tv PBS News Hour PBS February 13, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, president trump meets with canada's prime minister, amid growing concerns over the white house national security advisor's connections with russia. then, rushing to repair a california dam-- nearly 200,000 people are forced to evacuate as oncoming storms approach. and, on the digital front lines, how students are using technology to investigate human rights violations in the middle east. >> we're really used to being able to say here's this store, and you type it into google, you get an address, and you're done. in syria there's not easily accessible addresses, there's no google street view. >> woodruff: all that and more
>> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the well-being of humanity around the world by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at rockefellerfoundation.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: there's word from the white house tonight that the president is mulling the fate of
his national security advisor, general michael flynn. that follows a day when mr. trump hosted a new v.i.p. visitor. john yang has our report. >> our two nations share much more than a border. we share the same values. >> yang: president trump was full of praise for canada and prime minister justin trudeau, but policy differences were plain to see. on immigration: mr. trump touted new roundups in recent days. >> i said at the beginning we are going to get the bad ones, the really bad ones. we're getting them out. and that's exactly what we're doing. i think that in the end everyone is going to be extremely happy. and i will tell you right now a lot of people are very, very happy right now. >> yang: the president is also fighting in federal court to re- instate a ban on travelers from seven mostly muslim countries. in sharp contrast, mr. trudeau has welcomed some 40,000 refugees from war-torn syria-- but he declined to criticize mr. trump.
>> the last thing canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves. my role, our responsibility, is to continue to govern in such a way that reflects canadians' approach and be a positive example in world. >> yang: the two leaders also talked nafta-- the north american free trade agreement. >> millions of good jobs on both sides of the border depend on the smooth and easy flow of goods and services and people back and forth across our border. and both president trump and i got elected on commitments to support middle class, to work hard for people who need real shot at success. >> yang: mr. trump has called for renegotiating nafta, but he soft-pedaled that stance today. >> we have a very outstanding trade relationship with canada. we'll be tweaking it.
we'll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. it's a much less severe situation than what's taken place on the southern border. >> yang: the president was not asked about michael flynn, his embattled national security adviser, and he ignored shouted questions after the formal news conference ended. "the washington post" reports that, despite his earlier denial, flynn did talk to the russian ambassador to the u.s. before the inauguration, about dropping sanctions on moscow. that would be illegal, since he was a private citizen at the time. in addition, he appears to have misled vice president pence, who publicly vouched for flynn. now, the retired general says he cannot recall if he and the russian envoy discussed the sanctions. today, administration officials said they couldn't say if flynn still had the president's confidence after senior policy adviser stephen miller pointedly declined to defend him. >> would that be considered a fireable offense in the trump white house?
>> it's not for me to answer hypotheticals. it wouldn't be responsible. it's a sensitive matter. general flynn has served his country admirably. he served his country with distinction. >> yang: the kremlin insisted again today that flynn did not discuss lifting sanctions with the russian ambassador. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang at the white house. >> woodruff: matters took a different turn within the past hour when white house press secretary sean spicer read a statement to reporters, saying that the president is "evaluating the situation" regarding michael flynn and speaking with vice president pence about it. in the day's other news, the u.s. senate moved to confirm two more trump cabinet nominees this evening. they are: former goldman sachs banker steve mnuchin, for secretary of the treasury. and, dr. david shulkin to head the department of veterans affairs. senators grappled this afternoon over mnuchin's record at one- west bank, when it foreclosed on thousands of homes. >> i simply cannot forgive
somebody who took a look at that banking crisis, who took a look at the pain that wall street had sent in a wave across all of america and thought ah! here's a great new way to make money, foreclosing on people. done. i'm out. sorry, can't vote for somebody like that. >> they've essentially thrown everything including the kitchen sink at this nominee in a desperate attempt to block his nomination. well so far, mr. president, nothing has worked. that's because none of the allegations that my colleagues have raised can withstand even a modest amount of scrutiny. >> woodruff: shulkin, the veterans nominee, is a former obama administration official and has had greater bipartisan support. president trump vowed today to "deal with" north korea, after it test-fired a new type of solid-fuel ballistic missile early sunday. he did not elaborate. north korean state tv today released video of the launch. a u.s. tracking of the intermediate-range missile
showed it traveled about 310 miles, before landing in the sea of japan. a powerful storm dumped two feet of snow or more on states along the northeast seaboard today. the storm blasted its way from upstate new york to maine, touching off car crashes and closing roads and hundreds of schools. crews worked to dig out streets, as the snow kept coming. >> our biggest concern moving forward is what's happening with all this snow. we're worried about snow plow drivers, blocking vents, or snow falling off of roofs. >> woodruff: the storm is expected to ease tonight, but coastal towns are bracing for flooding. a federal judge in washington has denied the latest bid by two sioux indian tribes to block completion of the dakota access oil pipeline. the judge ruled there's no immediate risk as long as oil is not yet running through the line. the tribes say the pipeline will endanger water supplies and
cultural sites, and they vow to pursue the case. on wall street today, financial stocks led a broad advance. the dow jones industrial average gained 142 points to close at 20,412. the nasdaq rose 29 points, and the s&p 500 added 12. they're still buzzing about the grammy awards, and the banner night for adele. she won for song and record of the year with "hello," and album of the year, "25." it came at expense of beyonce, who won instead for best contemporary urban album, with "lemonade." but it fueled new criticism that black artists are overshadowed, and adele said later that beyonce deserved the album award. all this, on the same day a seven-time grammy winner, al jarreau, died in los angeles, just two days after announcing his retirement. jarreau was lauded for his deft vocals and earned critical
acclaim in r&b and pop, as well as jazz. his best known hits included 1981's "we're in this love together." al jarreau was 76 years old. still to come on the newshour, reports of the president's national security council in disarray. erosion at a california lake forces nearly 200,000 to evacuate. rare video showing life under the terror group boko haram, and much more. >> woodruff: it's been less than a month since donald trump took office, but already there are numerous reports that the national security council, which advises the president on key foreign, military and intelligence issues, is in disarray. the leader of the n.s.c., retired army general michael flynn, has come under increasing criticism for his contacts with russia's ambassador to the u.s.
we turn now to leon panetta. he served as the director of the c.i.a. and secretary of defense during the obama administration. he also served as white house chief of staff for president clinton. and david sanger covers national security for the "new york times." both of you back to the program. david sanger, i'm going to start with you. you and your colleagues at the "new york times" wrote a pretty remarkable story yesterday about, well, you can't use any words other than disarray, chaos, inside the national security council. given that, and the events of today, where do things stand? >> well, i think that everybody in the national security council is wondering when they're going to begin to get to what the council is supposed to be doing which is coordinate among the different agencies of government, bring intelligence debate debate policy. several things have gotten in the way of doing that, judy.
the first is that as you reported before, general flynn has been under this crowd and investigation and now we hear just a little while ago that president trump and vice president pence are considering his fate. that just an hour after we were told that he's got the president's full confidence. the secretary thing that is going on is that the staff itself is a little bit paranoid rate now. they know that mr. flin has-- flynn has talked about starting an insider threat program, that seems to them to be an invitation for their emails to be monitered, their cell phones to be watched. we don't know that any of that is going to happen but it gives you a sense of the mood. and the third thing is that many of the people on the nsc, this body that is supposed to coordinate all this different policy come from the agencies and they feet as if they've been frozen out. and yet there is no one above them who has got a clear job
responsibility. so i would say that for an operation that is supposed to run like a business, it's not running much like a business. >> woodruff: well, there's a lot to tackle there. but secretary panetta, i want to go first to the fate of michael flynn, the general who is the president's national security advisor. as we've been reporting and as david just said, the president himself issued a statement that to his press secretary tonight saying that he's talking to the vice president about what to do. is what general flynn reportedly did talking to the russian ambassador to the u.s. before president trump takes office about what to do about russian sanctions, is that something that is just off-- should be, frankly, off limits for someone in his position, advising the president to be? >> well, there's a lot for the president, the vice president to consider here. i think first and fore most is
one of the principle qualities that you need as national security advise certificate trust, the trust of the president. and that depends on trt and it it depends on honesty. and if, indeed, the national security advisor did not tell the truth to the vice president, and the vice president in turn went out to the american people and said that he had had no such conversations with the russian ambassador, i think that's a serious matter. and one for them to think seriously about. with regards to the substance of what was discussed, you know, it's hard to tell exactly what these conversations were about. i think it is of concern in terms of judgement for somebody who is not in a position of power to raise the sanctions issue. i think the sanctions issue in general is a terrible mistake to even imply that we would
withdraw from those sanctions. but i guess more seriously here is the issue of just exactly what was discussed. and those discuss issues are under investigation both by the fbi as well as the congress. >> secretary panetta, let me stay with you. because while we wait to learn the fate of general flynn, what david sanger and his colleagues are reporting on is the situation inside the national security council, the staff. is that typical for the early days of a new administration? >> no, no, it certainly isn't. i think the other quality that a national security advisor must have is the ability to set up procedures. look, he's an advisor. he's staff, he's not the president of the united states. his primary responsibility is to set up the procedures that would allow the deputies to meet, the principles to meet and the national security council in order for them to move forward recommendations to the president of the united states who makes
the final decision. as far as i know, none of those processes have been put in place. we're almost a month into this administration, we're dealing with a number of crises around the world. i think this is a very dangerous moment not to have those procedures in place. >> and david sanger, what more have you learned about why these procedures aren't in place, why ther is still so much uncertainty on the part of people working for the national security council. >> well, i think part of it, judy s that what we're seeing happen here is is the administration came in saying that it would destroy the status quo, that it got elected to do something different. and it has brought in people who it deliberately chose for the fact that they were outside washington. that that meant that they didn't have around them the people who understood how the system worked. and so you saw general flynn come in, i think, without much
of an understanding, he had run the defense intelligence agency, of how this coordinating role came together. and you know, people who know the nsc well talk about the days when general scoa croft ran it or george h-w bush, when others familiar with how these organizations are supposed to come together, how you build a staff, as secretary panetta did at the cia ands achieve of staff. and i think most of these folks have come in without that experience and then they brought in cabinet members who largely came from the business world, bringing a refreshing different view to this, but also have no sense is of how the system is supposed to run. so the basics, running deputies, committees to make decisions and run those up to the president, aren't happening. >> woodruff: secretary panetta, what are the risks in a situation like this? >> well, you're running a terrible risks. we saw a little bit of that over
the weekend with the north korean missile launch. and what seemed to be the inability of the white house to it respond definitively to what had happened. those kinds of crises are going to happen. we're dealing with a number of crises whether it's ice ease, whether it's iran, whether it's north korea, russia or china, cyberattacks, there is a whole array of crises out there. if you don't have a mechanism in the white house that is able to deal with those crises in a thoughtful and careful way, in order to move options to the president, then you're going to have a very hit-and-miss operation, the kind that we're seeing now. >> david sanger, i know this is speculation, but if there were someone to come in to replace michael flynn if he is removed, how much dirchesz would that make based on your reporting? >> well, it it depends on who it is. whether you bring in somebody else who might have the confidence of the president but not understand the nsc
procedures, or whether you bring in somebody who has done this before but might not fit in well with that inner team around the president. and of course the most important thing for an nsc advisor is to have the trust of the president. so people have named, for example, steve hadley who was the national security advisor under george w.nbush in his second term and had been experienced in things like this. there are a few other republicans around who have also had that experience. but none of them have connections to mr. trump. and mr. trump seems to be mostly impressed these days with people who had either military experience, most of the senior directors he has annoint -- appointed on the nsc come from the military or have been very successful in business. and neither of those two backgrounds, necessarily, help you with what the nsc does. >> and quickly to secretary panetta, new person comes in, can that turn things around
quickly? >> if that person has experience in terms of how the nsc is supposed to operate, then i think you can put in place the procedures that are required to do. but that person is going to have to have the trust of the president first and fore most. and if he has that, or she has that, it it could work. >> woodruff: secretary leon pannetta david sanger, we thank you both. >> woodruff: now, the integrity of a major dam in california comes under threat, after days of historic rain-fall in the region. william brangham has our report. >> brangham: at northern california's lake oroville, home to the nation's tallest dam, water levels finally receded, which stopped the overflow of water from the dam's emergency spillway. this reduced the risk of the
spillway's total collapse, which would've triggered uncontrolled flooding and threatened tens of thousands of homes below. at a press conference, local officials couldn't answer why the system failed. >> we'll i'm not sure anything went wrong. i think that system has been installed since early 1960s, it's been looked, at its been monitored. >> brangham: today, they faced a much tamer scene than on saturday. officials had to open the dam's emergency spillway for the first time in 50 years because of record high water levels caused by recent heavy winter rain and snow. when water was drained from the dam's main spillway, the huge volume eroded chunks of concrete and dug a 30-foot-deep hole at its base. it was then that officials opened the emergency spillway. when that water started eroding the earthen embankment, officials feared the wall would collapse all together. and so on sunday, authorities ordered the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people living below the
lake. with little notice, residents were stuck in traffic for hours trying to leave. >> i panicked and started putting things in my car. i basically, my violin, a didgeridoo, some family photos, and i grabbed some wet laundry. can you believe that? >> brangham: the "san jose mercury news" reports that officials ignored warnings about the fragility of the emergency spillway for years. back in 2005, environmental groups warned officials that this other spillway "did not meet modern safety standards." for now, california governor officials hope to drain enough water from the reservoir to make room for the large storm that's expected on wednesday. we assess the threat at oroville now with jeffrey mount, senior fellow with the public policy institute of california's water policy center, where his research focuses on water resource and flood management. thank you very much for being here. so jeffrey, i understand that
the main threat seems to are receded slightly. people are still evacuating as we speak. what was it officials were worried was going to happen? >> well, ultimately what the big fear was that there would be an uncontrolled release of a reservoir. the worst nightmare of a reservoir engineer is not being able to control the water behind the reservoir and the emergency spillway, had it failed and had it it collapsed would basically have lowered the lake level by almost 30 feet and that is a tremendous amount of water in a short period of time, which would have resulted in catastrophic flooding downstream. >> so the basic issue here as we reported is too much rain, too much snow, which i know is a good thing in california, normally, but what is it with regards to the engineering that went wrong here? >> well, so we have a couple of things. you have to remember that california reservoirs are under tension all the time. we use them to store water, and of course we're just coming out of a record drought, we store water but we also use them to
regulate floods. so you have to set aside some space behind the reservoir. and in this case, there's not much space set behind this reservoir to catch floods. so it filled. and it filled pretty quickly. and then we had to run water down a spillway and we were forced to allow water to go over an emergency spill which which had never been tested since the oroville was built in 1968. and things didn't go well when the water went over the spillway. so we ended up with basically, what you can consider the-- flood event you never know what will happen and water has a way of testing all the shortcoming of your design and your actions and it did so in oroville. >> so as we reported there is a hole that was carved out of the main spillway and concrete was basically rip add part by the volume of water. how are they addressing that issue now? >> well, they're not addressing it now, they can't. they can't do anything about it because they are hundreding 100,000 cubic feet per secretary of water down that spillway now.
they will be able to address it this summer, and they don't know now what they are going to do about it. but they have lost almost half of that spillway, just the tower power of water tore it to pieces and moved it down river. there is really nothing they can do today about that spillway. they have to use it. >> we mentioned that there had been some concerns raised about the earthen berm that is underneath the auxiliary spillway. why was it that that wasn't shored up. people people just not see that this would possibly be an issue. >> i'm sure people thought it was an issue if he time. but are you always faced with how much money are you going to spend toed ares something you think is going to be a very, very rare event. and that's actually what happens in reservoir design, dam design anywhere. you can spend an infinite amount of money to mitigate the most improbable things, but there still is a probability. i think the big thing, the big
takeaway here when you look at this is that the engineers probably dismissed the idea of coating that hillside in concrete because it would be very, very expensive to mitigate something that was highly unlikely to happen, and it never happened before in the dam's history. well, now it it happened. and frankly all our climate projections for the future are suggesting these kind of events might be more frequent and even more intense. so for us, here in california, this is a bit of a time to reflect on what we are asking our reservoirs to do and how we manage them and how we're going to prepare for the future. >> all right, jeffrey mount of the public policy institute of california, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: a rare look at life under the rule of the nigerian militant group, boko haram, as
filmed by the group itself. audie cornish of n.p.r.'s "all things considered" recorded this conversation last week. >> last year voice of america news service which is funded by the u.s. government received a stunning troaf of individual-- videos from nigeria ia, 18 hours by boko haram's own cameras, from north eastern nigeria. at the time boko haram had total control of the region. the videos take us behind boko haram's assault on the nigerian military and into villages where their leaders administer rough justice. doa has received-- produced a series of four reports based on the videos and joining me to talk about what we can learn from these images is ibrahim ahmed, he has the weekly program in nie gleria. thank you for joining us. >> it's my pleasure. >> tell us a little bit about how you were able to verify these videos. >> when they voice of america got these videos, first of all, we sat down and went through
almost all of them. and we were able to determine that they came from not islam nie gleria because the people in the video speak in the predominant language there, and which is also the language of the boko haram leadership and members. that was the first thing. then there are references to boko haram and to events that only boko haram would know like the attacks carried in some areas of north eastern nigeria. >> your reporting shows a couple of things. ones, the faces of some leaders and participates in boko haram which i understand is very uncommon. it also shows how they are able to basically bring whole villages into their ideology using violence. and in one clip there is a tri beunal where they
exsetter-- exert their justice, how do these try beunals work. >> in order to control the people, when boko haram captures a place and they want to bring people in line, they will hold this kind of tri bunnal. they will force everybody from the village or the town to attend the tribu nals. they bring people, whether they are drug users or drug sellers, according to them, they will bring them to the tri beunal and-- they will read out a statement that you are guilty of this or guilty of that. do you accept the guilt f you accept it, fine, just lay down and get killed. >> they do something similar with young boys and men who they conscript into fighting. you have a video that is unusual in that it shows boko haram leaders basically getting everyone to gear up to fight. let's watch that. >> he said the best of the martyrs are those that fight in
the front. they are the ones that do not turn back until they are killed. >> when boko haram started in 2009, initially their membership were made up of the original followers of the-- boko haram but when they started capturing territory, they started conscipting people. >> there is video of a failed attack, essentially on an armey barracks. and you see fighters looking for weapons. you see fighters not necessarily able to use the weapons they have. what are the fighting capability of boko haram 578 at this point? >> initially boko haram was kind of going into fights with the military, with much more powerful weapons then what the military had. the military had ak-47 rifles while the mill gant-- militants come with heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft guns. so the military had to run away at the time.
but in 2015 the president government in nigeria, when they started taking the fight to boko haram, they were able to adapt themselves and to get those kind of weapons that boko haram was using on them. and that is when they started winning the war and kicking boko haram out of the major cities and towns. >> do you feel as though these are areas that can rebuild? >> it is possible. but it's going to be really difficult because the crisis or the carnage that boko haram has done in the area is just unbelievable. >> ibrahim ahmed of voice of america, that you so much for speaking with us. >> thank you so much. my pleasure >> woodruff: as we near the gruesome, sixth anniversary of the war in syria, daily documents of the carnage there
now flood the internet; photos and videos posted by both civilians and combatants catalog the shocking depths of human cruelty, and possible war crimes. now, human rights investigators are increasingly turning to the internet to track what's happening not only in syria, but in other conflict zones. as part of our "breakthroughs" coverage of invention and innovation, special correspondent cat wise reports on a new university program training students to become human rights investigators in the digital age. a warning: this story contains some disturbing images. >> reporter: for decades, human rights investigators have relied on tools like shovels and backhoes to uncover mass graves, and mass atrocities, in places like bosnia, iraq, and rwanda... but in today's smartphone filled world, videos and images of people killed or suffering, thousands of miles away, take only a couple of clicks to find on youtube, facebook, twitter.
the frontlines of human rights work have shifted in the digital age, and a new generation of investigators is beginning to employ high tech tools. >> we can probably screenshot that. yeah and reverse image it. >> yeah and we should look up the name of that pharmacy. >> can anyone translate that? >> reporter: these students are part of the recently launched human-rights investigations-lab at the university of california, berkeley's human rights center. the university and partner organization amnesty international, are training the students to verify videos, and other publicly available social media content, coming out of areas like syria, where human rights violations have been occurring. for the first time, students are using open source investigation methods used previously by journalists and human rights professionals. youstina youssef is a 20-year- old political science major in the program. she's become a highly skilled digital detective and her native language, arabic, also comes in handy.
youssef grew up in cairo, egypt. she and her family are coptic christians, a religious minority in egypt. they came to the u.s. in 2010 shortly before the revolution began. >> i didn't have a minute of hesitation about this, i jumped right on it. i think it has a lot to do with my background of coming from egypt, being a regular person, and then being affected by the political scene in the country, and having your life upended. this project gives me an outlet, gives me a way to feel like i am contributing, in some way. >> welcome to the spring 2017 launch of the human rights lab. >> reporter: the 60 plus lab volunteers are a diverse group from different majors and the law school. they speak more than 20 languages. alexa koenig is the executive director of berkeley's human rights center. she says the lab was a natural progression for the organization which has been advancing human rights work, around the world, for more than 20 years. >> we noticed over and over that there are a number of frontline
human rights advocates that are really trying to figure out how do you ensure that the videos they're getting from survivors on the ground are what they purport to be. so one of the things we were thinking is couldn't we leverage our position here to provide the labor that so many of these organizations really can't afford, but also provide a pipeline of students who are skilled in an area that's increasingly in demand, frontline human rights workers. >> reporter: and it appears the human rights movement is eager for help. since the lab began in september, students have been asked by amnesty, and other groups, to look at material coming out of yemen, sudan, democratic republic of congo, and myanmar. but the bulk of their work has been focused on syria. specifically aleppo. >> this is very deep in aleppo. >> reporter: haley willis is a sophomore in the program from texas. she showed me one of the key methods she and the other students use to verify videos. >> geolocation is essentially did this take place where it says it took place. we're really used to being able
to say here's this store, and you type it into google, you get an address, and you're done. in syria there's not easily accessible addresses, there's no google street view. in this particular video, the thing that stood out to me the most is very small, you can hardly tell, but there's actually a white dome sticking out from behind this building right here. >> reporter: oh, i see that. >> that is a good place to start for geo-locating, because a dome is round, that's a very distinct shape that you'll be able to see from above. >> reporter: wills then began looking for a needle in a haystack: a tiny dome in pre-war satellite images of aleppo. >> i basically looked for every white circular object that i saw. i ended up narrowing it down to about two. you can't always be 100% sure, and you should never say you're 100% sure unless you are. >> reporter: after getting as far as they can, the students turn over their research to the
partner organizations for final analysis. screening hours and hours of disturbing images can obviously take a toll. it's an issue that's taken very seriously within the program. >> the most important thing you can do to look after yourself personally is just have awareness. understanding how you normally respond to things and how you're responding after spending a couple of hours looking at and verifying videos. >> reporter: sam dubberly works for amnesty international. the lab partnership with berkeley was actually his idea: he's now running three similar programs at universities in south africa, the united kingdom, and canada, and each group is required to go through regular resiliency training. >> just watching a video without sound is actually less distressing than watching it with sound, and very often the audio is not necessarily important for verification. it's very important to us to make sure the students are trained, and given a safe environment so that they do not suffer any adverse effects of
trauma. the reality is the world of human rights investigation requires you to look at this content today. so if in two years' time, three years' time, you want to move into that field, i think it's very good for them that they actually understand the skills and the resiliency to actually do this job. >> reporter: under that guided leadership, the students have been cranking away, more than 1,500 hours of verification work thus far. and some of that work has even made it all the way to the united nations, according to syrian activist hadi al khatib. >> the students found a specific type of cluster munitions that have been used in aleppo city and it's countryside, and this has been all included in a verified dataset that we have sent to the u.n. office of the >> reporter: al khatib runs an organization called the syrian archive. he and his colleagues are creating a large database of verified videos documenting human rights violations, on all sides, since the start of the syrian civil war.
i spoke to him on skype about why he asked berkeley for help. >> with the archive we have about more than 3,800 videos that has been verified. we still have a backlog of videos, more than 30,000, that we need to go through so this is why we need the help of university students. >> reporter: but the big question of course on the minds of both the students and others doing this type of work: will any of it actually be presented in an international court of law one day? could a youtube video lead to the downfall of a leader? >> if there is no geopolitical will to actually help people then you can have all the videos in the world, and it won't actually garner support to save people's lives. >> reporter: ben taub is a contributing writer at the "new yorker" who has written extensively about human rights violations in syria. we caught up with him recently on the columbia university campus where he talked about the pluses and minuses, of open- source evidence. >> it's extremely useful for advocacy, it's also extremely
useful for putting the crimes before the international community to try to garner the political pressure that could result in a trial taking place to begin with. but it doesn't necessarily link the actor that you're trying to prosecute to the crime. footage of, for instance, a hospital being blown up, doesn't show that that was ordered by assad, or by his highest level security committee. the kind of evidence that really would get them would be a document, an order, something that's signed. >> reporter: that's an issue very much on the mind of the human rights center's alexa koenig. >> one of the biggest hurdles about using these new methods is that they are so new. so judges often don't know how to evaluate, and give any kind of weight to information you're pulling off facebook, or twitter, or these other platforms. one of the things we're hoping to do for kind of investing in the long term use of these methods is just begin to build
an international standard for how to evaluate what constitutes an effective and a good investigation. >> reporter: in the months ahead, the students will continue their work on syria, and start new projects in africa, and central america. for the pbs newshour, i'm cat wise in berkeley, california. >> woodruff: the first weeks of the trump administration have been marked by confusion and controversy. to help make sense of it all, it's time for politics monday with tamara keith of npr and amy walter of the "cook political report." >> thank you both for being here. so tam and amy, we did talk earlier about what is happening to general flynn, the president himself weighing in. so tam, were you at the white house this afternoon, what is the latest o be that. >> so i was at the white house waiting to hopefully talk to
sean spicer, the press secretary when the president walked by, an area where there were about a dozen, maybe ten reporters waiting to see spicer. president shows up and reporters asked the president, do you have confidence in general flynn. what is general flynn's status. and he said oh, there's a statement coming. then someone else shouted how about reince priebus, the chief of staff, do you have confidence in reince priebus and he said reince is doing great, reince is doing great. so there is a real contrast between saying there is a statement coming, a statement that says the president is evaluating the situation. and saying that the chief of staff is doing great. >> woodruff: contrast between what he says about general flynn and what he says about reince priebus but also, amy, a contrast about what they are saying just an hour after kellyanne conway, the president's counsel eller that the president had full confidence in general flynn. >> although judy, you know this, that is a classic line that folks in washington use like
they use the he's taking time off to spend time with his family. so they use, they throw that line out. there it's really not very definitive. but look, if the issue with flynn is as much about the frustration within the white house about the fact that he made at least two very high ranking members of that administration, the vice president and the chief of staff look like they lied. they gave information out on television that was not truthful. and it came directly from michael flynn. that em soos like the bigger question here. than whether or not we can talk about specific law being broken about the fact that he talked to the russians before he was officially in his position. >> woodruff: and we'll see what happens about general flynn and whether he stays in his jobment but mean time tam ra, just quickly, there has been speculation about reince priebus, there have been stories out there the last few days about whether he is on thin ice, whether sean spicer, the press secretary is on thin ice. i mean how stable are some of
these top advisors to the president? >> it's not clear. i think there has been a lot of self-interested leaking coming out of that white house and a lot of administration officials saying things about other administration officials. and you know, friends of the president saying things. and it's all very hazy, there is some thought that president trump likes to keep people on edge. but this is a lot of noise and comotion and distraction from what are some pretty major issues that the president ran on and could be pursuing. but you know, like for instance they don't fully have an answer yet on what they're going to do about his immigration ban. they haven't sent any legislation over to congress. >> woodruff: and that's the real issue here, about whether or not it this is just about internal fighting and that they are not particularly disstable internally with the functioning, but whether this impedes their ability to actually get stuff done is the real question.
does it matter? it matters if it matters, right? if the lack of clear lines of delynn yaition f the in-fighting is preventing them from actually putting legislation on the 4eu8, getting an obamacare replacement, passing tax law, then it is a very big deal fsm it is just, and again remember, this is a president who ran as a candidate, his campaign looked exactly like this. so the chaos is something that he is either likes or thinks is important, but it didn't deter him and it didn't stop him from winning in the first place. >> woodruff: someone who has been speaking very emphatically for the white house and i want to ask both of you about this, stephen miller, went on four of the sunday talk show interview shows yesterday. went after the judiciary, the courts. backed up the president. he was attacked on the courts. at one point he said the powers of the president are substantial and will not be questioned. and when he was asked specifically to defend the president's criticism of the
courts here's what stephen miller said, this is on abc this morning. >> we have equal branches of government in this i c. the judiciary is not supreme. a district judge in see at kel not force the president of the united states to change our laws and our constitution because of their own personal views. >> woodruff: so amy, we have here someone saying that the mt doesn't have to obey the courts, is that what it sounds like? >> well there is certainly something, in the way he said it, that makes it come across like that but there is also an argument that the white house is making that they do have grounds to make. which is the president does have a lot of authority, if you look at the statute regarding immigration, on national security sloos. it is there. and that the courts while they can make judgements as they did in this ninth circuit on other issues, the president does have a lot of latitude. and that is where this fight should be. but the bottom line is that it goes back to the dises function that was in the office, had this executive order been written
more cleanly, had the rollout gone better, had they made changes to it, we might not be where we are now having to fight over what the role of the court is in this because it wouldn't have gotten there. >> woodruff: tam, these statements yesterday, i watched all of those interviews that stephen miller did, he seems to be clearly expressing the frustration from the president. >> and the president tweeted that stephen miller did a great job. he went out there and channeled the president. he went out there and said dpakly what the white house wanted to be said. and you know, that wins you support from the president of the united states. >> woodruff: the other thing he said, and if we have time i want to play this clip. he was asked, i will see if i can find it now. he was asked about-- now i won't be able to find it it. , sorry, it's about the president's legacy. he was asked a question about i vinga trump, the president defending her work and
criticizing nordstrom, the department store, george stephanopoulos, the abc anchor asked him about that. and here is how stef earn miller turned it the corner. >> i really hope, george, we can move on to discussing things that the american people care about like their jobs, like their wages, like their security, like the fact that we have a president who has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration. >> woodruff: so amy, in three weeks more than other presidents in an entire administration. >> not the most recently president. president obama at this point literally on this day, the senate passed his stimulus bill. and that was soon going to be signed into law. so we haven't seen anything even get up to the hill. none the less a major piece of legislation getting passed z. >> woodruff: that is saying the president has done more in three weeks that be an entire administration is quited an statement. >> there are a number of metrics to measure this. superlatives are always perilous. >> woodruff: what is for sure is there is nothing quiet about
this white house. all right, tamara keith, amy walter it, thank you both. >> you're welcome. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: now, a multi- generational family saga that >> he talked about his new book, american dreamer. my life in the fashion business. it is the latest edition to the newshour book shelf. >> why write a memoir. why did you stop life and write this thing? >> well, hi been asked to write it it over the years by a few different people. and i kept saying no, no, no. i think i will wait until i'm much older. and then it it dawned on me that i might forget a lot in my later years. >> yeah. >> my mind is very fresh now. i have a lot of energy, so i thought you know what, for my
children's sake, i would like to take the reader through my journey cron logically. >> you talked about coming of age in the '60s. did you know what you wanted to do? >> i didn't know what i wanted to do. and what i really didn't know was that i was dyslexic. >> yeah. >> and my grades were very poor in school. so i really thought i was one of the dumb ones. and i think my teachers also agreed with that and certainly my father who held the bar very high for me, agreed with that. and then when this whole music revolution came about, i was obsessed with the beatles, the rolling stones, hend risk, all of the rock groups and rock stars and i thought i want to be a rock star. but i really couldn't play and i couldn't sing. but i looked like-- . >> just like the millions of the rest of us, we all wanted to be a rock star. >> but i looked the part.
i had long hair, bell bottoms. a lot of my friends wanted to know where i got my clothes and a couple of other buddies and i put together our 150 dollars we saved from working part time jobs, bought 20 pairs of jeans and opened a shop. at 18 years old. >> really. at that moment, was there a plan or a future that you envisioned? or was this just sort of making it up as you go along. >> making it up as we went along. i thought if i could build my own brand, i could do whatever i want too do with it. i could design it myself, i could market it the way i want to market it i was in a small town in upstate new york. i thought if i move to new york city, i could really begin to plant seeds to build my own brand. i wanted to build a brand that that was creative and exciting and unique, but i wanted to make it into a real business. >> yeah. >> and i wanted to distinguish my look from everyone else's. i decided that i should create
new american classics. so i looked at all of the preppy clothes i had worn as a very young boy. and i thought they were very boring and very tired. so i said okay, how do i redesign these. >> you can sum up what you didn't like most of all? >> i didn't like the fit. i didn't like the feel of the fabric. i didn't like that it was too mediocre, so to speak. so i thought i'm going to make everything like relaxed, colorful, detailed. but i wanted to build it for a broad audience. and i wanted it to be as operational, affordable, accessible. >> the book takes us through a lot of success but of course a lot of problems along the way as well. >> yes. >> were there moments where i thought this isn't going to work? >> a couple of times. i mean once in particular. i thought i should just hang it up.
because i was being ridiculed and i thought hi made this enormous mistake by doing this advertising campaign, created by this advertising genius george-- he said look, you just need one ad. you need one ad to allow the public to at least learn your name. so he created this ad campaign that compare me with all the big names in the business. >> right. >> and when we ran that, it was very controversial. but people learned that there was a tommy hilfiger fashion designer out there and you should go look at the clothes. >> why is fashion important? or is it it important? i mean what is it in the end do you think? >> look, there are many more important things in life than fashion. but fashion to me is part of pop culture. >> yeah. >> and i'm an art collector and i'm obsessed with art and pop culture. >> uh-huh. >> and i say that there is fame,
f-a-m-e. fashion, art, music and entertainment, including celebrity, that really moves the needle in society. >> looking back at your whole life, right, and you are remembering, does that young kid seem like you? i mean do you see a clearer thread from when you went back to look up to today? >> yes, because i was always a very positive thinking person, i mean other than a couple of moments in time, i always thought that in some way i'm going to make it i'm just going to make it i'm not going to give up. and i'm going to realize that dream. so i never gave up. and i have realized the dream and i enjoy every moment of every day. >> all right, well, the book is american dreamer, my life in fashion and business, tomorrowee hilfiger, thank you very much. >> thank you very much.
online, since the early 1990s, scientists have known that the sun's surface rotates more slowly than its interior. but they haven't been able to pinpoint why. now, astrophysicists at the university of hawaii say they have a hunch. read about it on our homepage. plus, two fathers turned to poetry to teach their children about growing up black in america. find that and more at pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan
foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> 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
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