tv PBS News Hour PBS March 6, 2019 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. m judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: one-on-one with lisa murkowski. i sit down with the alaska senator to talk about being a dissenting voice in today's republican party. then, president trump moves to sign a bipartisan conservation bill, otecting millions of acres of public land. plus, for saudi arabian students studying in the u.s., constant surveillance and threats from the saudi government is dangerous fact of life. >> just today i got, for example, a threat from a twitter account, saying that " going to lock you up, and we're goin going to bring you back and, and put you in a cell next to your father." >> woodruff: a that and more,
>> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. .>> the lemelson foundati committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at lemelson.org. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president trump is
reacting cautiously to reports that north korea is rebuilding a missile launch site. he was asked today about commercial satellite ima cs that show nstruction. but the north said it partially dismantled the site last year. >> the relationship is good. but i would be very disappointed if that was ppening. i would be very, very disappointed in chairman kim. i don't think i wi be, but we'll see what happens. it will ultimately get solved. >> woodruff: the president's cond summit with north korean leader kim jong-un collapsed last week. it is not clear if the missile site work began before or after that happened. democrats in the u.shouse have delayed a resolution that indirectly rebukes minnesota's ilhan omar. the freshman representative, a muslim, had suggested that lawmakers feel pressured to pledge allegiae to israel. party leaders initially offered a resolution condemning anti- semitism. they delayed it today, amid
reports that supporters of omar protted at a contentious, closed meeting. the secretary of homeland security told congress today that there is a crisis at the southern border with mexico. kirstjen nielsen cited 76,000 migrants who crossed illegally last month.th was more than twice the f total fromruary of last year. at a house hearing, nielsen saii most of thants are families, and that border s-encies cannot keep up. >> we face a cria real, serious, and sustained crisis at our borders. rer capacity is already se restrained, but these increases will overwhelm the system entirely. this is not a manufactured crisis. this is truly an emergency.a >> woodruff: aparate hearing, the customs and border protection commissionar, kevin mcal said his agency has unprecedented medical needs at its short-term holding facilities.
officials in alabama now say all those missing in sunday's deadly tornado have been accounted for at the death toll remains at 23.s today, volunte the hard- hit beauregard community turned a church into a donation center. they set up piles of clothing, food, and diapers for victims. u.s. senator martha mcsally-- c the first femabat pilot in the air force-- revealed today that early in her career, she was raped by a superior officer. the ariza republican made the disclosure during a hearing on sexual assaults in the military. mcsally said that she did not report the rape because she did not trust the system. >> i was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences were handled. i almost separated from the air1 force years over my despair. like many victims, i felt the system was raping me all over again.
>> woodruff: mcsally said the ilitary has come a long w handling sexual misconduct, but that too many commanders still have n addressed the problem. in canada, a former top aide tor prime miniustin trudeau denied today that trudeau demoted his former attorney ntreall for targeting a ldgineering company. jody wilson-raybays trudeau pressed her not to prosecute the company for alleged bribery in libya. the former trudeau aide, gerald butts, told a parliamentary n committee thhing inappropriate was done. france has unveiled plans to impose a 3% tax on tech giants, including amazon, google and facebook. the tax would apply to all revenues generated in france. the companies currently pay taxes mostly where they are based, and pay little in other countries, even if they have extensive operations there. back in this country, the u.s. interior department gave notice
that it wants to end protections for gray wolves nationwide. the animals were granted "endangered species" status in 1975, when only 1,000 were left. now, more than 5,000 live in the continental u.s. protections for wolves in the northern rockies were lifted in 2011. and, the overall u.s. trade deficit hit a ten-year high last year, at $621 billion. the commerce department reports that it was driven largely by a reco trade gap with china. the negative numbers helped push wall street lower toda the dow jones industrial average lost 133 points 73 close at 25 the nasdaq fell 70 points, and the s&p 500 slipped 18. still to come on the newshour: i sit down with alaska senator lisa murkowski. a new bill protecting millions of acres of public land. saudi arabian students in the
u.s. face constant surveillance from their home country. the director of the national institutes of health on sexual harsment in the sciences. and, much more. >> woodruff: few replicans publicly disagree with president trump on issues critical to his agenda more than senator lisa murkowski of alaska, from healthcare, to the supreme court, to environmental issues.w lak, she announced she would not support the president's emergency declaration to fund the southern border wall. i sat down with senator murkowski earlier toda began by asking her, why not? >> so the preside t has gone abd beyond what congress has clearly indicated that they are willing to do. i have not suprted the
designation of a nationalth emergenc would allow the president to basically go around the whether and the intent of the congress just laid out a matter of weeks ago. i do think that there are sources that he can turn to that do not require emergency declaration such as the treasury asset forfeiture fund. there is some ability within thf drnd he can tap into but ionalyou use the nat emergencies act to effectively expand executive powers by legislative acquiescence, i think that sets a dangerous precedent, and i dont' think thata path that we should take. >> woodruff: but the president is saying it's entirely within his righ president of the united states to do this, inti ad to that he points to the fact that the number of people crossing that bormoder hs than doubled just in the month of february from what it
was a year ago. it is something that's literally out of contr. >> my concern is that, because the national emergenci act doesn't clearly define the criteria, there is a grey area, so we know that this is going o be contested in the courts, and, so, the queion is probably not can he do it but should heo it. again, is this an expansion of that executive authority by way of encroachment on the legislative branch which has those appropriating powers specifically designated to them? so i think we can address fairly and honestly the iss, the crisis as the president describes it at theorder using available funding opportunities without overstepping the
constitutional lanes t been very clearly defined? >> woodruff: i want to broadent this r a moment because you not supporting the president on this, you have supported him this term, i guess two-thirds oh votes that came up overall, i read it was 80% of the time u voted with president trump, but you've also opposed him on significant moves, the nomination of brett kavanaugh to the supreme court, the attempt to repeal the affordable carebe act, there havn other important votes. you have carved out a place fora yourse a moderate republican. how hard is it to bemoderate republican right now? >> i come from aretty independent state. alaskans are pretty opinionated, and we're not afraid to share our opinions. al are a state that is very conservative buto very, i think, broad and expansive inr ay of thinking, a very
diverse, eclectic, independent people. >> woodruff: what do you think when you hear the criticism of many if not most republicans that they just don't have the backbone to stand up to this president. do you think there's something to that?'t >> i cput myself in the shoes of others. i do know that it is hard to go against your party because you have folks that say you are a republican, you shou always act as a republican. my rejoinder to that is i represent all alaskans. it's a challenging thing to do to try to represent that eclectic and very independe nstituency, but i try to do what i believe is beand to have that backbone to stand up to whomever or whatever. >> woodruff: i want to ask you sbout something in the news right now and thatthe
rapidly expanding investigation into president trump, his tential russian ties, his businesses, to pensionle obstruction of jces- potential obstruction of justice. the house democrats requested domes from scores of people, even family members. do you think this is something that is appropriated >> i understll well that when you have one body that is consum, occupied to the exclusion of all else on an effort to bring down a prtident, we don't ge any business done and, in the mean time, the country suffers. so we've got a job to do here. part of our job -- and i clearly respect the role of the oversight, but i also don't want us to lose sight of our
obligations and our responsibilities as lawmakers to be ensuring that th business of the country is conducted. >> woodruff: should the whitebe houscooperating or should they be, as they are, calling this a big fishing expedition? >> well, i think if you haveby effortommittees that are chasing things down a rabbit trail just to be otreperous, just to frustrate and delay -- >> wodruff: well, they argue it's legitimate. >> keep in mind the authorities ttees. certain com does every committee need to be involved in this? >> woodruff: last thing i want to ask you a yout isour legislation dealing with publici lands incountry, designating wilderness, addressing water conservation, appropriatingurchases of public lands access to open
spaces, it passed overwhelmingly just a few wes ago. what difference is it going to make with regard to public lands in this dismount. >> on the policy side, it's important to recognize that from the perspective of a conservation piece, permanent authorization of the water land conservaon went is significant, not only will it help to facilitate our federalal lands, buto with the support that goes to the state side pros, very significant place like alaska where we already have our share of federal lands but the support for state side funding is very significant. so many p parochial matters seem manner to us in awashington, d.c., but f small community in south dakota you're able to convey certain land so an airport can have a
small expansion, these allow for economies to thrive, for opportunities in places where opportunities where perhaps limited. it helps with our parks and access. it helps with sportsmen's issues, it helps with water management issues. it's pretty significant. >> woodruff: and how big a tift is it in the senat republicans who traditionally vote against expansion of public lands voted for this? >> fair enough, but, again, this omething that of is constructed in such a highly cooperative manner. y ou have what islled compromise. the good old fashioned legislative term of compromise. >> woodruff: senator lisa murkowski, thank you very much. >> good to be with u. >> woodruff: speaking of that good old fashioned compromise compromise, lisa desjardins takes a closer look now at the
bill with far-reaching ramifications for those who use and enjoy public lands, d seek to preserve them. >> desjardins: this bipartisan legislation is as sweeping asla th it will affect. 1.3 million acres, newly designated as wilderness, meaning it is undeveloped now,em and mustn so. it expands well-known national parks like joshua tree and death valley in california. and, the country's first national park, yellowstone, gains new protection, as the new measure hundreds of thousands of acres next to the park. it is not all exfension. parks, like acadia in maine, will see future growth limited. ngt what some see as the biggest game-changer is maermanent the land and water conservation fund, the largest federal conservation program, used in nearly every state. funding currently comes from oil and gas drilling. gue bill does not guarantee that money, but does sad the program's existence. the bill found broad support in congress, with something for
nearly every region and political viewpoint. >> as a 35th-generation new mexican, i rise today in support of senate bill 47. this bill represents aajor victory for conservation. >> i'm also proud to see the important sportsmen's titles included in this bill, that will expand access for recreation, fishing and hunting on public lands. >> this is a historic win for montana.in fact, it's one of the biggest conservation wins we've seen in arguably a decade. >> the "yea's" are 92, the "nay's" are eigh>> desjardins: and, it cleared both chambers of this usually dividecongress by overwhelming margins. >> the rules are suspended, the bill is passed. >> desjardins: there were a few critics. republican senator mike lee of utah argued, this leaves the government too much power over sparsely-stled land. >> this bill perpetuates a terrible standard for federal land policy in the west, and particularly for the state of utah.rd >> dess: in the past, president trump has agreed with lee.
for example, the presidenthi shrank tprotected area, the m bears eaument in utah, which conservatives argued had been an overreach. but this bill won mr. trump, and most republicans, over.on part of the re it eands access for hunters, fishermen and other sportsmen to vast areas of public land, as well as ecifically allowing them to carry crossbows when on the y to hunting trips. still not convinced of this bill's scope? a few other ems: it creates an office to nitor american volcano activy 24/7, as well as new programs to fight wildfires. it looks to the future, permanently giving all fourth graders free access ational parks, an idea started by former president obama. and, it protects some history, designating the mississippi home of slain civil rights leader medgar evers as a national monument, and part of the national park system. in all, think of it as a measure
that, against the backdrop of sharp political divide, shows unity over the american landscape. >> it was not an easy task tting it together. counties negotiated for month over specific borders and what they wanted. judy, it's poitically significant to senator murkowski. this is a shift away from public lands instead of how it used r. we expect him to sign in coming days. >> woodruff: so important to report on. th as you said, it has been years in the making. thank you, lisa. >>oodruff: today, the administration's nominee to necome ambassador to saudi arabia, retired l john abizaid, testified in the senate. he dended the kingdom's importance to u.s. foreign
policy, despite sharp iticism from senators who accuse the kingdom of cracking down on its critics. f eign affairs correspondent nick schifrin reports, even sai citizens here in the united states say they can't escape the watchful eye of their government.ol >> schifrin:ge senior abdulrahman al-mutairy is carefree with his classmates,t feels he has to watch his back. >> i was extremely afraid.to i hahange my location. i didn't know what could happen next. i didn't know what to expect. n>> schifrin: in a manhat art gallery, photographer danah al-mayouf is worried. >> who are these people attacking me all the time, who want to basically put me in jail, want to see me homeless in america? >> schifrin: and in washington, d.c., georgetown university fellow abdullah alaoudh says00 even 6iles from home, there's nowhere to hide. >> they have no limits. they can reach you everywhere. they fear every criticism.
>> schifrin: three saudi citizens, living in the u.s., who say they're targeted for their criticism of the saudi government. they may be protected by u.s. laws, but they say they have no protection from saudi surveillance. >>t's a reality, and unfortunately it's happening on united stes soil. >> schifrin: al-mutairy is a senior at the universi of san diego, and an activist via online video blogs. last august he began criticizing the ultra-conservative saudi religious establishment. >> if god accepts repentance,ar whyou to curse me? >> schifrin: the videos earned him thousands of saudi and international followers, and the ire of the government. he had been studying on a saudi- government scholarship. after the criticism, he says the saudi embassy warned him to stay silent. when he kept talking, he received this email, revoking his scholarship, and this notification blocking his student portal. technically, he'd been warned.
ru 2017, the saudi government published a list os for students studying abroad. rule number one: don't engage in political or religious discussion, or conduct media interviews. by disobeying, al-mutairy ended broke. on twitter, critics said the government should crucify him. terminating his schop was not enough. >> at the end, just because i yopressed my religious belief, without harming , my scholarship gets taken away. and it w fact to digest that my own people and own government wanted me to be executed. >> schifrin: up until then, al-mutai's criticism was rrowly focused. but then, critical saudi journalist jamal khashoggi was murdered a dismembered while visiting saudi arabia's istanbul consulate, and al-s tairy turned rget to his own government. >> you didn't only kill him, you chopped him up. is this a government or a mafia? >> schifrin: he said there's no chance crown prince mohaaed bin salman, known as m.b.s., wasn't involved. i he didn't know about this,
he doesn't know about anything in the country. m.b.s. doesn't know about the war in yemen. he doesn't know about the tax he doesn't know that i'm a saudi citizen who voiced his opinion and got my scholarship pulled, and now i live below the poverty line, and now i'm eating ( bleep ), i'm eating dirt. >> schifrin: after that video, the government labeled him a political dissident, and he says his family in saudi arabia was instructed by the government to cut him off. he hasn't spoken to his family in saudi arabia since. >> i reay miss them a lot, and i hope if they're watching this interview, they know i'm okay and i miss them a lot. >> schifrin: mohammed bin salman has ushered in dramatic reformo tryingrb the conservative clergy's power, and alwing women to drive, and attendin movies and spoevents. but critics accuse him of silencing dissent. in november 2017, the government
rounded up rival royals in the riyadh rz-carlton, arrested the very women who successfully campaigned for the right to drive, and senior officials close to m.b.s. are accused ofas murdering ggi. >> they said it's a red line to criticize the saudi crown prince. well, killing a journalist in the saudi counsulate is not a red line? i mean, they have their own version of truth probably. >> schifrin: before abdullah alaoudh became a georgetown fellow, back in 2014 he was on a saudi scholarship at the university of pittsburgh. he says it also got canceled because he criticized the government. how has the saudi government targeted you while you're in the united states? >> i get threats every day from twitter accounts that a lot ofop think somehow associated with the saudi government. i mean, just today i got, for example, threat from a twitter account saying that we going to
lock you up, and we going to find you and we're going to bring you back and put you in a cell next to your father. >> schifrin: alaoudh's father,is salmann outspoken activist who has called for ae in the saudi government. he was arrested, and now faces the deudh penalty. alsays his father's interrogators mention him during inourrogation. >>now, talking to somebody about his son and saying that "we going to arrest him, we're going to torture him, we're going to do this and t" t to hi's a way of intimidation and pressure. >> schifrin: and have they also tried to pressure you byalking about your father? >> yes, because they try to send the message that, whatever you do is going to be reflected on my father and how they deal with my father. >> schifrin: alaoudh says eaw the saudiswith him here is surveillance. he says in 2016, before a public event, he was approached by another saudi citizen who said he was there to spy and report back.
>> they want to know what saudis think about the government and about saudi foreign policy here in the united states. >> schifrin: the saudi government denies it surveils its citizens in the u.s., via the embassy or the cultural mission, which oveees saudi students. saudi embassy spokesman fahad nazer: >> i think the claim that the saudi cultural mission is there to collect intelligence on students or to follow them around a very big country like the united states is, is, is a little absurd. h they are ne to monitor or to follow people. they are there to help, and not to clect intelligence. that is simply not what they do. >> schifrin: nazer himself received a saudi scholarship to study in the u.s., one ofre hu of thousands to do so he says focusing on the criticism misses the bigger picture. >> the experience for the overwhelming majority is a positive one, acd many of them ally contribute positively to their local communities visiting senior homes, they're working at soup kitchensalthey are infounofficial ambassadors, and the k.erwhelming majority go b >> basically, i fell in love with freedom and i didn't want
to go back. danah al-mayouf is a sau photographer and activist. she's a former student who says she didn't speak out for fear of losing her scholarship. but now, she advocates for saudi women's rights. >> basically, we've been taught that we're less than men. men are supposed to marry not only one wife, but four, and we should be fine with it, and all these poisonous ideas. we learn them in school, so that's why i'm angry. i'm an activist right now because basically this is wrong, to teach young girls that you're less than men. >> schifrin: as she gained prominence, she said she received two strange offers. this email, with a lucrative job in the saudi stock market, if she silenced herself. then, this man offered her ajo photograph only to tell her there was a case open against her, and she would be ported. looking back, al-mayouf thinks the whole thing was a trap. you think there's been attempt to lure you back home? >> yes, i think so.ch >>rin: and do you have any idea who's behind it?ve
>> i belhe government. the saudi government.t they jte seeing people talking, and it's their worst nightmare to see people talking, especially women. >> schifrin: but she wasn't alone. in 2017, alaoudh applied in washington to renew his saudi passport. >> so they said, if you want to renew your passpor b you have to k to saudi arabia in order to do that. >> schifrin: do you think they were lurinyou back home? >> yes, i strong think that. and you know, the case of khashoggi is just another example. >> schrin: for al-mutairy, the attempt to lure him home was a phone call from a fellow saudi promising a family reunion. >> he said, i am in l.a. right now, i wanyou to join me and go to saudi arabia, where you say hi to your parents. and i said no, i'm not going to go to saudi arabia. he said, well, you have to go back to saudi arabia. this is when things kind of
escalated.n: >> schifan you go home today? >> the best case scenario would be going to jail, without any charge, for five, 10, 15, 20 years. worst case scenario, i would be publicly executed for my >> schifrin: which is why he'll stay here, knowing that despite the freedom provided by the southern california sun, they're always watching. for thpbs newshour, i'm nick schifrin. >> woodruff: in this era of "me-too" relations, it is creasingly clear that the fields of science, engineering and medicine have a lot mo c to do when es to stopping or reducing sexual harassment and discrimination. a milestone report fnd between 20% to 50% of female students ie science, engng and medicine experienced harassment, often from faculty and staff.
more than 50% of facultyaid they too experienced harassment. that report added new pressure on the national institutes of health, one of the biggest funders scientific research in the u.s. william brangham now has a the head of the n.i.h. joined. >> brangham: for a conversation. it's part of our wescience segment "the leading edge." >> reporter: last year's report documented an all-too common story. >> brangham: last year's report documented an all-too-common story: existing anti-harassment policies at scientific institutions simply didn't do enough to stop the problem, anda thertoo little accountability to help those who come forward. now, the director of the n.i.h., dr. francis collins, has issued a frank apology for not doing more. dr. collins ote, "we are sorry that it has taken so long to acknowledge and address the climate and culture that has caseed such harm." al harassment in the sciences, he wrote, is "morally indefensible, it's unacceptable, and it presents a major obstacle that is keeping women from
achiev in science."tful place and dr. francis collins joins me now. welcome back to the "newshour". h you,nks, great to be w willia >> reporter: i guess in the uld plague the sciences aso well, buthe numbers judy cited about the number of women in these fields who claim they hava beavin victim of these crimes is striking. why is it so bad in the science snls. >> i think the sciences are male dominated tradition that's change bug not quickly enough. most to have the senior leadership and academic institution tends to be male, and that kind of culture, th, encourages this willingness for what can sometimes be more btle forms of gender harassment but sometimes also provides the kind of ennmvit where other sexual coercion activities may happen. weeed to change that, a that's one of the messages from that national academy report. >> reporter: in male dominated
fields, and we've seen this in e military and other ways where women have moved in, is ia ly because women are moving into more traditionally male-dominated field or is it simply that the men just don't appreciate that they can't tact the way they have been acting? what's the dynamic there? >> in science, women are a significt part of our workforce, but still we have not achieved the point where women have their rightful place in leadership. if you go to the top tier of organizations that are doing science and universities, they are disproportionately male. graduatetudents, post-docs,ts medical studwe are close to 50/50 in those categories. but why is it a problem seeing ?his advance happeni it is not always welcoming to women. we're so concerned about sexual harassment that it discourages talented women from continuing
on the pathway to leadership and we're losing the talent and that's bad for everybody.t >> reporter: nly is there a emotional and psychic toll to being tcthe of this type of thing but it deprives science oi a populati they view the field is not open to them. >>bsolutely, and there is enormous talent we are deprived of and we'reag discog people who have visions of what they might be able to contribute who encounter this unpleasant somewhat constrictive atmosphere with sexual commentary that is demeaning andgrading and they sort of say to themselves, i don't know if this fee like a place i want to spend my career, and go off and do something we lose a lot of women at the point of becoming a trainee to an independent faculty person. >> reporter: let's talk about accountability, because that is such an eenormous part of this, fat that the if you're in a culture where this is going on, so many women i have been reporting on say in this field
say i just didn't think i wou go to anyone and the behavior would stop. how do we address thaift? ou can't report it and feel you will get a sense of justice you either endure it or get out. >> and n.i.h., and myself as a director, we have tried to change. we have been perceived and i think there's justification in standing back and saying it's the university's pro should take care to have this. but we're the largest funder of biomedical research in the world. we have responsibility to make sure that the environment where that research isoing on is free of this kind of immoral activity. so we are now taking ownship of this, and i wanted in that statement that was mentioned tol make it verar that we have not been as much of the solution that we should be. sometimes we have been part of the problem. we want too apologizer that. we have been listening to those storie h and there arerrowing stories of women who have gone through these experiences. we dt''t think thasomething we can simply look the other way, so we've decided witthhin e
legal constrictions we have to basiinlly play a larger rol identifying instances and acting upon them. and in just the last year, more an two dozen institutions have heard from us about circumstances where sexual harassment was going on and west in they come forward and say what they're doing about it. as a res sulme 21 disciplinary actions have been taken against uniltversity fa some lost their jobs, others have not been allowed to remain as principal investigators on n.i.h. grant, other are not allowed to take part in peer revere.e werious, not just saying it's someone else's problem. >> reporter: many people are welcoming to the statement you've pu ott and feel it's heart. but some say you are focusing too much on accountability once the crime is committed, once harassment is identified, and not enough in changing the culture where this goes fore. they're say dog more on the
prevention side not just the enforcemenside. what's your reaction to that? >> i totally agree with that becae it is not sufficient simply address things once they already happen and this was a big part of the national academy recommendation, the need to ha culture change. we are in constant communication stitutions abou the need for that and as we talked about that earlier, a lot of that is getting women in headership positions, in dean's office, in the chairman's office, because that changes the culture in a way that this kind of gender harassment simply becomes less accepta we're going to promote that at every level as we go through these next steps andr, i agee, if all we do is address thingser there's already been a bad action, we have not been sufficient. >> repoober: you have ously spent your entire career in the sciences, and i'm curious, when this started to bubble to the surface,id this spried you or was this something you yourself had seen as you me up in your own career? >> i had seen but i have to be,
hone a male working in this male-dominated arena, i ha and but not personally taking responsibility for doing somethinabout it at the level that i know feel i should. one of the things i hope comes out of thvery open public discussi where we've decided, yeah, this is awkward but we're going to talk about it, is thta men will step up and take more responsibility, also, for the change that's needed. this shouldn't just fall on the shoulders of the women to fix problem that the men have largely been responsible for. >> reporter: dr. francis collins of the nationalut instites of health, good luck with your work and thank you for being here. >> thanks. it's been great tith you. >> woodruff: as we reported earlier, the department of homeland security announced thal gal immigration at the u.s. southern border is at thet
highte since 2007. in addition, the number of unaccompanied minors is upt ra% from lar. those children mignts are at the center of the latest novelks on the "newshohelf." jeffrey brown has this report for "canvas," our arts and culture series. u.s.-mexico border from the south, at the same time a family in new york heads for the border on a road rip across america. valeria luiselli first wro of migration in her 2017 nonfiction book "tell me how it ends" ba hd r work as an interpreterc foldren seeking to remain in the u.s. now she goes written a fictional account in the novel "lost children ars hive." thisr first novel written in english. born ine mexico, shw lives in new york. welcome to you. >> thank you very much. >> brown: you've done an interesting thing, written two books, one i nonfiction, one fiction about one subject. first, the subject, why did itgr you? >> it was the first summer or what we can now call this era of
the central american diaspora which is the summer where t arrival of central american children to the u.s. who were seeking asylum surged, and driving down the arizona and hearing the news with my family, i couldn't stop thinking about the fact that there were, at that moment, 60,000 children alone at the bordewaiting for permission to reunite with faly members,eking asylum, and hoping not to be deported back. >> brown: well, so, when it'sh that close and the news, and here we are in a news program, we covered theset issues, and n you think about it in fictionerms -- >> yeah. >> brown: what's your way in? when i returned toew york, i decided to volunteer as an interprete translator, interviewer in the court of immigration with children, and i started somehow putting all of that into the novel, and what
t ipened to the novel was th was just stuffing it, stuffing it with my own political frtration and rage at the stories i was hearing in court and also stuffing it with attempts to paint a bigger picture, sort of talking about u.s. interventionism in the 1970s in centra central americad itdas killing the novel ot doing any justice to the subject matter, so i stopped writing i and i wrote "tell me how it end" which is my previous book where utstraightforwardly talk abo this immigration crisis. only then was i able to go back to this novel and think about things more clearly. >> brown: in the novel, a omily is going on a rad trip, the marriage is disintegrating, a lot is happening on the border, real and imagined, in ihe characters' minds.
>> "lost ldren archive" is more a questioning of how and where we should stnd in order to document political violence. >> brown: yeah, but also ho and where we should stand as artists, as writers. >> exactly. >> brown: because the ethics of writing other people's stories is clearly on view. you kind of put it out there. i think i can see your mind as a seiter thinking about the things even as you're doing it in fiction. >> i don't think that a nov written from an attempt to convince anyone ofu yor particular political viewpoints can really do anything in the world other than be incredibl annoying. when you are a writer that has strong political viewpoints but wants to enter into a space of fiction, not necessarily trying to convince anyone of those viewpoints but likely just exploring the questions behind them,g riht, and what is the
ethics around documenting political crises. how much do you become a parasite of people's sufferiat, ood do you do to a situation by documenting it or i fictionalizi? i mean, these are all questions that are in the novel, and i don't think they're quite solvable, but i think they're questions that write and others have to ask themselves. >> brown: you also to also write a good piece of fiction, a good piece of writing, which think you've done, but that has to happen to capture and hold the reader. >> at the en, what we like is stories. i mean, it's a story of a family as well and the story of their journeying, and it's also a novel about storytelling, think about how storytelling is, after all, the fabrichat really binds us and also the fabric between our communities. >> brown: "lot children
>> woodruff: hopefully, picking up new hobbies is a life-long habit. as we age, our new pursuits tenn to be that keep us tethered to the ground. we learn a new language, or become proficient at a game we never played before. but what want to do, is something that puts your life in danger? tonight, n brings us her "humble opinion" on just how to weigh that decision.
>> in my 50s, i fell in love. i couldn't believe it at first. aclove without the usual l sleepless nights, sudden weight loss, no sending reckless notes. ah, my beloved, a track el fa ke any new love, however, s there weon problems beyond maintenance and repair. there was a standd fundamental question, is this relationship going to kill me? every time i get on the track, i wonder if i'm going to die at ie hands of some idiot on the road, and include myself in that category. i've made some stupendously unconsidered moves and, more than once, tipped over at a standstill. question number two, a math problem -- how much risk is worth taking for how much joy? for instance, there's my father who started rock climbing in middle age. he was rapturously obsessed. when he fell to his death atage 59 in a freak accident, we were in shock not just for a whi but really for years. everyone said how lucky he was
to die doing something he loved. i wasn't so sure. he missed a lot of future rapture such as knowing his grandchildren. what would he say to me now, i wonder, if he beame available for an interview. was your sport worth dying fo, father? look at your grandsons, spitting imaghe of you, andhave your brains, too. viously, say, well, ob rock climbing was stupid. what was i thinking?yb he would advise me to do good works instead of chugging around the county. train therapy animals, run for congress, volunteer at a detention center. instead, i pump up the trek tires and say it's a spring morning. i head out, the cooair on my bare arms. i swe that somimes all i wish for, cool air, bare arms and to be free, free from the labor of making sentences,
liberated into a pure self d into the fresh awakening wor ld. whck this joy at my age. maybe,fter all, my father with a long view will say, oh, don't be such a worier and a puritan. maybe in the afterlife, he's had time to read george elliott's eddle march, the bst piety is to enjoy, she wrote in her novel. if you have joy, she said, you are doing the most to save the earth's character as an agreeable planet. well, bat that one around, my father and i. is george elliott's claim is joy an old-fashioned luxury? iis it selfish or sit, my father would offer, the reason for being? >> woodruff: novelist jane shmilton. and that's the "nr" for tonight. we are thrilled to announce
today the creation of "pbs newshour" west. we are partnering with arizona state university to bring our west coast adience regular updates as news warrants and more reporting throughout the region. stay tuned. we hope to launch the "pbs newshour" west later this year. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, mod again here ow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:gh >> text and day. >> catch it on replay. >> burning some fat. >> sharing the latest viral cat! >> you can do the things you like to do with a wirelesssilan ed for you. with talk, text and data. consumer cellular. learn more at consumercellular.tv >> babbel. a language program that teaches spanish, french, german, italian, and more. >> bnsf railway. >> american cruise lines.
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