tv PBS News Hour PBS August 24, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, a house divided-- president trump continues his attack on republican leadersin congress. what the public split means for the administration's agenda. then, an unlikely key to the u.s.' fight against isis-- ethnic kurds are a driving force on the battlefield, but will they be able to claim their political rights when the fighting stops? and, in our second look at the retail revolution, how brick and mortar stores are finding a way to challenge their e-commerce counterparts. >> think of as an amusement park for an adult. a reason to come to experience something new and different. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
>> 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. >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals.
>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: from president trump today, more not-so- friendly fire, aimed at his own political party. he lambasted senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and house speaker paul ryan for not raising the nation's debt ceiling before now. he also attacked mcconnell, again, over the u.s. senate's failure to replace obamacare. we'll have a full report, after the news summary. the california supreme court has upheld a ballot measure to speed up executions. voters narrowly approved the initiative last year. it calls for expediting appeals, and granting extensions only in rare instances. the court did rule that a five-
year deadline for carrying out an execution is only advisory, not mandatory. california has not executed anyone since 2006. the texas gulf coast is now bracing for a major hurricane, late friday or early saturday. "harvey" powered up today in the gulf of mexico, and could have winds of 125 miles-an-hour when it comes ashore. already, people in coastal communities, like corpus christi, have flocked to grocery stores. the mayor says those in flood- prone areas should leave, before it's too late. >> at some point in the storm let me reiterate there will come a time that rescue operations will cease and everyone has to go in an protect themselves protect their own lives. and so please don't put our public service people in that kind of jeopardy >> woodruff: the storm now shapes up to be the first major hurricane to strike the mid- texas coast in nearly 15 years.
southern china is reeling after its strongest typhoon in 50 years killed at least 16 and injured scores more. eight people died in macao after the storm slammed the gambling hub yesterday. it brought widespread flooding and winds over 80 miles an hour. the southern province of guangdong reported eight more deaths. seasonal monsoon rains have now killed nearly 1,000 people across southern asia. disaster officials said today that overall, almost 40 million people are affected in northern india, nepal and bangladesh. widespread flooding, as seen here in india, has also triggered landslides that damaged roads and washed away thousands of homes. the monsoon runs from june to september. u.s. defense secretary james mattis sharply criticized russia's actions in ukraine today, during a visit to kiev. mattis said the u.s. is
"actively reviewing" whether to send heavy defensive weapons to aid ukraine against russian- backed rebels. he watched a ukrainian independence parade with president petro poroshenko, and pledged the u.s. will be a steadfast ally. >> we do not and we will not accept russia's seizure of the crimea and despite russia's denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of europe. >> woodruff: the obama administration had argued that giving heavier weapons to ukraine would only provoke moscow. president trump has not yet taken a position. the u.s. navy today called off the search at sea for nine sailors still missing after a wreck off singapore. the destroyer "john s. mccain" and an oil tanker collided on monday. the navy found the body of one sailor, in a search that lasted 80 hours. divers have also found some
remains in the destroyer's flooded compartments. the u.s. interior secretary is recommending that president trump downsize at least three national monument areas. ryan zinke reviewed 27 sites after the president charged many were a, "federal land grab." "the washington post" reports zinke proposes reducing the scope of bears ears and grand staircase-escalante in utah, and a separate site in oregon. he did not call for eliminating any of the areas studied. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average lost 28 points to close at 21,783. the nasdaq fell seven points to close at 6271. and the s&p 500 slipped five. and, a massachusetts woman claimed the powerball jackpot today, worth $758 million. it's the largest ever won in the u.s. by a lone individual.
mavis wanczyk of chicopee is 53 years old. she's a long-time employee at a local hospital, but she said today: "i called and told them i will not be coming back." wanczyk will take a lump sum payment. after taxes, that comes to $336 million. still to come on the newshour: growing divisions between the president and congress. the kurds' dual objective, to defeat isis and gain independence, and much more. >> woodruff: as the trump white house and the republican- controlled congress look forward to an ambitious agenda for september, tensions between the president and congressional leaders are spilling out in an unusual public display. john yang has the story. >> leader of the u.s. senate.
>> yang: at a breakfast with kentucky farmers this morning, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell was upbeat. >> this new administration and this congress is interested in getting america growing again. >> yang: but he was taking friendly fire from president trump, who slammed mcconnell's and house speaker paul ryan's strategy on raising the nation's debt ceiling: "could have been so easy-- now a mess!" and mr. trump hit mcconnell on a major irritant: the senate failure to repeal and replace the affordable care act: "that should never have happened." that late-night senate vote appears to have triggered the intraparty feud. >> repeal and replace of obamacare should have taken place, and it should have been on my desk virtually the first week that i was there, or even the first day that i was there. >> our new president, of course, hasn't been in this line of work
before and i think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic >> yang: the "new york times" reported the president's public criticism of mcconnell escalated to the point that mr. trump "berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match." today, white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders tried to play down the friction. >> obviously there are going to be differences. there are a lot of shared principles. >> yang: meeting with boeing workers in everett, washington, ryan also emphasized common ground with the president. but he seemed to have trouble answering a question about their relationship: >> are you confident you that you can influence the president? >> it's a day-by-day deal. i'm kind of choking. first you control your own actions and you lead by example. >> yang: with big fiscal
deadlines looming the white house and congress still hoping for their first big legislative wn, mr. trump said mcconnell could still get in his good graces. >> if he gets these bills passed, i'll be very happy with him. i'll be the first to admit it. >> yang: but passing those bills could be complicated by the public sniping. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: we explore that infighting in the g.o.p. now with: michael steel. he was press secretary for former house speaker john boehner. he's now a political consultant. and brian mcguire. he served as chief of staff for senate majority leader mitch mcconnell from 2014 to may of this year. he's now a lobbyist. welcome to both of you. we appreciate your coming. michael steele, how serious do you think this split is between the president and republican leaders? >> well, i think you have the look at it differently than almost anything we've seen in american history. president trump is unique. he's the first american president who nerve served in
elected office or in high military office. so we shouldn't expect his relations with congressional leaders to be the norm. that having been said, these attacks, this tension is stupid. it is counterproductive. it doesn't help get big things done for the american people. so at this point i know congressional leaders are continuing to work, to do the hard work on things like tax reform and infrastructure to get those things done. the president right now simply isn't helping. >> woodruff: brian mcguire, how serious, how real is this split? >> i think michael is right. it is counterproductive and self-defeating, but it's also not ultimately going to define these relationships. i think republicans in the house and the senate and the white house and the president have a lot of shared goals. they're going to come together ultimately to achieve them. >> woodruff: how serious do you think the president is about these criticisms? do you think he's doing this because he believes... because he's angry about what happened happened or is there something else going on here? >> it's hard to say why he
tweets what he tweets. nobody knows but him. but i do think ultimately that he is a constructive partner on the issues that he and congressional republicans agree on. and i expect when everybody gets back into town that they're all going to be locking arms and trying to focus. i thought it was encouraging at the end of the day that the white house said they would be focused next week on tax reform exclusively and vigorously. i peck that's what they're going to do and i think that's a good sign. >> woodruff: you're both saying this is counterproductive, but is it justified? is the president right to criticize leader mcconnell to, criticize the speaker and other republicans? >> there are always tensions between a president and congressional leaders, even if they're of the same political party. i think that people in the house and the white house are frustrated that the senate was unable to complete the repeal and replace of obamacare. at the same time, we need to be focused on the future, not the past. leaders have to be focused on what comes next. what needs to come next is actual accomplishments like tax
reform, like infrastructure, and let's not forget raising the debt limit and keeping government open. >> woodruff: my question, is and i'll turn to you, brian, for this, is the president, is he justified in criticizing leader mcconnell,ho you worked for for a long time? >> i understand the president is anxious to get his agenda through. but republicans in congress are no less anxious to get it through. there are a lot of arguments as to why things passed and did not pass, but the important thing is to look at the things they can do together. clearly tax reform is one of those things. it's not only something that united states republicans in washington. it's something the public supports overwhelmingly, and it's something democrats could potentially support. so that's something that i think the president should focus on and be very constructive for him to do so. >> woodruff: do republicans in congress, michael steel, have something to fear from this president? we saw him go after dean heller, the senator of nevada. he's been very critical of jeff
flake and john mccain? >> i think, one, it would be much more helpful if the president were to train his fire on senate democrats, the people who, for example, the ten or so senate democrats who have to be elected in states that he won in 2016. to the extent that he's attacking republicans, there isn't a lot of indication that it's going to be terribly effective. his endorsements have not worked out very well in the past, and particularly in the senate. the house is a different creature because every member of the house republican conference will face both a primary and general election next year. senator with their longer terms and greater public profiles are relatively immune to that kind of attack. >> woodruff: what do you mean? how do you see that? >> yeah, the senate, the terms are six years. so an attack now doesn't have the staying power that it would for somebody who is always in cycle. senators who won last year are not too worried about hits they might be taking right new because they have a long runway
between now and their next reelection. >> woodruff: but politically, jeff flake is up in arizona next year. do the president's constant criticisms of him after he, in fairness, has been candidly critical at times... he votes with the president, but he's been critical of the president at times. does it hurt jeff flake? >> i think the only thing that truly hurts both the president and senator flake is being unable to point to something that they've achieve legislatively, which is why i think the president would be well advised to start focusing on the legislative agenda rather than on which members he may in the like on any given day. >> woodruff: michael steel, how well do you think this president understands the legislative process? and does it really matter where the president does or not? >> i think that the president and the people around him, the president has people around him who have an intimate understanding of the legislative process. the vice president was a house member, very experienced, very talented. we don't need the president to engage on a granular level in
these policy disagreements. but we need him to use the bully pulpit to make the case for important policy priorities. look ah what speaker ryan is doing over the month of august. he's having events all the across the country talking about the benefits of tax reform for middle-class families, higher wages, more jobs. president trump is promising to get involved in that fight starting next week, but let's remember, leading up to the vote on healthcare in the senate, his primary focus was denigrating his own attorney general. that doesn't help get results. >> woodruff: how do you... at this point i know both of you still talk to folks you know very, very well on the hill. is it their sense that the president's going to continue as he is now, or is it just every day is a jump ball? >> i think it's everybody's expectation that whenever everybody gets back into town at the end of the month that there will be a lot of common cause, and that people will work on the important things that they have to focus on. and staff have been working on those things all throughout the summer. >> woodruff: how much of this, and in connection with that, we
talked about whether the president can hurt a senator or house member politically, how much of this helps the president politically in that he can be seen as running against a congress that he can argue isn't doing what it's supposed to be doing? >> it's hard to see how this could help the president, frankly. the only thing that, again, i think the president has to fear is nothing to show for his time in office. and the people that he needs to help him enact his agenda are in some cases the very people he's attacking. so i think it would be much better for him and for republicans in congress if they focused on their common agenda and i think that's what they're going to do when everybody gets back into town. >> woodruff: just a quick comment: any way you see the president benefits from this? >> of course not. this does nothing but further inflame the 25% to 35% of the country that's with him already. it doesn't help with moderates. it doesn't help with democrats. it doesn't help with many republicans. it's not a helpful strategy.
i hope he'll knock it off. at the same time, i think congressional leaders are intend on getting things done whether or not he does. >> woodruff: michael steel, brian mcguire, thank you both. >> thanks for having us. >> good to be with you. >> woodruff: in the war to drive isis from northern syria, an unlikely group has emerged: the stateless kurdish people. split across territories of four middle eastern nations, ethnic kurds have long endured repression, discrimination, even genocide. but today, they form the backbone of the u.s.-backed syrian democratic forces, a group american leaders call the greatest warriors fighting the islamic state. >> they are the most effective force we have right now and a force we need to go in raqqa. >> that is the ghost force that has taken half of raqqa and has taken every march objective we have had so far. >> they also have never lost a battle.
>> woodruff: their unusual mix of marxist ideology, local governance and military prowess has made them a sort of political rorschach test. labels describing them span the political spectrum: pro-western fighters, radical leftists, hardcore marxists, atheists, revolutionary feminists. not open to debate: their central role in defeating isis. gayle tzemach lemmon and >> reporter: klara from raqqa, the only name she'll use, has spent years in battle, leading soldiers and devising strategy. but now the world is watching. >> ( translated ): the fight is very hard but we have hope that we will win. >> reporter: but now the world is watching. as the fight against isis closes in on its makeshift capital, klara's own hometown of raqqa. she is part of the kurds' own all-women fighting force, known in kurdish as the y.p.j.
they have fought and died right alongside their brothers-in- arms. and some of the most celebrated fighters, including snipers, come from their ranks. she took us to raqqa's front line, to the site of a still- smoking isis car bomb attack. she described a brutal fight: landmines and booby traps, snipers and suicide attacks. >> ( translated ): they know they are surrounded and can't survive. >> reporter: her forces, she says, draw strength from the unique and turbulent history of the kurdish people. >> ( translated ): it's revenge, for the atrocities and injustices that the kurds suffered in the past. out of our experiences grew a soul of resistance and struggle to achieve legitimate rights and fight against injustice. >> reporter: it's a deeply personal fight for these young women soldiers. >> ( translated ): raqqa was the capital of isis. they bought and sold kurdish women here. and we want to tell them that
the kurdish women can protect themselves. and y.p.j. will take revenge, for all kurdish women. >> ( translated ): all the fighting and liberating we are doing now, it is for the new generation. the job we are doing now, is not only for the kurds. it will strengthen our identity and history. we are writing our own history, now. >> ( translated ): the kurdish revolution is a women's revolution. >> reporter: fawza youseif works for the leading kurdish party in syria. for them, this is more than just a war. it's an opportunity, to lead and to govern after years without their rights. have you been waiting for this moment?" >> ( translated ): yes. syrian kurds from the beginning were more organized and politically conscious. when the revolution started kurdish society was ready. >> reporter: but other actors have also sought advantage in syria's civil war vacuum. not least, from the north: turkish president recep tayyip erdogan.
>> ( translated ): if our allies are sincere in their fight against the islamic state we are ready to act together with them. >> reporter: embroiled in decades-long conflict with his own kurdish population, erdogan sees syrian kurds as one and the same enemy. and kurdish ties across the syria-turkey border are strong. in northern syria the streets are flush with posters of turkey's president's main opponent: abdullah ocalan. the kurdish leader jailed in turkey is a hero to syrian kurds, the founding father of their socialist ideology. fearing rising regional influence for the kurds, turkey's president has launched air attacks on kurdish forces in syria-- forces the u.s. is backing-- as recently as this and he's threatened to do more, clashing specifically over the northern city of manbij. >> ( translated ): manbij belongs to arabs. it does not belong to kurdish leaders. we relayed this to our american friends. we told the americans that kurdish fighters must not stay
there. the americans always reply: "they have withdrawn", or "they are withdrawing" but they haven't withdrawn yet." >> reporter: and it doesn't stop there. the turkish government has also built close ties with kurds in iraq, dividing kurds among themselves. in a controversial referendum scheduled for next month, iraqi kurds will vote on an independent state. the kurds in syria hope not to be left behind. cementing political gains is what syrian kurds say must come next for them: they have long sought to govern themselves. and finally, fawza youseif says, they may have that chance. >> ( translated ): the kurds had a dream, to have freedom and rights in their own land. and now to have a chance at this land, where we can live together, with freedom and democracy, it's a very big chance. >> reporter: she spends her days planning the future of local governance. kurdish language, kurdish and arab leadership together, local
decisions; all are part of what they call a new secular and democratic project here. >> ( translated ): it's opened our eyes. if a rock is on a flower, it will take time to grow. but if you take the rock off, it will flourish. the war allowed the people to raise their head. >> reporter: and allowed them to take their revolutionary ideas into government, says sipan chato, vice dean of the faculty of science at newly established rojava university. government offices already have both male and female leaders. representation of ethnic minorities is a priority, and local councils are responsible for making local decisions. but despite the lofty rhetoric, opponents have leveled heavy charges. some say the kurds now in power tolerate little opposition. that it's their way, or no way. >> ( translated ): we can't live under their democracy. >> reporter: abdulkarim husain muhammad leads a kurdish opposition party. we met him in his office in erbil, iraq.
he's been jailed three times he said, by leaders of yousief's party, on charges he calls false and politicized. >> ( translated ): their room is the room of the jail cell. this is where the opposition meets. everything is forbidden when you say no to them. everything must be their color, ideology and philosophy. >> reporter: others charge that kurdish fighters have furthered ethnic divisions, even pushing arab civilians deeper into isis territories. what's more, many today accuse the kurds of a de-facto, if uneasy, alliance with the regime of syrian president bashar al assad. while assad leaves the kurds to govern themselves, they charge, the kurds have avoided directly confronting him. in the kurdish city of qamishli in far northeastern syria, assad's flags and posters still hang. in kobane, a war-torn city on the turkish border, we met a proud military dad. muhammad abdi's daughter miriam has been injured twice fighting isis.
and she's back on the frontlines today. he said he hopes that all his daughter's friends, lost in battle, will not have died for nothing. >> ( translated ): this is a critical moment, because we've already lost so many. if we don't get our rights after losing all these people, then when we will get them? >> reporter: and how many more lives will be lost on the way to an answer? for the pbs newshour, i'm gayle tzemach lemmon in northern syria. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: what it takes to launch a u.s. nuclear bomb. rebooting retail to appeal to online shoppers. and a black man's brief but spectacular take on finding courage after ferguson. but first, the pace of the news cycle feels like a blistering swirl recently. north korea and charlottesville
have bumped the russia investigation out of the headlines. and president trump's latest attacks on republican congressional leaders have overshadowed his very public criticism of his own attorney general. but as lisa desjardins reports, behind the scenes, jeff sessions is taking action, making significant and controversial changes. >> i will well and faithfully discharge the duties... >> i will well and faithfully discharge the duties... >> desjardins: that was february, when attorney general jeff sessions was just starting out in his new post. in the months since, while headlines focused more on his meetings with russians and the criticism hurled at him publicly by president trump, but behind the scenes, sessions has been one of the key forces executing the president's agenda. >> so today, i have this message for our friends in the intelligence community: the department of justice is open for business. >> desjardins: in the past month
alone, the attorney general has launched multiple changes to shake up how his agency works. sessions stepped up leak investigations, tripling the number of cases. and he started a review that could change the rules for subpoenaing reporters. next, he flipped the department's position in a major voting rights case, from opposing ohio's removal of thousands of names on its voter rolls, to supporting the state's decision. and those are just the recent developments, bringing sessions praise from the right and concern from others. chiraag bains is a former justice official who served >> the attorney general has put a stamp on the department and shifted the priorities in a way that i don't even think even his greatest critics or skeptics would have expected. on civil rights enforcement, on crime policy, prioritizing immigration, even over dealing country, on signaling changes to be coming in the future, it has been fast, it has been dramatic and i expect it will continue.
>> i have empowered our prosecutors to charge and pursue. >> desjardins: it is a law-and- order push. sessions has ordered tougher sentences, including for non- violent drug offenders and a clampdown on so-called sanctuary cities, cutting grants to places that offer safe harbor for undocumented immigrants. he also reopened the possibility of using private prisons long- term, reversing the obama-era policy. and on police powers, sessions said he's reviewing the binding agreements, called consent decrees, the agency uses to force police in ferguson, baltimore and elsewhere to reform their practices. under obama those were seen as a way to limit abuse. sessions indicated they hurt the police. >> this department of justice will not sign consent decrees that will cost more lives by handcuffing the police instead of criminals and stopping lawful >> but it's too early to say there has been a dramatic shift. >> desjardins: lisa krigsten served at justice under former
president george w. bush, and she highlights the incoming staff at the agency, whom she sees as steady professionals. >> these people are not firebrands. certainly as with every election, this one has consequences and there may be different activity that's spotlighted. but i think that we're going to see through these hires, a very traditional, consistent enforcement effort through the department. >> desjardins: there's also the question of how some of these changes are playing within the agency, which is made up of longtime or career staff and political appointees. something unusual has happened under attorney general sessions. no career attorneys at the civil rights division signed on, as is common practice, when the agency flipped positions in the ohio voting rights case, and none signed on when the agency argued in a separate case that anti- discrimination laws do not protect gays and lesbians in the workplace. krigsten says changes in policy are not unusual-- a new administration brings a new view
of the law. >> when a new leader comes in, such as attorney general sessions, he and his team will bring a certain interpretation of what that statute means, or what the best way of interpreting a statute is, and that is within the purview of an attorney general. >> desjardins: but others fear a growing rift between the political and the non-political staff. again, chiraag bains. >> to work on a case for years, pushing forward your best view of the case based on the facts and the law, and then to have it all switch because of an election because of new political leadership coming into place, is, i think, a major blow to morale, and disturbs people's notion that these cases are actually governed by the rule of law. >> we are going to meet our responsibility to enforce the law. >> desjardins: a former prosecutor, sessions has long had outspoken thoughts on justice. now he's turning them into action.
for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: during the cold war the u.s. military built an elaborate system to control the thousands of nuclear weapons in this country. there are many checks and balances, no officers who work with intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear armed aircraft, or nuclear submarines can launch missiles alone. they always work in two's, or sometimes entire teams. but there is an exception to that: the entire system is designed to respond to the sole decision of the president. this week, after watching president trump's campaign rally in phoenix, the former director of national intelligence, retired general james clapper, said on cnn that the president could be a threat to national security:
>> having some understanding of the levers that a president can exercise, i worry about, frankly, you know, the access to the nuclear codes. in a fit of pique, he decides to do something about kim jong-un, there's actually very little to stop him. the whole system's built to insure rapid response if necessary. so there's very little in the way of controls over you know, exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary. >> woodruff: so what are the procedures for controlling the united states' nuclear weapons? who else is in the chain of command besides the president? for that we turn to peter feaver. he's the author of "guarding the guardians: civilian control of nuclear weapons in the united states."
he served on the national security council staff during the george w. bush administration and is now a professor at duke university. peter feaver, welcome back to the program. let me start by asking you, from a technical standpoint, what has to happen before the united states launches a nuclear attack on another country? >> well, the president has to give a lawful order, and that order has to be authentic and be seen as authentic, because it's validated by a code that he has carried with him or near his person at all times. and that order has the passes through the chain of command, down to the subordinate elements where the nuclear weapons and the nuclear missile, the nuclear capable bombers, the submarines are. that command would receive that authentic order and launch accordingly. >> woodruff: how many people are involved, and at what level
are they? >> well, it depends on the scenario, but it's true that the president doesn't have to have his order okayed by another person, that there's not a two-man rule at the very top. the president alone makes the decision, but the president alone cannot carry out the decision. that has to... that decision has to be carried out be many, many people further down in the chain of command. so for the question raised by general james clapper, context matters. there's ample opportunity for the rest of the system to put pressure, change the president's mind under scenario of say preventive war, where the president and his team are trying to decide, do we launch an attack against a country before they cross some proliferation threshold. that was a decision that would take weeks or months, and they have plenty of opportunity for the president's advisers to shape that decision. >> woodruff: you're saying there are checks and balances in
the decision-making process leading up to the point where the president makes the decision, but after that, less so? after that, the system is designed to move very, very quick, and the decision is designed to respond in the extreme case where the president is woken up in the middle of the night, he has 30 minutes to make a decision because he's told by his advisers, if we don't act now, such and such a country will be about the launch a missile against the united states that will cause untold destruction, say, to the city of los angeles. mr. president, you must decide now. the president would have limited time to make that decision. once he made the decision, then the system is trained to implement that very quickly. but what critics worry about, and when you hear them talking about particularly what i call the "bar man scenario," what if the president wakes up in the middle of the night, gets angry, gets in a treat storm, and then
tries the launch a nuclear weapon, the system is not designed to respond quickly in that case. he would issue the order, but as he is issuing the order, he would also be alerting the chain of command that he's just come up with this crazy decision, and that chain of command, while not legally required and while not technically required to agree with the president, in practice the chain of command would have ample opportunity to walk that decision back. if the president is banging on the table in anger with mo -- no provocation, i don't think the system would respond the way the critics worry about. if the president reaches the decision after conferring with his adviseors and then makes the decision, then the system will carry out the order. >> so is general clapper right to be worried is my question? and how much concern is there in the nuclear expert community about this? >> well, there is a division of
opinion, and some of the experts point out that the system would be safer if we added a two-man rule at the top. not sure that would be constitutional. or if we added more technical limitations that would require more subelements of the chain of command to be consulted, technically require them to be consulted. i think that would be reforms that would be worth considering. but the idea that the president could wake up without any preparation of the national security team and then order a launch just bang on the table, accidentally hit the button and send the missiles flying, that i don't think is a reasonable worry. i believe what general clapper was talking about was that middle scenario, the president has only 30 minutes to decide, the system will carry out his decision in that moment, and i think general clapper was asking questions about how good a decision would the president
make under those conditions. >> woodruff: professor peter feaver, we thank you very much. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: now the second of a two-part look at the transformation and troubles of retail. the federal trade commission cleared the way today for amazon to take over whole foods starting next week. meanwhile, sears announced it plans to close even more of the k-mart stores it owns. while each company has its particular story, there's no question the retail sector is going through a major transformation. our economics correspondent, paul solman, reports on how companies are trying to reboot and adapt to a most challenging environment. it's part of our weekly series, "making sense." >> reporter: more store closings this year than any since the great recession.
retailers filing for bankruptcy at a record pace. countless others teetering on the brink. and so, the obvious question: is this armageddon for retail? >> the retail industry is fine but the legacy players are facing armageddon. >> reporter: columbia university retail professor mark cohen. >> you know, back in the day if you wanted almost anything you could think of, you had to go to a department store. now what's happening, the internet is hollowing out the great american shopping mall. >> reporter: amazon founder jeff bezos predicted as much to me almost 20 years ago: unless brick-and- mortar stores do something different, they're toast. >> to put it in the extremes, the category that's most threatened is the strip mall because that's no fun. >> reporter: this outside a borders bookstore which, of course, went bankrupt 12 years later. so what's a retailer to do now? >> the traditional retailers that survive this paradigm shift are going to have to create a
physical presence that's far more attractive and engaging than what they've got. >> reporter: more engaging or else. earlier this summer, hudson's bay, which owns lord and taylor and saks fifth avenue, slashed 2,000 jobs. now, an activist investor is pushing the company to sell its stores for the real estate. the saks flagship in manhattan alone is reportedly worth $3.7 billion. to hudson's bay c.e.o. jerry storch the challenge is clear: >> how do we give the customer that extra reason, beyond simply consummating a transaction to buy some merchandise to come to a store. >> reporter: lord and taylor's answer: the dress address. at 30,000 square feet, it's the largest dress floor in the country, with a rotating pop-up space that spotlights a new designer every eight weeks. a restaurant and shopping suites with space for you and a bevy of buddies. >> i bet this is going to be a bestseller. >> reporter: lord and taylor's liz rodbel is betting on custom
service too. >> we have a concierge on the floor that will help connect you with a stylist immediately to really put you together to look terrific. >> reporter: lord and taylor is also testing lifestyle shops curated by makeup maven bobbi brown. at saks fifth avenue, they're selling health and fitness. >> think of as an amusement park for an adult. a reason to come to experience something new and different. >> reporter: h.b.c. c.e.o. storch met us at the wellery. you can buy stuff here, or get a manicure. practice your golf swing, work out sample "dry salt therapy" "" improve lung function." saks president mark metrick. >> when people leave this area, i want them to think, "wow, that's not the saks i thought." when they see someone a few weeks later and someone says, "oh, what's going on in those department stores?" somebody could say, "wow, have you been to saks lately? there's a lot going on." that's the goal. we don't sell stuff. >> we don't think retail's dead.
we think mediocre retail is dead. >> reporter: dave gilboa is cofounder of eyewear monger warby parker, an e-retail success story. his answer to armageddon is to combine online with brick-and- mortar. >> we just want to give customers options. we like to say that we're experience focused, but medium agnostic. >> reporter: the online retailer had been in business three years when it opened its first store. >> we found that there's still a lot of demand for people walking into physical stores. >> reporter: so warby parker has opened 55 stores with plans to add 25 more this year. >> there are certain customers that probably will never feel buying glasses online. there are other customers that even if we open up a store right next to their house, they'd prefer the experience of ordering online. >> reporter: yes, e-commerce grew 16% last year, but most purchases are still made in person and warby parker wants a piece of that action. so its stores have photo booths for trying on glasses and sharing photos of them with friends.
not feeling the specs? you can buy or just read books here too. and gilboa says the company uses data it collects online to offer personalized service in its stores. >> if you've bought a pair of sunglasses or prescription glasses from us online, and you walk into our store, any of our retail advisors could pull up your customer record. they could see your preferences. you could even go on your phone or on our website and create a list of favorites and then come into our store and one of our advisors can help you find those frames. >> reporter: indeed more and more e-commerce players are merging technology with physical retail. case in point: amazon's recent ventures in grocery stores, and actual bookstores, where your amazon prime account gets you an automatic discount. meanwhile, other retailers are reconceiving "the store" entirely. story in manhattan's chelsea district creates retail narratives-- themes that change
every three to eight weeks, like a magazine. the theme when we visited was" fresh story," founder rachel schechtman's 37th completely different "narrative." >> if a magazine tells stories by writing articles, and taking pictures, we tell stories through merchandise and events. and then, magazines have advertisers, and we have sponsors. >> reporter: the sponsor of" fresh story": jet.com, an e- coerce upstart bought by walmart that ventured into grocery delivery last year. >> we created a wall out of jet boxes since we're telling a story about them shipping fresh groceries, and so freshness propositions, so this is a stasher and it's a storage bag that's plastic-free and reusable. we're really using merchandise, not just as something you can buy, but as a narrative storytelling tool. >> reporter: story has two revenue streams: sponsors like jet.com pay to promote, in this case fresh produce and their delivery of it... >> would you like a banana to eat? >> reporter: i would. i haven't had my banana today yet, actually. the other revenue stream: sales, here of fresh-food themed
merchandise... banana candle, that's a flask. >> reporter: a banana hip flask! now, some items were more" fresh" than others. i strategically placed the salts. this is public television. >> every time we have products >> reporter: but unlike traditional retailers, schechtman doesn't worry much about sales per square foot. >> what we're focused on is experience per square foot. frankly, if there's subscription retail and you have all these new business models online, why the heck is no one reinventing the business model offline? >> reporter: this is offline? >> this is offline, we are offline, we are in a physical world. >> reporter: i never thought of that. my life is offline. schechtman believes retailers must pay more attention to offline experience, because that's what human beings want. to that end every story has themed events: classes, workshops, panel discussions. and at fresh story, fresh-baked
cookies. >> someone doesn't just need to go to a store to buy something, right. so here you can taste something, you can learn something, you can do something with a friend. it's not just commerce, it's content and community. >> reporter: that's also true at warby parker, says gilboa. >> humans are social animals and are always gonna value face to face interactions. i don't think that's going away. >> reporter: it's a view shared by the c.e.o. atop lord & taylor, saks, and others. >> there will always be physical stores. until they invent the transporter, like on star trek, there will be a reason for stores. it's still the only way you can touch merchandise instantly, feel it, try it on. >> reporter: or, for that matter, eat it. >> i'm breaking my diet for you. >> reporter: i'm breaking my diet for you! for the pbs newshour this is ever expansive economics correspondent paul solman, reporting from new york.
>> woodruff: now to another in our brief but spectacular episodes, where we ask people to describe their passions. tonight, we hear from damon davis, who co-directed the documentary "whose streets," which follows the protests in ferguson after the fatal shooting of michael brown. the film premiered at this year's sundance film festival and is currently playing in select cities. >> there are there are things that you must think about to survive daily being black in america. the neighborhood you're in. the clothes you got on. the way you talk to people. being black is a weapon, you understand? the weight that you carry and the darker your skin is so terrifying, that, like, you're just walking on eggshells your whole life. and the level of anxiety that
comes along with that, i don't know any black person that doesn't know what i'm talking about. i had been harassed by police. i had been pulled out of cars, sat on the curbs, humiliated. there's a huge chunk of the population that this is everyday life for. and think about how, how privileged you must be to not be afraid, every day you walk out of your house. to not be worried about, i'm driving and one of my tail lights is out. or i'm driving in the wrong neighborhood. this tally list you have to go through being black in america. i hope people that are finding out about this that actually care, try to use that privilege that they got to do something and make it a little more even for everybody else. over the last few years, i personally think the trajectory of my life has changed monumentally. and the events of ferguson and mike brown changed my entire life i can honestly say.
whose streets is a call and response chant that was used out in the streets in saint louis and in ferguson. it's also asking whose streets is it? the police are working for the people, and your rights are to assemble, says the constitution, are they our are they our streets? who whose streets actually are they? in the trajectory of american history i don't think things have changed much from three years ago, or 30 years ago, 300 years ago. we been talking for about two, 300. and i think that it's time to take some responsibility, some culpability, and really get uncomfortable, think about the everyday role people play in racism. whether it be locker room jokes that, thanksgiving dinner jokes, down to systematic and systemic racism in the jobs and roles
that people play in it. you know when they talk about being an alcoholic the first step to recovery is, acknowledging you have a problem. well, america has a pretty big problem with doing that, you know? it's like, why don't y'all just get over it, you know. it's like, but you had a 280- year head start. it's kind of hard to get over it when people run around the track and then they shoot the gun for you to start, i think until we start talking about that the conversation is a waste of time. you know what i mean? i think it's-- i think it's, and it's-- and it's patronizing at this point. it really is. yeah. my name is damon davis and this has been my brief but spectacular take on courage. >> woodruff: you can watch additional brief but spectacular episodes on our website, pbs.org/newshour/brief. now to our newshour shares, something that caught our eye that may be of interest to you, too. after more than seven decades, the remains of one of the worst
disasters u.s. naval history have been found, thanks to a wealthy philanthropist, a navy historian and a state-of-the-art research vessel. the newshour's julia griffin explains. >> that's it, paul. that's the indy. >> reporter: with those words, a 72-year old mystery was solved, and a historical treasure rediscovered on the bottom of the pacific ocean: the wreckage of the world war ii naval cruiser, the u.s.s. "indianapolis." on july 30, 1945, the indianapolis was at sea, having just completed a top-secret mission delivering key components of the "little boy" atomic bomb to a naval base in the northern mariana islands, when it was torpedoed by a japanese submarine. just 15 minutes later, the ship that survived the pearl harbor attack was underwater. 800 of her 1,196 sailors are thought to have survived the
initial sinking, but with the u.s. navy unaware of the loss, the men were forced to float... for four days in shark-infested waters before being spotted by a patrolling bomber pilot. ultimately, only 317 survived the ordeal. for decades, the indianapolis's final resting place was lost to the ocean. >> all the paperwork was lost. there was no signal that went out so basically we had nothing but the recollections of the crew, the survivors. so it was really imprecise location at the beginning. >> reporter: but last year, naval historian richard hulver discovered naval landing craft "l.s.t. 779" had passed the indianapolis just hours before the attack. >> if you can figure out where l.s.t. 779 was, that gives you another point on that, another data point on that route that can give you a better idea. >> reporter: with the new data point in hand, a civilian research team led by microsoft co-founder paul allen took up
the search again. >> we try to do these both as really exciting examples of underwater archaeology and as tributes to the brave men who went down on these ships. >> reporter: this time, the research vessel turned it's attention west of the original location estimate and hunted through a new, 600-square-mile patch of the pacific ocean. ultimately, one of the team's remotely-operated underwater vehicles spotted the ship, it's anchor and other paraphernalia, more than 18,000 feet below the surface. naval history and heritage command director sam cox hopes the discovery will underscore more than just the ship's demise. >> even in a great tragedy like this one, there is valor, there is bravery, there are also and in the case of this crew that made the ultimate sacrifice, you know, what they did needs to be remembered and not just for getting torpedoed and sunk. they were heroes. >> reporter: only 22 crew members of the indianapolis are
still alive today. for the pbs newshour, i'm julia griffin. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, we share a remembrance of swedish journalist kim wall, who disappeared while reporting a story in denmark and whose remains were found this week. one of our newshour producers pays tribute to his friend's life and work on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> 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. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
this season of "martha stewart's cooking school" explores treasured recipes from an extraordinary part of the world -- the arabian gulf. join me in my kitchen as i celebrate its regional ingredients. we'll make rustic breads, mouthwatering desserts, and hearty stews with spices made famous by historic trade routes, learn new culinary techniques and creative tips for serving arabian gulf classics, from preparing small bites to showstopping dishes fit for any festive occasion. with its bold flavors and strong traditions, i've been inspired to get into the kitchen and add what i like to call a good thing to an already delicious cuisine. enjoy. "martha stewart's cooking school" is made possible by... ♪ announcer: al jazeera.