PBS NewsHour full episode September 19, 2019


AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening. I’m Amna Nawaz. Judy Woodruff is away. On the “NewsHour” tonight: urgent concern. A whistle-blower sounds the alarm, leading
to warnings from the intelligence community watchdog and sparking a fight between Congress
and the White House. Then: JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Canadian Prime Minister: I
shouldn’t have done that. I should’ve known better, but I didn’t, and
I’m really sorry. AMNA NAWAZ: Racism and regret. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes
after revelations that he wore blackface on multiple occasions. Plus: between the lines — a conversation
with Joy Harjo, the new poet laureate of the United States and the first Native American
to fill the role. JOY HARJO, U.S. Poet Laureate: You can time
travel in a poem. You can get to know people in a poem. And poetry is the place you can come to when
you have no words. AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: President Trump is insisting he
has not made any improper promises to any foreign leader. That followed reports of a whistle-blower
questioning actions by Mr. Trump, including communications with a foreign leader. The intelligence community’s inspector general
called it an urgent concern, but the administration has refused to share it with Congress. We will discuss all of this after the news
summary. Iran today threatened an all-out war if attacked
by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif issued that
warning, after rising tensions over a drone-and-missile attack on Saudi oil facilities. U.S. and Saudi officials have dismissed Iran’s
denial of responsibility. And, yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
called the attack an act of war. Today, Pompeo was in the United Arab Emirates
for talks with Gulf leaders, and he responded to Zarif. MIKE POMPEO, U.S. Secretary of State: I was
here in an act of diplomacy, while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war,
to fight to the last American. We’re here to build out a coalition aimed
at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution to this. That’s my mission set. That’s what President Trump certainly wants
me to work to achieve. AMNA NAWAZ: Pompeo left the region today to
return to Washington. United Nation inspectors, meanwhile, arrived
in Saudi Arabia to investigate the attacks. Also today, Iran announced that President
Hassan Rouhani and foreign Minister Zarif have now received U.S. visas to attend the
U.N. General Assembly in New York next week. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have struck again,
this time in the southern province of Zabul. A truck bomb killed 20 people outside a hospital. Ambulances rushed through the chaos, and doctors
tended to nearly 100 wounded, including children. Separately, officials in Eastern Afghanistan
said a U.S. drone attack, aimed at Islamic State fighters, misfired and killed 30 civilians. A court in Japan today cleared three former
utility executives of negligence in the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. In March of 2011, an earthquake triggered
a tsunami that all but destroyed the plant, sending radiation spewing across the countryside. Thousands of people were left homeless, and
some protested today outside the court. KEIKO SASAKI, Fukushima Resident (through
translator): How could they rule this way? We cannot understand and cannot accept it. For the past 8.5 years, there are many people
who were forced to evacuate from their home and hometown, and are still looking for a
place to live. AMNA NAWAZ: The court ruled today that, at
the time of the tsunami, the Japanese government didn’t require nuclear plant executives to
ensure absolute safety. This was the only criminal trial related to
Fukushima. Back in this country, remnants of Tropical
Storm Imelda have led to heavy rains and flooding in the Houston, Texas, area. Officials today reported more than 1,000 people
rescued or evacuated so far. Forecasters said some places could end up
getting four 40 in rain. Hurricane Humberto, meanwhile, brushed past
Bermuda with winds of 125 miles an hour. There were reports of some damage on the island,
but no deaths. The White House today withdrew the nomination
of Jeffrey Byard to lead FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The nomination was pulled over what the administration
called an unspecified personal issue. FEMA has not had a full-time administrator
since Brock Long resigned last February over questions about his use of government vehicles. On Capitol Hill, Eugene Scalia, the nominee
for secretary of labor, defended his pro-business record today. Scalia has spent most of his career representing
corporate interests on employment issues. Democrats argued that makes him the wrong
choice to defend American workers. Scalia said he has acted as any good lawyer
should. EUGENE SCALIA, Secretary of Labor Nominee:
I am not necessarily my clients. I will seek to defend them, to vindicate their
rights, but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily think what they did was proper. AMNA NAWAZ: Scalia is the son of Antonin Scalia,
the conservative Supreme Court justice who died in 2016. The U.S. House has passed a stopgap spending
bill to prevent a government shutdown at month’s end. It sailed through today, and went to the Senate,
which is also expected to approve it. The bill funds federal operations through
November 21. President Trump won a round in federal court
today on keeping his tax returns private. A federal judge blocked a California law that
says presidential candidates must release their returns to qualify for the state’s presidential
primary ballot next march. The president also filed a federal lawsuit
today to block a subpoena for his tax returns, that one from prosecutors in New York. And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial
average lost 52 points to close at 27094. The Nasdaq rose five points, and the S&P 500
was virtually unchanged. And there is word that bird numbers in North
America have plunged by nearly three billion since 1970. That’s a 29 percent decrease, according to
a study based at Cornell University. It was published today in the journal “Science.” Now, the study estimates the U.S. and Canada
now have about 7.2 billion birds. It says the common house sparrow and eastern
meadowlarks have suffered some of the biggest losses. And the Washington Monument reopened to visitors
today, for the first time in three years. The stone obelisk had been closed to replace
its aging elevator and to enhance security systems. First lady Melania Trump attended today’s
ribbon-cutting, as students looked on. The monument is the tallest building in Washington,
at 555 feet, and officially opened in 1888. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a whistle-blower
comes forward, sparking urgent concern from the intelligence community watchdog; Canadian
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is mired in scandal after admitting to wearing blackface;
how far along are lawmakers in taking action to curb gun violence?; and much more. We return now to our top story, the escalating
standoff between Congress and the Trump administration over a whistle-blower’s complaint. That complaint was deemed an urgent concern
by the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson. Atkinson met with the House Intelligence Committee
this morning behind closed doors. And the chairman of that committee, Representative
Adam Schiff, joins us now from Capitol Hill. Congressman, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” You spent almost four hours with Mr. Atkinson
behind closed doors today. What did you learn today that led you to believe
you urgently need more information about that complaint? REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, there doesn’t seem
to be any dispute over the fact that this complaint is urgent and it’s credible. That is apparently not the basis in which
it’s being withheld from us, rather because the Department of Justice weighing in with
the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That director is depriving us of the complaint
because he says it’s beyond his jurisdiction. That means that this urgent matter is going
unaddressed. It also means that someone is giving these
marching orders to the director. We want to find out, is the White House involved
in that? We need to know, frankly, whether the White
House is also a subject of this complaint, because the idea that someone could weigh
in who’s the subject of the complaint and essentially quash it would cause, I think,
the whistle-blower statute to be meaningless. And there are two imperatives here. One is to find out information necessary to
protect the country, and the second is, we need to protect both the whistle-blower and
the whole process of being able to blow the whistle on impropriety. AMNA NAWAZ: Congressman, I want to be clear,
though. In those nearly four hour today with Mr. Atkinson,
you got answers to none of those questions you just laid out for us? REP. ADAM SCHIFF: No, we got answers to a great
many questions. We got answers to the fact that this is, for
example, the first time that a director of national intelligence has ever withheld a
complaint from Congress. Whether the inspector general finds it credible
or not credible, the practice has always been to provide it to Congress. Here, it was found to be credible, it was
found to be urgent. And it is unprecedented to be deprived this
way. It was also clear from the testimony that
the Department of Justice has weighed in a way that it never has before in a whistle-blower
complaint. It’s also clear, I think, that the issue is
not the classification of the intelligence. Many people have said, well, other presidents
have asserted that they have the right to declassify intelligence or provide classified
information to the Congress. That’s apparently not the issue either. And so the question is, why is this being
withheld from Congress? Is this an effort to cover up impropriety? Who does the complaint involve? And, most seriously, if this is urgent, and
they’re not allowing Congress to deal with it, and they’re not allowing the inspector
general to deal with it, then it’s going unaddressed and we’re at risk. AMNA NAWAZ: Congressman, if it’s not related
to declassification of information, some reports, as I’m sure you have seen, say that the complaint
is related to a series of actions, not any single discussion, as was earlier reported. Is that your understanding? REP. ADAM SCHIFF: I don’t know what the complaint
has to say in terms of its specifics. So I can’t answer that question. But I can tell you that the speculation about
whether this involves a presidential communication, even if it involved a presidential communication
— and I don’t know at this point — that doesn’t mean that the privilege covers it,
if that communication is about a crime or fraud. The president doesn’t have the privilege to
be corrupt. No one in the administration has the privilege
to be corrupt. And the privilege always gives way if it is
about evidence of corruption. So it is not as simple as saying, well, if
it involves a communication, then they have a right to withhold it. We have seen time and time again, on the issue
of privilege, the administration make claims of privilege merely to deny Congress information
where no privilege could apply. So, at the end of the day, we’re going to
need to get this complaint. And we are going to get this complaint. And we will, I think, expose those who are
trying to stand in the way. AMNA NAWAZ: But, sir, after the briefing today,
you said that you knew other institutions were involved in keeping you from getting
that complaint. Do that you know the White House is involved? REP. ADAM SCHIFF: We know that the Department of
Justice is involved in trying to prevent us from getting this complaint, and we know Bill
Barr’s history at the Justice Department of viewing his role as essentially a defense
lawyer for the president. In terms of the White House involvement, we
don’t have that confirmed, I think, from the inspector general, who isn’t able to speak
to that, isn’t authorized to speak to that. But we do know from the communication we received
from the director of national intelligence that they’re claiming that some privilege
may apply. Well, there’s a narrow category of people,
the president and people around him, that would even hold the prospect of a potential
privilege. So I think the DNI has pointed where the problem
lies, even if that wasn’t his intention. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s been reported Mr. Atkinson
didn’t disclose whether the complaint does involve the president. Do you believe that it does, though? REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Well, it certainly seems that
it involves someone at a higher pay grade than the DNI. If the DNI is going to take the position,
this is beyond my jurisdiction, and the inspector general has told us this is squarely within
the responsibilities of the DNI, it means there’s a higher authority. And there aren’t many people in a position
to give orders of direction to the leader of the intelligence community. So there’s certainly a lot of indications,
but we don’t have confirmation of that. We also don’t know whether this is a situation
where the subject of the complaint has actually been given the complaint. And, of course, that heightens the concern
that evidence may be destroyed or covered up. AMNA NAWAZ: Sir, very briefly, that DNI, Joseph
Maguire, will be testifying before you next week. What is it that you hope to learn from him
then? REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Well, we want to call on him
to explain the American people why he is the first director of national intelligence to
ever withhold a whistle-blower complaint from Congress, and how the whistle-blower process
can possibly work if there’s a situation where the subject of a complaint — and maybe he
will tell us whether this is the case or not — is, in effect, vetoing Congress’ access
to that information. I will — I would hope, between now and then,
that the DNI will reconsider his decision and provide this information to Congress. But, if not, he’s going to owe the American
people an explanation. And at the end of the day, the only thing
we will be satisfied with is the provision of that complaint, and that the DNI meet his
other responsibility, which is to tell the whistle-blower how they can come directly
to Congress. That’s what the statute provides And, thus far, he has been unwilling to follow
the statute. AMNA NAWAZ: That is Congressman Adam Schiff,
chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Thank you, sir. REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: Canadian Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau is embroiled in scandal, after three separate instances have emerged showing Trudeau
in blackface. The first image surfaced overnight, and was
quickly followed by the others. It’s become the new focus of next month’s
Canadian elections. William Brangham now has the latest. JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Canadian Prime Minister: This
is something that I deeply, deeply regret. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The prime minister spent
the day trying to contain the damage from images of him in brown and black face makeup. The controversy erupted after “TIME” magazine
published a photo of Trudeau at an Arabian Nights-themed gala in 2001. He was 29 at the time, and teaching at a private
school. His initial response came last night on his
campaign plane. JUSTIN TRUDEAU: It was something that I didn’t
think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply
sorry. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Trudeau also admitted to
wearing blackface when he sang the Jamaican song “Day O” at a high school talent show
in the 1990s. And, today, the Canadian news site Global
News released video of a third instance of Trudeau in dark makeup also from the ’90s. Hours later, the prime minister addressed
the scandal again in Winnipeg, Manitoba. JUSTIN TRUDEAU: It was something that minimizes
and takes advantage of a reality that I have not had to live with, of being discriminated
against, of being marginalized, of being judged for the color of my skin. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All of this comes just five
weeks before a general election, with the prime minister and his ruling Liberal Party
facing a tough fight to hold their parliamentary majority. His main rival, and leader of the opposition
Conservatives, ripped into Trudeau last night. ANDREW SCHEER, Leader, Conservative Party:
What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity,
and someone who’s not fit to govern this country. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today, Jagmeet Singh, son
of Sikh immigrants from India and leader of the New Democrats, called the images of Trudeau
troubling. JAGMEET SINGH, Leader, New Democratic Party:
How do you look someone in the eye that’s mocked the lived reality that I have lived,
but, more importantly, that so many Canadians have lived? WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the past, Trudeau has
often cast himself as a champion of multiculturalism, welcoming Syrian refugees arriving into Canada,
and surrounding himself with a diverse cabinet. Today, a number of his liberal party followers
said they are sticking with him, but the scandal has cast new doubt on his political future. Also in Winnipeg today, Trudeau said he wouldn’t
rule out the existence of additional photos, given the fact that he didn’t remember these
prior cases. Joining me now to talk about the fallout is
Elamin Abdelmahmoud. He is an editor at BuzzFeed News and the co-host
of “Party Lines,” a podcast about Canadian politics. Elamin, welcome to the “NewsHour.” This obviously comes at a, frankly, terrible
time for the prime minister, right as this election campaign is gearing up. What is your sense of the fallout from all
of this? ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD, BuzzFeed: Right. So we are fortunate in this country to have
a much shorter campaign period, while the U.S. is still somehow reliving the 2016 campaign. We have about a 40-day campaign period. And so this is about the worst time for the
prime minister to have this come out, because we’re about eight days into it, and it will
wrap up October 21. And so, as you can imagine, we have a saying
that’s constant that campaigns matter. And the reason they do is because, when an
event like this happens, it can totally, completely shift the course of the campaign. For the past few days, the Liberals, Trudeau’s
party, has been harming this message about affordability, about how they’re going to
help the middle-class. Nobody is talking about that today. And everyone’s talking about all of the comments
that he’s made about racism, his history with being a very woke prime minister, as compared
to these photos that just came out. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And my understanding is,
is that this also dovetails with what the Conservatives have been trying to attack him
on. ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD: Right. So, the Conservatives have been kind of trying
to deliver the message that — their campaign slogan is that Justin Trudeau is not as advertised. Most of that argument has been about his sort
of like taxation policies. They say that he’s going to do one thing,
but actually doing another. But when it comes to this case, Justin Trudeau
is probably most well known outside of this country for all of the sort of like performances
of being a pretty woke, sort of understanding of social justice kind of prime minister. And so when you have a situation like this
that is just coming to light now, it kind of gives a bit more credibility to their notion
that Justin Trudeau is not as advertised. It’s, frankly, a shock that Trudeau himself
wouldn’t have addressed this in the intervening years, whether when he became a member of
Parliament, when he became the leader of his party, when he became prime minister. He’s had plenty of time, plenty of opportunities
to just educate people on this. And so that the way it’s coming out now, it
doesn’t look good for him. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Given the concentrated nature
of campaigns, as you describe, which, frankly, I can say, here in America, we would love
a 40-day campaign. But… (LAUGHTER) ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD: I can imagine, yes. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: … is your sense that,
given that, that this is going to move the needle in a substantial way against him? ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD: I mean, listen, it’s
the only conversation that there is in Canadian politics today. And it that wasn’t that yesterday. Before the election and up until the first
few days of the campaign period, the polls have been reflecting a relative sort of tie
between the Liberals and the Conservatives, with the NDP being a long, sort of distant
third. This kind of upends that, because, for the
next few days, we will be seeing Justin Trudeau apologize and apologize again. He did his second apology today. I don’t think he’s put it to bed. There are still a lot of questions for him
to answer. And so, when we say campaigns matter, what
we really mean is, over just a couple of days, how you handle a situation like this can either
give you momentum or make you stuck in a rut that is just like that these are the only
questions that you take. You can imagine, in a 40-day period, if he
ends up taking questions about this for five, six days in a row, that’s a significant sort
of fraction of that campaign period. And so this could really shift the momentum
of the campaign, but this happened yesterday. It happened last night. It hasn’t even been 24 hours, so it’s a little
bit too early to tell on that front. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Here in the U.S., blackface
imagery is pretty known. It’s pretty clearly — everyone understands
that that’s racist icons. Do the Canadians have a similar appreciation
of and history for blackface and seeing it as racist caricatures? ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD: You know, I got to tell
you, somehow, this country has kind of — this country being Canada — we have skated with
this international sort of reputation of not being an especially racist country, not having
that kind of deep history of racism. But we really do. We have really struggled with having quality
conversations about racism, about multiculturalism in this country. This is a moment to have those conversations,
because, yes, like, every single year, we see stories about college students or somewhat
famous people in Canada who end up dressing up in blackface, in brownface, and being criticized
publicly for it. So we struggle with it the same way that the
U.S. does. I think we don’t have the reputation that
we do. And that’s kind of fortunate. But we have that sort of long history here
too. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The prime minister today
said that it was really — he had a hard time seeing how racist this was through his layers
of privilege. Is that going to work as an excuse for people? Are — people say, OK, I can understand that,
you’re the son of a prime minister, you maybe didn’t appreciate this, or is that not going
to fly? ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD: I mean, look, the fact
of the matter is, when the when the photo of him in the Aladdin costume came out, it
happened, he was he was 29 years old. And you pull any 29-year-old out from the
street, and hopefully you would think they would know better, even if the conversations
about blackface and brownface were not as evolved in 2001 as they are now. We have certainly come a long way as a society
in terms of talking about these issues a little bit more. But it’s not like he was less racist then. And so, when he says that he’s had layers
of privilege that helped him not see that that was the case, I believe him. I think I take that seriously. But, at the same time, he has a bit of a history
of talking about words like systemic discrimination or privilege, words that are very popular
on the progressive left, but not really a lot of history being probed on whether he
really understands what those means. So I think this is maybe an opportunity to
have a more fulsome conversation about that and see what that looks like. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Elamin Abdelmahmoud,
thank you very, very much for being here. ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD: My pleasure. Thank you for having me. AMNA NAWAZ: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: nearly two decades
after 9/11, why is the cost of running Guantanamo Bay rising?; the climate crisis and the price
of inaction; plus, the first Native American U.S. poet laureate on art and history. Now, White House officials have been meeting
with Republicans in Congress about a potential plan for a gun bill. While President Trump hasn’t weighed in on
what sort of proposal he would back, Republican senators are feeling pressure to take some
action on the issue. To help us understand where things stand,
I’m joined by our own Lisa Desjardins. Lisa, talk is one thing, action is another. When it comes to actual legislation, where
are things in Washington? LISA DESJARDINS: It’s actually been a very
active week, but there’s nothing to show for it, Amna. Let’s talk about what really the headline
is this week. Two big players from the White House got involved
and showed up on Capitol Hill for many meetings. Attorney General Bill Barr and White House
Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland were on the Hill meeting with key senators here. Let’s look at some of the key Senate players,
both Republicans and Democrats, they have been talking with. Pat Toomey, he’s known for his work on this
issue. Now, Josh Hawley is an interesting conservative. I don’t know how deeply he’s involved. But he’s one of those conservatives that Republican
— the Republican White House wants on board, because they want their base on board something. Now, then, of course, we have Chris Murphy
of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both known for their work on gun control — or
gun violence. Now, it’s interesting, because this represents
a spectrum, conservative, moderate, in both parties. Behind the scenes, I’m told that these senators
think that they could get to an answer, that they could come up with something that’s agreeable. The problem is, the president has not said
what he wants to do. AMNA NAWAZ: So I mean, with all this talk,
it sounds like Congress wants to do something. And the obvious question then is, what is
keeping them from doing it? Is it just the president? LISA DESJARDINS: It is. It is the president. Now, I know a lot of people will point to
the fact that Senator Mitch McConnell, who leads the Senate, has not brought up a vote
on a House gun bill that has passed. But McConnell says, I’m waiting for the president. And I think he’s making his case more and
more clear. We’re going to come back to him in a second. But another example, Amna, is that some White
House staff floated an actual idea page, they called it, not even a plan yet, but an idea
page, this week to Republican senators. Here it is. Notably, it was leaked to The Daily Caller,
Amna. That’s a conservative Web page. Why would it be leaked to them? Well, this idea was to expand universal background
checks for guns, something that the NRA and some conservatives oppose. Some in the White House were pushing this. By putting this out on a conservative Web
page before it really had any legs, it undermined it. It really essentially killed that plan. So what you have here is forces behind the
scenes really trying to influence the president against working on universal gun background
checks, or even an expansion of background checks, which is something many in the Senate
are talking about. AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, gun violence in America
continues, right? Every time there’s another high-profile public
mass shooting, we have this conversation again and again. Where’s the public on this? Is that pressure going to do anything? LISA DESJARDINS: I think you can see that
that public pressure is building. And that brings us back to Senator McConnell. He made one of his strongest statements yet
this week about where he is on this issue and what he wants to see happen. Let’s listen. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We need some guidance
from the president about what got a proposal that would make a difference he would actually
sign into law. I think, given the multiple horrendous shootings
in August, we owe it to the American people to act. LISA DESJARDINS: That is the strongest statement. He said that he wants to do something. I have not heard that from him before. And it’s no secret why, Amna. Our poll with NPR and Marist, polls from ABC,
NBC all show 89, 90 percent of Americans support expanding universal background checks or going
to a more universal background check. Here’s the political thing, though, Amna. When you ask women, women also, almost two-thirds
of women, want a ban on assault-style weapons. So Republicans need those female votes. They’re nervous about this issue with women
next year. And so are manufacturers, Amna. Today, Colt, one of the manufacturers of the
AR-15, which is one of those semiautomatic assault-style weapons, said they’re not going
to sell that weapon anymore commercially. They will only provide it for military contracts. They say the supply is just — there’s too
much supply. There’s no longer demand, that consumers have
stopped buying that gun. AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, with all these talks, with
some of these high-profile people on the Hill continuing the talks, very briefly, is there
a timeline for action? LISA DESJARDINS: There’s not a strict timeline. Congress will be in session this year, next
year. But there’s a political one. It’s very difficult to pass any major legislation
in a presidential year. And that is actually closer than many people
think, Amna, because, this month, Congress is only in session for another week-and-a-half
or so. Then they take two weeks off, three weeks
in October. November is Thanksgiving. So it’s really this month and next month,
everyone realizes, is a critical window on this issue. AMNA NAWAZ: Critical window. We have got to stay on top of this. Our own Lisa Desjardins, thanks very much. LISA DESJARDINS: You’re welcome. AMNA NAWAZ: The cost of running Guantanamo
Bay’s prison and court system jumped by nearly $90 million from 2013 to 2018, even as the
number of prisoners there has decreased. That is according to a new analysis from Carol
Rosenberg at The New York Times. And she joins us on the phone from Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba. Carol, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” Help us understand that. The number of prisoners have gone down, but
somehow the cost has gone up? How is that possible? CAROL ROSENBERG, The New York Times: There’s
a number of things going on. The prison buildings were set up as temporary,
expeditionary, war on terror sites, and they opened, as you know, in 2002. And many of the buildings and structures that
they have been using are that much older and have needed repairs and replacement and maintenance. The price of keeping a soldier, mostly National
Guard, in uniform has also gone up across the years. And this detention center of 40 prisoners
has 1,800 soldiers. That’s 45 troops for every prisoner — 1,800
soldiers, plus a staff of probably around 300 or more civilian contractors. In addition, Guantanamo is just plain expensive. It’s down here in Cuba. Everything comes in by airplane or barge. Everything has a markup. Construction has a markup. This is an extremely isolated, expensive place
to run this kind of operation. AMNA NAWAZ: Carol, those prisoners that are
left there now, I imagine, as they stay there longer — and we don’t know exactly what will
happen next — you have outlined in your report that it costs more to care for older prisoners. Explain that part of the equation to me. CAROL ROSENBERG: We have had a number of instances
in recent years of health care conditions that have required the military, the Navy
medical unit to call in experts. They have been doing them for a while, but,
you know, as people age, they get, for example, colonoscopies. They get basic heart condition treatment and
care. There’s one prisoner here who had a degenerative
disc disease that ended up with him being paralyzed in his cell, incontinent. And the U.S. military mounted a surgical suite
of a neurosurgeon to fix his back, or at least to start working on his spine. And after that one surgery, he needed four
more down here across the span of eight or nine months. Every complicated medical procedure that takes
place down here relies on people coming in to carry it out. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, Carol, tell me about those
40 men you mentioned. Why are they still there? How many of them are facing charges? And what about the rest who haven’t been charged? CAROL ROSENBERG: So, the first thing to understand
is that Guantanamo started off and functions kind of like a POW site, a prisoner of war
site. There is not a presumption all of them are
guilty of war crimes. The U.S. brought them here as POWs of this
unusual war, saying they wanted to take them off the battlefield. Then, among them, they found a certain number
or they brought a certain number that they wanted to charge with war crimes. Best known probably are the five men accused
of conspiring in the 9/11 attacks. But the majority of them are men who we have
come, who I have come to call the forever prisoners. They’re indefinite detainees in this war in
terror. People have called this the forever war because,
in part, there is nobody on the other side to surrender. How do you end this war on terror? So, these men, many of them, may be here the
rest of their lives. And what’s happened under President Trump
is that the military recognized that this is no longer expeditionary or temporary detention. They’re planning for enduring detention. They’re planning for another 20 or so years
of holding these men. As you probably recall, President Obama said
he wanted to close it, he wanted to move some of the men to the United States and hold them
in either military or federal detention sites, depending on how they would be charged or
held. And Congress blocked it. The political will in the United States is
to keep them here. So, under the Trump administration, the Pentagon
is planning to hold them, if not forever, for the next 20 or so years. AMNA NAWAZ: Carol, few reporters have covered
Guantanamo Bay as deeply and as extensively as you have. Do you see any future in which Guantanamo
Bay is actually closed? CAROL ROSENBERG: Well, certainly not, because,
first of all, this is a functioning Naval station. It’s a Navy base; 6,000 people live here,
sailors and their families, contractors. Of the 6,000, 2,000 are associated with that
prison of 40 prisoners. And there’s been no will by any of these administrations
to want to get out of the base. It’s got an airstrip and a port. And the Pentagon considers it a strategic
asset. But if you’re asking whether or not I foresee
them closing the prison and getting rid of the last prisoner, to me, it’s unimaginable. AMNA NAWAZ: That is Carol Rosenberg of The
New York Times joining us on the phone from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Thank you, Carol. CAROL ROSENBERG: My pleasure. AMNA NAWAZ: The United Nations has called
climate change the defining issue of our time. A U.N. panel estimated the planet’s temperature
will likely rise by at least by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit between 2030 and 2052. That could lead to more extreme weather and
harsher conditions. But those estimates may be on the more conservative
side. There are new estimates this week from French
scientists suggesting the temperature rise between now and 2100 could be much higher. Business and economics correspondent Paul
Solman looks at the risks from some of the worst-case scenarios. His story is part of our Making Sense series
and part of our contribution to Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 300
news outlets to enhance coverage of the climate story. MARTIN WEITZMAN, Environmental Economist:
So, look, you can start to see erosion along here. PAUL SOLMAN: Economist Martin Weitzman four-plus
years ago on the homestead he built on the North Shore of Massachusetts. MARTIN WEITZMAN: The water has risen a couple
of inches, at least, in the time, in the 40 years I have been living here. PAUL SOLMAN: A usually understated math- and
data-driven theorist, Weitzman, who died in the past few weeks, began as a climate catastrophe
skeptic. MARTIN WEITZMAN: I was wondering, how could
it be possible that mere human beings could change the climate in a serious way? PAUL SOLMAN: But geologic samples of carbon
dioxide going back millennia began to scare him. MARTIN WEITZMAN: We were way outside the historical
range for at least 800,000 years, and we’re climbing very strongly. At the current trajectory that we’re on, we’re
going to blow right past the doubling of carbon dioxide. PAUL SOLMAN: And what might that mean for
homes like Weitzman’s? His former student, Gernot Wagner. GERNOT WAGNER, Co-Author, “Climate Shock:
The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet”: Last time concentrations of CO2 were as high
as they are today, we did, in fact, have sea levels up to 20 meters, 66 feet higher than
today. Well, 66 feet, and this house is gone. PAUL SOLMAN: What really shocked Weitzman,
though, and led to his book with Wagner, “Climate Shock,” was probability math. MARTIN WEITZMAN: What scared me was how much
probability there was out there in extreme events. And it’s worrisome how little we know and
how high the probability is of some catastrophic temperature. PAUL SOLMAN: How much hotter? GERNOT WAGNER: Six degrees centigrade, 11
degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a planet, like, nobody would recognize. PAUL SOLMAN: Wagner is now a professor at
NYU. GERNOT WAGNER: Marty’s insight on this was,
he looked back to sort of the consensus science, hundreds of climate scientists analyzing the
most likely developments. PAUL SOLMAN: Now, this is the famous bell
curve, Estimated future temperatures increasing from left to right, the likelihood of any
given temperature indicated by how high the line is at that point. Here’s the hump of the curve. That’s where it’s likely to fall. Temperature will be between here and here. But, then, if you keep going… GERNOT WAGNER: There is this tail. And there is a small probability of being
all the way out there. We can’t exclude that. PAUL SOLMAN: Weitzman’s rigorous estimate
of what’s called the tail risk is what transformed environmental economics. MARTIN WEITZMAN: There’s a valid, about almost
a 10 percent chance of an increase of 4.5 degrees Centigrade. PAUL SOLMAN: But 10 percent, I mean, that
is just one chance in 10. I have been at the racetrack long enough to
know how rarely a 10-1 shot comes in. MARTIN WEITZMAN: It’s not that rare. You buy fire insurance for probabilities that
are much lower than 10 percent. You buy car insurance for probabilities that
are much lower than one in 10 over a lifetime. So this is well within the range of things
that we like to insure against. PAUL SOLMAN: Soon after our time with Wagner
and Weitzman, though, things seemed to be improving. GERNOT WAGNER: In that we sort of had a handle
of, right, basically growing the global economy, while not growing CO2 emissions. PAUL SOLMAN: Because we wouldn’t be using
as much coal, for example. Alternative energy was replacing fossil fuels. GERNOT WAGNER: For example, yes. Well, turns out that happened about three
years ago or so ago. Last year, we again had more emissions than
the year prior. This year, we have more emissions than the
year before. So, yes, temperatures are rising, sea levels
are rising, but what is frightening, frankly, is, what puts the shock into climate shock,
if you will, year after year, we add more CO2, and that increase in the increase is
increasing. PAUL SOLMAN: One reason the rate is increasing? The hotter it gets, the more energy we use
to keep cool. CATHERINE WOLFRAM, University of California,
Berkeley: If the world used as much electricity for air conditioning as the U.S. currently
does, then we would use as much electricity for air conditioning as we do for everything
right now. PAUL SOLMAN: Just look at Southern Asia, says
economist Catherine Wolfram. CATHERINE WOLFRAM: You look at, like, the
hottest places in the U.S., Miami, it’s not as hot as the coolest places in India. And so the potential growth in air conditioning
demand in India is enormous. PAUL SOLMAN: Now, both Wolfram and Wagner
stress that air conditioning is a blessing, especially given global warming. GERNOT WAGNER: Extreme heat simply kills. PAUL SOLMAN: But to the extent that a country
like China or India becomes wealthier, and people start putting in air conditioners… GERNOT WAGNER: Which, for the most part, is
a good thing, right? PAUL SOLMAN: Right. GERNOT WAGNER: Fewer people dying because
of heat waves. PAUL SOLMAN: Yes, but that then is going to
contribute to the acceleration that we’re talking about. GERNOT WAGNER: If — right, if the energy
produced is through fossil energy, yes. PAUL SOLMAN: Was Marty more worried than when
we walked along his property in Gloucester? GERNOT WAGNER: Yes and no. More worried because there’s increasingly
more science that tells us things may well be worse than we had previously thought. Less worried, hopeful, because there’s a lot
happening too, kids on the streets, millions of them around the world advocating for the
right policies. PAUL SOLMAN: The insurance policies Weitzman
and his student were urging in back in 2015. GERNOT WAGNER: Economics 101, right, price
up, demand down. Don’t ask economists what they think which
new technologies will come into play. All we are doing is setting the right price
and getting out of the way. MARTIN WEITZMAN: That’s right. Let 1,000 flowers bloom. We can’t know today what that future technology
is going to bring. So let’s put a price on carbon that incentivizes
carbon-free technologies, and the winner will take all. PAUL SOLMAN: And, says Wagner today, more
countries and states in the U.S. have begun doing what Weitzman urged. GERNOT WAGNER: India has a coal tax. China is experimenting with emissions trading. States here in this country are experimenting
with the kinds of policies that we ought to have at the federal level. We don’t yet, but the emphasis on yet. There’s only so long we can pretend nothing
is happening and walking in the wrong direction. MARTIN WEITZMAN: So here is a wooden walkway
that has been lifted up by high tides that will come over it. PAUL SOLMAN: You mean this was flat before? MARTIN WEITZMAN: Yes, yes. When it was constructed, it was flat. Careful. PAUL SOLMAN: Business and economics correspondent
Paul Solman, stepping ever more carefully in Massachusetts and New York. AMNA NAWAZ: There is a fresh voice these days
leading the poetry world. Joy Harjo is the first Native American to
serve as poet laureate of the United States. Tonight, she will give her inaugural public
reading at the Library of Congress. She is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation,
who grew up in Oklahoma. Jeffrey Brown recently sat down with Harjo
in Tulsa to talk about her life and career. It’s part of our ongoing series on arts and
culture, Canvas. JEFFREY BROWN: A recent night at the Oklahoma
Jazz Hall of Fame in Tulsa. The leader of the band blowing her saxophone
is a poet. JOY HARJO, U.S. Poet Laureate: His feet are
made of his mother’s spiritual concern. JEFFREY BROWN: And not just any poet. Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek
Nation, is the new poet laureate of the United States, appointed by the Library of Congress,
to begin her term this month. JOY HARJO, U.S. Poet Laureate: It’s quite
an honor. And what is especially exciting to me is that
I’m carrying this for — it’s for America, but for indigenous peoples in particular. JEFFREY BROWN: You feel that? JOY HARJO: Yes. And it becomes a doorway. Yes, we’re human beings, and yes, some of
us are poets. Some of us are astronauts. Some of us are really good at fixing cars. But we’re human beings. And some of us write poetry. And so it makes a doorway of hope. JEFFREY BROWN: So people were surprised you
moved home, huh? JOY HARJO: Yes, they were. JEFFREY BROWN: Harjo, now 68, grew up here
in Tulsa in a mixed Native and white working-class neighborhood, child of a beautiful mother
of mixed Cherokee and European ancestry who loved to sing, and a handsome Creek father
Harjo adored, but whose drinking would lead to the end of the marriage. Does it make sense, when you look back to
that girl then, to now? JOY HARJO: Well, she still has the same loves
that I do. You know, there’s still music. I love poetry. I never thought I would be a poet. I mean, that — certainly, if you look in
this neighborhood, that wasn’t a career. (LAUGHTER) JOY HARJO: There are no poets here. JEFFREY BROWN: In her memoir, “Crazy Brave,”
Harjo writes of a childhood of joy and discovery, but also great pain, including a stepfather
who abused her mother, and eventually pushed Harjo to leave home for the Institute of American
Indian Arts, then an all-Native school in Santa Fe. A teenaged mother, she later attended the
University of New Mexico, where she was involved in the ’60s and early ’70s Native rights movement. Art was her first love. She continues to draw and paint to this day. Poetry didn’t come until her 20s. JOY HARJO: Poetry came along at that time. I basically put a pen in my hand, and that’s
how I came through it. And it had a lot to do with investigating
history and finding a voice when I felt that I had no voice. JEFFREY BROWN: She would go on to write nine
volumes of poetry, including the brand-new “American Sunrise,” often examining personal,
Native and national histories bound together. She traces her ancestors to the once-thriving
indigenous civilization that populated the Southeastern U.S. before being forcibly removed. Harjo recently taught at the University of
Tennessee in Knoxville, where she wrote the poems for her new book, including the line:
“I returned to see what I would find in these lands we were forced to leave behind.” JOY HARJO: I had come there, and we were living
up on a block that my great-great-great-great grandfather Monahwee, I knew he had stood
there when he used to go to Knoxville to steal horses. Well, he wasn’t really — they weren’t really
stealing them, because the horses were on stolen property. And I looked down into those beautiful trees,
toward those beautiful mountains, and said — asked — well, I heard my spirit ask: What
did you learn here? And that’s how it started. I know I came here with my dad. JEFFREY BROWN: In Oklahoma, Harjo took us
to the historic Creek Council House in Okmulgee, what became the capital of the displaced nation
in 1867. A plaque outside commemorates another distant
relative, Samuel Checote, who was born in Alabama and served as principal chief of the
Creek Nation here. This is a history that most people probably
don’t know. JOY HARJO: No, there’s… JEFFREY BROWN: The whole removal, the Trail
of Tears. JOY HARJO: No, usually I think most Americans
think the Trail of Tears is one trail, and it’s Cherokee. JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. JOY HARJO: But there were many trails of tears. Even the Navajo people had a trail of tears. And now there’s another trail of tears coming
up from the South. JEFFREY BROWN: So, you connect those — what’s
going on now at the border to… JOY HARJO: Definitely, because there was no
border before. It wasn’t that long ago, just a few generations. And this was the House of Warriors, which
is more like the — more like Congress. JEFFREY BROWN: There’s the continuity of history,
which we explored inside the council house, now a cultural center. JOY HARJO: He is probably one of the more
well-known Native poets of his time. He’s often published in some of the anthologies
of… JEFFREY BROWN: Is he going to be in yours? JOY HARJO: Yes, of course. JEFFREY BROWN: And there’s the world we live
in today, where Harjo has a residency in a Tulsa arts program and, among many other things,
is editing a new anthology of Native poets. You came of age at this moment of a very strong
Native political movement, right, of civil rights. JOY HARJO: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: And I wonder where are we now. JOY HARJO: Back to the beginning. (LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: Backwards? JOY HARJO: Yes. These times are very similar to the times
of Andrew Jackson, the times of Indian removal, with — where, you know, hatred, the utter
hatred of not everyone, not — it’s not everyone. In fact, I think those forces of hatred are
really a relatively small part of the population. But whatever this force is, it’s the same
force that said Natives weren’t human. It’s the same force that came in and said,
well, you are more powerful if you have more money than anyone else, or that you’re more
powerful if you have light skin, or you’re more powerful if you’re male. There’s something about that that’s destructive
to everyone, because we were all created by a creator who loved us. JEFFREY BROWN: Native rights, women’s rights,
poetry, music, which she didn’t take up seriously until her 40s, and a sense of history. JOY HARJO: History is people. History is stories. It’s poetry. And that’s what I love about poetry, and that’s
how poetry teaches me. Poetry has taught me that you can time-travel
in a poem. You can get to know people in a poem. And poetry is the place you can come to when
you have no words. JEFFREY BROWN: And when the performance is
over, the sax-playing, history-seeking poet laureate relaxes by shaking it all out on
the dance floor. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jeffrey Brown
in Tulsa, Oklahoma. AMNA NAWAZ: Artist Toyin Ojih Odutola is best
known for her detailed portraits, mainly done in black pen ink. And she’s the subject of this week’s Brief
But Spectacular. The Nigerian-born artist recounts her family’s
relocation to the American South and how tradition and identity has seeped into her work. Tonight’s piece is also part of our ongoing
Canvas series. TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA, Artist: I always like
to put people in positions that look very awkward, and look like they’re about to do
something or they just did something, so there’s nothing to pin them down. You don’t quite know where they’re going to
go. That’s my way of fighting that expectation
that people have about blackness, about black people and black stories. As a black person, I’m trying to play with
that and play with our own expectations within our community about what we can do and how
we can look and what stories we should tell. I was born in Ife, Nigeria, came to the U.S.
at a young age, and found my way to the South, which, depending on who you ask, can be a
tragedy or the best thing that ever happened to me. It was definitely a culture shock. And I was a new thing in my school, and I
was different and foreign. And even amongst kids that looked very similar
to me, there was a difference or an otherness that they didn’t want to interact with. I remember my mom was pretty worried, so she
got me a coloring book of my favorite character from “The Lion King” called Timon. And so I remember her, like, showing it to
me just before we left, and was like, “Do what you can.” I discovered drawing, and so that became this
other world that I could get lost into. When I got into portraiture, it was simply
because I wanted to see not just myself, but people like me. And then, as I got older, it became more about
just stories. When you’re an artist of color in particular,
people tend to be very biographical. Like, they like to have the biography come
in front of the content, instead of actually seeing what you did. Having characters kind of frees me from that
obfuscation, and people can actually engage with the picture and the story that I’m trying
to tell. When people say black experience, they are
often looking outside in. I can’t change this. So, how do I get people to understand what
it feels like to be in something you can’t control, and yet, systematically, you’re being
treated a certain way because of that? So the only way I could see myself fighting
that was to make it a topography, to make it a landscape. And, through that, people can actually traverse
it and understand. For me, drawing made my world less small. And so, in my act of drawing and creating
drawings, I hope to make the world less small for other people. My name is Toyin Ojih Odutola, and this is
my Brief But Spectacular take on having a vivid imagination. AMNA NAWAZ: And you can find additional Brief
But Spectacular episodes on our Web site. That’s PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. On the “NewsHour” online right now: There
have been three — rather, 530 probable or confirmed cases of a lung illness tied to
vaping e-cigarettes — that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
— and a new eighth death linked to vaping today. We recently asked our audience to share their
questions about the disease. And now we’re sharing answers. Those are from the FDA and the American Lung
Association. That’s on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Amna Nawaz. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.

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