tv PBS News Hour PBS December 27, 2016 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> sreenivasan: good evening. i'm hari sreenivasan. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight: with less than four weeks to inauguration day, we examine donald trump's cabinet and compare his choices to previous presidential picks. also ahead, the fall of aleppo. after fleeing to safety in turkey, syrian refugees face a bleak future. >> if they want to work, they will be beggars. they will live in the street, and have no future. some lost their sons, others daughters and wives. for them there is no meaning to life. it is better to die. >> sreenivasan: plus, the reach of opioids into elementary school classrooms. a west virginia school partners with local law enforcement to find solutions. >> we assume that everything needs to be provided here. so that means, if they need clothes, we're going to give them clothes.
if they need food, we're going to get them food. you know, if they need love, we're giving them the hug. >> sreenivasan: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> xq institute. >> bnsf railway. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> 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. >> sreenivasan: president-elect donald trump has penciled in two more names on his white house staff sheet. he announced today that thomas bossert will be assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism. bossert also served under president george w. bush. and, jason greenblatt will be special representative for international negotiations. he's now the chief legal officer for the trump organization. in the day's other news: shinzo abe became the first japanese prime minister to visit the u.s.s. "arizona" memorial at pearl harbor. more than 2,300 americans died there in the japanese attack on december 7, 1941, hurling the united states into world war ii. today, abe joined president obama in a wreath-laying ceremony before making statements on the occasion.
>> ( translated ): i offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place, and also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became victims of the war. >> sreenivasan: the abe visit came six months after president obama visited hiroshima, where the u.s. dropped the first atomic bomb. an outbreak of bird flu in south korea is now that country's worst in a decade. the government said today that the number of poultry fowl destroyed will reach 26 million by tomorrow. that has resulted in egg shortages and soaring prices. meanwhile, a region in china has culled more than 55,000 chickens and other poultry. russian search teams today recovered the flight-data recorder from the military plane that crashed into the black sea. it turned up a mile off sochi, where the plane went down sunday, killing all 92 people on board. investigators brought the device to the surface and sent it to
moscow. they say it is not badly damaged, and could shed light on what happened to the plane. >> ( translated ): it's too early to make any conclusions. various causes are being considered. we will receive a big part of the information from the flight recorder that was found. we hope that we will find the other flight recorders as well. >> sreenivasan: russian intelligence officials have played down the possibility of terrorism in the crash. they're focusing instead on possible human error, equipment failure or bad fuel. back in this country: melees erupted at a number of shopping malls nationwide last night. cell phone video captured people getting into fights in at least 15 malls from colorado to cleveland. spooked shoppers ran for the exits, and dozens of people were arrested. police are saying troublemakers may have used social media to organize the fights. on wall street today, stocks moved slightly higher, in a quiet day of trading. the dow jones industrial average gained 11 points to close at 19,945. the nasdaq rose 24, to a new
record close, and the s&p 500 added five. and, actress carrie fisher, of "star wars" fame, died today at a los angeles hospital. she had suffered an apparent cardiac episode on a flight from london to los angeles last friday. >> what are you doing? >> somebody has to save our skins. into the garbage chute, flyboy! >> sreenivasan: it was the role of a lifetime, and for carrie fisher, playing princess leia organa defined much of her life. as she once said, "i've always been in 'star wars'. i've never not been in 'star wars.'" from an early age, she knew something of hollywood fame, as the child of actress debbie reynolds and singer eddie fisher. >> i didn't want to be different than other people, and that's what celebrities are. so being a celebrity kid, that's the dichotomy. you want to fit in, not stick out. my fantasy was to be normal. >> sreenivasan: fisher began her own career in "shampoo," with warren beatty, in 1975.
and then: ( theme of "star wars" ) starting in 1977, the original "star wars" trilogy made her instantly famous. it became a love-hate relationship, but fisher returned in 2015's sequel, "the force awakens." >> i like princess leia. i like how she handles things. i like how she treats people. she tells the truth. >> sreenivasan: her screen career included lesser parts as well, in "hannah and her sisters," and "when harry met sally." she won notice as a screenwriter and author, too, depicting her struggle with drug addiction in 1987's "postcards from the edge", her semi-auto- biographical novel and later movie. >> i'm not doing any drugs. >> sreenivasan: in later years, fisher used her one-woman show, "wishful drinking," to try to balance enduring fame with real life. >> this will really impress you. i am in the abnormal psychology textbook.
how cool is that? now keep in mind, i am a pez dispenser, and i'm in the abnormal psychology textbook. who says you can't have it all? >> sreenivasan: carrie fisher was 60 years old. fisher is survived by her mother, debbie reynolds, as well as a brother and a daughter. still to come on the newshour: donald trump's cabinet and obama's last days; an uncertain road ahead for refugees after the fall of aleppo; the reach of opioids into elementary schools, and much more. >> sreenivasan: we begin tonight with politics, and new questions surrounding president-elect donald trump's private foundation. lisa desjardins has our report. >> reporter: 'tis the season for charitable giving, but charity has been a long-running and controversial topic for president-elect trump, one that
he re-ignited last night. he posted two tweets, staunchly defending the donald j. trump foundation, his private charity, as both "generous" and "efficient." but those tweets ricocheted. some say they are misleading or plain false. so what do we know? let's start with this: mr. trump tweeted: "i gave millions of dollars to d.j.t. foundation." and he did. tax filings confirm mr. trump and his companies donated $6 million of his own money to the foundation. >> i wanted to make this out of the goodness of my heart. >> reporter: but here's the issue: timing. tax filings show he donated nothing to the foundation in recent years. instead, most of the foundation's funding, almost $10 million, has come from outside donors, including vince and linda mcmahon, the professional wrestling tycoons. linda mcmahon is now the trump nominee to head the small business administration. the couple gave $5 million in two years. next, this claim from trump: that "all" of his foundation
money "is given to charity." again, context is critical here. most of the trump foundation money did go to non-profits or charities, but philanthropy may not have been the only motivation. public documents show foundation funds also went to help settle lawsuits against mr. trump, or to political allies, as the "washington post's" david fahrenthold recently explained to the newshour. >> they gave to this group called "and justice for all," which was a political campaign committee helping florida attorney general pam bondi, who at the time, just happened to be considering-- her office was considering-- whether to pursue an investigation against trump university. they, later on, after the money came in, decided not to pursue that investigation. trump paid that money out of the trump foundation, which is against the law. >> reporter: finally, trump tweeted that his foundation "never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses." that is true: his children serve as the foundation's board, and the foundation is run by the staff of the trump organization, his business.
now, that creates an efficient family charity, but has raised some serious questions. charities are not supposed to directly benefit or overlap with for-profit businesses like the trump organization, and that's one reason the new york state attorney general is investigating the charity. and all that leads us to what's next for the trump foundation. the president-elect has announced he plans to close it. but legally, he's not allowed to do that until the new york investigation is over. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> sreenivasan: now, for more on the state of the trump transition and the last weeks of the obama administration, we turn to presidential historian and newshour regular michael beschloss; and white house correspondent and washington bureau chief for american urban radio, april ryan, author of "at momma's knee: mothers and race in black and white." we'll start with you. it seems president obama is still leaving his mark on his time here with commutations from
federal prisons, even gitmo some prisoners are being transferred out, obviously abstaining from the u.n. vote regarding israel. >> well, he's going to be president until the very end, january 20th at 12 noon 2017. this president has a legacy when it comes to criminal justice. theñi pardons and communetations will be on par with other presidents. but this is a legacy piece that he wants to show and make a mark with. when it comes to gitmo, he's been wanting to close git moasm that's something that has not fully worked for him the way he wanted it to, but he still once again, he's being presidential. as we were talking, his day with the japanese leader abe, they're working on issues of trying to show the world how reconciliation can look years after what happened at pearl harbor and also talking about a
world without any nukes, a hope for that. so he again is trying to set an example and keep his legacy in place as much as he can until that last moment that he is president in washington, d.c., next year. >> woodruff:>> sarah:>> sreenive there other historical examples of presidents taking diplomatic or policy stances on their way out? >> sure they do. jor h.w. bush sent american troops into maula for humanitarian reason, but in his case he said, is this okay with you, and bill clinton said yes, i'm for that. dwight eisenhower before he left the presidency in 1961, he broke diplomatic relations with cuba for a long time. but the difference here is you've got donald trump, who began right after the election doing all sorts of things that were new, like, for instance,
the telephone call to the president of taiwan, all sorts of tweets to make it clear that someone new is going to be in charge with very different views, and very different from, for instance, ronald reagan, who waited until a week after he became president to say the soviets lie, cheat, commit crimes to achieve their ends, but reagan felt the time to do that was not during the transition but right after he was president when he had the full power of being in the white house. >> sreenivasan: michael, does that impact in any way how the rest of the world perceives the abilities and actions of the current president? >> sure it does. if muscle is what president obama is trying to do and in the past usually a president-elect would be careful about sending a signal that there are sort of two presidents here at once or, for instance, in the eisenhower case, the bush case that i mentioned, they usually try to at least do it together with the president who is still there or excuse me with the incoming
president, but, you know, wife seen all sorts of precedents shattered by donald trump, and this is one more. >> sreenivasan: april ryan, these tweets and these disagreements seem to be happening in public and at the same time the incoming white house and the transition team say there is back channel communication that continues between president obama and president-elect trump. >> it's very interesting. i asked some white house officials about that communication, and all they would say is the fact that it's very interesting that donald trump during his time running for the oval office, which has satisfied president obama to talk about hillary clinton following president obama, and now he calls president obama quite a bit looking for advice or just wanting to talk about issues. and i find that very interesting to the point where the president, though, however, no matter how interesting it, is he makes it a point to pick up the phone and call him as soon as he can, call him back. just for the smooth transition that the presidents have
afforded from george w. bush to his presidency. so this president finds it very interesting, and particularly this is a crazy time, as they are watching this president say that if he were running against donald trump, he would win, and donald trump is going after him on social media saying, i don't think so, and then trying to keep the transition working. that's a very interesting piece by itself. >> sreenivasan: michael beschloss, let's talking about the cabinet, at least the announcements so far. how do they stack up on different actis, whether it's gender or race or sosa economic status? >> even the most ardent trump supporters would say it's not the most diverse cabinet. not a great deal of became, not a lot of diversity here. the interesting thing to me is that john kennedy, let's take that example, he was elected 1960 by only 100,000 popular votes, and his electoral vote was about 303, very close to
donald trump's, yet donald trump, who did not win the popular vote and the electoral vote like kennedy, you know, unlike kennedy, feels that he can basically do this and doesn't feel a political need to, you know, make more of an effort with democrats on the other side. kennedy, in his case, said, you know, i was barely elected by the popular vote. i'd rather make some effort to show that i get along with republicans and so he put republicans at the defense department, the treasury, in key positions to show that he recognized that that was not the most resounding mandate on earth. >> woodruff: april ryan, this transition team said they were looking for something different. >> yes, they are looking for something different, something totally not washington. what we're getting from many persons that i've talked to, be it democrat or republican, there is a general consensus that this is a business approach to social problems. and that, you know, with no governance really. the few people in the cabinet that have a governance stance
and government knowledge, governing knowledge, but the problem is if more is that this is oso new and so fresh, and on racial terms, george w. bush, i'm thinking back to that administration, george w. bush had the most diverse racial construct of his cabinet. now you go to the next republican president, number 45, donald j. trump, who is listening to his constituency and standing by what he said when he was campaigning, that he didn't care about being politically correct. it's going to be very interesting to see. >> sreenivasan: michael, how does this transition play out historically, when you have captains of industry moving into roles where they're leading organizations with thousands of people, with different kinds of organizations. >> it's one of the biggest experiments or even gambles we've seen in american history. donald trump's whole thing, and we said this in the campaign, is i don't think having political or public service experience is
particularly helpful. he essentially said he thinks it's harmful because you're part of an old establishment that did not work. we're about to see whether this works or not, and four years from now we will know. >> sreenivasan: all right. we'll have you back then. michael beschloss, april ryan, thank you both very much. >> great to see you. thank you. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: when the syrian uprising turned into a civil war in 2012, the country's largest city, aleppo, became a bastion for the rebel forces that opposed the syrian regime. after months of russian air strikes, last week the syrian government declared the entire city to be within their control. as aleppo fell, civilians and rebels were escorted out in an historic evacuation. special correspondent jane ferguson and videographer alessandro pavone traveled to the turkish-syrian border to meet those who escaped. a warning: some of the images are disturbing.
>> reporter: these are the survivors of eastern aleppo, battered by years of war, and months of unremitting air strikes. the lucky ones who lived through the siege come here to turkey for medical treatment. shrapnel from an air strike smashed into ahmad's tiny four- year-old body a month ago. his father says that his brother was killed in the same air raid, and he has had his leg very badly damaged. mohanned cradles a severely wounded hand. he is just seventeen, and says he too was injured by bombs dropping from the sky. >> ( translated ): in 11 days, they will do another operation on me, and god willing, when it is finished i will go back. >> reporter: outside a turkish hospital by the border with syria, the wounded gather.
two months ago she says that she was hit with an air strike, so she has only just now managed to get out to turkey for treatment. they came here after fleeing aleppo city, the last major bastion of revolution and revolt against bashar al assad's rule in syria. government forces defeated the city's remaining pockets of resistance last friday, after a siege and aerial bombing campaign by russian and syrian war planes. 35,000 people, including the remaining fighters and civilians, were evacuated in the last two weeks, after tense negotiations. they joined hundreds of thousands already displaced to other rebel-controlled areas outside the city. a convoy of buses leaving the shattered city became a symbol of the rebels' defeat. it was a somber exodus of people who once came close to overthrowing president bashar al assad. one of those who held out to the
end was salah ashkar, an activist from aleppo. he spent the final days of the bombardment documenting it on social media, and begging the outside world for help. he fled to turkey just days ago, still haunted by what he saw in aleppo. >> ( translated ): death was following us during the last days we spent in aleppo. the amount of air strikes we had there, i don't think has been seen anywhere in the world, or the types of bombs they dropped on us. the russian airplanes were constantly in the air, never leaving. >> reporter: but, he says, help never came. >> ( translated ): the people of aleppo lost their faith in countries that supported the revolution. everyone just watched them dying. they watched aleppo say goodbye to its people. no one helped us, without exception. not america, not france, not turkey. they just watched. >> reporter: for salah, the revolution is now over. a wanted man by the syrian
regime, if he returns to aleppo he risks arrest, torture and execution. >> i think i should search for a safe place where i can be free. i can live my life and express my opinion freely. i am searching for a new place to continue my studies. i cannot go back while assad is in power. >> reporter: neither can anyone who fought with the rebels. on the outskirts of the turkish city of antakya, just across the mountains from syria, we met with these two men hiding in an apartment after fleeing across the border two weeks ago. cousins who fought together in aleppo, they were just teenage boys when they joined the rebels more than five years ago. now, they are broken men. there is no room for bravado here. they have lost the will to fight any longer. >> always there were air strikes, they controlled the whole situation there. there was no point in fighting against them. it is finished. i felt like there is no point staying there. we could not fight air strikes
with rifles. >> reporter: they have little hope for the people who fled rebel-held areas of aleppo. >> ( translated ): they are homeless, without a future. if they want to work, they will be beggars. they will live in the street, and have no future. some lost their sons, others daughters and wives. for them there is no meaning to life. it is better to die. >> reporter: despite the dangers, others are still inside syria, helping the people who have ran from the government's advance. in an environment too dangerous for most foreign aid workers, it is often syrians themselves risking their lives to help their fellow citizens. u.s.-based mercy corps provides food and supplies to many in rebel-held areas. they are only able to do this with the help of those who stayed. >> it's incredibly risky. i think it is impossible to understate the risks that our syrian colleagues and syrian n.g.o.s are taking, to make sure that people have the services that they need. they are on the front lines of a conflict that has not abated and
they are risking their lives every day to make sure that these services reach the people that need them. >> reporter: back at the hospital in turkey, mehmet alver, a pharmacist living nearby, helps those who come for treatment. he has been overwhelmed by the huge numbers running away from the bombardment in aleppo. >> ( translated ): i am a human being, i have children, i have a heart. look at the situation there. i cannot stay in my house, just watching. i cannot do that. this war happening next to me, i cannot close my eyes or close my ears or keep silent. tomorrow or in the future, that might happen to me. >> reporter: after being bandaged and stitched back together, these people can't stay here, and must now return to syria. most of them will have to stay in refugee camps, now that they have lost their homes in aleppo city. they return to a life as exiles in their own country. for the pbs newshour, i'm jane ferguson, on the turkey-syria border.
>> sreenivasan: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: a greek scientist who claims he can transform water to energy; and the best of 2016, starting with books. but first, the number of deaths from opioid abuse continues to climb, topping 33,000 in 2015, according to the federal government. one of the hardest-hit states is west virginia, where the impact of the opioid problem can reach elementary schools. it's not the students who are using, but their parents. grandparents, foster parents and the schools are figuring out how to cope for the youngest kids. special correspondent lisa stark, with our partner education week, traveled to jackson county, west virginia. it's the focus of our weekly education series, "making the grade." >> reporter: emily durst's 4th grade class is a lively place. the cottageville elementary school teacher likes to combine math with movement.
>> two, four, six, eight! >> reporter: and with music. >> ♪ 20, 24, 28. >> reporter: so it's not surprising that ten-year-old briana sotomayor looks forward to school, and to learning. >> i love to write. i write stories all the time. >> reporter: briana came to cottageville elementary at the end of second grade. it had been a tough year. she and her sister riley ricocheted among four schools, and three foster homes. ending up at the sotomayor home. >> they had reached a certain point where it was just, they didn't trust anybody. they didn't believe anybody. >> reporter: for the sisters, life had had a rough start. born to a mother addicted to drugs, including prescription pain pills, and a father in and out of jail. >> they were able to-- in great detail-- tell you how to crush pain medications and mix them with water and inject them,
among other things. they knew far more about it than i did. >> reporter: carrie and paul sotomayor have now adopted the girls, and also a little boy, zeke, who had been neglected as an infant. now they're a family. >> we've adopted three children, and lord willing, one more. >> reporter: like briana and riley, the 4th child they hope to adopt-- a boy, three months old-- was also born to a drug addicted mother. >> when we brought him through the door, riley just burst into tears and said, "how could anybody have done drugs and hurt this little baby?" it just broke her heart. >> reporter: the impact of the opioid epidemic on children, parents almost dying from pain pills-- fentanyl or heroin-- has been on graphic display in pictures released by law enforcement. the epidemic has hit hard in west virginia.
with more parents abusing drugs, the number of children placed in foster care has jumped 24% in five years, to more than 5,000. here in jackson county, local officials saw a spike in overdoses among adults after this aluminum factory shut down in 2009, throwing hundreds out of work. unemployment is just one of the risk factors that puts west virginia right at the heart of the opioid epidemic. it's also a state with dangerous jobs, from manufacturing to coal mining. workers get injured, they are prescribed powerful opioids for pain relief, and that can begin a cycle of addiction. jackson county sheriff tony boggs, who is part of a community task force to combat drug abuse, says heroin is now his number one drug problem, after marijuana. >> i think in the mid- to late- '90's, oxycontin was a huge ordeal. it was prescribed, in my
opinion, way out of control. it got a lot of people addicted. once it starts drying up, then they have to have something to turn to. it's whatever's easiest and readily available, and that has become heroin. >> reporter: this has not gone unnoticed at cottageville elementary. >> we definitely see that impact. no one is waking them up to get up for school. they're often late because their parents are sleeping in, because they had partied too late the night before. the child has no food. they are hungry when they enter the building. they don't want to go home on the weekends. >> reporter: principal tracy lemasters, who holds a hallway huddle with her staff every morning, regularly checks the local paper to see if any of her student's parents have been arrested, so she and the teachers can be ready to help that child.
>> well, have a good day! it could be very heartbreaking. you know, i have preschool students that freely, at mealtimes, talk about their mommies or daddies being in jail. and under a new program here, called handle with care, law enforcement now contacts the school district if they have an interaction with a family overnight. >> they'll know that, hey, that kid had a rough night last night. there's a reason that they're acting out in school today, or there's a reason they are not here today. >> reporter: at cottageville elementary, the percentage of low-income students is so high-- over 90%-- that everyone gets a free breakfast and lunch. the school's 137 students come from the surrounding neighborhoods, including three nearby trailer parks. principal lemasters figures about a third of her students do not live with their biological parents, mainly due to drug abuse. how does that impact you as a principal of a school?
>> we assume that everything needs to be provided here. so that means, if they need clothes, we're going to give them clothes. if they need food, we're going to get them food. you know, they need love, we're giving them the hug. >> i love you, too. how about a hug? have a good day! >> reporter: school counselor robin corbin meets with kids three days a week. it's not enough. the school could use her full time. it's not in the budget. so corbin last year began enlisting help, turning to employees of a local plastics company to become mentors for students who needed extra support. the kids see it as a weekly half hour of fun, but it's really much more. what are you hoping to accomplish with this program? >> just someone else in their life they can depend on. that was one of the main things that we ask of these mentors, is that they be reliable and dependable. if they say they're going to be here tuesday at 11:30-- please be here tuesday at 11:30. and they've been fantastic with that.
that's something that these children don't have and don't see, an adult they can depend on. >> reporter: and like many school districts nationwide, this one participates in a national drug prevention education week, holding an essay and poster contest. >> next, we'll have our essay award presentation. >> reporter: and among the winners: briana sotomayor, whose essay spoke volumes. do you mind reading us what you wrote? >> sure, okay. >> reporter: this is your winning essay. okay. >> a better life: there once was this woman who was on drugs, and i was her daughter. now she is very sick. >> reporter: briana goes on to talk about her ambitions: to be a gymnastics teacher, to have a husband and children, to stay away from drugs. >> if i grew up to be like my biological mom, i wouldn't get any of those things. >> it was definitely heart- touching, and to see a girl, especially ten years old, to
really just be honest. >> reporter: for briana and her sister riley, there's a community helping them move beyond their past, from their new mom and dad, to the educators who nurture them. when i come back and talk to you when you're 20 years old or 30 years old-- what's briana going to be like then? >> well, i'm going to be old! >> reporter: you will be! >> but hopefully, i won't be on drugs and i will be succeeding in my priorities and just succeeding in life. >> reporter: that's a lesson these schools are trying to teach all their students. in jackson county, west virginia, i'm lisa stark of education week, reporting for the pbs newshour.
>> sreenivasan: imagine a mini power supply in your house or car that made it possible for you to be off the grid. what if that source of energy was totally clean, and powered by simple tap water? well, a greek scientist claims to have created a machine that converts water into power. as part of our occasional "innovation" series, special correspondent malcolm brabant traveled to the inventor's island home. >> reporter: physicist petros zografos spent 30 years trying to work out how, using minimal energy, he could break down the water molecule, h20, into its component parts: hydrogen and oxygen. now, he thinks he's cracked it, with this, his mini power station, which he hopes will help reverse global pollution. >> ( translated ): since i have children and grandchildren-- my son has just made me a
grandfather-- i cannot go on watching this planet being so violently abused. >> reporter: george shoell, from southern germany, whose company makes solar panels, is interested in helping develop and market zografos' invention. he headed out of athens for a nearby greek island, to inspect it for the first time. >> for the people, this would be exactly what they want, exactly what they can use at home. but to be honest, for the big energy suppliers, this will be a problem, because if anyone takes his own energy, no one will need the grid any more. >> reporter: in zografos' modest home, there was a last-minute technical briefing beneath a bust of zeus, the ancient greek god who dispensed power through thunderbolts. then, colleague pantelis kotsianis gave a demonstration. >> we have no wires, no external wires from the grid, connected to the system.
this is the machine stand alone, reconnect later on, to the mains, get off the grid, and then we'll put the water from the glass into this tube and within 40 seconds we'll have the power to power the whole house. ( power turning off ) right now, we're off the grid. we've turned off the switch, we'll prove that this connector has no power at all. you see there's no power on this connector. so i'm putting some water slowly right now, and we just connect the mains right now to the machine. ( power turning on ) and basically, you can run the whole house now and turn on the tv and anything else in the house that you want right now. >> how much power do you have? >> about 800 watts.
>> reporter: which was enough to enable the inventor's wife to prepare lunch. the average american house needs about 30,000 watts per hour. >> it's a brand new technology, never existed before. we're using frequencies. and with frequencies, you don't have to use high power. you don't need to use excessive energy, or really any energy at all, in order to get the fuel that you need. every rock, every bridge has a very specific resonance. when you vibrate a system at a specific frequency which is the system's frequency, that system would break. so, you don't need force to do that. >> reporter: it's similar to the biblical story of trumpets destroying the walls of jericho. this is the acropolis in athens, not jericho, but the temples date from the same era. it was not a religious miracle that brought down jericho's walls, but sound waves from the trumpets.
the inventor claims water can be unlocked in the same way. there are three stages to this machine. the first is motion: the act of pouring of the water generates energy to start the resonance process. the second is oscillation: a new compound created by the inventor helps produce the hydrogen. the third is the exhaust system, where the only by-product is room-temperature water vapor. despite having rich potential for renewal energy, greece is heavily dependent on fossil fuel. much of its electricity comes from lignite, a peat-like substance, transported along conveyor belts from vast open cast mines. lignite is one of the world's most polluting fuels, and according to environmentalists, these plants are responsible for ailments, such as cancer, that cost the greek health service up to $4 billion a year. >> ( translated ): the sea used
to provide us with all the fish we needed, but now, i can see that life is diminishing on the planet, and it's human beings are responsible for this. so i would really like this invention to be made available worldwide so that it may halt further destruction of the planet, as much as possible. >> reporter: the science employed by zografos has been validated by a committee of greek physicists. independent engineer lampis tomasis was a skeptic, but is now a believer. >> i used spectrum analyzers, i used analyzers for the exhaust fumes, i used oscilloscopes and other instruments as well. and i am convinced now that the machine is working perfectly, does not produce any dirt to the environment and the only product produced is hydrogen, which is very clean for the environment. >> reporter: two hours after the machine was started, it needed
topping up. >> we added some fuel to our system. we depleted it with running everything in the house. >> reporter: the team behind this project has rejected several multi-million dollar offers to the rights to the invention, because they want to control what happens to it. but they are fairly optimistic, and they are talking in terms of this possibly being the start of a new age. but there has to be a word of caution because there have been several great greek innovations in the past that have died at birth. they have been strangled by red tape, and vested interests. to obtain an independent assessment, we went to the niels bohr institute in copenhagen, named after one of the most important contributors to modern physics and the atomic age. >> i'm extremely skeptical of the way it allegedly is functioning. i seriously doubt there is excess energy from this device. >> reporter: jacob frederiksen says the invention would be fantastic, if true. but first, he says, the science must be subjected to peer
review, and that other experts need to be able to reproduce the results. he believes using frequencies to split hydrogen and oxygen is valid, but doubts the process can yield sufficient extra power. >> let's assume we have this huge molecule of water, right? oxygen and hydrogen bound together in the water molecule. in order to split this, you really need to pull it apart, split these atoms apart. now you have spent quite a lot of energy to split them, you can regain part of that energy by combining them, by combustion processes. you already spent the energy to split it, and you only get part of that energy back when you recombine it by burning the hydrogen. and that difference will not be a positive one. >> reporter: in response, the greeks say they'll happily agree to a peer review once they've obtained a worldwide patent. they also insist their system does not conform to the standard rules of electrolysis, or separating of hydrogen and
oxygen. george shoell, the german businessman, headed towards home, satisfied with the greeks' claims that their process uses minimal energy and is highly efficient. he predicted that, if all went well, mini home power stations could go into production within a year. >> i was really excited about this invention. it was over 100% fulfilled. and i'm really satisfied that i did this trip, because i didn't expect the machine to run as it runs. >> i want this invention to spread as far as possible, to the last village in africa, where the children don't have electric light to read and study by, where they don't have enough water. >> reporter: the next test for petros zografos and his team will be to build a 200 kilowatt machine, about the size of two fridges, to light up a small greek island fuelled by the surrounding water. he hopes to stage a trial within
the next six months. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant in greece. >> sreenivasan: now, a look at some of the outstanding books of 2016. jeffrey brown sat down recently with best-selling authors jacqueline woodson, the 2016 national book award winner for fiction, and daniel pink, at "politics and prose," a popular bookstore here in washington, d.c. for daniel pink, the highlight of the year was matthew desmond's "evicted: poverty and profit in the american city." >> this is an incredible book by a guy named matthew desmond, a sociologist at harvard, but this is not a dry, academic book. it almost reads like a very harrowing november. he spent about a year living in two different loy-income parts of milwaukee. this book i think shines a light on things that middle-class people don't really understand. first of all, most low-income
people in this country do not live in public housing. they operate in the private rental market. the second thing is they're spending 60%, 70%, sometimes 80% of their income on housing. and it's not sustainable. and so what happen, they scrape together money for a deposit. they pay first month's rent. they can't sustain it and they get evicted. these evictions are happening not in thousands but by the millions. it's a virus in the system. i consider this book in the same kind of historical tradition as "let us now praise famous men." "the other america." i think this book, if you have a friend who is a public official, hand him or her this book. it's that important. this raises serious questions about what kind of country do we want to be. >> brown: this is also on your list? >> i ditto everything he says. it's such an important book. >> woodruff: what do you want to start with? >> i want the start with "ghost" by jason reynolds.
it's considered a "middle grade" book, but it's for anyone who has ever had a family, ever loved run, ever felt outside of a place. my eight-year-old loves it. my 14-year-old loves it. i love it. it crosses a lot of boundaries in beautiful ways. it's about a young boy who joins a track team and he comes from a single mom. he finds a new family in this new track team but becomes this amazing runner and has started out by running away from this tragedy that happens in his family. i won't give it away. it's such a satisfying story and you meet all of these amazing young people. >> i'll give this to my 14-year-old, "runner," but i'll read it first. >> brown: next? >> this is book three by general lewis and a couple colleagues. this is a graphic memoir. it's the third book in john lewis current georgia
congressman wrote. >> he lived it. >> this is about an extraordinary moment in time. it's 1963 to 1965. the tumultuousness of that period is breathtaking. it's captured because of the form i think in this incredibly cinematic way. this is a book about violence perpetrated against people because of their skin color. this is a book about irregularities in our voting system, and integrity of a democratic process. this is a book about a world that seems like it's spinning out of control. so it's endlessly relevant. >> i completely agree. i think that's such an important book. >> and john lewis got interested initially in the civil rights movement because of the comic book. so part of his paying homage to this tradition that you can tell serious stories and talk about serious issues in graphic form. >> woodruff:>> sreenivasan: jac, number two? >> i have to bring up "black panther." he was first black superhero in 1966. he comes from a fictional place in africa, and he's this amazing
superhero. it's about a lot of stuff that we're talking about now. it's about race. it's about power. it's about just trying to change the world, and it's fascinating. i am a big "black panther" fan even though i wasn't as a child. i didn't read comic books. i read mad magazine. >> mad magazine is like one of my few formative experiences, absolutely. mad magazine teaches a whole generation of people to be irreverent toward power. >> it's so true. you can really do that? >> yeah, and get away with that? >> and actually make money it from. >> brown: all right. number three? >> i have this one here, this terrific book called "lab girl." when i read this book, and i loved it, i was thinking about the pitch meeting for this book, because i can't imagine it went all that well. this is a memoir of a geobiologist. i can't imagine people jumping up and down over this. what i love about this book is it's a great book about science. if there is one scene in there
that's unforgettable, she's working for her ph.d., and she discovers something that nobody ever imagined, and in that moment, she realizes that an hour ago nobody knew this thing and she knew it, and even more than that, at that moment she was the only person on the planet who knows this thing. >> brown: scientific discovery. >> it's thrilling. i love this book. i don't think scientists have had a good year. i don't think women have had a good year, so a book about women scientists is a great pick for the end of the year. >> this is a book, "you can't touch my hair," and i was torn in choosing this over the other two books because of they're all phenomenal. i woke up about the other two later, but it was because i didn't think this got the attention that it deserved to get. and people don't know about it. it's a book about race. it's a book about what it means to grow up female in this country and female and black.
>> brown: the whole title. "you can't touch my hair and other things i have to explain." >> she talks about what it's like growing up black. you have folks plain your body. you have to explain your hair. she's the only black girl at an all-white school. there's a lot of explaining that goes into being african american. she also dates interracially and has to explain that to the black community. it's this dialogue we're finally beginning to have across lines of race. and she makes people feel safer talking about race, so i think it's kind of the gateway into having these bigger dialogues that we need to have in this country, given where this country is right now. so "you can't touch my hair," phoebe robinson. it's funny. it's thoughtful. she's wickedly brilliant and comes to the table with
everything from queen latifah to nwa to obama, oprah. >> brown: all right. we will continue the discussion online with lots more recommendations. i'll invite the audience to join us later on. for now, jacqueline woodson, daniel pink, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: right now on our website, find holiday book recommendations from newshour staff. that's at www.pbs.org/newshour. and tomorrow on the newshour, jeff looks at some of 2016's best television programs. he talks with eric deggans of npr and andrew sepinwall or the website, the uproxx, about the hundreds of shows now available, what some call "too much tv." >> well, what's amazing about this moment, not only do we have a lot of quantity, we have a lot of quality, because that quantity is coming from media outlets and tv outlets that are trying the build their brand by creating great television some we have amazon. we have netflix, and it's all supposed to be very well done. they're not just pumping shows
out there to put their mouth there, they're trying to do great work. and that means that for a fan, there's a wide array of shows out, there and you can pick and choose according to your very specific place and come up with a list of top ten or top 12 that's totally different from anything that alan and i pick and all of those shows would also be great, too. >> we this a television critics' poll where we reach out to 60 tv critics across the country, including eric, and we ask them to name their ten favorite shows of the year. i get the ballots back and i haven't heard of some of these show, and it's my job to watch television. that's how much great stuff is out. there it's ridiculous. >> sreenivasan: and before we go, another lens on the migrants and refugee crisis. this year has already proven to be the deadliest yet for those trying to reach europe by crossing the mediterranean. the united nations' latest numbers show some 5,000 people have died so far in 2016. among the reasons for that spike: people setting off in increasingly flimsy, less sea-
>> there was a kid who was sitting right in front of me on the boat. to see the fear, and it's not... i mean, we're young men. we can have it. we can do it. but to see that kids are going through this and they're pleading for you to help them or do something, it was like literally just do something. to witness that is just hard. >> after half an hour the turkish coast guard showed up, and they... we all got on... we were rescued, all of us.
luckily no one died. no one drowned. and we were taken back to the coast guard station. the treatment was good. they gave us food and water. and then after a while we... after they took our information, they released us after like a couple of hours. and we went back. back the -- to square one. >> sreenivasan: "frontline" airs tonight >> sreenivasan: "frontline" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on most pbs stations. online, read our tribute to acclaimed astronomer and pioneering feminist vera rubin, who died on sunday. rubin's work provided the first convincing evidence of dark matter and showed that the mysterious material makes up 90% of our universe. find all that and more, at www.pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, "race matters solutions:" progress in a segregated new york city school.
i'm hari sreenivasan. 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 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 is "bbc world news america." funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation. newman's own foundation, giving all profits from newman's own to charity and pursuing the common good. kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. and aruba tourism authority. >> planning a vacation escape that is relaxing, inviting, and exciting is a lot easier than you think. you can find it here in aruba. families, couples, and friends can all find their escape on the island with warm, sunny days, cooling trade winds, and the crystal blue caribbean sea. nonstop flights are available from most major airports. more information for your vacation planning is available at aruba.com. >> and now, "bbc world news america."