tv PBS News Hour PBS August 11, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: >> he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast. >> woodruff: for the third time this week, president trump warns north korea that the u.s. military is ready to strike. we get reaction from the north korean capital, and from a leading republican u.s. senator. and, it's friday. david brooks and ruth marcus weigh in on the escalating war of words, as mr. trump targets both pyongyang and senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. plus, when art transforms lives. a new documentary, "step," captures the hopes, fears and triumphs of young women in baltimore.
>> believing in someone plays a huge part in confidence, and performance, and the outcome of the common goal, which for us was to go to college. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
>> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. >> 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: president trump again denounced north korea today, saying the u.s. and its military was ready to deal with any provocation by the pyongyang regime. special correspondent nick
schifrin starts us off. >> reporter: the u.s. military calls guam the tip of its pacific spear, and today it showed off bombers that carry more conventional weapons than any other american plane. from guam, b-1 bombers can reach north korea in only a few hours. >> that's what this continuous bomber presence does. it assures our allies and deters our adversaries. >> reporter: the military wouldn't detail the bombers' mission, but the message was clear, as president trump tweeted this morning: "military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should north korea act unwisely. hopefully kim jong-un will find another path!" he continued his warning late this afternoon. >> i hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what i said. and what i said is what i mean. if he does anything with respect to guam, or anyplace else that's an american territory, or an american ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast. >> reporter: on guam, authorities are taking no chances. they distributed a fact sheet
in case of "imminent missile threat." instructions include "make a list of potential concrete shelters," and "do not look at the flash or fireball, it can blind you." in japan, the military deployed patriot interceptors in the districts that north korea promised its missiles would overfly. an alarmed world is urging calm, from german chancellor angela merkel: >> ( translated ): i am firmly convinced that an escalation of rhetoric will not contribute to a solution of this conflict. >> reporter: to russian foreign minister sergey lavrov. he called u.s. and north korean rhetoric "over the top," and the risk of conflict "high." >> ( translated ): when you get close to the point of a fight, the one who is stronger and wiser should be the first to step back from the brink. >> reporter: in china, a state- owned newspaper urged both sides to step back. but it delivered a warning to north korea, when it wrote "if north korea attacked first, china will stay neutral." despite the tensions, we learned today that u.s. and north korean diplomats have had back channel discussions that continued after
the june release of an american in north korean custody. he later died. those talks obviously haven't calmed tensions, but they could become a foundation for more serious negotiations. we turn now for a view from north korean capital, pyongyang, and associated press correspondent rafael wober. rafael, thank you very much: rafael, during past points of tension, we've seen things like air raid drills, camouflaged cars in the streets of pyongyang. but today it's actually quiet. why is that? >> i think here people have lived with this threat of war for decades so, on the streets of pyongyang, it is still calm. there isn't preparation visible here for war. but the statement which came from the general in charge of the d.p.r.k.'s strategic forces, that's its missile forces, that came from him this week is something new, and it sets a bar, it sets a kind of -- something to try to focus u.s. attention on making steps towards negotiations sooner
rather than later. >> here in the u.s. kim jong un is often disparaged. i want to play sound, one u.s. ambassador nikki haley and john mccain. >> this is not a rational pern who is thinking clearly. >> china is the only one that can control kim jong un, this crazy fat kid that's running north korea. >> is the u.s. underestimating kim jong un, and what's the impact if it is? >> i think foreign analysts have often said the d.p.r.k., north korea, is a country which plays a weak hand very strongly. so it is in a difficult position and the leadership is often characterized in this way, plus, of course, the previous leader of the d.p.r.k. north korea, kim jong-il, the man in charge
before kim jong un, he is remembered as saying one of the best ways to keep a strong hand is to try to keep things under wraps and not give away anything and, in fact, there's often the feeling that the koreans here want to keep the world guessing, and that's the best way to make a strong position out of not very much. so i think that these kinds of assessments from the outside world, the throwaway comments made often are not really accurate, and i think there's plenty of analysis from experts over the past weeks, months and years even going back to the early 1990s which suggests that because, after all, it was back in the early '90s that people thought that the country would collapse following the collapse of the soviet union. in fact, here we are in 2017 and it is still here. >> rafael, quickly, can you describe how kim is different from his predecessors who really
emphasized the military aspect but he has emphasized both the military nuclear program and the economy? >> i think that, since 2012, which was is first full year that the new leader kim jong un has been in charge, there's certainly been a change. we've seen it here in discussions with economists here as well as out and about in farms and factories, businesses and shops, and that's called here a new -- in new economic management methods, the leadership here, the north korean government calls it a dual track policy, which is developing the national defense industry the same time as the economy. essentially, as economists here have told us, a new method of trying to free up people in the country to trade and do business and to become more productive economically. so we've seen there is definitely a big increase in economic activity within the country. of course, the international sanctions most recently this
past weekend, those are having an effect on the country's ability to trade with the outside world. but since 2012, there has been a major stepup in economic activity. people doing business, trading with each other, being more productive inside the country. >> rafael wober with the associated press in pyongyang. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, kenya's election commission says president uhuru kenyatta has won a second term. it follows days of protests by backers of opposition leader raila odinga, who claimed the vote was rigged. the commission said kenyatta won 54% of the vote, which it called "credible" and "fair." afterwards, kenyatta spoke in nairobi and appealed for unity. >> to my worthy competitor, the honorable ralia odinga, i reach out to you. i reach out to all your supporters, i reach out to all
who are elected in now the opposition ventures. we shall work together. >> woodruff: but just minutes after the results were announced, there were reports of protesters clashing with police in opposition strongholds. witnesses say they heard gunshots and screaming. at least 43 people are dead after two passenger trains collided in egypt today. it happened just outside the mediterranean port city of alexandria, and is the country's deadliest rail accident in over a decade. more than 120 people were injured. a train traveling to cairo crashed into the back of another train, which was waiting at a station. it's not clear what caused the accident. in venezuela, embattled president nicolas maduro now says that he wants a meeting with president trump. it comes amid the country's deepening political crisis and after the u.s. sanctioned the socialist leader and his allies. maduro spoke before members of
the new, all-powerful constitutional assembly, and called for something to be arranged. >> ( translated ): initiate negotiations, so i can have a personal conversation with donald trump. if you are so interested in venezuela, here i am. here is the chief of your interest, nicolas maduro, constitutional president of the bolivarian republic of venezuela. mr. donald trump, here is my hand. >> woodruff: maduro suggested the two could meet at next month's united nation's general assembly. but in the same speech, maduro ranted against president trump, calling him an "emperor." and late today, peru expelled venezuela's ambassador to protest what it sees as a power grab by maduro. the head of the senate judiciary committee said that he no longer expects an imminent vacancy on the u.s. supreme court. there had been speculation in recent months that 81-year-old justice anthony kennedy was considering retirement. but iowa republican chuck grassley, whose committee
handles court nominees, said today, "evidently that is not going to happen." there is word that congressional investigators now want to question president trump's long-time personal secretary. abc news reports it is part of the probe into last year's meeting between trump campaign officials and a russian lawyer. the assistant, rhona graff, was mentioned in an email exchange between donald trump jr. and a british publicist who helped set up the meeting. on wall street today, stocks turned slightly higher, after days of jitters over north korea. the dow jones industrial average gained 14 points to close at 21,858. the nasdaq rose 39. and the s&p 500 added three. for the week, the dow lost about 1%. the nasdaq and s&p dropped about 1.5%. still to come on the newshour: what is the trump administration's plan for
north korea? david brooks and ruth marcus on the escalating war of words from the white house. how an art program is helping young women in baltimore got to college. and, much more. >> woodruff: we return to our lead story, north korea. we want to explore what options are before the trump administration, and get some insights into the reclusive north korean regime. that comes from retired u.s. navy admiral dennis blair. he served as commander of american forces in the pacific, and later as president obama's first director of national intelligence. and, sue mi terry. she spent seven years as a senior korea analyst at the c.i.a., and later as a director on the national security council. and we welcome both of you back to the "newshour". i'm going to start with you, admiral blair.
more tough language just in the last few hours from president trump. how do you size up where this situation stands now? >> like many administrations, this administration believes that when it becomes aware of a problem, it's the first time the problem ever existed, and those of us who have been dealing with north korea for many years know that it's hyperbolic, threat-laced language. it's nothing new. that's simply the way it talks. it has a very small military capability with -- and talks loud for both at the terrence and to -- for both deterrence and to try to intim date. the military facts are it's very limited in what it can do. so i am unimpressed pi this level of talk. you have to look at the underlying military situations which hasn't changed, which is very much in the american and south korean and japanese favor. this is not new, judy.
>> woodruff: so sue mi terry, how are things different this time? >> well, i think, honestly, the wildcard here is mr. trump because as admiral blair said, those of us who have been following north korean issues for a very long time, we understand this is how north korea behaves. kim jong-il and kim jong un and before that, that's how north koreans behave. the wildcard is mr. trump with his increased rhetoric. honestly at the end of the day, even though we say military options are on the table, i'm not sure if anything is realistic. north korea, their conventional artillery are over 10,000 within reach of seoul.
i think mr. trump is putting himself out there on ledge like this to increase the risk of, you know, blundering into a conflict no one really wants. >> woodruff: is that what you sew, admiral bhair, that could happen? you said manet ago the north koreans have a small capability. what do you think the prospects are for a conflict? >> i think the prospects for a conflict are really very low. the facts are known by both the united states and korea are that if korea starts a conventional military conflict, they lose, they lose -- north korea loses, the regime dictator loses his life. if they were to use a nuclear weapon against korea or south korea or japan much less the united states, we will retaliate with nuclear weapons. they may have 15 or 20, we have about 2,000. it's the end of the regime. this is not a suicidal regime. they operate very cleverly just below the level of major war or
major provocation which they know they would lose, and we are seeing more of that now. so i don't rate the chances of conflict as high. >> woodruff: sue mi terry, you met recently with representatives of north korea, the d.p.r.k., what is your assessment of them and their attitude now even though you obviously don't county talk to them this minute. >> right, no, i think north koreans are bent on completing their nuclear program. kim jong un is bent on completing his nuclear arsenal. north koreans won't give up their nuclear weapons. they said over and over explicitly they won't give it up. it's not up for negotiation anymore. maybe his father was willing to negotiate to get concessions but i don't think it's the case. i think kim jong un will complete the program. they said they will continue with testing. even an icbm test, which they have followed through with that threat. so i think they will continue
with this path. >> woodruff: given that, admiral blair, do you see a way out? >> i see the way out as intensification of the current set of measures we're taking with north korea. we don't accept them as a nuclear state, despite the reality of their having a nuclear capability. we squeeze them very hard economically and the new set of u.n. sanctions are good. we're always ready to talk to them in case they want to actually change the course of their policy. we keep our military defenses, both conventional and nuclear strong, and we wait for this terrible, brutal dictator, who has oppressed his people, his family has oppressed the people, to fall, which he will as other tick tarts have. >> woodruff: sue mi terry. i agree with his assessment. we need to continue with the pressure, the sanctions, even a secondary boycott against chinese banks and entities that
do illicit business with north korea to keep the pressure on the chinese. we have to do that. i would just add, i think, also, information warfare against the north korean regime is very important because at the end of the day, under this regime, not much is going to change and we need a different regime coming into north korea. when we say regime change, i'm not talking about military strike or decapitation at the head, i'm talking about north korean people bringing about the change. that would be the long-term game. before that, containment and pressure. >> woodruff: any out the the u.s. and allies can deter the north koreans before they do serious damage, wreak serious havoc on the region or even the u.s.? >> i'm very confident of that, judy. this dictatorship has a highly refined sense of preservation and conduct ago major attack on the united states is the recipe for the end of the regime, not
for the continuation, and if this regime can do anything, it can do what's necessary to survive. >> woodruff: admiral dennis blair, sue mi terry, thank you both. >> thank you for having us on. thank you. >> you're welcome, judy. >> woodruff: and just moments ago, president trump addressed cameras again. he said there is a military option to solve the current crisis in venezuela. mr. trump also indicated by september 1, the u.s. will have a response to russia for expelling diplomats. and on north korea, he plans to call the president of china tonight to discuss it. standing with the members of his national security team, he stressed the administration was united in its strategy on north korea.
i think it's the combined message if we want to get effective movement out of the regime in north korea. i think the president made it clear he prefers a diplomatic solution, i think he responded to that effect a moment ago. i think what the president is doing is trying to support our efforts by ensuring north korea understands what the stakes are. >> woodruff: and that was the president and the secretary of state just moments ago. now we turn to a lawmaker's perspective. last night, we heard from democratic senator ben cardin of maryland. tonight, we get a republican take from senator james risch of idaho. he is a member of the senate foreign relations and intelligence committees, and he joins us now from boise. senator risch, welcome. you just heard the president, and i believe you also heard our guest just before that who both said the president's heated rhetoric over north korea is making this situation more unpredictable and potentially more dangerous. how do you feel about that? do you agree with that?
>> well, no, i don't agree with that. i know the media wants to make all this about donald trump as they do everything these days, but the fact of the matter is this is all about north korea. donald trump is going to do nothing but react to whatever north korea does. the fate of this whole scenario is not in the hands of donald trump, it's in the hands of the north koreans. as far as his statements in that regard, i know a lot of people don't like the way he talks, don't like his adjectives, attitude or anything else, but the only thing more dangerous than what this situation is for him to say nothing about what's on his mind. he's very good at conveying exactly what's on his mind and, in this situation, dealing with north korea, it is extremely important that those people understand how strongly he feels about this, what is on his mind and his commitment to defending america. i've spoken with the president
about this. no one should underestimate his commitment to defending this country. >> woodruff: so you don't think the president's rhetoric increases the chances of a misunderstanding, a miscalculation? >> i think it does just the opposite. whatever north korea does now, they know and they've heard directly from the president what he's thinking and what he's going to do to respond. it's extremely important because they're the ones taking the action, not us. everything here is in reaction to what the north koreans do. so i can't underscore enough how important it is that the north koreans know exactly what's on donald trump's mind and what he's thinking and what he's going to do. this is a president that's pulled the trigger twice the first six months he's been in office. he's not a ditherer. he eve had ditherers before, if that's a word. he is not.
he's action oriented and he's committed to respond, and i have every belief that he will respond. >> woodruff: and is it your expectation, then, that there is a likelihood of some sort of miller action? >> i wouldn't say likelihood. i don't share the same optimism that your prior two guests had about, oh, this is all going to be all right. i agree with them that this is nothing new. this has been going on for a long time, but one thing is different, very different, and that is kim jong un is entirely different than his father and his grandfather. both of them had good relations with china. they got along. they liked each other. china had good control over them. they have no control over this jeptleman, and you -- gentleman, and you heard today, china, in a remarkable reversal, said that they'd do nothing to respond or to protect north korea if indeed north korea took kinetic action
first. that is absolutely stunning to hear them say that when they've, for decades, taken a different position, although not surprising after last saturday when they voted with us for the first time and the russians voted with us for the first time condemning what north korea is doing. that was probably one of the most underreported stories i've seen this year. >> woodruff: quickly senator, are you saying that you see there's -- if there were a conflict, a military conflict north korea, that could take place without a huge loss of life on the part of american allies if not americans themselves? >> no, i'm very concerned about that, as is everyone. look, we've got 30,000 troops in south korea. there's 22 million, 23 million people living in seoul, reachable by artillery fire from the d.m.z. there would be loss, no question, on our part. on the other hand, if there were -- if that happened,
north korea would cease to exist within moments after the conflict started. >> woodruff: quick final question. the president has been very critical of the senate majority leader this week for failing to pass health care reform. do you think the president is right to criticize and to blame senator mcconnell? >> look, i know both of the gentlemen very well. i have been a leader. leadership is a very difficult task. when you succeed, everything is wonderful. when you're strug thing -- struggling, things aren't quite as good. mitch is, under my judgment, doing the best he can under very difficult circumstances and i think his position is very safe where he is. >> woodruff: senator james risch of idaho, we thank you. >> judy, good to be with you.
>> woodruff: and to the analysis of brooks and marcus. that's "new york times" columnist david brooks, and "washington post" deputy editorial page editor ruth marcus. mark shields is away. and we welcome both of you. so you just heard two very different views from our earlier expert guests on north korea. you heard the president again commenting, david, and now senator risch. how do you assess the president's management of this north korea situation? >> unusual, i guess. it will come after the war in venezuela, apparently. i don't know what that was all about. there's been a consensus of how to dole with this problem. the north korean regime is extremely fiery, insecure and sometimes hysterical, and when you're around someone who's screaming and unstable, the last thing you want to do is add to
the instability with your own unstable, hysterical rhetoric. so most administrations, republican and democrat, when north korea speaks like this have ignored it and relied on a sense the north koreans don't want to commit suicide. donald trump has gone the other way. the sense of neither party wants to go into a war is still there. but the psychological probabilities that you're going to enter a miscalculation will cop up when both are screaming to the top of their lungs. >> woodruff: but senator risch said i've talked to the white house and the president and think being very clear with north korea is the best way to go. >> david used the term "unusual." i think it's absolutely scary, and i didn't feel calmed down listening to senator risch, i have to say. there's a couple of positive things to say about president trump here, just to surprise people for a second.
one is that this situation with north korea is not his fault. in other words, we were going to get to this -- some president was going to end up in the terrible situation we have with the progress that north korea has made with nuclear weapons, he just happens to be the president. number two, they were doing a very good job until this latest eruptions of kind of bull yeng testosterone this week in terms of pursuing what needs to be done which is the diplomatic sanctions. senator risch is right about the achievement in the security council, but all of a sudden we saw this week these statements, and you would have thought tuesday that maybe it was an eregulars and they -- an eruption and they'd tamp it down. instead, day after day, he's coming out saying more scary and dangerous things, and i do not understand how that is anything but destabilizing and with a very already unstable ally. >> woodruff: i mean, david, we've heard from world leaders,
the russians, the chinese, angela merkel, u.s. politicians, not all republicans but some republicans are joining the democrats in saying tone this down, but the president, no sign that he's going to do that. >> could be he thinks the north koreans are undeterrable and this is mott the usual regime maybe because they have this new leader and you actually do have to take action. it could be he believes that. it could be he just likes to blunder. it's always dangerous to overinterpret what donald trump says at any one moment. could be he thinks the mad man theory is right here. >> woodruff: remind everyone what the mad man theory is. >> you can be a successful deterrer if they they you could be crazy. so i think it can be very effective, as long as you're not actually crazy. so we have a north korean, we're not really sure. we have a president who has his moments. so the mad man theory, when both people could actually be crazy
is actually a very dangerous situation. >> two problems with the mad man theory. richard nixon was a proponent of it, but that was kind of strategic and thought out. donald trump is no richard nixon, and is he going to real will you outcrazey -- who's going to outcrazey who here? that's a scary thing. one other potential argument for what trump is doing -- and as i said, i do not think this is the right way to go. the right way to go is quiet, determined diplomacy. but he may not be trying to rattle the north koreans and send a message to the north koreans as much as he's trying to send a message to the chinese, hey, i'm serious, you guys better get your act together or things are going to escalate. this is way too high stakes to be performing this way. >> we've all interviewed or been around people in combat, they've never actually raised their voice. if they have a message to send to the chinese, they've done it
in a calm, serious way. i have been through this, you know who it is, you know who i am. the people who raise their voices, lock and load and say fire and fury, those are the ones who have never been in combat and he reminds you of one of them. >> we need to be clear, as you asked the senator, the military option is catastrophic, it's a question of how catastrophic. that's why no president has done it previously. others have considered it and even come close. there are two options -- two sensible options, pursue diplomacy or learn to live with the situation. we should be pursuing diplomacy. >> woodruff: which is what the experts are saying, calm the rhetoric down and start thinking about how we have this dialogue that's already been started. it's still there. the president's going to hold a news conference, david. they just announced on monday. but he's already been talking to the press. yesterday he made statements that i guess are still being dissected. one of them about president
putin of russia thanking him for kicking out over 700 u.s. diplomats and saying this is going to save the united states taxpayers money. what putin did has been criticized by everybody else we've heard of including republicans. how do we read this? >> yeah, and, of course, the white house press office said it was sarcasm. whenever trump says something unusual, it's always a joke. >> and the president kind of repeated that in his latest press conferenc. >> woodruff: he did. i think the significant thing here is that russians have monk idea with our e-- monkeyed with our election. i think people in congress and people around the country are upset by this, and the russians have done a lot of things to threaten the world order. at every step along the way, including this little comment, donald trump always wants to walk that back. he's willing to tweet angrily about members of his own party, his own government, about anybody around the world except
for one person, and we can all either -- >> woodruff: and that's putin. e can psychoanalyze or maybe politically analyze but it's a consistent pattern. >> woodruff: it's -- what's the word? >> well, continuing my effort to find some theory here, you could argue that perhaps president trump was trying to show that putin, uniquely among people, weren't getting under his skin, that his letting sanctions weren't bothering him. if it was just this one episode, i don't think it would have had this global response of oh, my lord, what's going on here that it did. it's the prodder setting of all the ways in which trump has con 70sly failed to stand up to putin or to stand up to russian meddling or to even actually assert that he acknowledged that it existed in the election. >> woodruff: someone who has
gotten under his skin is the senate majority leader we just mentioned. the president has gone out of his way three or four times in a row to go after the majority leader, the republican leader in the senate, for failing to get health care reform passed. does he -- he's venting, he's clearly unhappy and frustrated, but does he run the risk of jeopardizing some of the other things he wants to get done this year? >> clearly politics is a team sport. trump is not so much of a people player. politically, i think it helps them. republicans do not really like republican leaders in congress, so i understand why he's doing it but if he wants a legislative agenda, it's crazy. >> woodruff: i want to go back. you said republicans do not like republican leaders? mean republican voters? >> if you talk to trump voters. certainly his base. his base, yes. the question for me is how is mcconnell going to respond?
you don't want to get in a twitter war with this guy, clearly. i think what you want to do is ratchet up some of the cost. like some of the other bad leaders around the world, trump responds to pressure. can mcconnell say, i'm not getting in a war with you. if you do this, we'll hold up your no, ma'am nice. if you do this, we'll start investigation into this and that. mcconnell has to defend the institution, has to defend the republicans who are extremely annoyed with trump, he's got to defend his own standing and he can't let the leader of his own party walk all over him without some kind of actual response. >> it was clear from senator risch if you ask republican senators who are increasingly concerned about -- and i'm understanding it -- president trump, they're on team mcconnell, not team trump. from senator risch to senator collins and everybody in between, if they had to choose sides. this is not smart, okay? the president needs to have -- first of all, he's not taking
any responsibility for the failure of his healthcare plan. yes, he's right that they voted umpteen times to pass it, and when their bluff was called, they were unwilling to do it. but senator mcconnell is working with a very limb majority. it's not surprising he was unable to get i across the line. he worked really hard at it. now he needs senator mcconnell help on other things. he should thank senator mcconnell because he's the one who gave him his one big legislative win which is the supreme court justice. so i don't understand picking this fight. >> woodruff: david, you hear from the republicans that the white house was not engaged in this healthcare. we talked about it on this program. >> look how obama worked to pass obamacare. 28 national speeches touring around the country. look at 1986 tax reform which is also a major legislative accomplishment. the reagan white house was involved in that for two years closely aligned.
this really is a team sport. you really have to work the whole system to get somewhere down the road. from what i heard when the senators were going to the white house, they meet with vice president pence, and they have been having a normal conversation, trump would walk in the room and set them back hours just because his interventions were so unrelevant or so unhelpful. casting dispersionons others is not wise of him. >> even though trump's base might enjoy this fight, i don't think others are. they want to see something get done. >> woodruff: okay, on that note, david brooks, ruth marcus, thank you both. >> woodruff: now, a new documentary captures the power of art to change lives. "step" follows students from the baltimore leadership school for
young women, or "bliss." as an art form, step started in africa and became popular in the united states as it was adopted and transformed by members of predominantly african american fraternities and sororities. bliss has one primary goal for its students: 100% college acceptance. but you will see, that wasn't the only success. have a look. >> "step" is not dance. dancing, or "step" dancing or a dance number -- no, it's "step." >> "step" taught me a lot about myself. >> making good use of your body. your body makes the percussion. clapping, stomping, military movement, spoken word. gynmastics, cheerleading, making literally music with your bodies. >> that was the first place
where i could practice my natural abilities, being a leader, teaching discipline, learning how to be disciplined. >> i'm the captain of the "bliss" "step" team, the advisor. >> i'm their advisor. i'm paula, i'm the director of counseling for the baltimore women. >> i was hired to coach the ladies, my hidden agenda was to mentor them. >> i'm coach g. she wanted us to use our voice. black women, not only a minority but from an urban community like baltimore. >> i want to have three main principles, solidarity, discipline and self-esteem. >> i like "step" because it's empowering. it's a form of art. >> believing in someone plays a huge part in the performance and the outcome a common goal which for us is to go to college. >> i was put on earth to do this
kind of work, to be a college counselor, to help students get from point a to point b on their success plan. >> i have a purpose, and no matter what you're doing, when people show your appreciation, you feel refueled and you feel like your purpose has been met. >> it kind of makes me really emotional because i don't know where i would be without my school, and i feel like i was put in this predicament, i would consider myself one of the lucky ones from the city. >> i think without the structure of bliss, step, and polydophat, a lot of these girls would be lost as i would be when i was in high school. >> from the time they come in in sixth grade, they're taught about self advocacy, the support of their sisters, taking responsibility. >> i had to battle every day not to be defeated, not having the best amount of support in my
immediate environment which wasn't at bliss, or maybe not having food or lights. >> step is what gives them the discipline and the drive to keep on going academically. you can't be on the step team if your grades are not right. >> being the subject of a documentary, signing up for that was really hard. you want to inspire, but in order to do that, you have to be honest. and that's how you lead with integrity. >> most people the first thing -- the word that comes to mind when they've seen the film and their reaction is that it's inspiring. not just their struggles, but how they triumph over their struggles. >> it's not brave if you're not afraid. moments when i felt i did want to cut the camera off is probably a moment i was going to feel embarrassed or had to take a double take if i wanted somebody to see this.
>> we are absolutely exceptional, but i don't think we are the exception. we did it in year two, class of 2017, 100% college acceptance, and we took it up one notch. 10% of that graduating class are on full-ride scholarships. >> the day the documentary premiered in baltimore, there was no murders that day, august 4. and to me, i felt like that was a symbol of how much this movie can unit people and change people's perceptions of baltimore. ♪ ♪ don't look down ♪ feel the sun >> woodruff: powerful. and we'll be back shortly with
how parents can respond to racism found in classic children's stories. but first, take a moment to hear from your local pbs station. it's a chance to offer your support, which helps keep programs like ours on the air. >> woodruff: for those stations still with us, we take a second look at the history and culture in tunisia, the birthplace of the arab spring. its democracy is new and fragile, and its economy has been hurt by terrorist acts that have scared away tourists. but among the signs of hope, a rise in citizen efforts to take part in the nation's political and cultural life. jeffrey brown has our story, which originally aired this spring. >> reporter: the medina of tunis, the old center of the city, dating back to the seventh century, its narrow walkways, vibrant colors, and grand architecture evoke a rich past.
now nestled within a sprawling modern city, the medina remains a home to some 100,000 residents, 15,000 homes, 700 monuments, and abundant commerce within its sprawling souks, or markets. for hundreds of years, places like this were the heart of life in the arab world. the question today is how to preserve something of that old character, even as the society around them changes. architect zoubeir mouhli grew up here in the medina, and now heads an organization to preserve it. >> ( translated ): when i was a student, i dreamed of working in the medina because i knew there were so many hidden things people didn't know about that are incredibly valuable. >> reporter: for him, this place represents a way of life, an alternative to the modern city. >> ( translated ): there is no soul there. everything is done for the cars, not for the people, not for the
pedestrians, not for the people who want to see each other, to talk to each other, to go and have a coffee together. all this is so important to me. >> reporter: dramatic change came to the medina starting in the 1950s, as the era of french rule ended. many laborers from the countryside moved in seeking work, while elites and those with means left for the new suburbs, which continue to develop today. the medina was ignored, and slowly decayed. >> ( translated ): the medina was considered an archaic space that was contrary to the country's modernization, and even the cause of our underdevelopment and the reason for the french protectorate. >> reporter: by the time the medina was added to a u.n. list of places of special cultural importance in 1979, more than half its buildings were in disrepair or ruins. but changes in the country are also changing the medina. in late 2010, a tunisian fruit vendor set himself ablaze, setting off a chain of protests
that overturned the country's dictator, abidine ben ali, and spread across the region as the arab spring. tunisia has been the only country thus far to successfully transition out of protests into a democracy. among much else, that unleashed new civic pride and an interest in preserving the country's culture, one influenced by roman, ottoman, arabic and european traditions. >> this house was on sale in 2006. i bought it from a family that lived here for 300 years. >> reporter: three hundred? >> yes. >> reporter: for leila ben gacem, that meant rehabilitating an old home to turn it into a boutique hotel, a project that required working with local artisans, tile specialists, woodworkers, gypsum carvers, who understood the materials and artistic styles. >> these stones could be recycled from the destroyed site of carthage. >> reporter: you mean the ancient archaeological site of carthage, yes, not far from us. >> yes. the tiles could have came with
the andalusians. >> reporter: yes, in spain. >> in spain. the arches could have came from the ottomans. so it's the blend that makes tunisia today. >> reporter: it was difficult work. the house had to be entirely retrofitted with modern plumbing and electricity. not a good place for a car. >> no, that's why taxi drivers hate to drive in here. >> reporter: and the area faces all kinds of challenges, including maintaining enough infrastructure to hold onto old businesses and attract new investment. >> since the birth of the medina in the seventh century, eighth century, there always been an ecosystem of traders, of artisans, of businesses. so the trading sectors change with time. and i think to convert the medina into a cultural artistic destination, that needs a whole new ecosystem to be developed now. >> reporter: ben gacem's doing >> reporter: on saturday mornings, there's a calligraphy
class, and next door, a workshop on bookbinding, taught by mohamed ben sassi, whose shop is just down the street. he's thought to be the last bookbinder working in the medina, and is eager to reach a new generation. >> ( translated ): there is nobody, no one left. for 40 years, i worked in the national library, and there was nobody to do this job, 40 years. the book will never go away. it has witnessed many gales and thunderbolts and disasters. it is still here. >> reporter: up the street is a beautiful, but dilapidated building called la rachidia, opened in the 1930s and once one of the most famous concert venues in north africa. here, volunteers are digitizing sheet music, historical documents, concert posters and photographs found sitting in boxes, saving traditional tunisian music known as malouf. and then there's a project called medinapedia in the belly of an old christian church, where another group of
volunteers is documenting every building and monument in the area, researching famous residents, and uploading that information to wikipedia. a variety of projects, committed people, young and old. everyone we spoke to said it will be important to move forward in a way that maintains the character and the inhabitants of the medina, even while trying to attract tourists to a country in desperate need of the economic boost they bring. despite the many challenges the government here faces, leila ben gacem says cultural heritage should continue to be one of its priorities. >> the government underestimates the potential of heritage and culture in creating opportunities, and maybe they even think of it as something for elite or something as a luxury. in the meantime, civil society is very active today in investing, investing time, money, energy, advocacy to restore such beautiful spaces and bring back the magic to the medina.
>> reporter: a magic found in every tile and stone. for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown in the medina of tunis. >> woodruff: hopefully, summer vacation has allowed you to catch up on your reading. tonight, beloved children's book author grace lin asks us to think back on the books we read as children, and are still reading today. some of our favorite characters may need some reconsideration. >> do you have an old children's book you love? one of those classic books that you read with your kids because your parents read it with you, and so on? well, there's a good chance that it might be racist. whenever i say this, people get so offended, and i'm always a little surprised. you do realize that these books were written 60, 70, maybe 100 years ago? don't you think the world was a little more prejudiced back then? so, why wouldn't the books be to?
here's an example. when i was about eight, all my friends were reading, "little house on the prairie." do you remember it? well, one of the lines repeated throughout the series is "ma hates indians." anytime pa tries to say something good about indians, ma bristles- she just hates them that much. i never really thought about that until one day, a friend and i decided to play little house on the prairie. my friend said to me, "you be ma, and i'll be laura. i'm going out and you're worried about indians, because ma hates indians." so, my friend leaves, and i am all alone, telling myself, "i'm worried because ma hates indians. ma hates indians." and, as i repeat these words, suddenly it hits me. if ma hates indians, what would she think of me, an asian- american girl? if ma hates indians, wouldn't she probably hate me too?
and at eight years old, i felt the impact of that racism. it was a horrible feeling. in that instant, i realized i might always be a foreigner in my own country, and that people could hate me just because of the way i looked. but here's the flip side. a few years later, i heard my uncle say he didn't want my cousin to be friends with a another kid because he was black. i did a double take. how could my dear uncle say something like that? but then i remembered little house on the prairie, and how ma-- loving, kind, ma-- hated indians. and, i suddenly understood. sometimes good people, people you love, aren't always right. and that is how i feel about these classic books. i'm not saying we should ban them. i'm saying we should treat them
like out-of-touch relatives. we all have that aunt or uncle, or maybe even a parent, who believes in things you don't agree with. you can still love that relative and you can still let them be a part of your child's life. but, because you know they might say something you don't like, don't you try to keep an extra ear open, in case they say something in front of your child? and, then, don't you explain afterwards? that's what i'm saying about these classic children's books. read them. share them. even love them. but make sure you talk to your kids about them, too. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now: there were new developments this week in three cases of police misconduct around the country, all of them involving body cameras. we take a look at what happened and what's next for the families of the victims as well as the
officers. that and more is on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and tune in later tonight to "washington week," where robert costa and guests break down president trump's fighting words. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you, and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
and friends of the newshour. >> 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 >> you're watching pbs.
. >> rose: welcome to the program, tonight a kfertionz with jake sullivan. ayoung man from minnesota who went to yale, yale law schoolk became a rode scholar, a supreme court clerk and then served three important american politicians, secretary of state hillary clinton, vice president joe biden, and president obama. we talk about those experiences and politics today. >> i wanted the opportunity to serve again. and the fact that having hillary clinton as president and not donald trump i thought would mack a profound dimps to the country and the world. this was on a scale unlike anything i have experienced before. and it's something that you got to look at, learn from, see what you could have done better, what to draw from it but not just make it about yourself. i shouldn't just make this about myself. in is also about how to think about the future of the united states, both our