tv PBS News Hour PBS January 31, 2018 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: a rare public fight. n the f.b.i. pushes back othe accuracy of a controversial memo created by republican lawmakers, and white house plans to release it. then, how to define this "american moment." the biggest takeaways from the president's first state of the union address. then, i sit down with senator bernie sanders, on one of the democratic responses to the address, and the first year of the trump administration. and, author jesmyn ward answers your questions about her book, "sing, unburied, sing," the nerst novel in our new book club with theyork times." >> as an artist, i feel a certain responsibility to write about difficult subject matters.
>> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. ajor funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a new nguage. >> bnsf railway. >> consumer cellular. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's mos pressing problems-- 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. vemmitted to building a more justant and peaceful marld. more inforon at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: ma >> this program wa possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. urand by contributions to bs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: from the f.b.i. today, a rare rebuke of the president. the bureau strgly criticized a congressional republican memo that president trump wants made public. it is said to criticize f.b.i. and justice department actio in the russia investigation. we will have a full report, right after the news summary. in the day's other news, an amtrak train carrying republican
members of congress collided with a garbageruck in virginia, killing one person in the truck. there were no reports of serious injuries on the train. it happened st west of charlottesville, as the republicans headed to a retreat in west virginia. president trump spoke later with house speaker paul ryan, who was aboard the train. >> the train accident waa tough one, a tremendous jolt. and they are proceeding to their conference. we don't have a full understanding yet as to what happened, but it was a train hitting a truck going at a pretty good speed. >> woodruff: later, the university of virginia hospital reported one injured person was brought there in critical condition. the cause of the wreck is under investigation. the president drew widely divergent reactions today to his first state of the union address. stin his 80-minute speech night, he coupled optimism about
the econy with warnings about undocumented immigrants and violence. today, republin senator marco rubio from florida defended the president's tone. >> there are divisive issues in america, and sometimes raing them are going to create divisions among us. that doesn't mean that we shouldn't seek to unify behind other things that should bring us together, and we should all be unified behind e e common purp solving problems, even if we're divided on the dght way to solve them. >> woodrufocrats labeled the speech "divisive." house minority leader nancy pelosi said that it was "devoid of serious poly ideas." >> it was a very transformative speech for some of us la night, because while our expections for greatness and vision of the president are not high, he stooped to a new low. semocrats believe that the american people e better than what president talked about last night. >> woodruff: overseas, japan's government praised mr. trump'sto voeep the pressure on north korea. "ce president also branded iran
a rupt dictatorship." but today, the country's foreign minister javad zarif tweeted that president trump "again confirms his ignorance of iran." we will return to the speech, later in the program. the director of the u.s. centers for disease control and preven ongoing financial conflicts of interest. brenda fitzgerald had pledged to resolve those conflicts during her confirtion hearing, but "politico" reports that her obfinancial manager boughtco and drug stocks, one month after she took the c.d.c. job. the stocks were later ld. u.s.a. gymnastics announced today that its remaining directors have resigned. they had been accused of ignoring years of sexual abuse by larry nassar. the former sports doctor was back in court in lansing, michigan today. this time, he is being sentenced for molesting at least 60
gymnasts at a private sports club. meanwhile, john engler took over as interim president at michigan state university, where nassar also worked. he vowed to support the victims. >> i've been amazed by your strength and your courage, and i pledge that i won't let your efforts be in vain. mark my words, change is coming. >> woodruff: in a separate development, former presidential nominee hillary clinton now says she should have fired a senior adviser from her 2008 campaign. burns strider was accused of sexually harassing a young, female staffer. he was demoted, but not fired. ook last night, clinton lamented her decision to keep him on. n,e wrote, "if i had it to do ag wouldn't." more questions today about adult film star stormy danie her alleged affair with donald trump in 2006. iee president's lawyer has denied it, and d' lawyer
released a signed statement this week, also denying any affair. but, last night, on "jimmy kimmel live!", daniels would n confirm or deny the reports. in hong kong, lawmakers voted today to end the world's largest ivory rket by 2021. the vote in the local legislature came as protesters gathered outside, chanting "stop hong kong ivory trade." a direct for the world wildlife fund hailed the decision. >> what is needed next is to step up the enforcement to make sure there will no longer be any illegal trade into or through hong kong. and what we want to happen is that the commercial ban in the ivory trade will spread to other asian countries. >> woodruff: mainland china banned ivory sales as of january 1. an estimated 30,000 elephants are killed illegally for their
tusks every year. back in this country, the justice department has dropped its corruption case against senator bob menendez. federal prosecutors had accused e new jersey democrat of trading political favors for gifts and cash. his first trial ended in a hung jury, and last week, a federal judge threw out several counts against him. south carolina congressman trey gowdy says he w't run for re-election, the ninth house republican chairman to do . gowdy led the investigation of the 2012 attacks in benghazi, libya, and now chairs the oversight committee. the former prosecutor said today that he will return to the courts, anadded that he has come to believe that "it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are thmost rewarding." the feral reserve today left its benchmark interest rate schanged. d it expects to resume raising rates later this year. and, wall street recovered a little of yesterday'big
losses. the dow jones industrial average gained 72 points to close at 26,149. the nasdaq rose nine points, and the s&p 500 added one point. thd, early risers in parts of u.s. witnessed a rare lunar event this morning. it was the second full moon this month, and also appeared bigger than usual bause it was closer to earth. on top of that, a total lunar eclipse gave the moon a blood red tinge. noe overall combination hat happened since 1982. still to come on the newshour: versial and classified memo president trump says he plans to make public. we break down some key moments in the state of the union o dress. and, i speak tnator bernie sanders for his reaction. and, much more. woodruff: now, to the
remarkable public fight between i.e white house and the f. over the release of a secret house intelligence commiee memo that, as john yang reports, is part of the russia investigation. >> yang: judy, conservative republicans have been urging president trump to release the four-page classified document, believing it would discredit the f.b.i. and the russia investigation. last night, as mr. trump left the house chamber after the state of the union address, he seemed to assure republican representative jeff duncan of icuth carolina that he would make it publ >> great to meet you. let's release the memo. >> oh, yeah. mo, don't worry, 100%. >> yang: thiing, white house press secretary sarah asnders suggested on cnn that the recould take some l me. >> we've said ong, from day one, that we want full transparency in this process. we haven't hidden that. but at the same time, we'r still going to complete the
legal and national security review. that has to take plaefore putting something out publicly. and that's the place where we are right now. >> yang: later, the f.b.i. issued a statement saying, "we have grave concerns about material omissions ot that fundamentally impact the memo's acracy." to make sense of all of this, we are joined now by devlin barrett, who covers the justice department and f.b.i. for the "washington post." thanks for joining us. as you rep general ready rosenstein and fbi director christopher ray were at the white house on monday to make their case in person to the ief of staff john kelly. what does it mean that they felt the need to go public this afternoon or today with that statemen >> frankly in some ways it means they expect they have already lost this the ba el. as you saw in the president's stement on the congressional floor last night, as you see in frankly the body language o many public officials in the administration and on the hill, everyone involved in this really
expect this memo will come out very soon. and i think as much as the ttstatement is anempt to say the reasons why it shouldn't come out, i think it's also frankly a statement to the public to say don't assume what you read here is the absolute truth. this may not be, and bviously the fbi is saying it isn't, this isn't an accurate accounting of what we do and how we do it. >> because of the underlying documents or what this is based on, they can't-- they are constrained on what they can say after it's released, is that rit? >> right, part of the rub from the point of view of the intelligence agencies t the house is going to release a set-- a classified document that has a set of assertions in it. to rebut those aers presumably you will need and i am told you would need another set of classified information which those agencies aren't allowed oreally incleun-- inclined to release because it's classified. so for some folks on theig intece community and the fbi, they feel like they are
going to be handcuffed in terms of responding the allegations in the first place. >> drksz devlin what is the main concern of the f berks. .hat are they worried about >> two main things. one that it would involve the release of sensitivenformation involving an ongoing investigation. two, that this could set you a precedent in which every time an intelligence investigation icalrsectings with a polit matter, that a political committee may decide to just make it publoic for rens that may or may not be valid. and so that's a dangerous precedent in their mind. owd what some people would call you oliticizing the intelligence system. >> now that the fbi ha gone public with their objections to this and we know what the president trump's fl being loyalty is, what do you think this does to thetanding of rod rosen steen and christopher ray? >> i think rosenstein has been is thin ice for awhile and the icrobably getting thinner,
but that is not a unique condition in this administration and certainly not a unique condition in a number of paofs he justice department. so i think there is a level of risk of alienation. thu know, the white house and fbi are greeing further apart by the day. some ways the white house and vus tis departmt are going further apart. does that reach a breakingt? po we really don't know. d in your reports ing of the fbi and the justiartment, do they feel under seige, under attack by the white house, but this drum f criticism? >> i think they do feel under e a lotnd they feel l of that is coming from the hill and conservatives on the hill nto areeeleeshly, clearly verygonized and antagonistic to the the russian investigation, but clearly a lot coming from the white house. there is a great deal of tension therand they feel that >> and you've also got some beporting about the-- what is nd the earlier than expected departure of the deputy orfbi
direndrew mckaib. >> right, we know what they have brn investigating for a number of months. they've really been trying to unpack the weeks of october 2016. the month before the election that trump won. and some of that focus, we're tobig part of that focus for months has been on why does there seem to beomeelay in the point between when a laptop is found with some new seemingly new hillary clinton related emails on it and when tare is full exploration of what those emails are and whether or not rtant.re imp that gap has been very important in terms of internal fights within the f. and obviously because it's all become publicly knapn, that g has also become important in terms of the questions that the insptor general has been asking of witnesses. >> does the fact that mr. ray asked or sugged that mckaib leave earlier than expected suggest something about what is in that ig's report or what the ig is finding? >> i think it suggests that the
report will not serve andrew mckaib a clean bill of health. but i think a lot of peoplar going to be sbtd to some type of criticism in that report ultimately. you know, andrew mckaib is sort of a unique figure in some ways because t he still in government or at least was until this monday. so that played a large role andu oby it affecting him now. but i think there will be criticism doled out, franly, in a number of areas related to the clinton invesontiga >> and on the russia investigation, we've just learned that the justice department is asking that michael flynn, the forme national security virs, that his sentencing be delayed. what does that tell us about the investigation? >> well, it tells us that we are a ways away from special counsel bob mueller winding this up. you know, you put off a sentencing like that when the witness still needs to do work for you, when there are still things that have to happen on the pros cue tor yal and investigative side. and you don't want to show all
pleacards in the form of a or sentencing hearing. so that is what it shows. that mueller needs more time to finish his work. and you know, i wouldn't take iat as a huge surprise but i think it's anothicate thary this is likely to go on for many months more. >> devlin barrett from the washton post, thank you a so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: wturn back now to last night's state of the union address, and what it can tell us about presidenfotrump's agenda the coming year. here to dissect the president's words-- some of them-- are karen tumulty of the "washington post," and our wrrte house pondent, yamiche alcindor. and welcome to both of you. so the president spoke for an hour and 20 minutes. there were a lot of words said. but there were some specific messages. it seemed that he spent most of the timer eithelking about
the economy or immigration. and i want to focs specifically on immigration reform. he plugged his plan as a kind of ideal, middle ground. and here is just a part of what he said and then we're to talk about it. >> i'm extending an open hand to work with members of both parties,emocrats and republicans, to protect our o citize every backgroun color, religeon and creed. (applause) my dut and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend americans, to protect their safetiry, t families their communities an their right to the american dream. because americans are dreamers too. >> woodruff: so yamiche, a lot of reaction to wat the president said there. who was he appealing to? >> he was appealing to republican, the republican ba
and republican lawmakers who are attting ready to make the case mmigration and hard-line stances need to be followed. he really handed a rallying cry to republicans when he saide americans eamers too. you can just see that slogan ond t-shirtsn hats. because he was really trying to hammer home the fact that democrats are tryinto pit american citizens against immigrants and that democrats are choosing immigrants. and he hammred that home also with the guests that he chose. he brought families that were impacted by immigrants, arguing that immigrants were committing crimes in the communities. and hurting people. and that is--that was his message and that is, i think, even though it was an hour and 20 minutes. that was the most memorable part of the speech to me. >> woodruff: karen, how d you see it and how effective did you think it was? >> all sides are under a very, very tight deadline to cpme with some way to deal with all of these young people, young im grants who were brougto this country illegally by their
parents. the president's plan in the white house's view has sweetness for both sides, it has enhancedt border securit has restrictions on legal immigrants for the right and it had it has a very much more expansion proteksz for these so called dreamers, for liberals, for the democrats. the fact is though, the hardest, the hardest audience, the toughest part of this whole process is goingt be getting it through the house. so that is why he was making this appeal to essentially bring his own party o board his proposal. >> is there a sense he may have helped himself or caused problems. >> it seems though he probably caused some problems. a reacon from democrats who have been very much a backlash. the cdc iusg saying he ced racist rhetoric, the professional blacus that s the all this is happening as
another shutdown is looming. even though we just got out of are shut down, on febr 8th they have to vote again to fund the government and you can already see that immigration is going to be at the center of that.an it will be a lot of the same arguments that we had before. there is going to be either one de democrats saying daca needs s be fixed immediately. republicll be saying we have a whole other month, why are you holding up americans for immigrants. >> i want to bring up something arse, this is foreign policy. he touched on a fes t wasn't the bulk of the speech but one of the points he made had to do with the nuclear arsenal of united states. liss' listen to that. >> around the world we face rogue regime,s terrori groups and rivals like china and russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. >> we must modernize and rebuild r nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and so
powe wul that itl debtor any rcts of aggression by any oth nation or anyone else. (applause) >> perhaps some day in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. unfortunately, we are not there ye sadly. >> so karen he is saying maybe a e gical moment in the future but wet there. >> and this is a reference to, he was not very specific. but the fact is, i thi everyone in the room knew that the back drop is the president's plan to revamp the nuclear arsenal and specifically what they are are talking about is adding smaller nuclear weapons. what they call low yeem nuclear weapons. is this idea you can essentially have small nuclar swipes. caat concerns a lot of people e a lot of experts say this is going to expand the
sirks under which nuclear weapon-- the circumstances under which nuclear weapons might be i real on including for .nstance retaliation for cyberattac >> woodruff: it is interesting, the president as car be just said wasn't detailed. he put out a thouht and an intention but we don't know much about it. >> we don't know much about it. and what is really-- what is important about this fight is that this is the only time in hour and 20 minutes that he mentioned the word "russia" and it was sur priesing that he say the word russia in front of all these people but two, the fact that he choses to use the word "russia" while also casting it as a challenger by saying they are ch lenging ourerican economy. the important thing is though that russia continues to loom over this white house as a large cloud. russia has yet-- the president has yet to really explain whethe russia can influence our elections. there is a lot of talk about the mid terms and what democrats are going to do what republicans are going to but what is russia going to do the social media companies have
not really figuredut how russia impacted the last election. so it'y prettderstandable that russia could influence the mid-term. >> good point but of course it leaves the program and another aspect. we continue to cover testify ree day. one of the thing that i want to bring up is the number of personal stories that were striking to me. there were so many, maybe hala dozen or more instances of theergs heartnt-wrenching accou of what people have lived through 689 here is one where the president introducea young plition officer from albuquerque, new mexico. >> officer ryan was on dutdew e when he preg nantd homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. when ryan told h she w going to harm her unborn child, she began toeep. she told him she didn't know where to tn. but badly wanted a safe home for her baby. that moment ryan said he felt god speak to him.
then he went home to tell his wife rebecca. in an instant she agreed to adopt. they named their new daughter hope. >> woodruff: a very emotional moment last night, what does the president accomplish, what does he do by things like this, stories like this? >> well, to me, one of the most striking contrasts of this speech were just about everything else we have a ever heard from this president, and i'm not going to call it a pivo because we have so often see the president go in one direction and change dreks immediateep. but he telling these stories of average americans, generally when donald trump speaks it is very self-referential. he points to himself as he said at the convention. i alone can fix it. in this speech he actually said it is the people who make 24 country great. and i think that that in many ways is what a lot of republicans would hope would be the kind of message that he
might take forward on the asmpaign going forward. this presidene know can change course very quickly and he may be backon the old twitter pretty quickly and attacking people and being thin skinned about attacks on him. but that was, i think, a good message for republicans that he was delivering last night. >> and as karen points out, yamiche, it is as we launch a mid-term electitn year. the house, everybody, sitting in the house chamber, was very mindful of. i>> the opioid criss is also something that republicans and democrats seem to think that they can work together on. that is much like infrastructure, tople understat there is a problem there, that they want to come up with some sort of solution. though isant thing that while they were talking about baby hope, the mother of hope, at least according to reporting is that she is still struggling with addiction. and today the democrats lead by elizabeth warren and pattee mur a, they actually filed paperwork to have an investigation into
what or not donald trump is crndling the opioiis effectively. he said that there was going to be thi public health crisis, that he was declaring it a public health crisis in octobsi. buce we haven't really heard a lot from the white house about what they are actually doing and what resources they are devoti to that. so democrats are already using that today to go back to the president y what are you actually going to do about it. >> it is an issue he raised so we will see how it plays out. yamiche alcindor, karen tumulty, thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: arrenewed attention on theul cts of diesel emissions. and, jesymn ward discusses her book, "sing, uuried, sing," as rt of our new book club.
democrats may be uni opposing president trump, but nist night, they could not around a single message to respond to his state of the weion address. there were no than five democratic responses. one of those speakers was bernie sanders, the independent senator from vermont and former democratic presidential candidate. senator sanders, welcome. senator sanders, welcome back to the newshour, thank you for being here. i was going to start with the state of the union but i do want to first binge up this story that we are paying attention to tonight, this dispute that has broken out into the open between the white house and the department of justice, the fbi over whether to release this .odidential classif memo what are your thoughts about the issues thathare raised byis, issues df df. let'sl, first of all, understand this confidential memo was written by republican staffers. that is who wrote it. and what the fbi and the intelligence agencies are
concerned out is the revelation of information that at this point should not be made puheic. and what fbe and many americans are really wondering abnt is how does it happehat you have a republican party, which for so many years defended law enforcement, defended the intellence agencies, are now turning against them. and this gets you back to the mueller investigation and the idea of disparaging mr. mueller orhas had widespread, bipartisan supporthe work he did as fbi director. but now that he's looking at the possibility of trump's campaign, lluding with the russians, suddenly they are trying to really denigrate this man. i think that is what this is about, very political. >> woodruff: what we understand is that the core of this memo though is whether the foreign intelligence drveillance act court, the fisa court and thartment of justice may have been used in a political way to help one party over another in 2016.
do you think it's possible that that happened. >> i think, ll, first of all as i understand it, had chosen not to release the house memo which deals with this issue as well so they only memo being released is the republican memo. bottomline is mueller is doing an independent investigation and republicanin the house a doing everything they can to obstruct that investigation. >> woodruff: well, let may turn turn you-- so in other words you are not comnting on's whether possible that happened, whether there was some political use. >> i'mot a great fan of-- i voted against lot ofhe intelligence, the fesa efforts because i think as a nation we are invading people's privacy to a significant degre, both government and the corporate world. but i would say that with republicans are doing is 10- 100% political a tht moment. >> let's talk about the state of
the union there were several popts in the speech last night where the president said i want to reach across the aisle, i want to work with democrats on whether its' the economy, immigration, infrastcture, do you see potential areas of common ground where you can work with the president? >> i would hope. so i would hope so but let's understand. when we talk about immigration t is the president himself who precipitated this daca crisis by revoking obama's executive order on daca in septmber. and where we are now is the situation where 80%, according to poll after poll, 80% or more of the american people say we have got to provde legal status to these 7800-- 800,000 dreamers and a path towards citizenthip. nogood news is, is that in the house there is jater support now. i think you have something like 30 republicans joining, in support of the dreamers act. you have majority support now in the senate. my guess is 55, people in the
senate who support a dreamers act. now the question is wheth the leadership will come together in the house and the senate ando allow us to g forward. to do the right thing, the moral thing, and make sure that these young people do not lose their legal status. >> woodruff: do you think it is likely that there will begr someement? >> i would hope so. i would think if we are 56, 57te in the senate right now i think we can get three or four more and i would hope that mitch mcconnell and paul ryan will allow us to go forward and protect these young people. >> so senator, you gave a response to the president last night,me live streaon youtube and facebook at the same time the quote official democratic party response. >> not true. we gave it after the democratic response. >> w>>druff: sorry. oe kennedy did a fine job, we did it after he did it. >> woodruff: what i wanted to ask you, among other 24eu7bgs it was congressm kennedy who made the response.
he talked about a better dealfo all who called this country home. he talked about democrats supporting a higher nimum mpge. paid leave foryees, affordable child care. and so on. how does his message different from you which was described as a progressive democratic message. h> his message is fine, i'm not here to argue w congressman kennedy who i think gave a very good speech. re theme of myarks is to suggest that this country is moving verrapidly into an oligarchic form of society where ofwe have massive level income and wealth inequality. ,recently, i'm sure you shat the koch brothers and their billionaire allies are now planning to spend 400 million dollars in the 2018 elections. so you have got a handful of billionaires who have enormous inflawns over the economic and political life of this country, in my view the democratic party needs to be active in organizing at the grass roots effort, and some of us are working very hard
on that, a mass movement to demand that we have a government that represents the middle class working people and not just the 1%. -- and that includes doing what every other major country on earth does, dividing health care-- providing health care to il a, medicare for all, singer payor program it means transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy it means raising the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour, pay equity for women it means rebuilding e infrastructure, not in the way that trump is proposing, which is calling for states to do a lot of privatization of the moads and water systems, but a real inveent in our infra -- infrastructure to create up to 15 million jobs. >> i was just going to say, is it a problem for demcrats though that you had several different messages there with congressman kennedy, there was oours. >> thealled moderate democratic response. >> i don't think it's a response
at all. i think right now there is magazinessive revulsion if i may use that word, against donald dishonesty and a bigotry. and different people are approaching how you deal with trump and how you bring america forward in different ways. and the truth is that different voices bring in different reondents, people who have different perspectives. but the goal right now is to rally the american people around a progressive a grenda. ngat i am a's talking about, maublic colleges and universities tuition free, instead of giving massive tax eaks to the billionaires and large korpgs as trump has done, most americans think we need to sct billionaire class to start paying more in taxes, not less. >> how soon do democrats need to get together and have a unified message? >> right now i mean again what ast of these polls suggest that the democra doing quite well. if you look at november 7th, democrats did very well in ne
jersey and virginia, they won a huge upset in alabama. winning at local levels. i think the momentum is with u the problem that we have, judy, se take on the koch brothers, thnd wealthiest family in this country and other billionaires who will pour huge amounts of money into the political, into the eltion of 2018. >> woodruff: senator bernie sanders, it is always a pleasure. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: two years ago, volkswagen admitted to essentially cheating on emissions standas with diesel vehicles. as part of a nearly-$3 billion settlement with the federal government, volkswagen was ired to establish a fund that could used by states to reduce air pollution, specifically from diesel exhaust.
states are now figuring out how to spend their sre of the settlement. special correspondent cat wise reports from oregon on efforts to reducdiesel exhaust from older engines. her story is part of our breakthroughs reporting for our weekly series on the "leading edge" of science and technology. >> reporter: portland, oregon is booming. more than 20 cranes dot the skyline. much of the heavy-duty work on construction sites and freewaysi rs, train tracks, in portland and throughout the country, is powered by diesel s gines. diesel exhaustxic. it's been classified as human carcinogen by the world health organization, and it's a -rntributor to climate change. since 2007, new onoad vehicles have had to be built with s ission controls that greatly reduce-- as much a95%-- the sooty mix coming out of diesel taf-pipes. for ofroad equipment, the same rules phased in around 2014. ont, there are no regulati for the estimated sel million older diesel engines meill in use, and they can run a
very long ti in oregon, their impact on air quality has been the focus of one dedicated scientist, who has turned her mily station wagon into a lab on wheels. >> diesel particulate matter is one of the air toxics that didn't get regulated in the clean air act. so it's part of the unfinished business of the clean air act. >> rnorter: linda george is a atmospheric chemist at portland state university who is studying diesel levels in the city's air. >> what we're doing is driving around with an instrument called an aethalometer. and an aethalometer basically measures black carbon, which is a surrogatfor diesel particulate matter. upmetimes, when we've had it se so we could see the instrument while we're driving, thich is probably not too safe, but was when we really discovered the construction equipment. you know, driving by nstruction sites, saying, "whoa." >> reporter: she's had some "whoa moments" because there
have been a lot of questions about how much diesel exhaust is actually in the air. computer models have been e main tool used in oregon, and most states, to estimate diesel dillution. those models prected elevated levels throughout the portland area. bur some have questioned th accuracy. george says her instruments hergely confirmed the models, and found even hperiodic spikes in some areas. >> i set out to try and make measurents to really ground- truth these models. so what we'vseen so far is that the diesel particulate matter msured in the city of portland are above the health standards set by the state, just about everywhere. and then, if we lookeas where there's a lot of activity, like near a train or by contruion equipment, we see really elevated levels, surprisingly elevated levels, ten or 100 times higher than the standards. >> reporter: those high levels in some areas can have an impact on public health. it's estimated as many as 400 oregonians die prematurely
every year from exposure to diesel exhaust, and overall health and welfare costs can be as much as $3 billion annually. some groups, though, are impacted more than others. a 2014 county report found diesel pollution is two to three times worse for minority communities. >> you can see multiple semi- trucks coming off and on these highways. and just, every time, they rev their engines, and a puff of black smoke comes out, and it's just really gross. reporter: 27-year-old alex mijares is one of those concerned about diesel exhaust. he lives in tualatin, just outside portland, in an apartment building near a major interstate. >> at least a mile and a half radius around our freewal exits are allow-income apartment buildings where, you know, the populace are mostly hispanics, or pacificslanders. worried for a lot of kid
around here, you know. i have lots of friends, they all have young children. >> reporter: here in oregon, there's been a growing awareness itd concern about diesel exhaust animpacts on human health. but the issue has taken on more urgency in the past year in th wake of the v.w. settlement. the state expects to get about $70 million in funds to help it cleaup its air, and there's big debate going on now about how best to spend that money. >> we're strapped, budgetarily. and so the v.w. money came at a very opportune time. >> reporter: michael dembrow is a democratic oregon state senator, whose district includes parts of portland. last year, he introduced a bill that, among other things, would have used v.w. settlement funds to help owners retrofit older engines or buy newer models. ha we know that the trucks are going interstate and that are owd by the larger, wealthier companies are dealing with this problem. t those that are owned by
smaller companies, my women-owned, are having a real challee, because the new trucks are more expensive. and as far as construction equipment, wjust don't know. >> reporter: that's because the state doesn't have a license or registration system for off-roal diesel equipmee tractors and backhoes. dembrow says his ultimate goal is for oregon to do what california did a decade ago: require older diesel eines to be phased out or retrofitted. california is the only state which has enacted regulations for older diesel vehicles. >> we have to make this change so that our trucks are where california is today. we'll have to prioritize; we don't have enough money to hp everyone. but certainly, we will want to use any funds that we have to help those companies that most need the help. >> reporter: but senator dembrow and his allies face an uphill battle. his original bill was largely gutted in committee after opposition from industry groups and some lawmakers who raised a
number of concerns. a compromise was reached to use some of the v.w. funds to clean up the state's school bus fleet, but it's estimated that upgrading the entire fleet of older diesel vehicles througho oregon could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. some owners of older diesel vehicles, like sandora morsette, who operates a 1997 dump truck, worry fall on them if new regulations tee passed. morsupports efforts to clean up the air, bue wants lawmakers to be careful about implementation. >> i think that they should really consider how it's going to impact us. people just want to start o e business tke money. they don't think about making their truck perfect, they think about making their ne paycheck. that could make or break a business. >>eporter: kevin downing i well aware of arguments on both sides of the issue he's the state's clean diesel program coordinator.
we met up with him on the lot of a local excavating company, where he used a white pillowcase to show just how much soot spews out of oldngines. ai this is what's going up in th we're trying to go from this, to this, d it's possible to get trucks to run like this. >> reporter: downing has been in charge of a small voluntary program that's used federal dollars, and some state dollars, to nudge owners like ron rotto scrap their old vehicles. on the night we visited, roth was doing just that. instead of selling this 1994 truck for about $35,000, one of his workers burned a hole in the engine and cut the frame sit could never be used again. and roth got a check for nearly double that amount from the state. >> it's definitely a win for me because i'm getting rid of it either way, but someone else didn't get it so now it's off the road.ax >> we're usingyer money, $60,000, to put into encouraging scrapping an old truck a getting a new truck in.
0,'re getting a return of about $30 to $40,000 a year in avoidehealth effects. that's an incredible investment of money. reporter: for her part, portland state professor linda george says a bett scientific understanding of dsel exhaust is vital to help inform the public policy debates. >> on a political leve models get dismissed as just being dels, but what's really powerful is having models combined with measurements to really nail down what's going on. >> reporter: later this year, the state is planning a one-time ntory of all off-road vehicles, and advocates of eyricter diesel regulations say th will introduce new legislation. for the pbs newshour, i'm cat wise in portland, oregon.
>> woodruff: now, we wto catch up with many of you and our new book club. y is our joint effort with the "nk times," called "now read this." we launched it just a few weeks ago, got a greatesponse from many viewers who joined, and we promised at the time that authors would answer some of your questions. onight, jeffrey brown returns with those a author of the month, as well as a look at next month's selection. i want to begin with a big thank you to all who joined us for "now read this" and read along and sent in thoughts and questions. our first book the novel sing unburied sing is set engineer the mississippi gulf coast that has themes that feel as up to the minute as today's news but also a ghost story. the dead in several cases do not stay dead. it recently received the national book award and jes t rks yn ward, congratulations to you for td thank you for helping us to get off to such a great start. wa thank you. >> thia pleasure to have you as our first book of the new boea club. >> i'my honored and grate
68, so thank you. >> so we asked people to send in questions an we're going to get right to that for this portion of our talk. let's go to the first couple of quis. there were a number that were about how your work connects to your life, let's look at a couple. >> okay. >> i'm mary ellen zigletter from the chicago area and i wanted to ask if you based your characters on family or extended family. >> my name is jackie from w hampshire, i would like to ask the author how her experiences with racism affected this story. >> i don't really base any of my characters on specific people that i know although my characters are informed by the kin of people who live in my community. when i say that i mean i mostly write about, you know, poor people, black peoplere, south and those are the kind of people that make up my community. nd those are the of people that i write about. as far as the second part, the
second question, i have sphrug cl-- struggled with racism and i guess the objet of racist-- especially when i was younger. and i think that my awareness of racism definitely informs my work. and w infort my characters go throughnd what they struggle with. >> okay, i mentioned that there are ghosts in this story. and a number of 350e78 wrote us to and sent in questions about the supernatural element. let's look at those. >> i am terry margarita from colgate, wisconsin. here fiction can be fan tas kal if they are in a christmas carol but yours remind me more of the ghos in 100 yeas of solitude. you can tell me what influenced you to give ghts such an important role in your sing unburied sing. >> i knew from the very beginning that the characters what travel to parson prison and so wheneg in to read about
the prison farmd i reaat in the 1940s, that kidblack boys, children as young as 12 re charged with petty crimes like vag rancee or theft or loitering and theyenere to parchment pri on farm, right, where they wereasically reenslaved. and i was so shocked byhat fact and also horrified that i didn't know about it before hand. and immediately felt very strngly for these children, right, who in ways had been erased from history. so i thought well, i really want to write about a 12 year old kid, you know, i really want to write a character who endured this, but ho is able to teract with jo joho was able to have some sort of agency that person did not have when they from alive. and i fired out that 9 only
way i could do that was by yeking that character, this 12 old kid, macking that character into a ghost. >> come back to life. >> xactly. >> yckle some difficult subjects. and we got questions abouthat. re is one of them. >> i'm kirsten from portland, some facebook readers have said ehey cannot recommend or enjoy this novel no mahow beatifulfully written because of the painftul realities that i delves into. my question for ms. ward is, what is your take on a writers or a reader's accounted ability to plum uncomfortable depths in art. and has your take on this changed at all as the world has grown increasingly distracted and difficult icive. >> that is a rely good question. and i under-- understand and i do it to right, as a reader sometimes i just want to not think. you know, i want to read something that is purely enjoyable, escapism. >> yes. >> as an artist, i feel a
certain responsibility to write out difficult subject matters. i mean i am a black person om the south, right, and so i come from a place and from a community where often people's lives are really hard.i an they're living with the, you know, the difficult things that i awriting about theyre living with addiction, they're living with grief. so i fee a certain responsibility f i'm choosing to iite about the people tha write about then have i to be honest about their lives and out what they are living through. >> all right, we'll coninue with our questions, more questions from readers but we'll do that so read and viewers can much what the full conversation online and on our "now read this" facebook page. we invite to you go there later. urfore we g though, i get to announceook club choice for february, we are switching to nonfiction th a real life murder mystery and a fascinating
but lesser known period in american history, the book is killers of the flower moon. the osage murders and the birth of the fbi by david grann, a staff writer for "the new yorker." and we will have readers, guides and more material on the bng and cauthor. and rse an interview with david grann tend of the month. i hope will you read along with us. and for now thank you again for joining now read this. and thank you jesmyn ward, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight, we share a story that caught our eye. you've probably heard of animals such as wolves hunting in packs, prt what about killer whales? sciencucer nsikan akpan shows us what one lucky group of adventure travelerto antarctica witnessed. >> reporter: on a recent trip along the western side of the ontarctic peninsula, passengers
n adventure cruise encountered a rare bout of mortal combat. four orcas systematically hunting a crab-eater seal on an ice floe. the whales' spy hopped and then created waves to dislodge the seal into the water. after each successive wave, the seal struggled again and again to scoot back to safety. pack hunting is regarded as a ly intelligent behavior, because it requires large degrees of coordination and operation. the behavior was first witnessed in orc in 1979, and since then has been primarily observed in the antatic, and not elsewhere. on january 2, thesorcas displayed this intelligence in spades. >> after several attemptof trying to wash the crab-eater
seal off of the ice flow, the killer whales tried to crack the ice into smaller pieces. >> reporter: soon, the seal's safeone grew too small, and dashed toward another ice floe. round two. this time, three whales approach, and one waits, jaws ready. but while their whales' dorsal fins were turned, the seal spotted an opening and scooted away to safety. >> the group decided to name the seal kevin, and kevin got away, so it was od news for all of us. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm nsikan akpan. woodruff: wow. and that is the newshour for drnight. i'm judy wf. join us online, and again right ure tomorrow evening. for all at the pbs newshour, thank you, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
>> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a nea language, likesh, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's 10-15 minute lessons are available as an app, or online. more information on bbel.com. >> consumer cellular. >> 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.
pati: we're going on a road trip, my 3 sonand i, on a cultural and culinary exploration across the yucatán peninsa. we're hunt for fun... pati: ohh, yeah! pati, voice-over: awesome historic locations... this is supercool. pati, voice-over: and out-of-theay places with some of the best and most authentic food in the region. later back in my kitchen, inspired bour adventure, i'll be preparing some chicken pibil sandwiches with carrot and eet potato fries. ♪ dame chocolaté ♪ ♪ d dame ♪ dame tu piloncillo ♪ dame, dame ♪ dame café caliente ♪ ♪ dame, dame