tv PBS News Hour PBS December 26, 2014 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: it was a banner year for mergers and markets, the biggest since the financial crisis. but is bigger really better for companies, and shareholders? a look at the year's dizzying cycle of deal-making. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. also ahead: at harvard, using new technology to restore faded rothko masterpieces to their former crimson glory. >> he really wanted you to be up close and surrounded by his work so that you could feel the painting. >> woodruff: and it's friday. mark shields and michael gerson are here to analyze the week's news. those are some of the stories
we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: friends and relatives lined up this afternoon at the wake for a new york city policeman, rafael ramos. he was one of two officers shot dead last saturday by a gunman, who then killed himself. hundreds turned out at a church in queens, a day before the ramos funeral. at the same time, a spontaneous memorial of flowers and candles kept growing at the site of the shootings in brooklyn. meanwhile, in oakland, california, christmas night protests over recent police killings of black suspects turned violent. a crowd smashed windows and even wrecked a public christmas tree. in syria, there's new word of government air strikes that killed more than 50 people in the last two days. activists and witnesses report
war planes and helicopters dropped barrel bombs on two towns near the key city of aleppo. the aerial assault hit residential and industrial targets in both towns, now held by islamic state fighters. in addition to the dead, at least 175 people were wounded. nations all around the rim of the indian ocean marked 10 years today since the tsunami that left almost 230,000 people dead. survivors and relatives of the victims gathered at services from indonesia to india. jackie long of independent television news reports. >> reporter: a gentle smattering of flowers, quiet remembrance in indonesia for the day the tsunami struck. the devastating effects of the wave that day touched countries across the indian ocean and beyond. indonesia suffered the highest number of causalities.
this is aceh province, one of the worst-hit areas of the country. today in banda aceh in indonesia, the message is a simple one. "thanks to the world", they say. 35 countries helped in the rescue and rebuilding operation in indonesia alone. the ocean queen express heads along the coastline south of colombo in sri lanka, a potent symbol of this country's attempts to move on. 1,000 passengers were killed when the tsunami ripped the train from the tracks ten years ago. for some, rebuilding their lives has been more of a struggle. ramachandran, a fisherman in a coastal town in tamil nadu in india, lost five members of his family. much has been done to make the area safer should another tsunami hit, but he says the people still live in fear.
>> ( translated ): now things are normal, but never know when it will come again. even though they put these stones here to stop the water from coming in, we are brave to still live here on the coast. >> reporter: a police boat swept a mile inland by the tsunami was the focal point for official commemorations in thailand. nearly five and a half thousand people were killed here, half of them foreign tourists. but away from the speeches, on the sands of beaches where so many died, relatives and friends paid their own tributes, making sure the memories of their loved ones will never disappear. >> woodruff: the tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in recent history. the ukrainian government and pro-russian separatists began a major prisoner swap today, involving some 370 soldiers and rebels. the exchange near the rebel-held city of donetsk was the biggest since fighting began in eastern
ukraine, earlier this year. a september cease-fire largely failed, but the level fighting has slackened in recent weeks. nato has condemned russian intervention in ukraine, but today, the kremlin struck back. president vladimir putin approved a new military doctrine that names the western alliance as the number one military threat to russia. the change came as putin's government is battling an economic slowdown brought on in part by western sanctions over ukraine. back in this country, wall street closed out christmas week with new highs. the dow jones industrial average gained 23 points to close at a record 18,053. the nasdaq rose 33 points to close near 4,807, it's best finish since march of 2000. and the s&p added almost 7, to finish at 2,088-- also a record.
still to come on the newshour: a booming year for the stock market and mega-mergers. deteriorating conditions for people in territory controlled by the islamic state. medicaid expansion under the affordable care act and the financial health of hospitals. how conservationists are shining new light on irreplaceable art. mark shields and david gerson on the week's news. and, a cartoonist tackles a more serious subject-- caring for aging parents. >> woodruff: with less than a week to go, the dow jones average may be poised to finish the year at a record high. other stock indexes are also back to high levels. but that's not all. 2014 has turned out to be the biggest year for multi-billion dollar mergers and aquistions since the financial crisis hit.
hari sreenivasan has the story. >> sreenivasan: more than $3 trillion in deals worldwide have been announced this year, many of them including american companies. there have been some enormous ones in the pharmaceutical world. drugmaker actavis is buying the manufacturer of botox, allergan, for $66 billion. there are more than $400 billion of announced deals in the health care sector overall. media megadeals were a part of the boom too. comcast will pay $45 billion for time warner cable, if regulators approve it. what's behind the frenzy? and what kind of impact do these deals have on the companies, employees and the economy historically? for that, we turn to andrew ross sorkin, he co-hosts squawk box on cnbc and is a columnist for the "new york times" and editor at large of its dealbook section. so, andrew, what's behind up a these mergers and acquisitions this year? >> well, what's behind these deals is actually what's behind the market which is confidence. mergers and acquisitions happen
to be probably one to have the better barometers of confidence, not so much in the market itself, but also the boardroom and corner offices of the businesses. c.e.o.s feel better about their businesses. proversely, they don't do deals when they should when the market is low, but when the market is better, they feel better about their own condition. it's a quick way to add revenue when a lot of businesses are struggling to grow unto themselves so they go out and buy. there are remarkably low interest rates now, cash on the balance sheet. you mentioned the pharmaceutical deals, a lot were driven by a tax inversion, this idea that you could go effectively change your headquarters abroad. now the treasury department and the obama administration have tried to prevent that, but those were some of the things that came together this year that pushed so many of these deals across the finish line. >> sreenivasan: is it the board of directors look at the cheap cash or debt and look at the big stock price so they
almost have more currency to make the acquisitions? >> that's what traditionally happens. you have a lot of cash on the balance sheet. you think to your is, what can i do? can i build a new -- if i build a new factory on my own, will that help? or could i go buy that business over there, would that help me? and, by the way, would that help me sooner? one of the things that happens in all of these transactions is you always hear the word synergy or rationalization. so the bad news is that traditionally what that means is somebody's liesing their job. they're trying to save money and create additional profits and the way they do that obviously is by merging these two businesses together and squeezing by removing the jobs that overlap. >> sreenivasan: in the shortly term when we see the price bump on the company about to get bought, historically do mergers make sense because on the flip side a lot of the mergers start to dissolve. >> you are hitting the nail on the head.
at least 50% of transactions, big mergers like, this fail, and some spectacularly. academic literature suggest that keels deals unto themselves are not a panacea and, in fact, oneo the things we're seeing this year is the breakup of many companies. hewlett packard which merged a decade ago is splitting up, ebay is splitting up. the breakups create more value over time than the mergers themselves. >> sreenivasan: what's the role of activist investors? what are they doing and does that increase or decrease this flee of mergers and acquisitions? >> you've also hit on another major trend this year that's really changing the dynamic inside the boardrooms of so many of these companies. now that there are so many activist investors putting pressure on boards and c.e.o.s
for profits and sometimes frankly quick profits. the boards and companies are looking to do deals in part to answer that out of fear frankly that their jobs could be on the line because these actavis investors could mount proxy contest to kick them out, leading to some of the breakups of the companies with pressure from the activists who have become more involved that be before. a lot of the folks are scared. by the way, making a deal creates a honeymoon period, a 12 to 24-month period where they can look at the investor and say we're doing something, give us a little bit of time. >> sreenivasan: okay. how about all the deals aren't actually going through, in the sense that i remember rupert murdoch wanted to make a play for time warner or softbank was interested in team mobile but got spooked by regulators -- >> the other major trend of 2014 has been the regulators and the change in washington which has
been more reticent about transactions. we're waiting to see whether a number of deals will cross that finish line. other deals have been held up. you have folks like rupert murdoch, the 20th century fox corporation going after time warner, that not going through because they withdraw the offer, but a number of pharmaceutical deals led by the tax inversion, the idea they could change their headquarters and created another citizenship in another country, some of these deals have blown up because the regulators said we're not allowing that to happen. >> sreenivasan: andrew ross sorkin, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, happy holidays. >> woodruff: we return to iraq and syria where the brutal advance by the islamic state has been at least partially checked in both countries. >> reporter: the nearly-five-
month-long u.s. and allied bombing campaign against the islamic state group continued yesterday and today, with 39 airstrikes in syria and iraq. the strikes came across a large swath of territory held or under attack by the faction also called isis or isil, two days after the group captured a jordanian pilot whose fighter jet crashed in islamic state controlled territory. today's attacks went from kobane, syria, through the group's makeshift capital in raqqa, on to sinjar, iraq, near kirkuk, and in mosul, iraq's second-largest city. and a prize the group took in june, forcing out the iraqi army while barely firing a shot. on wednesday gwen ifill spoke with jurgen todenhoffer, a german author and former lawmaker who'd recently spent ten days within the islamic state area of control.
>> ifill: you spent time in iraq and in syria, in raqqa and in mosul. was there a difference in what you saw in those two places? >> here, i only can give an impression. i had the impression that, in mosul, their support is stronger, and that in raqqa, bashar al-assad is still at least as strong as i.s. he is still playing, paying salaries to his people in raqqa and it seems to work. >> ifill: so, what were your impressions about how strong isis is? there is some debate here and around the world about the scope of the islamic state forces, whether it functions as a government, whether it has a justice system and what its ultimate goal is. what impressions did you take away? >> i got the impression that i.s. is much stronger than our western politicians think.
>> woodruff: reporter: the group's military strength has been matched by an online media onslaught. its now-infamous films showing its grisly murders of iraqi and syrian soldiers, western journalists and aid workers, are paired with videos showcasing an idyllic life under its control, marketplaces flush with goods, children eating ice cream in parks. but that idealized portrait is at odds with reality, according to an article in today's "washington post." it describes failing infrastructure, power cuts, skyrocketing prices for sparse goods, and hunger. >> woodruff: and that article was written by liz sly, the washington posts' bureau chief in lebanon. i spoke to her a short while ago. she is in england right now, where i spoke to her just a short while ago via skype. and a note, the noise you hear during the interview was a small glitch with her computer. liz sly, thank you for talking with us. your article describes collapsing government services, people living in miserable, even
unsafe conditions. fill out the picture for us. >> well, yes, for a long time i think the islamic state has made it part of their reputation, not only are they a fighting force but they also deliver this great government. i set out to find out how they do that. what i found out from the speak i spoke to is they're not really delivering governments or services. sevens are being delivered are coming from government workers who are still receiving salaries and doing what they can under very difficult circumstances but they're being paid by the government, not by the islamic state, and there's a little bit of western aid getting in. but really people are starting to suffer a lot from shortages of medicine, unsanitary water, a lack of food, very high prices and very, very little help reaching them. >> reporter: and you describe victim rules being imposed? at one point you wrote about hospital workers at a meeting
and they were detained because a couple were smoking? >> it's one thing to impose strict rules. it's another thing to actually make society work. they are continuing to impose very strict rules. people are being executed for cursing guards, detained for smoking. but society as we normally think of it is mott actually functioning. >> woodruff: we have just been talking about the reporting done by a german journalist who wrote, of all the insurgent groups he's seen, he thinks islamic state is the most determined, the most effective, the strongest. this is a very different picture, isn't it? >> well, i'm not sure it's an entirely different picture. i've seen his reporting, i've seen his conclusions. i don't think this means they will be defeated militarily soon. i wasn't looking at the military aspect of their structure and organization, i was looking at ability to deliver on the ground government for the people who they claim to be ruling in the
name of islam. they are not delivering that government. i still think they have a fighting force that they are militarily capable. but there are no alternatives from the ground. the fact that the government is sustaining, i don't think they necessarily will be defeated in the short term under current circumstances. but in the long term, i questions about how sustainable they are and in the long run people will start to turn against them. >> woodruff: you write about the morale among some of the fighters. you say it's starting to slide. what did you find about that? >> that's another interesting aspect. i think we're only starting to see right now which is that we're starting to get the support of fighters on the ground not being necessarily happy. i have heard a number of anecdotes of fighters who are trying to leave, who find it hard to leave because they confiscate your passports and
identity documents whether syrian, iraqi or foreign fighter. it's not easy to leave, but i've heard of people trying to leave and people trying to swap documents with offer syrians so they can get out of the country using those documents. we've also heard of a new police force set up to go around and detain fighters who are shirking duties and hiding at home. so i also think that things might not be entirely good on the military side as well. >> woodruff: and just finally, you feel confident about your sources for this? >> well, yes. you can meet people who live there very easily. you can go to turkey. people travel back and forth. people come for medical treatment. they have relatives there. the only coming out of the islamic state state are coming from tooky. you can talk about people with direct experience of delivering governance in those areas. they didn't want identities disclosed because that's very dangerous for them. but i talked to a lot of people
and build up a very clear picture not being as rosy in the islamic state ag as they portray it to be. >> woodruff: liz sly reporting for "the washington post." we thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: the white house said this week that more than 6.4 million people have signed up for health insurance plans through the affordable care act's federal marketplace so far during this year's open enrollment season. but even more people, nine million plus, have gotten covered by medicaid in recent months. and the decision by states whether or not to expand the federal-state program for the poor and disabled is having a serious effect on the financial health of hospitals. sarah varney, from our partner, kaiser health news, has the story. a steady drizzle hasn't deterred jason riten from coming
to this clinic in south seattle to see if he qualified for apple health, washington's popular medicaid program. >> you don't have any medical insurance, right? >> no. and how about dental? no. dental or medical in. ne. >> reporter: he's gone without health insurance for 16 years. >> you have proof for the washington program. >> okay. >> reporter: he can come to this neighbor care health clinic instead of an emergency room to see a physician. it's his first insured primary care checkup since becoming an adult. >> take breaths in and out and relax. >> reporter: medicaid had long been restricted mostly to poor children, women and the disabled. under the affordable care act, they could open up their program to nearly all poor adults. 27 states and the district of columbia accepted the federal funds to do so. the state of washington took up the cause for the mission-like zeal. king county officials worked closely with community partners to put advertisements and
enrollment helpers in the place visited by the working poor. like libraries. bus stations. courts. food banks. even restaurants. >> we want everyone in our county to have -- >> reporter: washington blew past medicaid enrollment target it didn't expect to reach tim 2017. the county acted quickly because it could no longer bear the cost of so many uninsured residents. >> the cost in absenteeism in work, in days missed at school and it costs us on our healthcare bills. it is irrational, and the a.c.a. presented us an opportunity to have a more rational system and we took it. >> reporter: the efforts to sign u up washington residents r medicaid has been a boon at hospitals. the percentage of uninsured patients at this hopped has dropped from 14% to 4%.
under the affordable care act, most people who walk through harborview's doors are eligible for some form of insurance. in the past, harborview would have treated uninsured patients and been stuck with the bill. harborview provided $220 million in uncompensated or charity care last year. the federal government helped care some of the costs since hospitals can't turn patients away from the e.r. due during associations over the health law, hospitals took a big gamble and agreed to staggering cuts in federal uncompensated care payments with the expectation they would soon have millions of new medicaid customers. for hospitals who expanded medicaid the bet paid off. >> we anticipate our numbers for charity care this year will reduce 20 million to 30 million and as we continue to get more patients signed up we see that
flattening. >> reporter: moving medicaid patients away from expensive emergency care to primary care clinics is another way the hospital is trying to save money. seattle resident zoe azalea says it is a change that has helped her take control of her health again. for three years, the former nurse relied on yoga in the park as one of her only means of dealing with crippling pain. accidents caused her to lose work and she lost health insurance. the results were devastating. >> i wasn't able to use this hand or grip. i couldn't even pick up a water bottle. >> reporter: a social worker called azalea at home and urged her to enroll in apple health. now that she has her medicaid card she has been able to get physical and occupational therapy and see specialists including a spine doctor. dr. richard goss is the medical director at harborview and hid insured patients get better access to medical care than
uninsured ones. >> over the many years i've worked here i've seen all too many scenarios where people present with cancer, advanced heart disease or lung disease or strokes and they'd gone for many years without access to care. when there's basic healthcare coverage, so many more doors are open. >> reporter: across the nation, hospitals in states that expanded medicaid recorded sharp declines in uninsured admissions, 30% in the first quarter of 2014, and 50 to 70% in the second quarter. unpaid hospital bills are expected to fall by $4.2 billion this year in states that allowed poor adults into medicaid and states that didn't the drop is expected to be 1.5 billion, mostly from people who bought private coverage in the n market places. >> when the law passed and the hospitals signed on for these
cards, medicaid expansion was expected to be mandatory in every state. of course, that changed when the supreme court made maictd expansion optional and the hospitals are really the ones caught in the crosshairs of that decision. >> reporter: pierson says it's a precarious time for hospitals because of the cuts for coral the uninsured they agreed to when the affordable care act was being debated. >> some of these hospitals may end up in the red as a result of failure to expand medicaid and they eve cut growth each year so if problem will get worse over time. >> reporter: here in winchester, virginia, in the shenandoah valley, the local hospitals here are already beginning to feel the federal cuts. the percentage of uninsured residents have declined very little. virginia's republican-controlled legislature has rejected pleas by the state hospital association to expand medicaid, leaving hospitals like winchester medical center run by valley health system facing double jeopardy. >> diabetes. yes.
high blood pressure. yes. high cholesterol. yes. >> reporter: valley health laid off 28 people and is looking at costly services like trauma centers that treat people after car accidents and other serious injuries. mark marrow is the c.e.o. of valley health. >> that's expensive endeavors and a and we have to evaluate te programs we can sustain. there is a need tore trauma services here but if we can't sustain them we have to evaluate whether or not we can continue them. >> reporter: merrow and other hospital executives said it could lead to a new type of two-tiered system in hospitals, between those able to maintain robust services in states like washington and those like virginia sliding into greater financial uncertainty. i'm sarah varney in winchester, virginia, for the pbs "newshour".
>> woodruff: now, an art restoration breakthrough. an international team of art historians and curators have developed a new technique to restore works of art without ever touching them. it's being used for the first time on a mark rothko mural. jared bowen from wgbh in boston has this report. >> even in 1960, it was a coup, when harvard university landed mark rothko to paint a series of new murals for its new penthouse dining room. roth coe is already considered one of the world's greatest artist and this was to be one of his biggest commissions. >> he wanted you to be up close and su surrounded by his work to feel the painting. >> he developed five pables and they're on view in the harvard art museum's first special
exhibition. they were robustly read says curator. >> we have been focusing on these kind of purples and crimson, as we like to say, of course, at harvard. the ground of crimson or purple is then set off with these extraordinary contrasts of this red that is just incredible. as you look at any of his paintings, the play of color and contrast blending and then working against and with each other has always been essential to his work. >> the panels were officially installed in 1964 but were in steep competition with the rooms harvard yard views. the penthouse shades were rarely drawn and the light-sensitive murals suffered substantial damage. >> as the sun would traverse the sky, the paintings became faded and in an uneven way because of the geometry of the room so some parts were shadowed, some parts received more sunlight. the paintings changed so what started off as a unified whole
slowly drifted apart. >> by 1979, harvard realize they were damaged and removed them. the three painted by rot rothkoe put in storage. >> it's been sad that this extraordinary work of art has not been included in the art history of rothko, so we've brought the works back to a place to study them and recognize the achievement. >> reporter: 35 years after removal, rothko's murals are once again on view hung in the same configuration in a room with the same dimensions and against walls painted the same olive mustard rothko himself chose. >> this brings him back and puts them in the middle of his entire history in a major way. >> reporter: but they had to be hung without touching
canvasses sites narayan khandekar. rothko mixed his own paint making touchups difficult. >> he used a medium which gives a porous surface and if you put a varnish over that it would change the color relationships. everything that we do as a conservation has to be restorable. >> reporter: how to restore the rothkos to original glory without touching? they collaborated with conservation teams from m.i.t. and universities in switzerland. they represented the paintics pixel by pixel and color by color. >> we had access to a panel
shipped to cambridge which had unfaded sections and were able to use those to make the final adjustments on the digital image of what the paintings looked like. >> reporter: the digital recreation is projected with non-threatening low light on to the canvas. >> we have to calculate the color and the intens intensity h to have the pixels and shine it in exactly the right spot. the color on the painting cross the compensation image gives the individual the impression of what the paintings looked like in 1964. we're confident we're as close as can be for the project. >> reporter: the technology is a game changer but also raises questions about whether conservation in the digital age fundamentally changes the art. rothko's color is back but not by his own hand. >> one of the key questions is where is the line between the original work of art and the art that has the projection system on it. i mean, have we changed what he
has done? no, we haven't changed his canvass. >> reporter: but they have changed the possibility the damaged masterpieces the world over can once again see the light of day with the elaborately con figured light of a projector. jared bowen for the "newshour" in boston. >> woodruff: the news this holiday week was not exactly peace on earth. new york city is mourning two assassinated police officers and sony released its controversial film "the interview". for our friday news roundup, we are joined by syndicated columnist mark shields and "washington post" columnist michael gerson. david brooks is away. happy holidays to both of you. >> likewise. >> woodruff: as we say, mark, the news is kind of tough. let's talk about sony first. they went ahead and released this picture, after all, online streaming as well as in the theaters.
the expectation is there are going to be more cyberattacks like the one on sony. has the u.s. handled this the right way and what's been learned, do you think? >> you know, i think the president handled it right in his press conference i thought by saying it was an act of vandalism rather than terrorism because if it's an act of terrorism then it rises to the level of national security and that there has to be an american governmental response. judy, it is really difficult to generate enormous sympathy for sony in this. they are not an admiral corporate character, and they've hardly handled themselves that way. the fact that north korea is the heavy in the piece and deservedly so, i just think that we are seeing only the edges of
what cybersecurity involves. the f.b.i. director said in october there are two kinds of big companies in america, those that have been hacked by the chinese and those that don't know they have been hacked by the chinese. >> woodruff: by the chinese. yeah, and i think north korea is a secondary or tertiary player in this whole drama. but this is the new reality. >> woodruff: but they still were able to bull this off. michael, lessons learned? >> it highlighted a few things. one is the role to hav of the n. an organization reviled by snowden and rand paul and others but it's our front line of defense when it comes to these issues. they are heavily involved in this case. so i think this is an important part of our national defense that we need to take seriously. i also think that we've missed the important emphasis this last week was in the u.n. security council in exposing north korea not in a screw ball comedy but a
major report and a security council session where samantha powers laid out a case against north korea, hundreds of thous thousands of people, systematic rape and torture, an unbelievable circumstance that deserves a lot more attention than it receives and i'm afraid continue varies on the move where -- controversy may have distracted from the real needs. >> woodruff: it almost got overlooked. >> the n.s.a. has been playing offense for a long time. so we are aware that we have not been missing in this action. just check mrs. merkel's phone records, if nothing else. >> woodruff: well, the north korean internet went down but only for nine or ten hours and back up again. >> it's not a highly-wired society. it had no effect on north korea.
>> woodruff: the other story we're covering today is the funeral of the new york city police officer who was killed -- assassinated sitting in a patrol car last weekend. mark, this comes as there have been protests around the country about the killing of young unarmed black men. i guess my question is, is this a conversation that's shifted this week because of what happened to those police officers? and how do we as a country make any progress on this issue? it feels like we're stuck on this. >> to answer your first question, yes, there's no question it changed. there's a sense of urgency. what had been seemingly a pattern of tragedies and the different circumstances in staten island, cleveland being different from ferguson. but a pattern that was nonetheless disturbing.
this was an act of blatant assassination and people -- because they were police officers. and i think, jude y, it forces us to confront it. so many of us felt, after president barack obama's election in 2008, and even more so after his reelection in 2012, that we reached a watershed in racial relations in this country that somehow we'd gone beyond the original sin of slavery and racism and all the rest of it and now we would act like a happy, whole society. you know, the numbers are terribly daunting. this recession has hit african-americans, non-white, non-hispanic non-whites harder than anybody else. we know what we don't need to do and that is to ignore the issue, and we don't need to in any way turn our back on the fact that 93% of african-american children go to public schools, and as
senator john mccain said, i think wisely, there's no reason in the world to pay a bad congressman more than a good teacher. and i think the last thing in the world we can do is turn our back on public education in this country and concentrate our efforts and attention. >> woodruff:. >> reporter: what we should be thinking more about, economic and education? >> no, i agree with that, but there is a large policing issue here, and one of the main difficulties, we've had large shifts of way race is viewed in america, there are generational shifts, one in 12 marriages is now an interracial marriage in america and that will shift opinion over time. but there are fund mental disagreements about the way the criminal justice system is viewed by whites and blacks in america. this is largely a municipal issue, not a national issue. a place like st. louis, my home towrntion has not done it well. that i have not built trust. they have municipalities dependent on ticket revenue, a
history of racial and class profiling the way tickets are done. it's perceived as harassment. then when a crisis comes, there's no trust. there's no resources of trust to build on. you look at a place like los angeles which had huge problems in conflict between the community and police but had gotten better in the last decade. they now have a police force very closely representative of the racial composition of los angeles, a lot of trust built up over time. it's possible to make those kinds of changes. >> they've worked at it. have and had good leadership. but it takes a lot of intentional effort to build that trust. >> woodruff: i mean, do you see any signs that's happening, mark? we've had these conversations, then the shooting like that what happened in new york. >> any number of topics can be discussed at any time in america and this has forced us to
address the issue. you can make the decision to look at it briefly and then move away or it can be central to the 2016 debate. i mean, rand paul, in another context, he has been another vocal and visible and as the former democratic senator of virginia had been of people who had been convicted of a crime and winning back the right to vote and have employment. i think the assassination of the police officers is not comparable but directs the attention like the attack of the dogs in the civil rights movement. you can't turn away from it and those funerals an those families and say this is just a sirnl problem, a minor problem, we should discuss whether to cut the capital gains tax instead. >> woodruff: i do want to raise with you all something
else we are watching as we come. we're just days away from the end of the year. it was only seven weeks ago that we had mid-term elections, president obama seemed like he was back on his heels, couldn't get anything done. but then in the course of seven weeks, immigration reform initiative, he moved on climate change, environmental agreement with the chinese, and then just in the last few days the announcement about normalizing relations with cuba, and then there was a poll that came out just a day or so ago, cnn shows the president's approval rating, actually up only four points, but it's gone up. so what's the deal? what is the story? as we head into the seventh year of his presidency, ho how do you see the balance of power between him and congress? >> i think you have to start by saying that the press narrative of the president's irrelevance was always absurd. the united states president is
never irrelevant. he has the ability to do things. george w. bush at the low point of his approval in his second term did the iraq surg. i mean, historically quite important. presidents have the power to do this and can. the real question is whether we now in this fairly short legislative window at the beginning to have the new congress, before we get into the 2016 debate where really all the legislative action is overwhelmed, is it possible to make some progress here? a lot of that depends on what republicans do, whether they decide they want to pursue a positive, inc. mental agenda even if vetoed by the president that shows what their values are or whether they want catastrophic, cataclysmic conflict over budget and immigration and other issues, you know, up or down votes on major issues like that. that's a different approach, a different strategy. i think republicans are going to need to be more incremental, more hopeful, more positive, more policy-oriented in this
period in order to set up their candidates. >> woodruff: how do you see the balance? >> i think there's been a change in balance. even president obama's great admirers felt he was enduring the office rather than exhilarating in it, and every discussion or decision was calibrated of how is it going to affect the louisiana race, arkansas, alaska. in a strange way, it's been liberated, in a sense, sadly by the defeat of the four democrats, at least to him. he feels reenergized and certainly the audacity is back in the litany of the things that he's done. in addition to that, the republicans find themselves in a very difficult position. reminds me of when ronald reagan was in office in 1986 and democrats immediately in charge.
ronald reagan cleared everything. jim wright, democratic majority leader, said you can't have it both ways. you can't say reagan for six years didn't know what time it was, what day it was and now he's the diabolical mastermind. the republicans have obama clark cacharacterized as one who is to strong, overmuscular. so we have to decide which obama they're going after. >> woodruff: you have ten seconds to tell me which obama they're going after. >> there are divisions on the left that the anti-wall street wing could play out as well. both sides have their own internal divisions. >> woodruff: glad no divisions here. well, some. thank you both. >> thank you.
>> woodruff: finally tonight, a brutally honest, but funny, portrait of caring for elderly parents. jeffrey brown has that. >> brown: the abduredties, horrors, comedies, most of all perhaps the anxieties of everyday life. these new yorker covers could only have been drawn by long-time staff cartoonist roz chast. she grew up in brooklyn in flatbush. her dad was an assistant school principal and her mom a high school teacher. author of several books this year chast tackled an uncomfortable subject but one shared by many. can't we talk about something more pleasant, a memoir about the last few years of her parents' lives. it was a finalist for the national book award. the first time a cartoonist nominated in the non-fiction category. i talked with chast recently at
the miami book fair and asked how this book came to be. >> i think i have a habit of, in my head, taking notes on whatever, you know, whether they're verbal or pictorial or just making a note of things as they're happening and, at some point, i think it started to dawn on me that there was actually a story here that i wanted to put on paper. >> brown: is that the way you work normally? what kind of notes? what would they look like? what would they say? >> a lot of -- well, there would be drawings and notes, and the material for this book, a lot of it -- some of it was cartoons that i had submitted as just part of my regular weekly submission. the oven mitt story was something that i had visited my parents, and i picked up an oven mitt in my parents' apartment and said, you know, why do you have this? it's disgusting. it's greedy.
it's filthy. it's burned. it has patches on it. why are you patching an oven mitt, mom? then i looked at the patches and i realized the material from the patches came from a skirt that i had sewn in, like, 7th grade home economics class and she probably had that skirt someplace as well. it was very typical of my parents. >> brown: i know. we've come to realize that is very typical. >> yes. >> brown: they're horders. they keep everything. >> they keep everything. they can't throw anything away. this is a habit from them having grown up poor. they were children of russian immigrants and also they graduated from college into the depression and i think those sort of scrimpy habits continued throughout their lives. >> brown: your work is often very personal. >> yes. >> brown: did this take you into some deeper realm? >> yes, this was probably the
most personal thing i've ever done. i think with my cartoons, the parent figures are my own archetypes of parents and they're taken from my parents, parents i've read about, dreamed about and made up. it's a mishmash. except in the case of the oven mitt story which is actually true. but in this case, the people i was writing about were actually them. >> brown: and that meant what for you? >> let's put it this way, i could have not written it until after they died. >> brown: which, of course, happens to all of us. >> yes, of course. >> brown: and so many people connect with watching a parent, in some cases, live on too long, if that's okay to say. >> yes. it's not just if it happens to your parents, it also will happen to us. >> brown: yes. i know.
i forget that most of the time. >> brown: but you must have people coming up to you all the time and saying, you told my story. >> yeah, much more so than i expected. >> brown: yeah. i've gotten many, many letters from people who have said, you know, do you live in my house. you know, this is exactly my story. i thought i was the only one who went through this. >> brown: speaking of living in your house, since we've known each other a long time, i moved into your apartment in brooklyn and i only bring that up because it's part of the story here. you moved to connecticut. >> yes. >> brown: and that meant moving away from brooklyn where your parents were. >> yeah. >> brown: and that's one of the hinge points of the story, right? >> yeah. they were still living in the apartment where i grew up. we had moved in there in 1959, and they never budged. it was really an accumulation of 50 years of stuff and they never threw anything away.
ever. >> brown: eventually, you had to deal with it? >> yeah. yeah, it's really sad. it's kind of horrible. >> brown: you know what? everything about this is sad, and yet funny, right? >> yeah. >> brown: i mean, you're exploring both sides in your cartoon, in your book. >> there are funny things about it, yeah. >> brown: are you aware of the funny part as you're doing it or do you find the humor later? >> it really depends. sometimes -- you know, i think it's a lot of things. at the time, everything is extremely upsetting, and then you look back on it and it actually can be sort of funny. >> brown: where did this all leave you? was it -- i mean, the writing of it? was that cathartic? did it do anything for you? >> it's not cathartic. i didn't write it for catharsis. i think especially with my parents, i wanted to remember who they were. i wanted to remember all of it. i didn't want to purge myself of it. i wanted to remember it. i wanted to remember what they
sounded like and weird stuff like, you know, how they stood, their posture, the kinds of conversations they would have. i didn't want it to all become, you know, like all the edges sanded off and then it's just this kind of like, oh, yes, they got old and now i can't really remember anything about that time, you know. so i feel like i did write down and keep track of all of it. >> brown: all right, all in the book "can't we talk about something more pleasant." roz chast, a real pleasure to talk to you. >> you, too, thank you. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. hundreds of new yorkers turned out for the wake of a police officer, rafael ramos. he was one of two policemen murdered by a gunman last saturday. the ramos funeral is tomorrow. and more than a dozen nations around the indian ocean marked the tenth anniversary of the tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people. survivors and victims' relatives
attended memorial events from indonesia to india. on the newshour online right now, we revisit the musicians we listened to in 2014. from charles bradley to the beatles to melissa etheridge, get an earful on art beat. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. and a reminder about some upcoming programs from our pbs colleagues. gwen ifill is preparing for "washington week," which airs later this evening. here's a preview: >> ifill: from the streets of ferguson to the billion-dollar mid-term elections, from syria to ukraine to north korea, from congress to the supreme court to the white house, we take a special look at the year-end review tonight on "washington week." judy? >> woodruff: on tomorrow's edition of pbs newshour weekend. the latest installment in
special correspondent john larson's series "flying coach," which offers a different take on air travel-- the stories of people he encounters in coach class. tomorrow, john tells us the story of one woman's remarkable journey growing up in the south. and we'll be back, right here, on monday, with an interview with the assistant secretary of state about restablishing formal relations with cuba. that's the newshour for tonight, i'm judy woodruff. have a wonderful weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer.
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