tv PBS News Hour PBS December 26, 2016 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> brangham: good evening, i'm william brangham. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight, dueling visions for the nation. president obama seeks to preserve his legacy as donald trump lays out a very different path forward. plus, the greek island of lesbos is facing strained relations with the refugees it once welcomed with open arms. >> they're soaking wet, they're freezing cold, the temperature is close to zero. when you have a few people holding two towns to ransom because they don't want refugees in there, that's absolutely disgusting. >> brangham: and, remembering george michael, the '80s pop star and gay rights advocate who died at age 53. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brangham: more fallout tonight from that u.n. security council vote condemning israel's building of settlements. the israelis confirmed today they've suspended working ties with 12 of the nations that backed the resolution. prime minister benjamin netanyahu will not meet with their foreign ministers, and the israeli foreign minister will not receive their ambassadors. meanwhile, president-elect trump tweeted his own criticism of the united nations this evening.
he said it has great potential, but for now it's "just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time." and he added: "so sad." mr. trump had urged the obama administration to veto the israel resolution, instead of abstaining. this has been a day of mourning in russia for the victims of a military plane crash that killed 92 people. the plane went down sunday morning, just minutes after taking off from the southern city of sochi, en route to syria. today, divers dragged fragments of the plane out of the black sea, and a massive search operation continued as investigators searched for a cause. >> ( translated ): as we know, the main causes so far do not include an act of terrorism. so we think that the reason for the crash could be a technical fault or a pilot error, but i repeat it will be clarified by the investigation of a ministry of defense special technical commission. >> brangham: the russian intelligence agency f.s.b. said today it has found no signs pointing to sabotage or terror in the crash. in syria, russian troops say they've uncovered mass graves in eastern aleppo, since its recapture from rebels. the defense ministry said today that several dozen bodies were found; victims of torture and mutilation.
the russians sent military police into eastern after helping the syrian government retake the city. and there's word that china's first aircraft carrier group has sailed past taiwan, into the contested south china sea. the chinese warships passed islands controlled by taiwan, in a show of force. beijing says it's a routine exercise, but it comes amid rising tensions over taiwan's status. the philippines faced widespread power outages and evacuations today, after a powerful christmas typhoon. typhoon "nock-ten" made landfall overnight, killing six people and forced nearly 400,000 to flee. five provinces lost power completely as winds of more than 100 miles an hour tore through power lines and damaged homes. >> ( translated ): the water from the streets became so strong it came into our house. >> ( translated ): i told my family to evacuate and leave our belongings behind. we needed to save our lives first. >> brangham: the typhoon disrupted christmas celebrations in asia's largest catholic nation, and stranded some 12,000
holiday travelers. blizzard conditions in the dakotas kept major highways closed today and knocked out power through nebraska and iowa. heavy snow, ice and winds moved in over the christmas weekend, forcing authorities to post no- travel warnings. forecasters expect the storm to move into the northeast later in the week. still to come on the newshour: the constant push and pull between the current president and the future one. rising tensions on a greek island that's welcomed thousands of refugees. a deadly christmas weekend in chicago, and much more. >> brangham: it seems politics didn't take much of a holiday break. from the ongoing turf war between outgoing president obama and soon-to-be president trump on sensitive issues, to a new pledge to dissolve the trump foundation to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. there's plenty to talk about this politics monday.
joining me are amy walter of the "cook political report," and stu rothenberg of the "rothenberg-and-gonzalez political report." welcome to you both. we have seen, over this weekend, and in the past week or so, president-elect trump inserting himself very overtly into american policy on israel, on taiwan and china. he's negotiating government contracts. i'm curious, amy, is this as unprecedented as it seems? >> it is unprecedented. of course, we've never had a president-elect coming in the age of twitter, either. so there's that piece of it. and i feel like a broken record, but every time we're together, i say the same thing, which is we have to expect that this is going to be an unprecedented presidency. he ran an unprecedented campaign, he's shown no signs of being a different president-elect as he was a candidate, but i think he's also showing us the kind of president that he's going to be, especially on an issue like israel where he's going to move
much closer to where the hardliners, especially benjamin netanyahu, want the u.s. to be than where obama was. this is a relationship between israel and the u.s. in the obama years that hasn't exactly been the friendliest. >> brangham: stu, is this your take? this is the way it's going to be? >> yes, a man with huge ego and lots of opinions, and unlike previous politicians, he has a different kind of filter or no filter and he thinks, when he has an opinion, he should offer it and people should be interested and they are interested. i agree entirely, i'd expect this throughout the presidency, at least in the next couple of years where he likes to interject himself, solve problems, make points, and he will continue to do that. >> and if there is not a distinctive line between foreign policy and other policies, right, that when you're negotiating trade, you can also negotiate foreign policy and
defense contracts and that's all part of a big package. >> while politicians use diplomatic language and are concerned about the words and phrases they use, donald trump is never concerned about the word or phrase. he wants to get a point across and says it bluntly if he wants to, and he usually wants to. >> brangham: do you think in the end any of this affects policy? i understand the appearance of having an arm chair president in waiting. does it change policy in any substantive way? >> it will when he's no longer the president-elect. tats the question we're all waiting to see. right now he sends out his opinions and tweets. sometimes there is a reaction, nothing particularly substantive, in part because we have a president now. when he becomes the president and sends a tweet out and let's sea warships move based on that tweet, then we'll have a very different conversation. unless and until that happens, though, we have to just sort of
expect that this is the way he's going to conduct himself, and we'll know a lot more once the people he hired, secretary of defense, secretary of state, how they perform and whether they have a greater influence on policy but also on his behavior. >> i would say for the near term, those of us who read the tweets and hear his opinions take a deep breath, whether journalists or political analysts or international leader, but there is a sense of let's wait until after january 20th to see where the policies are. we know where the opinions are. maybe the policies will or will not follow that. >> brangham: let's talk about the conflict of interest issue. we saw over the weekend the trump administration-to-be announce they did will close the trump family foundation. do you think that will start to put to rest some of the questions about his potential conflicts? >> well, it's a start but i
don't think it will be the finish or is the finish and i don't think he'll be able to deal with all the potential conflicts of interests he has and will continue to have. he's not going to sell all his properties. his properties are in many countries, rising questions about foreign policy, relationships, economic issues. i just don't see it. is this a significant first step? i guess so. he didn't indicate during the campaign he was willing to do this, but i don't think that solves the fundamental problem which is he's got a lot of interests around the world. >> i absolutely agree. it also takes another political headache off the table. remember through the campaign "the washington post" had been reporting on a lot of issues with that foundation, where it was getting its money, what it was and wasn't doing with it. there is an actual open investigation by the new york state attorney general. so it takes, at least if the short term, this political headache, takes that off the
table and gives him the opportunity to say, unlike the clintons, when it looks like there could be something play for pay or there is a problem with my foundation, i'll just close it down rather than raising these questions about conflicts. but to his point, there are still too many other conflicts that are out there, and the question is ultimately, we know reporters will be interested in this and tracking this down consistently. how focused will voters be on this and how long will they see each and every one of his decisions impacting his business. >> that always does seem to be the ongoing question. the a.p. had an interesting piece looking at several things trump criticized hillary clinton for during the campaign that he himself is now doing, things like having members of goldman sachs in his circle and not having press conferences, do you think those matter to his constituency at all sphnchts i think they matter to trump
supporters because they can explain that away, it's media, misstatements bioponents, liberal democrats. so i don't think that's a problem. members of the media will continue to be interested in that, and will continue to ask. we can even have a press conference. but to trump supporters, no, i don't think it's a big deal. >> we were sitting in a focus group of voters in ohio last week that voted for trump. they weren't all solid republicans, many voted for bill clinton or obama in the past, but when you ask about conflict of interest, the way they help process this is they say he comes in already very rich so he can't be bought off. you heard that on the campaign traivment what they were frustrated about with the hillary clinton and other traditional politicians is they came to washington and then got rich as opposed to they were already rich when they came to washington so can't be corrupted, well, you can't be corrupted if you already have
all this money and are not looking for the money. we'll see how long it lasts. great in theory, but to steve's points once it's january 20, you're president of the united states and you're making decisions, the lines will get much darker and clearer. >> amy walter and stu rothenberg, thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. >> brangham: 18 months into europe's migration crisis, tension has surfaced on the greek island of lesbos. it wasn't so long ago that the islanders were being considered for the nobel peace prize for their welcoming of refugees at this main entry point to the continent. but income from tourism, on which many islanders depend, has plummeted this year, and hostility towards refugees and the volunteers helping them has grown. from lesbos, special correspondent malcolm brabant reports. >> reporter: skala sykaminia, a small fishing village in northern lesbos. a tranquil dawn is about to get
busy. the first raft of the day has been spotted about five miles away. volunteers from refugee rescue, an irish charity, are scrambling to help. the raft is intercepted by a coastguard cutter after leaving turkey's shore and entering greek waters. >> when it comes to the fact that many of these people arriving are muslims, we are supposed to love everyone. >> reporter: waiting for them is californian orthodox priest father christoforos, who has lived in lesbos for 15 years. at a time when europe is becoming increasingly anxious over the influx of muslim refugees and economic migrants , christoforos doesn't waver from his creed. >> theologically, we are supposed to see every human being as god. and now we treat that person is how we treat god.
>> where are you from? >> comoros. >> the comoros islands? that's a paradise. >> yes. >> why did you leave a paradise? >> it is a paradise but it's poor. >> reporter: like most other greek communities, skala sykaminia has endured seven years of economic hardship, but the selflessness of the nobel nominated villagers is one of the reasons why refugee rescue is based here. coordinator baz fischer.
>> there have been tensions in other places definitely. and if we can we'd always like to bring them here. if every village along the coast was like here, it would make things a lot easier. >> reporter: this footage was shot by activists at the nearby port of petra in the summer as local people blockaded the jetty in an attempt to stop the coastguard from transferring refugees in front of their tourist beaches. as a result of alleged intimidation, including vandalism of their vehicles, volunteer groups avoid petra and molyvos, five miles away. with its magnificent 15th century citadel, molyvos is the architectural jewel of lesbos and is almost entirely dependent on tourism. but, according to mayor athanasios andriotis, income was down by 70% this year as vacationers stayed away because of the refugee crisis. he acknowledged there was some tension. >> ( translated ): the people
are annoyed and worried about the future because this situation seems to be becoming permanent and its one which is no good for the people of molyvos nor unfortunately for the refugee migrants who come here. >> reporter: there are some people who say that the coastguard has not been allowed to drop people in molyvos because there is such hostility now towards the whole situation. >> ( translated ): the figures here for tourism have dropped to almost zero because of the refugee issue. this cant go on. they have to understand that okay they have arrived here but they have to go somewhere else more secluded to disembark. >> reporter: the consequence is it takes longer for the coastguard or volunteers to take them to ports where they'll be accepted. this angers british volunteer and lesbos resident eric kempson, who we first met 18 months ago and have since encountered on several occasions. he and his family have repeatedly been threatened because of his outspoken pro refugee stance. >> this is very dangerous. we are going to lose people. it took so long to come here and they're sitting on the boat, they're soaking wet, they're freezing cold, the temperature is close to zero.
when you have a few people holding two towns to ransom because they don't want refugees in there, that's absolutely disgusting. people are going to die here this winter because of these few people. >> reporter: dimitris drakolias, has been on the receiving end of anti-migrant hostility. he runs a hotel in the small resort of petra. local hard-liners blockaded the village and whipped up an internet campaign after he agreed to provide temporary accommodation for 22 refugee children in the small resort of petra. >> people got afraid that we were supposed to bring refugees here and stay for two, three, four months. it's a very uncomfortable situation. nobody came up to me and did anything, but i understand that they didn't like that, that i hosted 20 kids inside the hotel. >> reporter: did you feel intimidated? >> a little bit. a little bit. >> reporter: the hotelier says the internet campaign was orchestrated by a tourist
organization called the other aegean. we arranged an interview with the other aegean's chairman nikos molvalis, who only wanted to discuss the tourist industry's 70% losses and other problems. we've been talking to the owner of the clara hotel who says your organization was responsible for blockading the place to make sure refugees didn't turn up there. can you explain that please? >> reporter: why don't you want to talk about that? >> because he's already answered the question. >> reporter: off-camera, molvalis claimed to have intervened on behalf of the refugee children, otherwise he said there would have been bloodshed. >> this is not true. >> there's no two ways about it. i see people are affected. they're hurting and want to find somewhere to put the blame. at the same time, all these same people will not only blame the
refugees or the organizations, but they also blame the government just as much for not doing more. >> brangham: the numbers of people arriving on the island are fractions of the thousands landing daily when the crisis was at its peak. but there is a steady trickle o, and slowly, slowly, the islands are filling up again. there's a serious shortage of accommodation for these people. and there's genuine concern here is that europe's deal with turkey will break down, and once again the islands will be inundated with refugees and migrants. the influx increases the pressure in moria, the overcrowded and tense camp in the south of the island, visited by the pope earlier in the year. frustrated migrants, angry at conditions and the time it takes to process asylum claims, have, on occasions, set fires inside the camp. a muslim charity has established a feeding station just outside moria, claiming the camp caterers are cheating the residents.
>> food in moria, they recook it three times, two to three times, it's not edible and they say it's dirty. >> reporter: not everyone is enduring spartan conditions. along with 200 other vulnerable people, five members of the nikzad family are living in a holiday hotel run by the catholic charity caritas. sahil is desperately missing regular school. but in three months, he has made good progress with english.
>> the explosion, the bomb, we want to go to some good place, good country because there we go to school, we have a good home. every new arrival who survives the perilous crossing shares the same ambition. as the numbers mount, their chances of success diminish. the warm welcome of skala sykaminia goes cold as soon as they leave the village. the buzz word in europe is deportation. especially after an islamist terrorist used truck to kill 12 people in berlin. this year more migrants than ever before died trying to cross the mediterranean to europe. yet still they come. father christoforos may be a light house. but much of europe wishes his beam would be extinguished. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant in lesbos.
>> brangham: stay with us, coming up on the newshour, the legacy of pop star george michael. a conversation with israel's best known novelist. and a saxophonist describes what he calls the music of freedom and wonder. but first, it was yet another bloody holiday weekend in chicago. five more people were shot this morning bringing the toll since friday afternoon to nearly 50. 11 people were killed, and the city is set to pass 700 homicides for the year, a level not seen there since the late '90s. police said much of the violence was located in areas with historical gang problems on the south and west sides. and police superintendent eddie johnson said at a news conference today that the nature of those disputes is changing. >> here's the bottom line. now, with the technology we have in place, social media drives a lot of our gang disputes.
they're on facebook, instagram, twitter, disrespecting each other. when they disrespect, they go out there and look for them and get them. so it's not just drugs anymore. >> brangham: that problem was one of several big challenges in the neighborhoods that john yang heard about when he reported on the epidemic of violence late this summer. for some context, there were roughly 200 fewer homicides in chicago at that point. here's a second look. >> reporter: on this busy street corner in englewood-- one of the hardest hit neighborhoods on the city's troubled south side-- it looks like a party. kids are playing. the grill is fired up. in the past though, 75th and stewart felt like a war zone. >> this corner is a corner where a man was killed. well, several men. a woman was killed, and a child was killed-- a nine-year-old girl was killed washing her dog in broad daylight. and if men and women and
>> reporter: but for two summers, mothers against senseless killing, known as "mask," led by tamar manasseh, has been out on this corner and there hasn't been a single shooting. volunteer laura lambert comes from nearby hyde park. and 91-year-old edwina knight crosses the street every day from the house she's lived in for 57 years. >> show up, grab a lawn chair and pair of sunglasses and you can do this. you can change the world with that. >> reporter: but the moms of "mask" are only on one corner, in a city of 2.7 million people. killings have spiked this summer. chicago has already recorded more homicides than it did in all of last year. >> that's what we're seeing here, is the epidemic nature, >> reporter: university of illinois at chicago physician gary slutkin says "epidemic" is exactly the right word.
he argues that violence is a contagious disease. >> you're exposed to flu, you're more likely to get flu. you don't actually get flu without being exposed. same thing for t.b., cholera and violence. i mean, why does someone who was exposed to child abuse, abuse their own kids? that'd be the person who you'd think would be least likely to do it, because he knows how bad it was. but in fact, he's picked up this contagious set of behaviors. >> reporter: so dr. slutkin treats gun violence as a contagious disease. he founded "cure violence," now an international effort that trains former gang members and felons to stop violence in its tracks-- violence interrupters. >> they are always in the community, aware of what's going on, and asking families and people, you know, "who's upset?" you know, who is-- somebody slept with someone's girlfriend, someone was disrespected, someone owes somebody money. and we can reach those people with these health workers. they know how to cool people
down, know how to buy time, >> reporter: chicago violence interrupter chico tillmon knows how to cool people down. he drove us around the south side last week, where much of the violence happens. >> we had a situation, maybe in early january, where two individuals or two cliques were arguing, so one clique went into another cliques' neighborhood and got on facebook live and was like, "eff you all, we're in y'alls gas station." within 30 minutes on that walk from the gas station back to the house, two were dead, one was wounded. >> reporter: it's not like this is a gang war over turf, this is just, sort of-- >> interpersonal. i said something you didn't agree with, you responded negatively, it ended up in gun violence. >> reporter: violence interrupter ulysses "u.s." floyd was a leader in one of chicago's most notorious gangs, "the gangster disciples."
>> i know i helped start this mess, so i wanted to help clean it up. >> reporter: he told us gangs are very different now than in his day. >> one or two men control everything. now you've got a lot of cliques, different little, you know, gangs, split all over. they, they, they offsprings of the major gangs, what they call "cliques." and they just do what they wanna do, ain't nobody really in control, no structure, no rules. >> reporter: the number of neighborhoods where chicago's branch of cure violence operates varies based on funding. but a justice department study found at one point, the group helped reduce violence by 40% to 70% in some of the areas where they were operating. today, they are in only five of the city's 77 neighborhoods. >> reporter: what are you thinking about when you see kids that age? >> man, i'm praying that they survive through this epidemic that's going on in the city.
it's not a woodlawn problem, it's not a southshore problem, it's everybody's problem. and we don't understand that until the disease hits home. until one of our loved ones is killed by gun violence. then we want to get involved. >> reporter: police have siezed nearly 6,000 illegal guns off the streets-- about one per hour. chicago cops are feeling the heat. public trust at a breaking point after last year's release of dash cam video showing a white officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times. after another deadly weekend superintendent eddie johnson threw up his hands. >> it's a society issue. impoverished neighbors, people without hope do these kinds of things. you show me a man who doesn't
have hope, i'll show you man who wants to pick up a gun and do anything with it. uh i see this as a social problem. >> lance is a professor and inner city youth advocate. >> this is not a law enforcement problem. you're not going to solve the problem with all the police. these young men are acting in alignment with their cultural value system. they need a cultural retooling process. >> reporter: williams says it's a culture that's developed in the absence of working institutions and in the midst of crushing poverty. one big cause of much frustration: nearly half of black men in chicago aged 20 to 24 are not in school and are out of work, far higher than the national rate of 32%. >> there's a lot of rage, there's a lot of, of, of anger. they just see their lives, you know, just passing them by. they don't, they haven't been to school; they can't, they're, they're not, you know, qualified for jobs. there are no businesses, viable businesses in their
neighborhood, so they're really depressed, and then they're self-medicated, through drinking and drugging. and the only individuals around them are other young african american males like themselves, who have these, these same forms of depression. >> reporter: another structural factor playing into the violence: chicago is one of the nation's most segregated cities. >> all of the poor blacks live way, way, way, way away from affluent people, from the, the, the business district, from the tourist district. you know, you have some kids in these neighborhoods far south, that have never been downtown! and you have folks, in the white communities that have never been to the south side. so, what happens is, you have an "out of sight, out of mind"-kind of deal. >> i was 23 when i went to prison. >> reporter: for chico tillmon, the violence is never out of sight or mind. turning other people's lives around came after he turned his own around.
>> and being able to see all the violence and chaos in the community that i once was a part of, and that i once helped produce, pushed me or gave me an obligation to make a change in that, in that situation of chaos >> reporter: since you got out of prison-- >> yeah. >> reporter: --you got your bachelor's degree. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: you got your master's degree. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: you're working on your phd. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: how long, how many years are we talking about here? >> five years. >> reporter: pretty determined. >> yeah. >> reporter: pretty motivated. >> yes, sir. i, i got out with a purpose, and i got out trying to not only do something that was beyond what i believed i could do, but to inspire hope within all the people that i left behind in prison. >> reporter: and back on the corner of 75th and stewart, tamar manasseh is also determined that change will happen. >> it's going to take a lot of people all doing something-- not saying something, but doing something-- to fix that problem. and the doing something is the sitting here, having a
conversation. i live on this block with you, i live in this city with you, in this country with you and we're all affected by the same things. and sometimes when we don't talk to each other, we miss that. >> on one corner a small effort in response to a big problem. for the pbs "newshour" i'm john yang in >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang in chicago. this weekend's shootings brings the overall total to 4,000 people shot in 2016. also there have been an additional 2,000 guns confiscated by the police since john's report. the the rate is about the same, averages a little less than one gun confiscated every hour this year. >> brangham: fans are mourning the loss of george michael and
paying tribute to him as one of pop's biggest stars in the '80s and '90s. michael shot to fame as a member of the duo, wham, and then embarked on a successful solo career. his friend, elton john, called him "the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist." for all of his success, michael faced personal struggles as well. he died on christmas day at his home in oxfordshire, england at the age of 53. let's begin with this remembrance by angus walker of independent television news. ♪ ♪ >> reporter: his songs, his voice, his stunning success george michael singer, writer, producer, perhaps the perfect pop star. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ just 21, he wrote wham's breakthrough single, topping the charts in the u.k. and u.s. he and andrew ridgely had met at school near watford, their brand
of bouncy pop was carefree, colorful. ♪ ♪ wham soon sold more than 25 million records, world famous, their crafty manager secured a 1985 tour to china, the first ♪ ♪ glimpse of western pop culture for a country emerging from a brutal cultural revolution. ♪ ♪ his solo career began with another number one hit, multiple ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ awards, 100 million records sold making him one of best selling artists of all time. but it wasn't just his music attracting attention after being
arrested for a so called lewd act in a public toilet in l.a., he responded with a cheeky, defiant video. ♪ ♪ he came out as gay speaking openly about having hundreds of lovers. i have not cheated or lied about my sex life. >> he also admitted heavy drug use, arrested after crashing he also admitted heavy drug use, arrested after crashing his car while intoxicated near his north london home, he was sent to jail for eight weeks. five years ago he came close to death, spending ten days in hospital, suffering from pneumonia. 2016, another superstar leaves us, but for many, none shone >> brangham: one of michael's
important legacies over time was how he eventually came out and dealt with his sexuality and identity. tim teeman wrote about that and more on the daily beast. he joins me now from new york. tim, before we get into that issue of his sexuality, i wonder if we could talk a little bit about george michael as a musician. you look back at his career, where do you pit him in the pantheon of pop stars? >> personally, i put him right up there. if you grew up in england, i'm sure he was very famous over here with wham. but if you grew up in england in the '70s and '80s as i did, he along with duran duran and ballet and culture club, these were big cultural figures and wham, as angus described if his report there, almost the harbingers, the heralds of thatcherrism himself. the group was anti-thatcher, but the aspiration and the brightness of that pop was
radical and revolutionary. britain in the early '80s emerging from a period of late '70s grey industrial decline, this was the pop at heralded the brash '80s. look at george's hair and clothes at that time. the songs, you either hit the dance floor and you flail like a windmill dancing crazily, and the slower songs, still, they're at weddings, the last song of the night, people weeping on each other's shoulder, they are slow dances, the they are remai. if they were considered cheesy and they were back in the day, they've stood the test of time look at last christmas. last christmas is right up there with have yourself a merry little christmas as a christmas cultural classic. >> brangham: as we heard in the report, george michael was rather rudely forced out of the closet by this arrest in the '90s. up until that point, he had been
rather quiet about mise sexuality. i wonder if you had a sense of why he wanted to keep that to himself? >> i think sometimes, especially now with the acceleration of cultural change, anti-acceptance, as it's known, we forget what the times were like in the '80s and '90s before he was forced out of the closet. these were not times of large numbers of celebrities out of the closet at all. you might remember in the late '90s, ellen's coming out over here was a big, big cultural moment. so sometimes i think we forget how in those days coming out of the closet if you were famous or anybody was a brave, wonderful act. the wonderful harvey milk had it exactly right when he said the most important wonderful thing an lgbt person could do was come out. it was the most powerful statement they could make. the interesting thing about george michael is he kept it quiet, though i remember growing
up in the area of tabloid, bait and insinuation around stars like george michael and his sexuality, he did play quality concerts, he donated and sang at hiv/aids benefits. while he was in the closet, he fell if love for the first time and his first lover died in 1993 of an aides-related brain hemorrhage. so he had a gay life and was coming to terms with something himself in that period. he talked later on about the plexty of his own sexuality. maybe he wasn't ready. maybe there were commercial concerns. but then in 1998, came this arrest in los angeles, and george michael's completely fantastic, wonderfully defiant mischievous response to that which wasn't the usual contrite, yes, i have been bad, i have a few personal issues, it was to release a pop song which proudly celebrated sexuality and also -- >> this was outside. absolutely. not only proudly celebrated his
sexuality but proudly and defiantly aimed itself squarely at law enforcement which famously for years and years in your country and in britain as well would entrap gay men in public lavatories just to arrest them. the use of pretty policemen we called it in britain. in this, george skewers it all and celebrates defiantly his own sexuality which he spoke about in later years. he liked having public sex. he spoke about it openly. he had lovers, commitment issues, he was horny, he talked about all the things in his song and occasionally in public which i talked about. >> reporter: you say the culture has changed quite a bit since that notorious arrest. do you think if the next george michael is come along and knows his sexuality that he could be more comfortable today being who he is? >> that's a very interesting question. i have been talking about that with colleagues today. i think we like to think things
have moved on and i think for a certain level of celebrity i think things have moved on and i think careers are continuing. neil patrick harris, you look at inial, and some people are excelling and it's wonderful and it's a demonstration of how far we've come and how far we like to think we've come. then you look at the top tier of the music industry and hollywood, and it remains at that very top tier fear, prejudice, self-patrolling closet on the part of celebrities and their presentation, and i think we've yet to breech the top, top a-list film star, music star moment. it's happening, more stars are out than ever before and we should be happy about that. i would hope in the future, with the example of george michael and the openness and fierceness and the defiance and the mischief and the big smile and the joy he took in some parts of his life and what he tried to convey to us in music and how he
spoke about it, i hope that younger stars and even establish stars who haven't felt able to come out will look at thad think, he did it and with such style, fierceness and such grace, let's do it. >> tim teeman of "the daily beast," thank you for this rovely remembrance. >> thank you so much. >> brangham: now to the newshour bookshelf for a novel about israel by its internationally- renowned writer, amos oz. he joined jeffrey brown at the center for jewish history in new york, in a conversation recorded before the recent u.n. vote on israeli settlements. >> brown: the 1950s, the early years of the state of israel, a
time of hope for jews who'd seen a dream come true, and fear about what the future might bring. >> this is the period of my own youth. these were, in terms of israeli history, the years of the morning after. >> brown: so the country's still young, but the question is ¡what now?' or ¡what next?' >> the question is ¡what now', but the question is also ¡have we gone wrong somewhere? have we taken the wrong turn some place?' >> reporter: amos oz was born in jerusalem in 1939, spent many years living on a kibbutz, served in the israeli army, and, eventually, became his country's best known writer. his new novel, "judas", his first in more than a decade, is set in jerusalem in those early years; the story of three people at very different stages in their lives and attitudes toward the new state. >> i wanted to explore first and foremost how three totally different human beings lived for three months in the same rooms change and almost reshape one another.
>> brown: do you start with the notion of going back to this period of what might come next or do you start with the characters? >> always characters first. >> brown: always? >> and i walk around pregnant with the characters for a long time before i write a single sentence and when, inside my head or inside my guts the characters begin to do things to each other, what they do to each other is the plot and then i can start writing. what do we do to one another? it's the one and only subject of literature, if you really have to squeeze it in a nutshell. >> brown: betrayal is a key theme in this book-- in the ancient sense through one of the character's studies of the biblical story of jesus and judas and in modern israel's founding. yes, but also out of huge growing resentment to the ugly
story about judas, about the 30 pieces of silver and of the most notorious case in history about the killing. he was obsessed with the story. he writes about judas hanging himself. the first and last christian, the only christian. it's a very provocative sentence. it doesn't come from me. it comes from the protagonist, but it's trying to reconsider the worst story ever told by anyone in human history. >> he's been a strong >> brown: oz has been a strong critic of israel's occupation of the west bank and a longtime advocate for a two-state solution with the palestinians. that's made him a traitor in the eyes of some of his countrymen. >> i wear these as a badge of honor because it puts me in wonderful company. many, many great men and women in history: prophets, statesmen,
intellectuals, artists, were accused of treason by many of their own contemporaries. >> brown: what is the job or role of a writer in a country like israel? >> no, i resent the very term¡ role of writers' or role of literature. i'm sorry, i think the right term should be the ¡gift of literature,' not the role of literature >> brown: a gift. >> yes, makes us look one more time at some things which we have seen a million times and we see them afresh. or sometimes it makes us reconsider things that we were sure we knew or we were sure we were convinced of. >> brown: but is it different in a country such as israel? >> i don't think so. i think literature is based on the deep human need to hear stories and to tell stories. it doesn't have to serve any other purpose.
>> brown: oz's most famous story may be his own, the 2004 autobiographical novel "a tale of love and darkness," which has now been made into a film by the actress natalie portman. it's a tragic family story-- of a mother who commits suicide, leaving behind her young son. and also a story of a country in its early years of statehood. you have advocated a two state idea long before it was a diplomatic solution, right? is that two state solution dead? >> i don't think so. i don't see any alternative to the two state solution. it is 50 years now since i, a few of my colleagues first advocated the two state solution. 50 years is a long time in my life, but it's a very short time in history. look, it's very simple. there are two nations rightly claiming the same tiny land. they just don't trust the other.
there is a lack of courageous leadership on both sides. you know, it's like a patient knowing that he has to undergo a surgery. wanting to postpone it because it's painful, but the doctors are cowards. they don't have the guts to tell the patient, let's do it now, the sooner the better. >> brown: you still have hope for it? >> of course, because i see no alternative. >> brown: all right, amos oz, the new novel is "judas." thank you very much. >> thank you for having me. thank you very much. >> brangham: finally tonight, another in our my music series. jazz musician charles lloyd plays the tenor saxophone and recently caught up with newshour producer frank carlson. ♪ ♪
>> in my mind's ear, i've always heard a beautiful souped, and i keep, all my life, practicing and playing, trying to get close to it. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> and sometimes the creator will let me get just so close, but it's like the street dance, not yet, charles. ♪ ♪ and charles lloyd, i have been drunk with music all my life. i was born in memphis, and i heard this beautiful music. ♪ i would walk down the street in
the neighborhood and come out of every house, i could hear billie holiday, lester young, charlie parker, on and on. ♪ so the music is fueling the atmosphere. ♪ why jazz? it's the music of wonder. freedom and wonder of. and played by the great players, the individual truth, a personal truth becomes the universal truth. what i have been doing all my life is making a parallel between the beauties of the tones that come through the music and spirituality.
i think what we do is we come through here, we sing our song, nobody knows us, and we're gone. but in the music, i can get up there and find this paradise that i'm trying to describe. >> brangham: on the newshour online right now, 2016 was a year of much turmoil, loss and division. but as we prepare for another trip around the sun in 2017, enjoy our list of undeniably good things that happened over the course of the year. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we have the first in a series of conversations highlighting some of the best in the arts in 2016, including television, movies and books. i'm william brangham.
>> 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. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> this is bbc world news
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