the counties in america have no psychiatrist--
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>> brangham: half. >> half. and no clinical social workers. of those who have psychiatrists-- and by the a, sear mentalilness, half of the cases emerge by age 14-- you can't get care. it's not there. so we invest about $50 million just to help with the new workforce to build that up. and in the bed issue, we also work with medicaid. right now they had a 16-bed limit, which is absurd between the ages of 22 and 64. you can't any into a private psychiatric hospital that has more than 16 beds. that's not enough. so we make them homeless or put them in jail. this says 15-day average length of stay per month. that's not enough, i know. but it sure is better to be in a hospital bed than laying on a park bench or a jail cell. >> brangham: one of the first responders interacting with people who have mental health crieses are police forces all over the country, and they're not really well equipped to deal with this. do you tackle that in this
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legislation? >> we do. we put a few million into crisis intersection training. i think a few years ago, the "washington post" reported there are 250 deaths of police who encounter someone with mental illness who attack the police with a gun or knife. that's too many. what we do is fund the programs cha are very, very effective and train policemen when they know someone has a serious mental illness or they're in crisis or can identify from the situation. they learn techniques to calm the person down so it's not a confrontation and will save lives and get the person in treatment. >> brangham: you have supported repealing the affordable care act. and some of your democratic colleagues, who loud this legislation-- say if you repeal the a.c.a., which has a lot of provisions to care for the mentally ill, that you're shooting your legislation in the foot. what's your response to that? >> i fought that's hard for this. i worked in this field for 40 years. i welcome the team work of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to say we have to make sure we preserve this.
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the reason it's so important is if we're going to find cost savings in retooling and reforming health care, a lot of it comes from the integrated care of the mental ill, behavioral illness, and physical illness. when you find someone with a chronic illness, they're twice the rate of depression among them and untreated depression doubles their health care costs. when you hone in and treat both at the same time by integrating behavioral and physical medicine, when physician takes charge, when you have capitated plans with incentives for the doctors to do all that, you actually can reduce spending for those people 40% to 50% while providing better care. this is a lesson i want my colleagues to know. this is what we ought to be doing. it's good expagzately and morally and saves money. >> brangham: do you worry if the a.c.a. is repealed a lot of what you're trying to do, lauded work here, will be thrown out. >> you're talking to someone who has been in the trenches
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fighting for this and other mexico of the team, too. i don't see us throwing this out. we'll working to the make sure the provisions stay in. even though, part concern is what states will do with medicaid money, bloc grants. states pulled the money out-- >> representative tim murphy of pennsylvania, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now, freeing yourself to appreciate art in all it's forms and colors. that's the focus of our latest addition to the newshour bookshelf, and for that we go to jeffrey brown. >> brown: what do we see when we look at art? something that gives us pleasure, or moves us not at all. many of us perhaps aren't sure what it is we're supposed to be "taking in" or trying to "understand." the painter david salle wants us to trust ourselves more in looking, but also to consider
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"how" something is made as well as "what" it is. his new book is titled: "how to see." >> i think it enhances one's enjoyment. you can put yourself a little bit into the place of the maker. imagine how it was made, imagine what's involved in making it. >> brown: because it is a thing that was made, right? >> art is something someone made. it's a human endeavor. as such, it's not that different from having a conversation with someone. the painter is telling us something. what's their syntax? what's their inflection? >> brown: which, in painterly terms means, what brush you use, what-- >> can be. can be how wide the brush is, or how skinny the rectangle is or if it's even a painting at all-- if it has any marks on it at all. >> brown: salle himself has been a prominent artist since the 1980s, known for his large-scale collage-style paintings that
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incorporate disparate images from a variety of sources. some newer works hung in his brooklyn studio where we talked. one way to look at a painting is to notice those images. here: a car, a watermelon, a cigarette pack, and more. but how you make these connections is what most interests salle. >> what this painting does, and what most paintings do, is give us the path for your eye to move around. the painting tells your eye: go here, now go here, now go here, so all you have to do is look at it, give it a few seconds, and your eye will start to move through the painting. >> brown: in his book of essays, salle offers an artist's view of other artists: george baselitz, dana schutz, john baldessari and many others; and the decisions made, the paths chosen, the reasons a painting works or doesn't, as with a favorite and
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friend of his, alex katz. >> big brush or small brush? i mean, in alex's case, a really big brush, a really big brush moved with some velocity using his whole arm across a pretty big surface, ending in a very fine point. doing that in a way that seems both premeditated and also free and spontaneous. that's what you see, and then your brain translates that into "maine woods." "oh, i like that place, i want to go back there." but what enables you to have that sensation is the physical act of painting. >> brown: you talk about the artist christopher wool. so that's an abstract painting. i don't quite know what i'm looking at in that sense, or at least, it's not recognizable. >> right, so in the example of christopher wool, the not-quite- knowing-what-you're-looking-at is part of the experience. his paintings are made with such a complicated, impacted and self-referential set of gestures, marks and mechanical representations of gestures and
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marks and their interaction. it's very hard to tease them apart. >> brown: that's what you mean by the "how" in a case like that. all those kinds of decisions. >> yes. the "how" is also the scale, the size, the color, the-- all of the physical characteristics of the thing are the "how." >> brown: and then, one more example would be malcolm morley. >> right; so malcolm paints, typically paints paintings of models, with thousands of densely packed brush strokes made with a very small brush, intensely concentrated over small areas of the canvas, one after the other. this agitated, densely packed surface is the "how" which becomes the "what." >> brown: you're a painter, so you look at these things and say "oh, how did he do this? how did she do that?" do i have to know the "how?" >> i don't think you have to know anything really. but i think if you look for more than ten seconds, you will start
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to, without being told anything, you will start to notice those things. if you go to a concert, you'll notice: is it loud? is the music fast? is it predominately strings or brass? there are things we can all register, whether we are musicians or not. painting's no different. taking pleasure in projecting oneself into the painting is the act of looking. that's what looking is. >> brown: you write at one point: "it's a mistake to ask a work of art to be all things to all people." what can we ask of a work of art? what should we ask of it? >> i think a good painting or a good work of art does many things. i mean, maybe 15 or 20 or 100. one of the things a painting does is to make the room look better-- it improves the wall that it's on. >> brown: nothing wrong with that. >> which is much harder than it looks. and that's a good thing. and if one engages with a
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painting on that level, that's fine, that's great. after some time, familiarity, the other things that a painting does-- the other layers-- they just start to make themselves felt. people are still making paintings, people are still enjoying paintings, looking at paintings, paintings still have something to tell us. there's a way of being in the world, that painting brings to us, that painters bring to the task, that we absorb and can be in dialogue with. that's something that's part of us. >> brown: from brooklyn, new york, i'm jeffrey brown for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, how vital is the president's daily intelligence briefing? the president-elect has taken an unprecedented approach: ignoring the briefing most days,
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altogether. so how do national security and intelligence experts see this move? we explore that on our web site, www.pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: and 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: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> bnsf railway. >> xq institute. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in
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education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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