tv PBS News Hour PBS November 22, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: picking up the pieces in syria. as russia's president putin gathers major players behind that brutal civil war, we explore the realities on the ground and political challenges that remain. then, a ray of sunshine in kenya. how start-up companies are harnessing solar energy and mobile technology to empower remote villagers. and, on this holiday eve, a closer look at one of history's most infamous trades: how the demand for nutmeg factored into the rise of new york city. >> nutmeg was worth more than its weight in gold. it was extremely expensive because it only came from such a tiny place. >> woodruff: all that and more,
skollfoundation.org. >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at lemelson.org. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: a former sports doctor pleaded guilty today to sexually assaulting seven girls when he worked for u.s.a. gymnastics and michigan state university. three of larry nassar's victims were under the age of 13 at the
time. some of his accusers were in the courtroom in lansing, michigan today as nassar entered his plea under a deal with prosecutors. >> for all those involved, i'm so horribly sorry that this was like a match to turn into a forest fire out of control. and i pray to the rosary every day for forgiveness for their-- i want them to heal. i want this community to heal. i have no animosity towards anyone, i just want healing. it's time. >> woodruff: nassar could face a minimum of 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in january. in all, more than 125 women and girls have accused him. they include olympic gymnasts aly raisman, mckayla maroney and gabby douglas. at least four states have opened investigations into a major data breach at uber. the ride-sharing company confirms that hackers stole
information last year on 57 million users and drivers. it says it paid $100,000 to have the information destroyed. attorneys general in illinois, maryland, massachusetts, and new york said today they are examining the company's actions. in zimbabwe, the man tapped to be the next president returned from his refuge in south africa, a day after robert mugabe resigned. cheering crowds in harare greeted former vice president emmerson mnangagwa. in a speech, he appealed for unity to support "a new and unfolding democracy." >> no one is more important that the other. we are all zimbabweans. we want to grow our economy, we want peace in our country, we want jobs, jobs, jobs in our country. >> woodruff: the former vice president is 75. he is to be sworn in friday.
the prime minister of lebanon says that he is not resigning after all, reversing a surprise announcement three weeks ago. in beirut today, saad hariri declared that he is putting his decision on hold. instead, he called for a "real partnership" with all political factions. in his original statement, hariri had condemned the lebanese militia, hezbollah, and its ally, iran. a north korean soldier who defected to south korea last week has regained consciousness. doctors in seoul said today said he needed two rounds of surgery, after being shot during his escape. they also removed large intestinal parasites. now, they say, the defector is enjoying american movies and south korean pop songs on television. >> ( translated ): his condition has become much better since yesterday. we also turned on the tv for him yesterday. however, he still cannot eat anything properly. he has just started to drink water. the soldier said he felt great pain when he was shot, but he doesn't feel the pain now.
>> woodruff: meanwhile, the united nations command in korea released dramatic video today, showing the north korean's desperate dash to freedom. in one tense scene, other north koreans run toward the defector after he has crashed his jeep in a ditch. he escapes the vehicle and sprints across the border just before being shot, at least four times. the video also shows one north korean actually chasing him across the line before turning back. eight people have been rescued, with three still missing, after a u.s. navy plane crashed in the western pacific today. the transport plane went down southeast of okinawa, japan, while it was en route to the u.s. aircraft carrier "ronald reagan." there is no word on the cause of the crash, but it's the latest in a series of accidents involving the u.s. navy's seventh fleet. in the u.s., a long-running lawsuit that grew out of the 9/11 attacks is ending. american airlines, united
airlines and other defendants have agreed to pay $95 million to developers of the world trade center site. the settlement follows 13 years of litigation, and resolves claims that security lapses led to the attacks. president trump officially began his thanksgiving holiday today, in florida. he spent the morning at his golf club in west palm beach. earlier, he tweeted new insults at lavar ball, whose son, a u.c.l.a. basketball player, was accused of shoplifting in china, then released. the president called the father an "ungrateful fool" for minimizing his involvement in the release. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average lost 64 points to close at 23,526. the nasdaq rose about five and the s&p 500 slipped two. and, one-time teen idol and pop singer david cassidy has died. he passed away tuesday of organ
failure, at a hospital in fort lauderdale, florida. cassidy shot to stardom as lead singer in the 1970s sitcom "the partridge family." their hits included "i think i love you" and "i'll meet you halfway." ♪ we can find the time to reach out for one another ♪ ♪ we have been traveling in circles such a long, long time ♪ ♪ trying to say hello ♪ oh ♪ if we can just let it ride ♪ but you're someone i'd like to get to know ♪ >> woodruff: in later years, david cassidy battled alcoholism and dementia. he was 67 years old. still to come on the newshour: picking up the pieces as syria's civil war dwindles down. a bosnian war commander sentenced for genocide. solar energy powers up remote villages in kenya. and much more.
>> woodruff: now, the nearly- seven year war in syria has left an estimated half million dead, displaced millions more, and become a proxy conflict among great powers. today, one of the main drivers of the war these past two years, russia's president vladimir putin, began an effort to put a greater political stamp on what comes next in syria. it was a confident putin who declared the end of the syrian civil war is finally in sight, and he was clear about who gets the credit. >> ( translated ): large-scale military action against terrorist groups in syria is coming to an end. thanks to the efforts of russia, iran and turkey, we have managed to prevent the collapse of syria, and prevent it from being
captured by international has appeared to put an end to a war which has lasted for many years. >> woodruff: putin hosted iran's president hassan rouhani and turkey's president recep tayyip erdogan at the summit in sochi. the trio represent the main backers of the warring parties: russia and iran support the syrian regime, turkey the opposition. >> ( translated ): we can state with certainty that we have come to a new stage, a possibility to initiate a real political process of settlement. it is obvious that the process of reforms will not be an easy one. it will require compromises and concessions from all of its participants, including of course, the syrian government. >> woodruff: putin said syria's president bashar al-assad is prepared to enact constitutional reforms and to hold u.n.- supervised elections. it remains unclear whether assad would agree to step down, something the u.s. and opposition groups had once demanded. on monday, putin greeted the syrian leader warmly at a
bilateral meeting. assad, in turn, praised russia's military support for saving his regime. >> ( translated ): today, after more than two years, the results on the ground are obvious for everyone, and this is due to the russian air support of the syrian arab army in countering and fighting terrorism. on behalf of the syrian people, i would like to thank and salute you, and every officer. >> woodruff: since russia's intervention in 2015, the syrian government has regained control over broad swaths of the country. in the northeast, kurdish fighters backed by the u.s. have taken territory from the islamic state. isis still holds areas in the southeast, although greatly reduced, and rebel groups have been pushed from all but a few pockets. the united states was not included in today's sochi summit, and has been largely quiet on the russian-led talks. putin did phone mr. trump yesterday, and they spoke for
more than an hour. in a readout afterward, the white house said: "both presidents also stressed the importance of implementing return home, and ensuring the stability of a unified syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens." all this comes as members of the deeply-fractured syrian opposition are meeting in saudi arabia. they hope to agree on an agenda and a delegation for peace talks in geneva later this month. for more on syria, russia and iran's role, and where this leaves the united states, i'm joined by vali nasr. he is dean of the johns hopkins school of advanced international studies. he served as a senior adviser in the state department under president obama. and, faysal itani is a senior fellow in the rafik hariri center for the middle east at the atlantic council, a washington think tank. and welcome to both of you to the "newshour". vali nasr, to you first, is president putin right that
military conflict in syria is just about at an end? >> no, probably this a war will continue in fits and starts for some time, but he would like to tell the world that the major reasons as to why the war was going on, in other words the fight against i.s.i.s., is over, and the other important message is that if the war was really about removing assad from power, he wants to say that effort is over as well. so it's a major signal he wants to send that as far as russia is concerned, we're moving to the next stage. >> woodruff: as far as russia is concerned. to faysal itani, and russia is the most influential factor in the war at this point, is that correct? >> they are the reason that the war took a turn from the regime being at a disadvantage to the regime now being in a consolidated position and secure. they aren't the single most powerful actor in syria but they're the reason things took that turn and they're trying to capitalize diplomatically. >> woodruff: what's the
significance, vali nasr, of the meeting in russia, vladimir putin inviting first president assad and today meeting with mr. erdogan from turkey and president rouhani of iran? >> i think two things, one is that by making a declaration, in a sense, that the war is over -- at least that's what president putin is saying, everyone should focus on post-war -- he's trying to change the psychological effect, get other leaders to accept what he thinks are the facts observe the ground, the war is over. this is a big moment for him. he is taking that role that has traditionally been that of the united states, the power that brings everybody together, charts the way toward a peace process, imposes a political settlement and ends a conflict, so this role has been completely abdicated by the united states and is now putin's moment, if you were to say, i'm going to be deciding the fate of syria and
by extension the fate to have the middle east. >> woodruff: faysal itani, is there any argument that president assad is going to remain in power? >> no, i think he is going to remain in power, i think that's clear. all the major backers of the insurgent groups pushing to confront him militarily, that is over. there will be holdout and extremist groups like h.t.s. -- >> woodruff: being -- an al quaida offshoot, essentially. but without turkey and saudi arabia and qatar actively trying to hurt the regime, without jordan at least agreeing, there is no significant military threat to the regime. >> woodruff: and what's the significance, vali nasr, you referenced this a couple of times, the u.s. does not have a significant voice at this point in what's going on. how tid we get to this place? >> i think it started where the administration policy was that
syria is not worth abamerican effort and i think the obama administration underestimated putin's tenacity and willingness to shape this war and sort of thought this is a fool's errand and putin is going to crash and burn. then the trump administration which has a very different approach to russia in the sense that they're not concerned about russia coming out of this conflict stronger but, at the same time, they much like the obama administration are not willing to really put their resources on the ground that would make the united states a factor. >> woodruff: how much difference does it make, faysal itani, that the u.s. does not have a major voice at this point? >> i mean, for it to have a major voice, it would have had to have had a major impact and influence on the ground at the military and diplomatic level. this is a reflection we don't have any of that. we played the diplomacy game a few years in the conflict. now we're seeing after five or six years, the diplomatic
situation reflects who has skin in the game. the united states doesn't have it and the others do. >> woodruff: does that matter, vali nasr, that the u.s. doesn't? >> there is a larger audience than syria. this is not just about syria. so this is the second major event in the region in the last month that the united states has had no role so first you had the kurdish referendum, iran was the decider of the outcome. now with the war in syria russia is the decider of the outcome. so there is an audience across the region of governments, opposition forces who are watching this and deciding that the united states now is a spectator and not a decider. >> woodruff: so where does that leave syria? i mean, you both -- we've talked about iran. iran continues to play a significant role in syria. >> yeah, absolutely. where it leaves syria is you have to deseg date and divide between the conflict over the survival of the regime, between the opposition and the regime, i think that's more or less over at least for now. >> woodruff: with assad staying in power. >> in power, and the other half is what happens to the
territories that we and our allies took in the process of fighting i.s.i.s., and that's a big chunk of territory, that the fate of that area is much more uncertain than the one that the regime controls. >> woodruff: how do you see that playing out, is non-assad. we showed this map a few moments ago, but the part of syria that assad doesn't control, what happens there. >> i think the goal for the alliance behind assad is to gradually eat up that territory as well or neutralize it. i think the assumption of putin and his allies is, once they make it clear that they are going to shape the future of syria, the united states would be even less incentivized to put resources on the ground and is going to completely abdicate any role in syria, which then gives them the free hand, let's say, over five years, six years, to do mop-up operations and take over the entire territory. >> woodruff: in the longer run, with the u.s. out of the picture, faysal itani, in terms
of deciding on syria's fate, is that good for u.s. interests overall or not? >> if -- even if you think syria itself is unimportant, and there have been arguments made that it's not, on the u.s. side, jordan is important, israel is important and, even leaving all that aside, the future of turkey is important, and the iranian presence and control, an unprecedented one from iraq, syria, running all the way through lebanon, that's a new geopolitical reality, and does affect american interests. i don't know how long it will take for something to happen to make the united states realize that that's not an acceptable situation or at least one that needs a tough plan to manage. that hasn't happened yet for whatever reason, but it's still early. >> woodruff: so the u.s. may end up having to get involved again. is that what we're saying here? >> i think it's going to be very difficult for the u.s. to get involved. i think putin is now creating a situation that the united states would have to go against russia
to get involved in syria, if the russians are deciding that. but the larger issue for us is that putin has, and iran and assad, have now shown a way in which you could shape the future of regions and marginalize and exclude the united states, and this will play out in asia, it's going to play out in europe and ukraine, it's going to play out in other regions of the world. the audience for syria is much larger for syria or the middle east. >> woodruff: big implications that go well beyond the middle east. vali nasr, faysal itani, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: as we reported earlier, the serbian military commander, ratko mladic, was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the brutal balkan civil war that tore apart the former yugoslavia in the 1990s.
special correspondent malcolm brabant covered the conflict then, and reports now from bosnia on today's decision. >> reporter: mladic had spent 14 years on the run before being captured, and in the weeks before today's finale, his lawyers had tried in vain to delay proceedings. the so-called "butcher of bosnia" didn't hear the convictions and sentence being delivered-- he was kicked out of court, after an outburst in which he denounced the tribunal and its proceedings in vulgar terms. >> we adjourn, mr. mladic will be removed from the courtroom, cut the sound! mr. mladic, we adjourn, curtains down. mr. mladic will be removed from the courtroom. >> reporter: with mladic taken to the cells, and silence restored, the judge ran through the charge sheet. guilty on ten out of eleven indictments. >> guilty, as a member of various joint criminal
enterprises, of the following counts: count two, genocide; count three, persecution, a crime against humanity; >> reporter: the charges mainly related to mladic's supervision of the massacre of bosnian men and boys after the serbs overran srebrenica in the summer of 1995. the men were separated from the women, who were put on buses and driven away. most of their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers were never seen again. >> for having committed these crimes, the chamber sentences mr. ratko mladic to life imprisonment. >> reporter: mladic's conviction wraps up the prosecution of the main three instigators of bosnia's ethnic cleansing. the bosnian serbs' political leader, radovan karadzic, was found guilty of similar charges last year. and, slobadan milosevic, the
architect of serbian expansionism after the collapse of former yugoslavia, died in his prison cell from a heart attack. the court proceedings were watched by relatives of those massacred in srebrenica. there was relief that, given mladic's age and health problems, the life sentence will probably mean that he will die in prison. >> ( translated ): this should mean a lot for justice and reconciliation, if the other side is willing to look into the facts and accept the arguments to move towards a better future, and to stop negating the genocide and all the happenings in bosnia and herzegovina. >> reporter: mladic was also found guilty for killing civilians in sarajevo during the long siege. it still bears the scars of serb mortar rounds, as does former child soldier almir garbo, who has post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing his friends blown to pieces by mladic's forces during the siege. >> ( translated ): for me, mladic is a monster. only a monster can kill children and order a massacre of children
and raping of little girls. >> reporter: there has been some criticism of the length of time the war crimes tribunal took to deliver verdicts, but longtime sarajevo-based speech writer and advisor, kevin sullivan, who was wounded during the conflict, is satisfied justice has finally prevailed. >> in terms of closure, i think each individual has to reach their own closure. politically, i think this is important because it shows that you don't have to throw your hands up and say there is nothing can be done. >> ratko mladic may have lost the war after n.a.t.o. intervened. he may have faced justice at the first war crimes tribunal since nuremberg but he's vile a viktor of sorts. he fought for ethnic cleansing and succeeded to an extent. it's now predominant a muslim city, most serbs and crow axe left. many serbs regard him as a war hero not a
>> reporter: in the serbian town of novi sad, there was anger at what some perceived as "victor's justice." >> ( translated ): i have no comment. really, what a verdict. the man, ratko mladic, should have been released to go home, not sent to prison, because he is guilty of nothing. >> ( translated ): well, disgusting. disgusting because they, mladic, represent us. us, the people, who are innocent. they will brand us as such, guilty. nothing else. >> reporter: mladic's lawyer announced he will appeal the verdicts, but as far as the people he wanted to eradicate are concerned, these gravestones don't lie. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant in sarajevo. but first, bringing light, sound, and even pictures to vast regions of the world that go dark at sunset. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro reports from kenya on the growing promise, and popularity, of off-grid solar
power. its part of our on-going series "breakthroughs," and this week's "leading edge" segment. >> reporter: it takes a long time to get to remote villages like the one peter mulili lives in. the electric grid hasn't yet gotten here. but today, mulili is able to flip a switch to turn on an overhead light, listen to the radio, even watch a music video on television. >> ( translated ): i had been using kerosene to light my house. but now, i spend that money to use solar power to light my house, charge my phone and watch tv. >> reporter: mulili used to pay about a $1.50 a day for kerosene, a fuel still used by his neighbors here in central kenya, and some 1.3 billion people around the globe, who don't have any access to grid electricity.
but a number of upstart companies have taken advantage of improved technology and falling prices of panels to deliver cleaner solar power, which also lets their customers charge their phones at home-- a chore that otherwise takes a trip to the nearest town. >> i spent my 20's working in developing countries. >> reporter: jesse moore is one of the co-founders of m-kopa, a leading for-profit start-up in kenya. >> what we're trying to do is change the world and change the lives of low-income people for the better, by bringing cheaper, less expensive affordable energy into their homes on a daily basis. >> reporter: the setup is simple: customers place a single panel on their roof. wires connect it to a battery, which powers three light bulbs, a phone charging station and a radio. a more powerful panel and television comes in an upgrade package. a 24-hour call center at the company's headquarters trouble- shoots problems. >> we have embedded a chip
inside every solar system, so if i were to call in and say "my system isn't working tonight, can you help me," the operator could look into my system and see very specific information about the system, how it's performing and often that allows us to remotely diagnose and fix the problem. >> reporter: sales have been robust. we watched as these rural residents surrounded an m-kopa salesman to hear his pitch, and at an m-kopa store in the town of machakos, where anastasia musya, a customer already, was adding a television to her system, i asked her why. >> ( translated ): i'll get to see what's happening in the world. i'll get to see the news. >> reporter: in addition to getting news, solar customers say their children are able to do homework into the evening and night, and they don't have the health problems and fire risk associated with kerosene lamps. >> ( translated ): my sister used to study using the kerosene lamp, but she developed problems with her eyes. now she doesn't have that
problem. >> reporter: but it's not just the cheaper solar technology that has made this all possible. it's the transformation in how customers pay for it, through their mobile phone. vast swaths of kenya and many parts of sub-saharan africa have moved rapidly from never being wired to being connected to the world wirelessly. barely a decade ago, only one out of ten kenyan adults owned a mobile phone. today, more than eight out of ten own one. the new solar companies use a pay-as-you-go model. customers pay a small amount daily with a popular mobile pay app called m-pesa. the solar companies says it's the same price or even cheaper than kerosene. professor varun sivaram, at georgetown and the council on foreign relations, says mobile payments have been key to the rise of these businesses. >> there are limited regulations on mobile payments and so entrepreneurs have taken advantage of advances in mobile payments to deploy off-grid
solar systems. >> reporter: and sivaram says, that gives people more than just lights and television. >> you should be able to make a living, whether it's through an online business that you conduct over the internet or on a cell phone, whether it's using appliances such as a sewing machine or an iron, such as having storefront lighting so you can be a vendor that sells things. that's why livelihoods and economic development is one of the major potential benefits of off-grid solar. >> next, there will be refrigeration, there will be computing, fans. that will all come into play as affordable products people can plug in off solar. so it's really nice at the end of the day to think that the developing world and low-income customers who have been neglected by the grid will actually be the ones to leapfrog straight to the future. but sivaram says development of the electrical grid is still
very important. >> a study in "nature and climate change" found that between now and 2030, one-third of all the gains in energy access could come from off-grid solar systems. the other two-thirds are going to come from central grid extension. so off-grid solar is still only one part of the solution, not a silver bullet. >> reporter: not a silver bullet, but a ray of, literally, sunshine, for vast regions of the planet. for the pbs newshour, i'm fred de sam lazaro in machakos, kenya. >> woodruff: fred's reporting is a partnership with the under-told stories project at the university of st. thomas in minnesota. >> woodruff: the islamic state declared its caliphate in 2014 across great swaths of syria and iraq. now, three years later, isis has been routed from most of the land it once held. but, the destruction and wounds of war will be long-lasting.
no more so than for the children that the extremists sought to brainwash and turn into a next generation of fighters; they called them the "cubs of the caliphate." from northern iraq, special correspondent marcia biggs reports. >> reporter: mosul may be liberated from isis, but the fear on its streets is palpable. as some of its almost one million citizens begin to return home, the issue on everyone's mind is the possibility of a resurgent isis. throughout the nine-month battle, kurdish and iraqi officials tried to root out isis fighters and sympathizers, screening and detaining thousands from the mass of people who fled the city. many of those detained were children, and some were what isis called their "cubs of the caliphate," seen here in this propaganda footage. isis made the recruitment of children for military purposes routine, sending children as young as four years old to training camps where they would
learn to fight, kill, and even die for the islamic state. >> they wanted them as young as possible so they can shape their minds. >> reporter: aasmund lok is a child protection specialist for unicef. >> some of them are forcefully taken and-- and forced to become fighters. some young people have-- have joined for-- for financial reasons. breadwinners could've been killed or went missing. so, some of the young ones had to step up and find ways to-- to support themselves and their families. the majority of the kids in detention are between 15 and 17. >> reporter: so, 15 to 17, that means when isis came, they were between the ages of 12 and 14. >> yeah. of those who sits in detention, they join at whenever-- 10, 11, 12. >> reporter: these are just kids. >> these are just kids. >> reporter: one of those kids was 16-year-old mahmoud. he was just 13 when isis came to his village. he says isis picked him up from a neighborhood mosque and took him to a training camp, where he was kept for 45 days.
>> ( translated ): they promised they would give us cars, guns, and money. then they promised that we would go to heaven. >> reporter: and did they give you those things? >> ( translated ): no, they didn't give me anything. >> reporter: mahmoud says the camp was deep in the desert, where children from turkey, iraq, even the united states were put through a boot camp, which included weapons training and target practice. were you good at it? inta mneh? >> ( translated ): no, i was not good. i used to keep my right eye open and left one closed, but i was supposed to do it the other way around. so i never hit the target. >> reporter: punishments were severe, and the indoctrination was so intense that he says some of the boys even volunteered to be suicide bombers. after 45 days, isis gave the campers a break in their training. once home, he says his family forbade him from going back, sending him to a relative's 's house to hide. >> ( translated ): at the beginning, i was mad. but then i stopped being angry.
when you first come back from the camp, the ideas stay in your mind. but, after a little while, you stop believing in the ideas of isis. >> reporter: when coalition forces began driving isis from mosul last year, his family heard that children who had been in training camps were being arrested, and mahmoud says he surrendered to protect himself. >> ( translated ): if i went to prison and paid my dues, i would come out more comfortably. no one could then accuse me of being isis. >> reporter: first he was taken to a jail for processing in the town of qayyarah. >> ( translated ): there was misery there that none of us had ever seen before. some people were given no water for four or five days, three days with little food. some people tried to eat the plaster off the walls. one guard, whose brother had just died fighting isis, would come and beat us, and accuse us of killing him. >> reporter: do you wish you hadn't turned yourself in? >> ( translated ): yes, whenever they would beat me violently, i thought it would have been
better had i not surrendered. some people were tortured, kicked, and beaten with cables. they were kept in tires to keep them from moving. >> reporter: he was then sent to one of several jails just south of mosul, where photography is now strictly forbidden, but these images surfaced a few months ago. he says the beatings stopped, but that the conditions remained unbearable. we went to one of those jails and were allowed to speak to 17-year-old mohamed. he was just 14 when he joined isis, or daesh, as it's also known. he had only been at the camp for two days when he lost his leg in an airstrike. he asked us not to show his face and we filmed him in the dark. why did you join daesh? >> ( translated ): isis had already killed 12 members of my family. they killed my brother-in-law and arrested my sister and her child. my other brother-in-law fled to baghdad and joined the federal police. that means we were a wanted family. if hadn't joined, i would have
been killed. and at first, the situation was really good. they gave us presents and organized games. they gave us candy. >> reporter: after liberation, he says he also surrendered, thinking he would be treated better and could go back to school. instead, he's been here for three months, and he has not been able to communicate with his family. >> ( translated ): the condition in the prison is stifling, overcrowded. there is feces everywhere, people are sick and have skin diseases. the conditions are scary here. it's a nightmare, inside the prison it's a nightmare. >> reporter: what do you think will happen to you? >> ( translated ): my fate is not clear, i don't know. >> reporter: without our cameras, we were allowed inside the holding cells. so, we just came out of the prison. we weren't allowed to film, but let me tell what it was like going inside there. the stench was incredible, flies everywhere, people stacked person to person to person, not able to lie down, just sitting up. we literally had to step over every single one of them. there are apparently 100 children in there, combined with
300 other men. the scene in the jail was much like this one, and we're told some boys can stay in facilities like this for as long as a year. as we left, we saw the mothers, hoping and waiting for their sons. mahmoud served eight months in prison before being released. his mother miriam says she that for more than two months after his arrest, she had no idea where he was. >> ( translated ): this was the most difficult period of my life, it started with isis and then continued with the government arresting our children instead of letting them go back to school. >> reporter: we spoke to a representative of the local government. and she says that anyone who joined isis is a criminal, but that prison is meant to rehabilitate the children. how is detaining them in overcrowded prisons, where they are beaten and held with adults, how is this going to help them? >> ( translated ): that is your opinion, but actually my opinion
is that it's the role of the government to guide those people, to reform them. if we let them out on their own, they could create a new movement. it's a prison, these things happen. torture takes place, unfairness, discrimination, everything goes. this is prison. >> reporter: are you afraid that releasing these children will pose a threat, that isis sleeper cells will use them to attack iraq again? >> ( translated ): one million percent. we expect that. i received one kid who was just nine years old, and he cut the heads of three people. so, you answer me, what am i to do with this case? >> reporter: not all of the children are a danger to society, and lok is implementing psycho-social programs in some of the prisons. but he can't get into all of them. he's not had access to this prison, or the one that we went to. and, he says reversing the stigma for those released is also a huge obstacle.
do you think the families of these children would feel safe to come forward, to try to get help for them? >> we've met kids who are not able to stay in touch with their families because the families don't want to have contact with them, because of the association because that could potentially put their families at risk. >> reporter: so where do they go? >> good question. i don't know. >> reporter: as we drove through mosul, where the makeshift soccer fields line the streets, we were reminded of just how many young boys have come of age under isis. >> what breaks my heart is that some of them may be facing now 10, 15 years in detention because of the choices they have made. but at the end of the day, they're just kids. >> reporter: just kids, in a community and a country that won't soon be ready to trust them again. for the pbs newshour, i'm marcia biggs in mosul, iraq.
>> woodruff: now, a new look at the american general who became president in the aftermath of the civil war. jeffrey brown has this addition to the "newshour bookshelf." >> brown: he was a lumbering brutal general, and an incompetent president; or, he was a brilliant strategist and a far-sighted political leader, who belongs in the american pantheon. ulysses s. grant, who led union forces to victory in the civil war and then served two terms as president, has stirred a range of responses, from his own time to ours. he wrote his own acclaimed memoir, and has been the subject of numerous biographies. now comes "grant" by ron chernow, who's made a specialty of writing of big historical figures, including george washington, j.p. morgan, and alexander hamilton. that biography was the inspiration for the hit broadway musical. ♪ ♪ welcome to you. >> pleasure to be here, thank you. >> brown: so, no doubt everyone
starts by asking you, are we expecting ulysses s. grant, the musical? >> reporter: well, i decided that ulysses s. grant's life doesn't move to a hip-hop beat. the problem is, since the "hamilton" musical, people expect me to, at appearances to start snapping my fingers and singing in rhymed couplets. so i'm trying to get beyond the image of the hip-hop historian. >> brown: all right, so you provide the research for these things. it is interesting to think, though, about changing reputations and views of people. that happened with hamilton. i wonder, if somebody came to you and said "ulysses s. grant, how do i capture him?" >> this man has suffered from more misleading stereotypes than perhaps any other leading figure in american history. far from being this brutal and clumsy general, he was a strategic mastermind of the war. and it's always said that robert e. lee was the superior general.
lee was a brilliant tactician who had kind of an uncanny ability in individual battle to anticipate his opponent's moves. but it was really grant who had a master plan, a comprehensive plan for ending the war by coordinating the movements of all of these various armies. so he was an extremely sophisticated military strategist. it's just one of many misunderstandings that i tried to correct in the book. >> brown: he was an outsider, right? from what was called the west at that time. not a sophisticate, not part of the elite. >> well, also, before the war, he had suffered one business failure after another. after the war started, he was working as a clerk, junior to his two younger brothers, in his father's leather goods store in galena, illinois. the war breaks out, grant has been as west point, he'd fought in the mexican war. two months later, he's colonial, four months later he's brigadier general, ten months later he's major general. by the end of the war, he has a million men under his command. this man who had been an
impoverished clerk in a leather goods store. and i think that because of his pre-war business failures, he had everything to gain and nothing to lose. it gave him a certain daring in the war. >> brown: part of the reputation, that caricature, is the drinking, right? was he a drunk or not? this is something that you've looked at quite a bit, the effect of his drinking on his personality. >> absolutely. i decided that this controversy, which has hung over grant for a 150 years, had to be settled once and for all. >> brown: to use a phrase, the "hungover," right? >> ( laughs ) but what's happened historically is that grant's opponents derided him as a drunkard, people who had written admiring biographies have tended to completely minimize the drinking problem; when i discovered, in fact, while this is an admiring book, grant was an alcoholic. but rather than using that term "drunkard," which implies moral failing, that he was indulging this in some kind of cavalier fashion, i tried to treat alcoholism as a chronic disease,
that this was something that he struggled with his entire life. he joined a temperance lodge from the time he was in his 20s, and it was a problem that he finally conquered by the end of his life. >> brown: you're focusing more on a lot of accomplishments, especially his work in reconstruction, to try to make it work. >> yeah, his presidency has been unfairly caricatured as one of scandals and nepotism. those things occurred. i devote a lot of time to them in the book. but i argue that this was really the minor story of his presidency. the major story was, he was the foremost president protecting the four million african americans who had been enslaved prior to the war, who under the 14th amendment became full fledged american citizens and under the 15th amendment had the right to vote. this provoked the most violent backlash in the south. the ku klux klan conducted a reign of terror throughout the south. grant repeatedly sent troops into the south in order to rein
in the klan, and finally brought 3,000 indictments against the klan to crush them. so, as frederick douglass said, ulysses s. grant was the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of our race. i feel it's a great unknown story about grant. >> brown: before we started this, we were talking about the continuing divisiveness in this country, about confederate monuments, some of them from that period, right? >> this is an open wound in our society. we've been left with two competing narratives of what happened during and after the civil war. and they started building the monuments, really, towards the end of grant's 2nd term. and these confederate monuments were built in a spirit of defiance, as a way of rebuking reconstruction and reasserting southern white supremacy in the south and rolling back all of the gains of reconstruction. you know, what's fascinating, people who know all about the civil rights movement up to the 1950s and the 1960s have no idea
that we had a civil rights movement in this country in the late 1860s and 1870s. this is a black hole in american memory. there's such an amnesia about what happened in terms of that civil rights movement, and also the violent backlash that unfortunately followed it. >> brown: you write these, as i said, big histories right? guys, men, they've all been, who have played big roles in shaping history. and they're big books. this is another big book, right? >> i apologize, i can't seem to write a short book. >> brown: but why? why the focus on these kind of big figures? >> well, you know, i decided to write about grant because i had always wanted to do a book about the civil war and reconstruction. grant's life is the perfect prism for seeing those two periods, and in fact, they're two acts of the same drama. so many americans know about the civil war in minute detail. they know nothing about reconstruction. it's kind of like walking out in the middle of the drama. you don't know how the play ends. so i kind of look for figures
who embody big moments in american history, who are part of building the structure of the country. and so, it's not simply telling an interesting yarn, that these were people who represented major movements in american life, hence the size of the book. >> brown: all right. the book is "grant." ron chernow, thank you very much. >> my pleasure, thank you. >> woodruff: tomorrow morning, another staple of thanksgiving cooking, and the holiday season, is nutmeg. that spice, and where it is grown, is linked to manhattan in a profound way you may not have known. special correspondent mike cerre explains. >> we sell nutmeg for $1 a piece, you can get three for $2.50. you don't need to mortgage the
farm to get some nutmeg. >> reporter: here at the oaktown spice shop in oakland, california, owner john beaver, and customers like dave wilson, appreciate how valuable nutmeg once was. >> nutmeg was worth more than its weight in gold. it was extremely expensive because it only came from such a tiny place. >> reporter: that tiny place: the spice islands. in the banda sea in between eastern indonesia. where columbus was trying to find a shortcut when he accidentally discovered the americas. >> today, we have the race for space. back in the 15th century, it was the race for spice. >> reporter: the infamous dutch east india company, one of the first i.p.o.'s, was formed so the dutch could monopolize the nutmeg trade. and they did for more than two centuries, through a brutal and often genocidal domination of the local bandanese, and a
bloody colonial standoff with the british. the dutch ultimately traded their rights to manhattan island, also known as new amsterdam, to the british for the island of banda rhun, the only place in the world where nutmeg was grown at the time. a play commemorating the bittersweet anniversary of that trade 350 years ago was performed both in new york and indonesia this summer. ron jenkins, a professor at wesleyan university, based it on his field research of the nutmeg trade. u.s. ambassador to indonesia joseph donovan, a former new yorker himself, participated in the local celebrations on banda neira islands last month, despite the fact the local bandanese had no say in the deal for control of their islands. >> after all, it was signed
between the dutch and the british in 1657. you know, now would like to cancel it. >> reporter: des alwi, the self- proclaimed "king of banda" was still dreamed big, of unwinding the deal when i met him the late '80s, before he died. it took me three days and three flights to get to these legendary spice islands, whose time and place in history have long since been forgotten. the once-rare nutmeg trees, with their bounty of fruit, covered nuts that can be ground into spice, were eventually smuggled off the spice islands. nutmeg is now grown in india, africa and the caribbean. the nut is inside this shell, covered by mace, another spice. you have to crack it open like this and grate it into a powder. it smells sweet and pungent, with a little bit like musky quality to it.
>> there's a lot of interest in nutmeg during the holidays you find it in mashed potatoes and maybe spinach dishes. the holidays. but also your pumpkin pie would have it, or a little garnish on top of your eggnog. >> reporter: spices were originally used for medicinal purposes as much as they were for cooking, during the middle ages and renaissance eras. >> it was the snake oil all of the time. it was considered an aphrodisiac; it was considered a calmative; it was considered a purgative. everything that you could imagine that was a bodily function, nutmeg was used for that. >> reporter: if it can cure holiday indigestion and over- indulgence, nutmeg might again be worth it's weight in gold. for the pbs newshour, i'm mike cerre in oakland, california.
>> woodruff: finally tonight, there is a national movement in schools to teach media literacy skills to teenagers, who are growing up with access to more information than any previous generation. in an era of marked by calls o"" fake news" and declining trust in media, we turned to our student reporting labs to find out how young people really experience news and think about journalism. >> you don't really know what you can believe, because there are so many sources saying so many different things. >> it's weakening trust between the media and the audience. >> i'm pretty sure that i have shared fake news, but i didn't realize it until someone corrected me. >> no one knows what to trust and what not to trust anymore. >> i shared a couple stories back during the presidential election that might not be as true as i originally believed they were. >> we're having a problem of people actually believing it,
and then going forward with news to have riots and things like that. >> i believe that it's the new epidemic, because people don't understand how fast fake news spreads. >> i remember there was a time everybody thought in gas costs, because of hurricane harvey and everybody thought gas was running out. so it spread through our social media and everybody got, got in a panic. >> i don't necessarily think fake news is a problem so much as misinformation. people often are keen to take whatever information they're given right off the bat, sometimes without kind of thinking about where it's coming from or what it implies. >> it is a person's first instinct to believe what they see is true automatically. and people need to double check that, and just make sure that getting information from reliable sources. >> journalism definitely does matter. it is the purest form of communication between people the politics and global issues. >> we live in a democracy where the people make decisions about government. to make those decisions, we need information in journalism. where are we going to get it from?
twitter? >> we need to incorporate a type of lesson plan to improve our digital literacy skills. >> we spend more time in the media than any generation ever has. and with all of this information being circulated, we need to make sure that the information that's getting to the audience is factual and is correct. >> woodruff: so important that these young people learn these lessons. we put together a guide to civility for the holidays with a guide from david brooks, mark shields, amy walter and more. on our web site. keep it nice at dinner. that's the "newshour" for tonight. and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and have a happy thanksgiving. >> major funding for the pbs
newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the wellbeing of humanity around the world, by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at www.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
man: we are one of the busiest recycling centers in the state of california. woman: the recycling center brings poor people from all over the city. narrator: the locals call it dogtown. man: this is the neighborhood where the poor, the unemployed-- this is where they end up. narrator: filmmakers amir soltani and chihiro wimbush follow the lives of those who survive by turning trash into cash. man: where else but america can you make $100 a day picking trash up off the streets? woman: all these people are working very hard to get this. narrator: a struggle of hardship... man: i want come out of this addiction. it's not easy. narrator: to find mercy and hope. man: in one way or another, the street's gonna pay me. narrator: "dogtown redemption," now, only on independent lens.