tv PBS News Hour PBS January 19, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: americans pay tribute to martin luther king junior with marches, vigils and volunteerism as a younger generation of activists take up new fights for justice. >> woodruff: good evening i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is on assignment. also ahead this monday, violent clashes in the capital of yemen raise fears that a power vaccuum could benefit terrorists based in the middle east and increasingly in the west. then, the political divide over immigration reform that has become all too familiar in washington, and all too frustrating for those most directly affected. the digital arms race to crack
down on fake online reviews how companies intentionally deceive consumers to promote their products and malign competitors. >> you would be surprised how many small business owners might claim their page on yelp and then go ahead and open a consumer account and write a five-star review of their own business and a one-star view of their exit around leave it at that. >> woodruff: plus, monty python's john cleese on his unexpected acting career and his advice for young comedians. >> if you love an actor or a comedian just watch them and watch them and watch them. and the key thing is watch them until you're bored. when you stop laughing at them, then you can see the mechanisms. you can see how they do it. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: this martin luther king day was marked with all the traditional marches and observances. but it also brought new emphasis on past sacrifices and modern day divisions. >> ♪ i am going to let it shine. >> woodruff: from indiana to los angeles, and boston to denver the marches and rallies came at a time of heightened focus on race in america. >> much has changed, but much remains the same, income disparity, there's still that big gap that exists in 1967 68-- that gap is still there today, but yet there are other changes. there are many changes that need to be made. so we march.
>> woodruff: this year's events coincided with the oscar nominated film "selma" about dr. king and the 1965 voting rights marches in alabama. the lead actor, david oyelowo addressed today's services at atlanta's ebenezer baptist church, where king and his father once served. the movie's stars also joined hundreds in a memorial march in selma on sunday, honoring those who braved violence there 50- years-ago. and alabama's republican governor, robert bentley, evoked that time as he was sworn in today in montgomery. >> government will never change unless we change it. just ask the thousands of brave men and women who a half century ago marched the 54 miles from selma to the very steps where i stand now.
>> woodruff: the events of this day also came amid national protests over police killings of black suspects. vice president biden spoke to that issue in delaware. >> this is a new day. it's the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, and there's no reason on earth we cannot repair the breach that we've recently seen between law enforcement and minority communities. >> woodruff: mtv made its own appeal, airing its programming today in black and white in a bid to spark conversations about race. and it was also a day filled with tributes and volunteerism. president and mrs. obama joined that effort, taking part in a service project at the boys and girl's club of greater washington. and in other news this day, iran and the lebanese militant group hezbollah blamed israel today for an air strike that left a
senior iranian general and six hezbollah fighters dead. they were killed sunday in the syria controlled part of the golan heights. israel did not confirm or deny it carried out the attack. but in beirut, thousands of hezbollah supporters chanted death to israel. they marched in the funeral of one of the victims the son of a late commander. hezbollah and iranian advisors are heavily involved in syria's civil war, supporting the assad government. a muslim backlash against the french newspaper "charlie hebdo" fueled huge new protests today. hundreds of thousands rallied in russia's chechyna region and in iran. they carried signs and chanted slogans denouncing a cartoon depicting the prophet mohammad in "charlie hebdo's" latest issue. >> ( translated ): i think we muslims have been insulted all over the world. our religious feelings are hurt, and our religious right is also hurt. i think it is the duty of every muslim to come out and take part
in this march. not to demonstrate aggression, not to demonstrate the superiority of one religion over another, but simply to show that good is greater than evil. >> woodruff: the demonstrations came on the heels of sometimes violent protests over the weekend in pakistan, niger, jordan and algeria. investigators in indonesia said today they've found no evidence that terrorism played any role in the air-asia plane crash. they said they've now listened to all of the cockpit voice recordings from one of the black boxes. >> ( translated ): the voice from the cockpit does not show any sign of a terrorist attack, it is only the pilot, sounding very busy on handling the airplane. there was no sign showing that there was a threat on the plane. >> woodruff: meanwhile, efforts to survey and recover the plane's fuselage were thwarted by bad weather again. investigators hope to have an initial report on the crash next week. there's word the u.s. breached north korean computer back in
2010, and that provided the basis for claims that north korea hacked sony pictures. today's "new york times" reports the national security agency used chinese and malaysian networks to infiltrate north korean networks. the obama administration has not publicly discussed its evidence for saying north korea hacked sony. a chinese watchdog group blamed beijing today for hacking microsoft's outlook e-mail service inside china. greatfire.org says the attack followed last month's disruption of google's g-mail service. the group says the government is trying to force chinese users onto domestic services that can be monitored and controlled. china is denying its hackers stole plans for the american f- 35 stealth fighter jet. the allegation is contained in secret u.s. documents leaked by edward snowden and published saturday in the german magazine "der spiegel." u.s. military has acknowledged the f-35 program was hacked.
stocks in china suffered their worst one-day percentage drop in more than six years. the benchmark shanghai composite index down nearly eight percent. after chinese regulators cracked down on brokerages for breaking rules that limit risky margin trading. u.s. markets were closed. american alpine lindsey vonn is now the winningest woman ever in world cup skiing. she won her 63rd career victory today at a competition in italy. vonn finished the super-g race nearly a full second of austria's anna fenninger, in second place. that broke the women's record for world cup wins that had stood for 35 years. still to come on the newshour. fighting shakes the capital of yemen as rebels are accused of an attempted coup. what can be done to improve security in europe to stop terror attacks. how political divides over immigration reform are affecting
families in nevada and beyond. president obama's tax plan to put more money into the pockets of the middle class. the digital arms race to take down fake reviews of products sold online. and, john cleese on monty python and his unexpected career as a comedian. >> woodruff: the on going conflict in yemen intensified today. the country's been a stronghold for al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula, one of the most active and dangerous branches of the islamic terror network. today, violence rocked the country. gunfire and explosions erupted in yemen's capital city, sanaa, as government and shiite rebels battled near the presidential palace. streets emptied and the heavily armed rebels, known as houthis seized control of state run
media. the houthis have been in a tense standoff with government forces since taking over much of sanaa last september. since then, the u.s. backed government of president abed rabbo mansour hadi has seen its influence severely weakened. the shiite rebels have now carved out large swaths of northern yemen and extended their reach westward. they've vowed to wipe out the sunni forces of al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula, which holds sway in much of central yemen. a.q.a.p. has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks, including the "charlie hebdo" shootings in paris. for more on what drives this violence and yemen's links to global terror, i'm joined by abdulwahab alkebsi, of the center for international private enterprise. he was born in yemen and regularly visits the region.
we we canal you to the program. so there's been instability in yemen for a long time as we know. what is different? what's significant about today's events? >> tad's events are very significant. didn't start today. it started saturday when the houthis rebels arrested the president's chief of staff and took him to saba in the north and there was negotiations for his release. suddenly today they go to the presidential palace, surround it and a battle broke out. fortunately, there has been a cease-fire since about 4:30 p.m. local time and calls for a meeting tomorrow for the president, the government, the houthis and two houses of parliament to try to find a solution moving forward. >>forward. >> woodruff: help us understand more about who the different groups are in yemen. >> there are many different
groups. to show the conflict today as the government against shiite rebels from the north is oversimplifying i think. to explain, in the battle today in sanaa had put million forces. the houthis have a core group that are completely different group and then today's battle was between them and the presidential guards. responsible to protect the president's palace. the republican guards were a part of that. these are forces known to the former president. all of this, the regular army, the military stayed aside and didn't even fight the war. so it's more complect to say shia against sunni and also makes it force. it is not that simple. >> woodruff: what we hear in the united states when we hear about yemen we think of al quaida and the arabian peninsula. >> of course. how is aqap affected by
what's going on and what could happen in sanaa and elsewhere. >> terrific question. in the one hand, the how the houthis are facing al quaida and are defeating them. right now, the houthis seem to be gearing up for a strong battle between them and the aqap. >> woodruff: statement they're fighting the regime? >> that's right. now, at first sight, you think they're doing something good for us fighting al quaida, right? so al quaida is getting weaker because of that. but, on the other hand, when we make this battle between them as one between shia and sunni, it creates such the recruitment cry for al quaida for the sunni fanatics to join them, who want to protect sunniism, they become recruitment fodder for al quaida
to fight. so, again one hand they seem to be allies with us fighting al quaida, but at the same time al quaida is benefiting to recruit more supporters for them. >> woodruff: so is the united states rooting for one side or the other? the u.s. has been backing backing the current president put he sooms to be in a very difficult position. >> he is in a difficult position. i don't envy him at all. at the same time, the united states policy in yemen is from a security idea. it should be. the reason we're in yemen is because of the threat of al quaida which has shown it can hit in the united states in paris with the charlie hebdo attacks. the polls ials includes support for the political policy moving forward. the united states is the biggest supporter of the political process and without that it cannot get better. the economic support and growth is missing, creating jobs for
yemen so the people don't become recruitment fodder. these are young men without a job and future, and they need that and find friendship and families with the houthis and al quaida. we need more jobs in yemen. >> woodruff: a theme we're hearing across the region. thank you very much abdulwahab alkebsi. >> we appreciate it. >> woodruff: from yemen we now turn to europe. this month's deadly terrorist attacks in france continue to loom large across the continent. today e.u. officials called for an alliance with muslim majority countries in the fight to secure europe. the newshour's chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner is on assignment in london, where she looks at how britain is reacting. i spoke to her a short time ago. welcome, margaret. i know you just arrived over the weekend, but are you finding and talking to ordinary british citizens that there is a feeling, a heightened sense of
anxiety worry? >> yes, there is, judy. a sense of uneasiness. the people feel that there is not only a chance of a paris-style attack here but more likely. yesterday on the street cafes in south kensington, one woman said she found it quite scary the terrorist attacks happened so close by. the manager of a nearby cafe shared her view of the risk to the city. >> it makes you suddenly think that something that happened so close could happen here as well. it does make you think you would like to see that something is being done. you would like to see security is heightened and it is being taken seriously. >> obviously, this is one of the more popular cities in the world, definitely under threat.
so we're definitely threat, afraid and have phobias but as long as the people are altogether, it's okay. >> reporter: that's it, judy. british citizens have been dealing with terrorism on their soil for a very long time certainly since the irish republican campaign bombings of the early 1970s. there was the 2005 underground bombing attacks here in london that killed close to 60 people, the 7-7 attacks, just a year and a half ago for two british muslims who were converts actually, hacked to death an army officer, saying it was to avenge the killings of muslims overseas by british soldiers. so one retired teacher said to me yesterday, i'm not saying we're used to it, but we've learned to enture it. >> woodruff: so margaret we heard one of the people you talked to, the woman saying she hopes the government is taking all this seriously. what is the british government doing? >> reporter: well, judy, the
government actually stepped up the threat level to severe last fall which is essentially saying they think a terrorist attack is likely and is a much higher threat level than before in quite a long time. at that point they stepped up security at all the obvious public buildings in a visible way but also in way not visible. this coincided with the two spokesmen of the islamic state calling on supporters in the countries that are part of the so-called anti-i.s.i.l coalition -- u.s., canada and most to have theine countries -- that if they couldn't fight in iraq or syria they should help in terror attacks at home. there have been three major terrorist plots foiled that would have definitely have resulted in more deaths and the counterterrorism chief in
scotland yard said the same last year. they had been rounding up suspected plotters for quite some time. on a completely different front, today it came to light that the -- a minister david cameron's cabinet had written a letter to all 1100 imams of 1100 mosques in britain calling on them to root out exremmists voices in their midst and to preach to young mucks our their faith in islam can be compatible with british identity. so i think they're moving forward on many fronts including a call by prime minister cameron for surveillance powers. >> woodruff: what's the reaction in the muslim community to all this? >> they took great homage and said they would be held to a different standard than christian clerics when violence was created against christians and suggested there is something incompatton. that said, there is a great
tension here or certainly an undercurrent of unease i would say, with the muslim leaders saying they are held to a different standard but many non-muslim britts telling us they don't think muslims have been vocal enough against the violence committed in their faith. we know there are stepped-up protection of jewish sites. what do you see of that in great britain? >> the same is true here. last friday in response to paris and in response to the request from the jewish community the u.k. stepped up security at jewish sites especially schools, they wrote to the parents of every child in a jewish school in the country promising increased protection and this very night very security briefings held in many, many jewish schools across the country. >> woodruff: margaret warner, thank you reporting live from london and we look forward to your reports for the rest of the week.
>> woodruff: the divide over immigration was a major theme of this year's congressional elections. but the issue is not just roiling politicians. as our gwen ifill found in nevada, the president's policies and republicans' opposition to reform has meant difficult splits within many families. >> ifill: far from washington's politics, positioning and policy, here's what the immigration debate looks like. a saturday afternoon gathering of friends and relatives at a family owned restaurant little more than a mile from the strip in las vegas. susana flores, the owner, is a legal resident who tried unsuccessfully to teach me how to make tortillas. ( laughter ) susana's sister rocina sandoval, who works as a waitress, is not here legally. she could easily be deported.
>> ( translated ): i would like some kind of documentation so i could work legally and help the family more. >> ifill: most of the family members have lived in las vegas for decades. rocina's son juan salazar joined his parents here when he was just seven years old. he is now covered by president obama's 2012 executive action which protects so called dreamers, young people who arrived in this country illegally when they were children. he runs a pool business with his father juan, senior and attends a local community college. but good fortune has its limits even for a dreamer. >> my parents do not qualify, because i'm not a citizen and neither are my sisters. so my mom nor my dad, they're not protected. so there's still fear that they could come take your parents away at any moment. >> ifill: it's a mixed bag of
legality that casts a shadow over entire families here in nevada who are among the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the u.s. republicans and democrats in washington agree that the nation's immigration system is broken. what they can't agree on is the correct way to fix it. the president has opted to expand the legal pool by executive fiat, a step that has infuriated republicans. most recently, he announced temporary protections for parents of u.s. citizens like tere dorame. she is also a waitress at the restaurant and has a nine year old u.s. born son. >> ifill: what difference will this make for you? >> ( translated ): i will be able to have health insurance. i will be able to work legally to provide for my son. >> ifill: president obama has been to del sol high school here in las vegas three times, once during the 2008 campaign, and twice more in 2013 and 2014 to sign immigration action.
that is no accident. in a state where nearly a third of the population is hispanic nearly 20% of nevada's students have undocumented parents. one of them is astrid silva, the college student who introduced the president on his last visit. with the measured passed last week, she would lose her recently granted legal status. >> part of what makes america exceptional is that we welcome exceptional people like astrid. it makes us stronger. >> ifill: silva, who volunteers for p.l.a.n., the progressive leadership alliance of nevada, supports the president's executive actions, but says even his approach falls short. >> congress has been, has been definitely playing with our lives. unfortunately, they don't see us as human. they see us as a number. they see us as, as how many people they can deport. and to us, it's our families and that's what it should be to
them. >> ifill: there is a political tightrope at work here. nevada's three congressional republicans all voted against repealing the dream act last week. but they also voted to prevent the president from extending protection to parents of citizens. david damore is a professor of political science at the university of nevada las vegas. >> immigration is the top issue for latino voters. it is, sort of, the gateway as certainly they care about education, they care about healthcare, jobs, those other things. but if you're a republican and and the first word out of your mouth is they want to deport you, what comes second no one's listening to. >> ifill: but this is not your typical red/blue divide. niger innis, for instance, runs core, a civil rights group that offers citizenship classes to help las vegas residents prepare for legal residency. >> what are two cabinet level positions? secretary of commerce. secretary of defense.
>> ifill: but as a self- described tea party republican, he says the president is abusing his power. >> this president had a real opportunity to really engage the country in a proper way on the question of immigration. you know he had two years. his first two years in office he had over won the majorities in the house and the senate. he didn't move immigration reform. these executive actions have largely poisoned the well, and i don't know that we're going to have real substantive immigration reform progress until there's a new president, unfortunately. and i don't say that with joy, i say that with regret. >> ifill: about 11,000 people in las vegas qualify for the 2012 dreamer protection. but nearly 31,000 people would qualify for the expanded program, which is expected to go into effect in may. workshops have sprung up around the state to help immigrants used to living in the shadows learn how to manage the paperwork. and to learn how to manage expectations.
>> we need something where we're fully protected because we who knows what's going to happen when the president leaves another president comes? >> ifill: a cycle of lawmaking, veto threat and unilateral action that has become all too familiar in washington and all too frustrating for those whose lives will be most directly affected. >> woodruff: the president's new tax proposal is igniting fresh fuel into the ongoing debate over economic mobility and inequality in this country. it's a plan with many different components, but at the heart of it, the president is calling for a hike in taxes on wealthier households and using some of that money to boost tax breaks for middle and lower-income earners. jeffrey brown gets some analysis about that framework and the political strategy around it.
>> brown: in his state of the union speech tomorrow night, the president is expected to speak at length about changes to the tax code. his proposal calls for, increasing the top tax rate on capital gains for higher income earners to 28%. and increasing the amount of inheritance subject to taxes, particularly for wealthier individuals and families. in turn, the president would boost the child care tax credit to $3,000. and add a $500 tax credit for families where both parents work. the plan has a number of other provisions related to education and retirement benefits. also, according to the president, aimed at benefiting middle and lower income families. neil irwin broke it down for the "new york time's" upshot page and he joins me now. one of the interesting things about this moment is the idea that things have changed that the economy is a little better, the unemployment rate is down. now what? >> yeah, some of the old battles and debates that characterized the first obama term are
changing and we're no longer in the era of ultra high deficits the economy is getting better, you see job growth and the urgency of stimulus is passing. so the question is what's next? what is economic policy going to look like in the economic policy debates in the years ahead? the question is how do you deal with inequality. >> when you look at the proposals, you could take the inheritance tax as a particular. there's methodology here that really tweaks the income levels. >> what president obama is trying to do is zero in on the portion of the tax code that benefit the ultra rich. not just the comfortable or the people with the six-figure income but the people making millions of dollars. one of those is what happens with the inheritance taxes. if you have a large inheritance there's stepped-up capital gains tax basis. so essentially a rich family can
pass along wealth over the generations and more or less never pay capital gains tax. the the president wants to say whenever there's a transfer of assets to the next generation, you don't start over with the capital gains tax. the very wealthy have done well through the next generation it's saying we want to tax them higher to give working class americans a break. >> brown: you are reading this is overtly aimed at the inequality issue as opposed to as we've seen often presidents using the tax code for economic stimulus or they're saying they can do both? >> no, the stimulus is over. this is not designed to pump money into the economy. it's not expanding the reach of the government, it is working through the tax code, but it designed to increase taxes on the rich, capital gains taxes, taxes on investment while funneling the money to the working class. that's a different message from presidents in the past and a sign of the new age we're in.
>> brown: and i assume it's aimed at countering the old tag that comes politically of washington spending more money on programs. >> yeah there's no new programs out of. this it's all working through the tax code. that said, republicans are not going to like this idea. one central message out of the republican party for the last generation is the key to economic growth is lowering the taxes on investment lowering the capital gains tax. the president wants to raise capital gains taxes. it's hard to see any republicans supporting this. >> brown: rhetorically, at least, the old political argument over taxs there and we heard it right awe way, after these were announced. what is new in this new era? what looks new as challenges or opportunities for both democrats and republicans? democrats, is a post-president obama era, perhaps. >> the one thing we know is that barack obama will not be on the ballot in 2016. the democrats need to decide what their message is going forward. in the elections that just
happened in 2014, democrats were criticized for not having a clear vision of the future. they were just not the republicans, rather than offering a coherent vision of their own. this is a try for president obama to offer what that vision might be. we'll see if 2016 democrats embrace the same idea. >> brown: he's setting it up for the democrats? >> absolutely. >> brown: what about for republicans? >> republicans, we've seen real change in language and thousand they're talking about the economy. they seem to acknowledge there is growth. it's no longer the crisis situation we were in a few years ago. but republicans want to show that they have a plan to improve conditions for working class americans, too. jeb bush toward a possible presidential campaign, a lot of language about the economy working for the middle class and everyone rising up through entrepreneurship and free enterprise. so we're seeing signs of 2016 election being a question of which party has the best plan of
working class americans not seeing raises in the last years. >> brown: the tax battle starts tomorrow night. neil irwin of the "new york times." thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: it's a perpetual dilemma. you go online to buy a product or try a new service, or maybe find a restaurant you haven't been to before, and frequently end up checking what others thought of it. you see a four star review, a five star recommendation, but wonder just how legitimate those appraisals are. special correspondent jackie judd has been investigating those seeking to exploit the reviews. and what businesses are doing to crack down. akes me five, ten minutes to review. >> reporter: behind the blurred image is a scan artist. >> there's a lot of people looking for this type of work and there's a lot of plot formsz from which you can sell and a lot of other people will
advertise looking for services such as this. >> reporter: the service is writing fake online consumer reviews and companies typically hired by small businesses advertise in brazen and public ways. >> silver man slim. your number one reviewed dealer. we offer google reviews, yelp reviews. >> reporter: stephen g. who asked for an no nimty gets freelance gigs online for a few dollars a pop. if i were to ask you to come up with ideas right hear, let's say a cab company in miami -- have you ever been to miami? >> i have not been to miami but i would take a review from miami, yes. >> reporter: what would you say? >> i would say clip board cab company was very prompt in their service. they arrived exactly at 7:00 at the airport when i asked. i found the driver very pleasant and cooperative and i was very satisfied with their service. i'll definitely use them again next time i'm in miami.
>> reporter: ka-ching, $8. doesn't take much. pretty much all are five-star, one-star reviews. nobody leaves three-star reviewssments what would be the point? >> reporter: nicholas founded the daily dot which covers the life on the internet. >> we n the age of the internet we are living in the age of the inexpert opinion. we are living in the age of if you can think of it, someone is offering it in both authentic and fake, fraudulent ways. >> reporter: the possibilities do seem limitless especially here in san francisco, home of the online review giant yelp. the number of consumer reviews posted online is mind boggling. just in the time that the "newshour" is on the air tonight, some 2,000 reviews will be posted on yelp alone, making the task of identifying deceptive entries as well as keeping one step ahead of the perpetrators an ongoing
challenge. yelp is a pioneer in aggregating consumer reviews of local businesses. its slogan used to be "real people, real reviews." now not so much. yelp labels about 25% of submitted reviews is suspicious or not recommended. >> you would be surprised how many small business owners might claim their page on yelp and actually go ahead and open up a consumer account and write a five-star review of their business and a one-star review of their competitor and leave it at that. we catch that, of course. >> reporter: in just over two years, yelp has caught 400 companies trying to game the system and let consumers know with something of a scarlet letter. it cooperated with an investigation by the new york attorney general which led to 19 companies being fined for generating false reviews. typically though, this behavior goes unpunished. fraud detection is a deadly
serious pursuit. yelp spends millions of dollars on it annually and about 10% of its employees are on the hunt. the human touch involves workers eye balling specific reviews for tell-tale signs of fraud, and software engineers change algorithms multiple times a day. >> we're constantly learning more information about patterns, machine learning, data analysis gathering more signals, figuring out which are more efficacious than others so it's constantly being refined. there's tons oftata points used as we sift through the oillion reviews we have to figure out which once we recommend. >> reporter: in austin, texas there's a little known company called bizarre boys operating behind the scenes on behalf of some of the world's retail giants including costco and wal-mart. bizarre boys promises to weed out all the authentic consumer
reviews and monitors its clients to make sure insiders are not posted five-star reviews. the scale is remarkable. through its clients it gets half a billion unique visitors a months through consumer review pages but the fraud rate is a tiny frack of yelp's because reviewers are verified customers of bizarre boys' clients. >> in the field the grey -- >> reporter: that still translates to a lot of potential trouble. >> nothing surprises me anymore. >> reporter: j.t.buser's title at bizarre boys, head of authenticity, is a sure sign of that. >> when we first started this we would see typical small-scale attacks. and now that's evolved into an entire significant way of getting reviews through the system, that includes high-end evasion techniques to get around
sophisticated anti-fraud systems. >> reporter: if it sounds like an arms race, it is. the scammed trying to stay ahead of the scammers, and vice versa. the advent of bots marked an escalation relation in the race because they gender vast amount of content. >> bots are machines, they are robots, software programs that traffic on the internet that use the internet just like you and i to but for the purpose of generating clicks which drives advertising revenue usually and that is basically frowd. >> reporter: j.t. says bizarre boys can identify if kind of attack quickly but won't say how. >> we're being secret because we have to be. years ago we stopped looking at this as a review problem, and look at it as a legitimate fraud problem and look at it in is same mode or model of
anti-fraud. >> if i were to write five reviews on this ipad and sent it out under different names would you know it was all coming from this ipad? >> yes, but trr things things we try angulate off of. >> reporter: the reason so much effort is put into generating and detecting false reviews is of course money. last summer alone, according to the government, online retail sales exceeded $78 billion, and that number is groping. >> we collect content for our clients. they use that content not only to display on their sites be they use it to make decisions on how to change their products. so imagine if they spent millions of dollars and made decisions based off of content that was inauthentic. >> reporter: so it's not only front end, the consumer, but it's the back end? >> the back end, too.
y have 429 reviews not currently recommended. that's a lot. >> reporter: yelp says there's a cost in credibility as well. >> if a business misleads consumers write writing fake reviews andio go out and have a bad meal, so what. but what if you're looking for a pediatrician, an urgent care clinic, a pet groomer? consumers have a right to be able to trust and rely upon this information. efforts by businesses to mislead them are really quite harmful. >> reporter: the confidence of executives at yelp and bizarre voice about their abilities to catch most scammers may be misplaced knowing that with certainty the impossible. nicholas white is journalist and observer of "life on the internet" believes the arms race will never be won, it will just go on. >> as sites manage to actually tamp down the fraudulent review, there's going to be some other way to manipulate money on the internet and manipulate users on
the internet in a way that will make money and people are just going to move on to that. so you have to be a savvy user to be a user of the internet otherwise you will be taken in. >> reporter: how are you a salve yp user? >> first, use your common sense on the internet. if you read an online review and you can't imagine a friend saying it -- you know think of a friend. read it in your head in their voice. if it doesn't sound authentic, it's probably not. >> it's a walk in the park. nice, easy quick, and a little bit of extra cash. >> reporter: and you sleep at night? >> i do. i do indeed. >> reporter: for the "newshour", this is jackie judd in austin texas. >> woodruff: next tonight, the making of a master comic. jeffrey brown has that.
>> i need to complain about this purchase from this very boutique! >> reporter: all these years later, fans of monty python can recall favorite skits. >> it is no more! it's expired and gone to meet its maker! it is a late parent! >> brown: and the players as well, very much including john cleese, the minister of silly walks and so much else. host python, the tv show on bbc from 1969 to 1974, the movies that grew from it, cleese created and starred in the classic sitcom faulty towers. >> well -- (ranting about hanging the picture)
>> brown: and in a number of films, most famously a fish called wanda. >> i love the way you laugh! oh i love you! you're funny! mmm! you're so -- >> don't call me stupid... jesus christ! >> reporter: his new memoir, so anyway is the firsto of a projected trilogy and looks back to his pre-python life, lower middle class child of an insurance salesman father and a difficult often distant mother through to cambridge where he began as a law student and almost accidentally found himself in a comedy troupe. we talked recently at the miami book festival. >> if it doesn't seem like an obvious biography for someone who would grow up to entertain people around the world or does it? >> no, it doesn't at all. i honestly regard so much of my
life as an stent. >> brown: your rise is at a moment when satire in england especially has taken off. what happened? >> what happened was england had been a very, very stuffy country. if you think about what america was like under eisenhower and multiply it by 10, people did not make jokes about the prime minister, it was considered disrespectful. if you believe that climate. >> brown: yes. a show came to cambridge beyond the fringe a funny show. >> brown: had app great impact on you. >> incredible impact because they were doing jokes about politicians the church of england, the death penalty, about u.k. disarmament, wonderful jokes about serious subjects. >> brown: you write about comedy being harder than drama. why? >> first of all, it's got to be original in a way that drama doesn't have to be original. there are certain dramatic things that just repeat and repeat, whereas comedians have
got to come up with something that's a little bit fresh every time because you can't laugh at the same joke the second time. secondly, it's got to be so precise before it works. everything in comedy's got to be exactly right, which is why making a comedic film is kind of a difficult process because for most of it two years of shooting it, editing it and reshooting it, it's not quite right, and it's only where just at the end you put the final polish on it becomes really funny again. >> you're really sorry? i'm really really sorry. i apologize unreservedly. >> you take it back? i do. i offer a complete and utter retraction. >> brown: i saw your best advice to a young comedian is steal. >> steal material. i don't mean necessarily steal a specific joke but steal a situation, steal a character. >> brown: style. a style. because by the time you do it yourself, your own personality
will have imprinted itself on the original thing you've stolen. >> brown: yeah. and it's too difficult to start right from scratch and try to be funny out of the bring. so the first few things i ever did to get into it, right out of cambridge is all things are stolen. i say if you love an actor of comedian is watch and watch them and the key thing is watch them until you're bored. when you stop laughing at them, then you can see the mechanisms, you can see how they do it. >> brown: it occurs to me, we're having a serious conversation about comedy. it's a serious subject, in way, right? >> it is and it isn't. the examples are funny, but when you start analyzing it, it's not necessarily humorous. >> brown: do you think of your yourself as a funny person? >> it's a part of me. when i'm with certain people, i'm much funnier than with other
people. it's more a function of their personality than anything. >> brown: the kind of grainy humor or sophisticated humor, perhaps, even if it's silly, you look back on a lot of monty python and faulty towers and it requires sometimes the audiences to know the references, right? >> that's right. the hard thing for young comedians now is the majority of the young people in the audience out there don't have the wide range of references. >> brown: that's what i was wondering. is it harder now? >> it's harder now. you can't really do that stuff. it's like in the life of brian where i catch him writing on the wall. >> it says go home. no it doesn't.
conjugate the verb "to go." that was hilarious to an earlier generation. i don't think it means anything at all now. i made a reference on joe mars' show to latin. someone said, what's that? >> brown: but people still need to laugh. >> oh, yeah. >> brown: so are these stories going to continue? >> oh, yes, it just takes us up to the beginning of python. someone said, people know much more about python. the editor said the book could have been called monty python by john cleese. the third one would be called why this is no hope. because i've decided there isn't. >> brown: that's it no hope. no hope. but i'll be gone before the planet is gone so it's your
problem. >> brown: on that very cheerful note. anyway, john cleese, thanks so much. >> pleasure. nice talking to you. >> woodruff: finally tonight, our newshour shares moment of the day. something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you too. today marks the 60th anniversary of the first televised presidential news conference. and we wanted to show you what president dwight eisenhower's exchange with the press in 1955 looked like. turns out tensions in china and fights over the budget were making headlines then, too. here's a short excerpt: >> i see we're trying a new experiment this morning. i hope that doesn't prove to be a disturbing influence. the latest fighting, it would be
useful to have a cease fire with china. if that could be arrange with the u.n. or some other means. >> i should like to see the u.n. attempt to exercise good decisions because whenever there's any kind of fighting and open violence in the world there is always -- it's always sort of a powder keg. >> it's my understanding that's what the committees of congress is for and that's is what the people who appear before the committees are for and i can't be expected to take the details of a volume like that which i forget the number of pages, and
explain it in detail to individuals anywhere. >> tomorrow the second anniversary of your inauguration, i wonder if you would care to give us an appraisal of your first two years and tell us something of the hopes for the next two or maybe even the next six. (laughter) >> looks like a loaded question. >> woodruff: so the press was just as respectful then as it is today. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. americans marked this martin luther king holiday with marches, rallies and church services, and with new emphasis on addressing racial divisions. and heavy new fighting hit the capital of yemen, as shiite rebels challenge both the u.s. backed government and al-qaeda's regional branch. on the newshour online, last may, scientists witnessed for the first time a huge high- energy burst of radio waves on a telescope in eastern australia. no one knows exactly where these cosmic signals come from, but learn more from a recent study
on the phenomenon, on our homepage. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll have special coverage at 9:00 p.m. eastern of the president's state of the union address, the republican response, and analysis from shields and brooks. i'm judy woodruff join us on- line and again here tomorrow evening, for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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>> i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff. immigration, healthcare, conflicts over seas, the state of the union. president obama is set to deliver the annual address tuesday, january 20th. tune in for special programming from the "newshour" team you trust including mark shields and david brooks. >> when the direction of our country is at stake, only one place you should tun, the pbs "newshour".
this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. good evening everyone and welcome to this special edition of "nightly business report." i'm tyler mathisen. >> and i'm sue herera. the first weeks of 2015 started where 2014 left off with a focus on energy. both west texas intermediate and brent crude have continued their dramatic decline and forecasts calling for prices to fall further. >> the reason it's simple the world is producing more oil than it is using. tonight, we examine why declining oil prices matter so much to investors, to consumers, the economy, states from texas to north dakota and even the housing market. >> we begin with the economy. at this time last year oil was trading well above $100 a barrel.