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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 21, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, as republicans celebrate the most significant rewrite of the tax code in decades, we break down the sweeping changes in the final bill. then, harassment on the job-- i sit down with the chair of the equal employment opportunity commission to talk about how h.r. departments can improve. and, what's the beef with beef? as the fake burger industry heats up, we bite into the debate over red meat. >> i think there is a place for animals in sustainable agriculture. however, that's not the kind of meat we're eating now. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> 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: congress moved this evening to pass a temporary spending bill that will keep the federal government running through january 19. the house passed a republican measure, and the senate moved to follow suit. it includes short-term health care funding for veterans and low-income children. but republicans and democrats still argued over the outcome. >> without action on this bill, existing government funding will expire tomorrow and the
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government will shut down. this legislation provides a simple clean extension of current funding levels through january of 2018. >> this reckless short-term resolution, it ignores our critical year-end priorities like passing a bipartisan, long- term reauthorization of the children's health insurance program. >> woodruff: the house is also voting on a separate $81 billion disaster aid package. republican leaders formally sent their tax overhaul to president trump today, for his signature. house speaker paul ryan and senate finance chair orrin hatch made it official at a capitol ceremony. dozens of their colleagues looked on. the white house said later there's a "very good chance" that mr. trump will sign the bill tomorrow. the united nations general assembly defied president trump today, and rejected his policy shift on jerusalem. hari sreenivasan has our report, from new york. >> i now give the floor to the distinguished representative of
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the united states. >> sreenivasan: it was the united states versus most of the world. the u.n. resolution declared president trump's recognition of jerusalem as israel's capital "null and void". that, despite ambassador nikki haley's warnings: >> the united states will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the general assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. we will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world's largest contribution to the united nations. >> sreenivasan: haley had earlier said washington would "take names" of those who disavowed its decision. president trump put it even more bluntly yesterday: >> they take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us. well, we're watching those votes. let them vote against us; we'll save a lot. we don't care. >> sreenivasan: but the warnings sparked defiance by many.
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nato ally turkey co-sponsored the resoution. >> this is bullying and this chamber will not bow to do that. it is unethical to think that the words and dignity of member states are for sale. let me put it in this way: we will not be intimidated. >> sreenivasan: in the end, 128 of the u.n.'s 193 members voted for the resolution. they included four of the top five recipients of u.s. foreign assistance-- iraq, afghanistan, egypt and jordan. 35 countries abstained, including canada and mexico. 21 nations were absent. only seven joined the u.s. and israel in voting "no." the israeli ambassador dismissed the resolution. >> this vote is nothing more than a performance of delusion. the palestinians know this resolution is a fraud. they know this resolution does absolutely nothing for the lives of the palestinian people. >> sreenivasan: but the palestinian foreign minister insisted his people have an "inalienable" right to east jerusalem as their future
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capital. >> ( translated ): the american decision will not impact the status and position of the holy city. rather it naturally affects the status of the united states as a mediator of peace, because it >> sreenivasan: the resolution is non-binding, and ambassador haley insisted it will have no effect on plans to move the american embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem. >> woodruff: as that u.n. vote was under way, vice president pence was making a surprise visit to afghanistan. he did not mention the afghans' support for the resolution on jerusalem. instead, he spoke to u.s. troops at bagram air base outside kabul, and said he believes that "victory is closer than ever before." >> under president donald trump, the armed forces of the united states will remain engaged in afghanistan until we eliminate the terrorist threat to our homeland, our people once and for all.
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>> woodruff: also today: defense secretary jim mattis gave a pep talk to troops at the u.s. prison for terror suspects in guantanamo bay, cuba. he was the first defense chief to visit there since 2002. the u.s. imposed economic sanctions today on a top general in myanmar over atrocities against rohingya muslims. until last month, he was military commander in a region where there's evidence of mass killings and rapes. some 650,000 rohingya have fled to bangladesh. in yemen, the international red cross reports the number of suspected cholera cases has topped one million. it blames the war between shiite rebels backed by iran, and a coalition of sunni nations, led by saudi arabia. the saudis said yesterday they are easing their blockade of a key yemeni port, to let in food and medicine.
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in spain, the people of catalonia went to the polls today, and once again backed parties that want to secede from spain. the previous regime had declared independence, only to be ousted by the central government in madrid. today, voters endured long lines to cast ballots, amid heavy turnout, and many voiced hope that something good will emerge from the turmoil. >> ( translated ): i think that life will give us what we deserve. it's the same to me, independence or no to independence, as long as we live in a better country, more just, more social. i'd be satisfied with this. >> woodruff: several pro- independence catalan leaders are now in jail or in exile. back in this country, life expectancy is down for a second straight year, and opioids are getting the blame. the centers for disease control and prevention says in 2016, more than 42,000 drug overdose deaths were opioid-related. that's a 28% increase over 2015,
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and accounts for two-thirds of all drug deaths. as a result, average life expectancy slipped about a month, to 78 years and seven months. some 8.8 million people signed up for health insurance under obamacare on the federal exchange, this fall. that's 400,000 below last year's total, but the sign-up period was cut in half this year. the trump administration also dialed back publicity about the effort. a jury in washington, d.c. has acquitted six people of all charges, in violent protests during president trump's inauguration. they were the first to be tried, out of more than 200 arrested. prosecutors said they joined a group that left a trail of damage over 16 city blocks. the defense said police never identified the actual culprits. democratic senator al franken of minnesota painted a dire picture of national politics today in his farewell address.
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franken will step down january 2 in the face of sexual misconduct allegations. today, he urged voters to insist on truth. >> i have to admit that it feels like we're losing the war for truth, and maybe it's already lost. it's going to take ordinary americans deciding to become more informed consumers of political news and opinion than deciding to be part of the argument themselves instead of just tuning out all the noise. >> woodruff: franken is one of seven lawmakers who've decided to resign, or not run for re- election, after being accused of sexual misconduct. and on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 55 points to close at 24,782. the nasdaq rose four points, and the s&p 500 added five. still to come on the newshour: non-profits fearing fewer donations because of the republican tax plan. how president trump could
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influence the judiciary long after he leaves office. the head of the equal opportunity employment commission on handling sexual harassment complaints, and much more. >> woodruff: one of the most significant changes in the tax overhaul is a doubling of the standard deduction. that's what most people can take without itemizing deductible expenses. the final bill increases it next year to $12,000 for an individual, 24,000 for couples. charities are already expressing worry that fewer people will itemize and without the tax break, that will reduce incentives for giving. one estimate found the number of americans who itemize could drop from 46 million to fewer than 20 million.
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stacy palmer is the editor of the "chronicle of philanthropy" and she joins me now. stacy palmer, welcome to the "newshour". so remind us, first of all, how does the current tax law operate now, when it comes to charitable giving? >> now there's the charitable deduction that we're all very familiar with, and when you itemize on your tax returns, you get to take that deduction for what you give. let's say you want to give $100 and you might get 30 back in taxes because you're at the 30% rate, so out of pocket you've only spent $70, that encourages a lot of us to give, but it's still available to only those of us who itemize. >> woodruff: and the charitable deduction will still be there in the tax law. >> that's right. >> reporter:. >> woodruff: something else will change. >> the number of people who itemize the expected to drop sharply. part of the simplification of the tax law was to say you don't need to itemize and to raise the standard deduction most people won't need to itemize, but that has a big impact on charities
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because many middle class and upper class people are ones that won't itemize anymore, they don't have the charitable deduction. >> woodruff: the thinking is they won't think about making the contribution because it won't add to their ability to reduce their tax bill. >> they may think about making the contribution but change the amount they will give. they don't feel they have the incentive to give more generously, so i don't think people think americans are going to stop giving entirely because of this, but certainly they're going to drop the amount that they will give. >> woodruff: so you are in charge of a magazine, the "chronicle of philanthropy," that looks at charitable giving all the time. how worried are charities about this? >> charities are very worried. the estimates are that as much as $20 billion might not be given next year because of the change. now, $20 billion is a lot of money and it affects a lot of charities, but we're a very generous country and give more
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than $300 billion. so it's not a giant hit but it certainly is important, and what charities are worried about most sit may be an uneven hit. community charities, local groups, smaller nonprofits, those are the ones that may feel more of the pain. so most charities are very upset that not every american gets this encouragement to give, that now the very wealthiest are the only ones who get that special incentive to give. >> woodruff: i wanted to ask you about that because i guess the research shows that people, even people of middle income now do a lot of giving in this country. i think i read that two-thirds of americans make charitable contributions. >> absolutely, but one of the things we've seen is a decline in the number of americans giving, and it's mostly the middle class donors. this is yet just another reason for people to think twice about their charitable gift. >> woodruff: what are charities going to try to do to head some of this off or mitigate some of the damage they expect? >> we can all expect to get a lot of solicitations, more
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appeals, more talk about the meaning of your gift, the impact of your donation and why we need you more now than ever. i expect we'll get intensified advocacy for charitable giving, so everybody expect your phone to be ringing, your email appeals to keep flowing in, and nonprofits may try to persuade congress that we pass a rule that everybody be allowed to take a at theduction, the universal deduction, the 100th anniversary for the charitable deductions, so charities will push and try to get congress to say this would be a good year to do charitable giving. >> woodruff: we have 20 days before it becomes 2018. what are people going to do to make sure they do the giving they want to do. >> it's a good year to give generously. you have till december 31. if you make an online gift, as long as it's on your credit card
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write up, you have time to take advantage of it and current law and a lot of people are pre-paying as much as they can. >> woodruff: i read there is also advice for older americans. there is a way that they can talk to their accountant about how they take retirement. >> exactly. there is something where you can give from your retirement account and that rule didn't change. you can give very generously. you're required to give every year out of your retirement account if you're 70 and a half and older and that's a great year to give tax-free. >> woodruff: stacy palmer with the "chronicle of philanthropy." thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: while president trump had to wait until december to see his long-wished-for tax overhaul pass the congress, as john yang reports, he and senate republicans have used the year to begin quietly and systematically reshaping the
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federal court system. hearings for judicial nominees can be sleepy affairs but late last week -- >> do you know what a motion in limine is? >> i probably would not be able to give you a good deaf definition at this table. >> the younger extension doctrine. >> again, i -- how about the pullman extension doctrine. >> i -- you all will see that a lot in federal court. okay. >> mathew peterson's inability to answer the basic questions about legal procedure led him to drop out of consideration for a seat on the powerful district court in washington. he was the third of president trump's court picks to step aside in a week amid questions about their qualifytations and temperament. brett tally dropped his bed after questions were raised about his background and failure to disclose a conflict of interest.
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his wife is a white house lawyer. >> it's disgusting. a 2015 video surfaced of jeff matir criticizing same-sex marriage and calling transgender children evidence of satan's plan. >> we will set records in the terms of number of judges. >> despite the setbacks the senate confirmed 12 picks for influential federal appeals courts, the fastest success rate for any president ever. >> there has never been anything like what we have been able to do together with judges. >> reporter: yale law professor -- >> the biggest thing people are missing is they may have noticed several of president trump's spectacular failures among district court nominees, pulled nominations, viral videos and the like. that's all very interesting, but a bit distracting because he's been spectacularly successful at the federal court of appeals level, and that's where the real action is because those are the judges that will change the law
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and shape the law going forward for the next 30 years. >> reporter: the supreme court hears only dozens of case as year. that means federal appeals courts have the final word on tens of thousands of matters that don't reach the justices. so far this year, lower courts have blocked trump administration policies, like the travel ban, the transgender military ban and on so-called sanctuary cities. in 2013, the then majority democrats changed senate rules to require only 51 votes for judicial coffin missions. now republicans are using that to reshape the federal judiciary. >> he's picking conservative idea people of all sorts of different flavors of conservatism. they tend to be largely, overwhelmingly, really, white. they are more male than president obama's appointees, on average, were, and they're younger. so these are folks who are going to be around for a very long
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time, shaping the law. >> reporter: even one confirmation have generated controversy, learned stephen gras who took heat for pass statements on abortion and same-sex marriage. >> you are the first circuit court nominee since 2006 to receive a unanimous "not qualified irating from the aba. >> i do respectfully disagree with the result. >> reporter: gras was confirmed this month along party lines. confirmed john bush was grilled about blog posts that compared abortion to slavery. mr. trump still has more than 40 nominees pending and more than 100 vacancies yet to fill. for two different perspectives on this we're joined by vanita gupta, head of the sleerpd conference on civil rights and ran the civil rights division in the obama justice department. and ilya shapiro, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the cato institute, a libertarian think thank in washington.
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ilya, we saw on the tape piece the three recent nominees that withdraw, leading a lot of critics to say this process is moving too fast, not vetting the nominees carefully enough, and that the administration is more interested in ide log rather than traditional experience and background. what do you say to those critics? >> depends what you mean by ideology. i think there is an emfa says on finding people who are committed intellectually and by their experience have a paper trail that defends originalism and tex chiewlism, not simply a crony or hack that spent all their time in the bar association or something like that, so it's not those so-called traditional qualifications, but as we've seen from the circuit nominees, the dozens confirmed and others, a lot of folks who clerked on the supreme court that made trump's not so short, short list for the elevation to the supreme court, really stellar
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reputations nationwide, so, yeah, you could have a few bad apples hear and there, but the emphasis on having a long-term impact and the jurisprudential focus so you have people committed to a certain vision of policy. >> yang: focusing on a certain vision, what do you think of that vanita. >> you have to have dwawstled people and what you saw with brett and jeff are not just a concern about qualify caution cases but bias. when you had jeff saying transgender children saying aref satan's plan failed to disclose on confirmation papers his wife works for the white house council's office by presenting a con flight, that goes to something deeper and there's concerns not only with peterson, you had a concern about lack of basic knowledge of legal doctrines. here it's a concern about qualifications and bias. federal judges have lifetime
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appointments and they're considering some of the most important crucial matters of life and liberty in people's lives and it's an incredibly important thing for people to feel like they can have an impartiality hearing before a federal judge. >> yang: ilya, another point critics are making is that the majority of the nominees, of the troopetrump nominees have been e men. should that sort of diversity matter in judicial appointments? >> depends on the pool you're looking for. if you're looking at conservatives, libertarians, originalists and tex chiewlists, there is not that many females of color in that pool. that's the way things are. if you are looking for a particular intellectual and jurisprudential background, you know, even if a lot of them are white men, you have stellar nominees as amy barrette and others and jim ho.
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so it's in that pool without regarding the race or sex. >> the numbers on trump's nominees are really stark. 90% of the nominees being put forth are white, 80% are male. that's a pretty striking number, and i think ilya's response to say that the reason why you don't see more diverse political candidates is the judicial philosophy is mostly adhered to by white men, i think that says everything you need to know about what's happening with these nominees and the vision that they're putting forth. but it matters for people to be able to have confidence in the justice system, to believe that it represents the community in which the courts sit, and that can have a real impact. that's why diversity matters. it isn't support. you've got to have proper adequate qualifications but it certainly matters. >> yang: the process has become politicized, and i don't think it's anything new, after all the robert bork hearings
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were 30 years ago. are we in danger of having a judiciary that's as polarized as the legislature through this process, ilya? >> well, i think it's unhealthy for our body polytech to have people think of judges in partisan terms in the same way they think of legislators, but it's essentially unavoidable because we have parties that are ideologically incoherent than they have been in some time and more polarized than they have been and judicial philosophies that track those partisan divisions. there aren't good solutions. jukes are deciding these important things and if you have radically different perspectives there will be political fights so i don't blame senators for acting as they do. >> yang: vanita. i don't think it's good for the judiciary to be considered so partisan and you saw with this president attacking federal judges for decisions that they've made that they've render
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that he doesn't agree with, all of that adds to the gross it it politicization of the judiciary. this is what's striking about what jrt kennedy did, took his job seriously about the need to make sure that with these lifetime aappointments that the right people will be on the bench with lifetime appointments. >> yang: vanita gupta, ilya shapiro, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: adding up the costs of our meat- loving habits. the man who leaked the pentagon papers warns of nuclear war. and hip hop's influence on an american poet. but first, sexual harassment in the workplace. we've spent time talking about what may change in light of the conversation around "me too."
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one of the questions up for discussion is what happens when workers file complaints with the government? anyone who wants to bring a lawsuit must first file a complaint with the federal equal employment opportunity commission, or e.e.o.c. last year, more than 6,700 harassment complaints were filed. that's expected to spike substantially this year. and there remain a backlog of cases. victoria lipnic is the acting chair of the e.e.o.c. she also co-authored a major report on harassment in the workplace. victoria lipnic, welcome to the "newshour". >> good to be with you. >> woodruff: so what is the roll of the eeoc, generally, in protecting the rights to have the american workers. the eeoc is the federal civil rights agency that enforces all our federal anti-discrimination laws in employment. so sex discrimination, race discrimination, disability
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discrimination and sexual harassment would fall under the sex discrimination. >> woodruff: so how would a complaint about sexual harassment end up at the eeoc. >> so an individual would come to any one of our 53 offices across the country and file what we call a charge of discrimination. once they file that charge of discrimination, then we serve that charge on their employer, and then we take steps to either try to mediate it or investigate it and ultimately make some determination about charge. >> woodruff: but before they come to you, they have to have already gone to their employer. is that correct? >> right, as a matter of case law, they need to make a complaint internally to their employer, and their employer should take action to investigate the complaint of violation, of harassment, and once they do the investigation, make some determination about some corrective action. >> woodruff: so even if there's no human resources department with that employer or
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if the employer himself is involved in the harassment, you're saying they've got to do this? >> they need to do that before they come to the eeoc to file a charge with us. >> woodruff: so once they come to the eeoc, how complicated a process are we talking about? >> well, first, when they filed the charge with us, the first thing we will do, once we serve the charge on the employer, then we will ask if the parties want to mediate, and mediation in front to have the eeoc is voluntary, so both parties have to agree to it. we have a pretty high success rate in terms of mediation, when both parties come to the table. we had a pretty high success rate last year in sexual harassment cases. >> woodruff: in mediating. in mediating them, correct, right. if they decide not to mediate or if mediation fails, then the eeoc conducts an investigation, and that can take quite some time because, at that point in time, we are getting a response from the employer, we are
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interviewing witnesses, we may be getting comets, if that's necessary, we're doing a full-blown investigation at that point. >> woodruff: but i was reading some of the research that suggests that most people who experience harassment don't go to this trouble. i mean, they end up either giving up or quitting. >> right. >> woodruff: is that correct? that is correct. you know, first of all, it takes a lot of wherewithal for anyone to file a discrimination charge with the federal government. that is even more so when it's a case of harassment, particularly sexual harassment. >> woodruff: because they have to hire a lawyer, they've got to put out money to do this, right? it's an expensive, time-consuming -- >> and daunting process. >> woodruff: and it may be threatening to their career as well. >> that's one of the big things we learned when we did a study about harassment last year in a report we issued is the biggest people do not come to the eeoc and, honestly, three out of four people don't even go to their
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own employer internally we know from the research because they fear for what will happen to them, either they will be retaliated against within their own company or no one will believe them in the first place. >> woodruff: you were telling me earlier a number of states or most states have their own equivalent of an equal employment opportunity commission, so people do have that option as well. >> right. >> woodruff: how much of an increase in compliance have seen, victoria lipnic, since the harvey weinstein allegations came out in october? >> it's too early in terms of actual charges filed with the eeoc on harassment to tell, but we've seen a four fold increase of people going to our web site looking for information specifically about sexual harassment. now, we are expecting that much of that will ultimately be turned into charges filed with us. >> woodruff: so what advice to you give people? if you hear from someone in however way they can communicate with the eeoc that they can't get the help they need through
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their own human resources department, what do you suggest they do? >> well, certainly, we want them to file a charge with us if that's the case. they ult will i are coming to us if they have been dissatisfied with what process has taken place with their own employer. but they should also contact private legal counsel, to begin with, from the minute they're starting the process, they will get a lot of support and advice along the way if they do that. >> woodruff: so this would have had to have been a pretty serious claim for them to call and get a lawyer and think about going to a federal agency. >> yes. i mean, it is not easy for anyone in any type of employment situation to, you know, file some claim against their employer and, again, that is particularly so in sexual harassment situations. >> woodruff: do you believe more people should be taking formal action or should they be -- should there be more ways to resolve these cases informally, in the work
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environment? >> right. eng it has to be a -- i think it has to be a combination of both. so one of the things that we found, and the reason we put a task force together almost three years ago to look into this issue, is that liability as a cure for harassment has not worked particularly well and that there have to be other things explored as a prevention measure. most people who are in a situation where they are being harassed at work, what they want more than anything is for the harassment to stop. they're not thinking they want a lawsuit or that they want to go to the federal government about it. they want some immediate corrective action. >> woodruff: so if the threat of liability on the part of the employer isn't enough, what will be enough? >> well, we need a change in how all of this is approached. there are a number of things we made recommendations about a year ago, five sort of core principles. there is got to be leadership from the top in an organization,
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there has to be demonstrated accountability, they have to have policies in place that are communicated to people so they know what to do, they have to have procedures in place that are trusted by the employees, and there has to be training, but training that is meaningful, training that explains to people how to deal with harassment situations if their own workplace and what to do if they are experiencing this. >> woodruff: is it your sense these things are happening now because of all t ese revelations? >> they certainly have been happening for the last 30 years in different measures, depending upon the employer, what i think we're seeing now and certainly we hope that we will see more so at the eeoc is that there is much more attention and there is much more vigilance about all of these sort of holistic efforts that need to take place within an organization that, you know, may be taking place piecemeal now. >> woodruff: victoria lipnic, a huge subject we're discussing.
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>> indeed. >> woodruff: the acting chair of the equal employment opportunity commission. thank you. >> thanks for having me. >> woodruff: now, before you gather for that holiday meal, our economics correspondent, paul solman, asks, "what's the beef people have about beef?" there are all kinds of considerations around that questions, especially when it comes to the moral argument against killing animals. the rise in popularity of new meatless options adds a different dimension to the discussion. tonight, paul examines the questions around economic and environmental impact, part of his weekly reporting for "making sense." >> to avoid catastrophic climate change. >> reporter: yup, ex-governor, ex-terminator arnold schwarzenegger, in a video created to indict beef. >> less meat, less heat, more life. >> reporter: so trending: beef
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is bad. as this new documentary luridly asserts: >> when you consider the devastation it's having on our planet. >> reporter: no wonder the plant-based-meat startups profiled recently on making sense want to chop meat from our diets, and the planet, entirely, and replace it with products like the beyond burger. or with beyond's main rival, t"" impossible burger." >> they ate it, they tasted it. >> reporter: biochemist pat brown, c.e.o. of impossible foods, wants to replace grazing animals entirely. by when? >> by 2035. the use of animals to produce food is the most destructive technology in use on earth today. >> reporter: and here's the c.e.o. of rival beyond meat. >> you look at heart disease, diabetes and cancer, there's a correlation between those things and the levels of meat and the type of meat your eating. >> reporter: besides the argument against killing animals for food, the beef against beef
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features a trio of charges: bad for the land, bad for the air, bad for the body." negative externalities," they're called in economics: costs that the price of the product doesn't include. so let's hear the case, one externality at a time, starting with "lays waste the land." impossible's pat brown. >> we could produce all the protein required by the world's population 2050, with 2% of earth's land, if we did it the way we're producing our meat, as opposed to more than 45% of earth's land that's currently being used raising animals for food. >> reporter: right, says his rival c.e.o. >> we can get this right, and once we do it we can liberate those fields. they don't have to be serving that really inefficient master. >> reporter: the mighty master steer, that is, so inefficient that. >> if you take the 30 calories of corn grown in iowa and turn it into a hamburger you're lucky
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to get one calorie of new beef that we actually eat. >> reporter: jonathan foley of the california academy of science. >> well cows and goats and sheep are in the brown areas. >> reporter: foley has actually mapped the land use problem. >> this is showing the footprint of agriculture on the planet. what really surprises people sometimes is that 38% of all the land on earth is covered in food. for example all of this land 75% of it a lot of those red areas and a lot of those green areas are used to produce meat. either directly by grazing or growing crops that we then directly feed to animals later in a feed lot. >> reporter: in addition, says jonathan foley, of the growing beef consumption in the less-developed world leads to deforestation, clearing the land for cattle. so, what says the defense? >> come cattle !! >> reporter: ha ha, look at this guy! will they respond to me or no, they don't know my voice. >> i doubt it's so much the
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voice as anybody who comes out here in an outfit like that. (laughter) >> reporter: in marin county, california, grass-fed guru bill niman and wife nicolette, defender of beef. >> what's so miraculous about these animals is they're basically taking the energy of the sunlight that's going into the vegetation and they are converting it with very little input from humans. >> reporter: humans, who can't eat grass. >> these animals can convert all this naturally occurring cellulosic material to food and i don't think you can do that in a lab. >> reporter: ag professor frank mitloehner echoes the nimans. >> here in california half of all land in the state is marginal land, is rangeland used for cattle and without them you could not use that land for human food production. two thirds of all agricultural land in the world could not be used for food production for people. >> reporter: so removing grazing animals in the us would leave unfarmable acreage four times the size of california. but what about all the water cattle drink, the water used on
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crops for feed? it takes nearly 2,000 gallons to produce one pound of beef. compare that to broccoli and cauliflower. the lowly legumes require 34 gallons a pound. but, says nicolette niman... >> the whole ecosystem holds a lot more water in it when you have grazing animals when they're well-managed. you also have just a lot more biological activity in the soil and that turns out to be the cornerstone of sustainability for the whole food system. >> reporter: biological activity enhanced, she says, by a very positive externality of cattle. that cow over there is pooping. >> yay, poop. >> reporter: moreover, animals provide half our farm fertilizer. if poop goes, do bad-for-the- planet nitrates replace it? okay, but what about externality two: greenhouse gases? what percentage of greenhouse gases are accounted for in your
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estimation by livestock? >> somewhere in the neighborhood 15 to 18%. >> reporter: that's globally. bovine bubble, so explain to me what this is? >> so these are bovine bubbles that we use to measure the impact of livestock on the air. >> reporter: his measures, says professor mitloehner, show that emissions in america are much smaller than the global average. >> why? because the efficiencies of livestock production in the united states have reduced our footprint to historical levels. these heifers here will be finished meaning go into slaughter when they are 14 months of age, if they were on pasture their whole life, they go to slaughter twice that age. >> reporter: if the rest of the world followed suit, the greenhouse effect would drop dramatically. but can it? moreover, jonathan foley adds, american efficiency generates plenty of negative externalities itself. >> there's 100 million acres of
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corn that is basically being turned into cows. there's another 80 million acres of soy beans here. >> reporter: that's land and air. what about "bad for the body"? >> we do see that higher amounts of red meat in the diet are associated with many adverse health outcomes. >> reporter: harvard nutrition expert walter willet. >> more cardiovascular disease, more cancer, more diabetes, higher total mortality. >> reporter: adds food advocate anna lappe: >> the typical american is consuming about twice as much protein as their bodies need. >> reporter: impossible foods' technology raises another concern. the f.d.a. asked the company to re-test a key ingredient, soy leghemoglobin, to make sure it isn't an allergen. but hey, it's about time for the final verdict. who better to reach it, i thought, than omnivore's dilemma author michael pollan, who famously chronicled the foreshortened life of "number 534," a steer he bought and tracked from birth to feedlot to
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slaughter. >> i think meat is a delicious food that humans have been eating for a very, very long time and i think there is a place for animals in sustainable agriculture. however, that's not the kind of meat we're eating now. we're eating the products of a really brutal, wasteful, and polluting feedlot system and that allows us to eat an unnaturally large amount of meat. >> reporter: should plant-based meat replace meat-on-the-hoof completely? >> the realistic goal, is not to destroy the meat industry. people are going to continue to eat meat. it's to shrink it, it's to bring it back to a point where we can raise cattle without destroying the environment. >> reporter: and it turns out the nimans aren't telling us to gorge on their never seen a feed lot friends. and, finally, what about plant- based meat? >> when you're taking something in the diet that is simple and nourishing as eggs, meat, and milk, and you're telling people, you should replace it with this thing i created in a laboratory, i don't think it's going to work. >> reporter: i guess we'll see. for the pbs newshour, this is
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economics correspondent paul solman... come cattle, come cattle. ...trying to call the cows while reporting from california. >> woodruff: next, from the whistleblower who released the pentagon papers, a new book about the dangers of america's nuclear program. william brangham has that story, from the newshour bookshelf. >> brangham: it was 1971 when military analyst daniel ellsberg leaked the pentagon papers to the press. they were a top secret defense department study of u.s. military involvement in the vietnam war. their controversial publication blew the lid off what one famous journalist called a bright shining lie. but few know that in the decade before that, during some of the cold war's most dangerous hair- trigger moments, daniel ellsberg
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also spent years analyzing america's nuclear weapons policy. his new memoir chronicles that period. it's called "the doomsday machine: confessions of a nuclear war planner." and in it, ellsberg argues very little has changed about what he calls our immoral and insane policies regarding nuclear weapons. daniel ellsberg welcome to the newshour. >> thank you. >> brangham: the title of your book comes from the famous stanley kubrick movie where a rogue u.s. military officer launches an attack on the soviets and as those weapons are flying, it's suddenly revealed that the soviets have built a" doomsday machine." this enormous global booby-trap that, if they're attacked, will kill every single thing on earth. >> it is not a thing a sane man would do. the doomsday machine is designed to trigger itself automatically! >> but surely you could disarm it somehow. >> no, it is designed to explode if attempt is made to un-trigger it! >> automatically? >> ah, it's an obvious commie trick, mr. president, we're wasting valuable time! they're getting ready to clobber
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us! >> brangham: at the time, it was somewhat considered a fantasy idea, but you argue in this book, and this is the title of your book, that that's really what we have on our hands, is a doomsday machine. >> yes and we had it then. kubrick got that idea from herman kahn, a colleague of mine and a friend of mine at the rand corporation, who put it forth as a hypothetical device for deterrence. but he said: that would kill too many people. >> brangham: surely no one would build a device like that. >> killing everyone. no one would. no one had done it and no one he felt would ever do it. well he was mistaken. there was a doomsday machine at that time. we didn't know actually until another 20 years about the phenomenon of nuclear winter: that the military targets we were going to hit in the cities and actually in those days they planned to hit every city over 25,000 in the soviet union and in china. if we were in war with the soviet union we would also hit china. those cities burning would have
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lofted in firestorms not ordinary fires but as in hiroshima or tokyo or dresden. that would loft the smoke and soot by tens of millions of tons into the stratosphere where it wouldn't rain out. it would be for over a decade and it would lower the sun's temperatures on the earth, the sunshine, by about 70%. >> brangham: that's an agricultural holocaust. >> all the harvests would be killed for years basically and everyone nearly everyone would starve. >> brangham: in 1961, as a young consultant to the secretary of defense, ellsberg remembers being shocked after seeing a top secret document estimating how millions of people would be killed with a u.s. nuclear strike on the soviets. >> and when i held that piece of paper in my hand. the word in my mind was evil. evil. this should not exist. this was the operational plan annually for the joint chiefs of
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staff that had been approved by general eisenhower. and i thought: there shouldn't be anything in the world that corresponds to this. but there has been then and ever since. >> brangham: your book documents many of the mishaps and mistakes and near misses that many americans may not be aware of in the last 40 years of our nuclear era. but yet somehow we have escaped annihilating ourselves. why is that? >> luck. will it work for another 70 years? i'm not confident with that. but at this very moment for example we are making nuclear threats against a nuclear weapon state-- a state with nuclear weapons that we are referring to. >> brangham: you're referring to president trump saying we'll rain "fire and fury" on the north koreans-- >> that's right, now fire and fury could include napalm white phosphorous. a lot of high explosives which they've experienced before, by the way in the 1950s, and it's not something they want again, but that could quickly escalate. they didn't have nuclear weapons
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then. there has been no imminent threat of any attack really or a nuclear attack on a nuclear weapons state since the cuban missile crisis. that was half a century ago. i was part of that and i have concluded after 40 years of research that neither kennedy nor khrushchev intended at all to carry out their threats of armed conflict. i believe they both believed in their own minds they were bluffing and that they would back off if necessary. and yet events got away from them. i think we came within a hand's breadth of blowing up the world. so this problem didn't start with donald trump and it won't really end with it. the system that puts everything on the decisions of one man or it's crazy. >> brangham: in addition to his book, ellsberg is back in the public eye again because of
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this: steven spielberg's new movie details the "washington post's" decision to publish parts of the pentagon paper, the ones ellsberg leaked, and the which the nixon administration tried to stop. the legal fight went all the way to the u.s. supreme court. the movie is called "the post" and it's in theaters this month. i'm just curious why you think the story of the pentagon papers is still resonant today. >> we've had a war going on against the media and it didn't start with donald trump. barack obama prosecuted three times as many people for leaking as all previous presidents put together. i was the first to face such a prosecution. that's why my name is coming up. now i think more there were two after me before obama and then nine or 10 depending how you count some of them under obama. i believe that donald trump has shown every sign that he will continue that though he hasn't yet. he's actually berated his attorney general for not coming up with indictments for leaks
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right now. i have no doubt that attorney general sessions will meet his demands. >> brangham: the book is called "the doomsday machine: confessions of a nuclear war planner." daniel ellsberg, thank you so much. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: next, we turn to another installment of our weekly brief but spectacular series, where we ask people about their passions. tonight, we hear from award winning poet marcus wicker. his most recent book, "silencer," highlights the complexities of being a black man in america. >> so i'm a child of hip-hop, and grew up with it especially in the '90s. i can't help it, it's always on in the background you know, when i'm riding to thcleaners, or on my way to teach and so because of that, the cadences and the rhythms of hip hop sort of come out naturally in my
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thought patterns, and so i can't help that they sort of spill out onto the page as i'm writing. i think that there's no better hip hop group than a tribe called quest, always like wu- tang. there are poems where i sample kendrick lamar, so for instance he's got a line, what you want? you a house or a car? 40 acres and a mule, a piano, a guitar? and so i use that, right? i sample the lyrics then i say "which you need? you a bond or a tree? 40 acres and a mule, a monopoly piece? and then the poem goes out from there. i was living in southern indiana and teaching and twice a month, i had this guy dinner, we'd go out, we get suited and booted. so me as a college professor another guy was a lawyer, there was a guy who was a skateboarder and another guy who build fences for a living, and so you can imagine like the topics, we just go from one thing to the other but whenever i brought up gone
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violence and gun violence perpetrated against the black body, all the police shootings that i was seeing in the news, it got very quiet as if i was being silenced and so i did the passive aggressive thing that you do as a poet you write a poem about it. i'm going to read to you conjecture on the stained glass image of white christ at ebenezer baptist church. the title refers to the famous church at atlanta georgia, where you can still see the image of a white jesus at the pulpit in a predominantly black church, black community. if in his image am i, then make me a miracle. make my shrine a copper faucet leaking everlasting evian to the masses. make this empty water glass a goblet of long-legged french wine. make mine a prince-purple body bag designed by crown royal for tax collectors to spill over and tithe into just before i rise.
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if in his image made am i, then make my vessel a pearl coupe de ville. make mine the body of a 28-year- old black woman in a blue patterned maxi dress cruising through hell on earth, texas again alive. if in his image made are we, then why the endless string of effigies? why so many mortal blasphemes? why crucify me in hd across a scrolling news ticker, tied to a clothesline of broken necks long as time? it's my hope that writing about these things sometimes quietly, the absence of those details, the blood and the gore that you see on the news-- that that'll be something, that that'll be arresting and that'll be enough to move someone to do something. my name is marcus wicker and this is my brief but spectacular take on beats, rhyme and poetry. >> woodruff: you can watch
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additional brief but spectacular episodes on our website, pbs.org/newshour/brief. on the newshour online right now, what's the best gift you've ever been given? we asked 13 of the writers, musicians and other creative people we interviewed this year, including jonathan franzen, trombone shorty and ken burns. find their answers on our website, pbs.org. newshour. all that and more is 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:
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org martha stewart: are you eager to learn how to update
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your favorite recipes with better for you ingredients from the modern pantry? then you won't want to miss this season of "martha bakes." join me in my kitchen where i'll teach you how to transform everything from traditional cakes, pies and even breads with new ingredients, plus mouthwatering gluten and dairy free treats for everyday and every occasion. welcome to a new way to bake. narrator: "martha bakes" is made possible by. for more than 200 years, domino and c&h sugars have been used by home bakers to help bring recipes to life and create memories for each new generation of baking enthusiasts. ♪

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