tv PBS News Hour PBS August 13, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: on the newshour tonight, an explosion of seismic proportions in china. the aftermath of a toxic chemical catastrophe. >> ifill: a look inside syria. how the islamic state is using sex slavery as a recruitment tool. >> woodruff: plus, the front lines in the effort to stop the rapid spread of wildfires in the west, drought-stricken forests fuel the flames. >> it's like they're explosive. it's almost like they all catch fire at once. i've been a firefighter for almost 20 years, i've heard 30- year firefighters and 40-year firefighters say they've never seen this kind of fire behavior in their career. >> ifill: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
thank you. >> ifill: the death toll from stunning explosions in northeastern china rose to 50 today, and was expected to go higher. the blasts erupted last night in tianjin, at port facilities packed with petrochemicals. jonathan rugman of independent television news has this report. >> reporter: this was the warehouse district of tianjin, one of china's biggest ports in a country proud of being the manufacturing and export hub of the world. today, tianjin was exporting over 700 injured people to local hospitals. and the fires raging here are feared to be so toxic. that firefighters withdrew this afternoon to let them burn.
the first explosion happened just before midnight. one eyewitness said it sounded like the start of a war. the second was several times bigger. seismic monitors registered the detonation as the equivalent of a 2.9 earthquake. this industrial disaster in a city of 15 million people some of them living less than a mile away. china often tries to stifle bad news. but how to stifle this? when it's filmed on a mobile phone and posted online, this just a hundred miles from beijing itself.
i heard the explosion. i laid down immediately. the security bootd was destroyed completely. china's president has demanded any culprit be severely handled while the warehouse manager has been detained. troops trained to deal with chemical disasters have now been sent. >> ( translated ): we are facing a very complicated situation. we have a very short time the handle this accident. we want the prevent further loss before we are absolutely clear about materials in the explosion sight, we must be very prudent and cautious, so we asked the military for their help. 10 hospitals are treating the injured. 18 firefighters are reported missing. some 6,000 people have been evacuated. these extraordinary pictures suggest transparency rather than cover up. shipping containers crumpled
like used drinks cartons. the skeletons of hundreds of brand new cars in this the tenth biggest port in the world. but the august heat is intense here. and if chinese authorities fail to provide answers, local anger could soon boil over. >> ifill: chinese authorities did partially limit social media posts about the explosions. and, they warned there would be zero tolerance for creating rumors. >> woodruff: the other story today out of china was their move to ease fears that the value of their currency could drop even more. the yuan has fallen nearly 3% this week, roiling world financial markets. but china's central bank dismissed talk that it might allow a 10% decline. a top official said, "this is sheer nonsense. it is totally unfounded." >> ifill: the greek parliament moved tonight to push a formal bailout agreement through parliament. lawmakers spent hours debating a
rescue package worth about $93 billion. it mandates unpopular new austerity measures, including more spending cuts and tax hikes. the ruling syriza party has faced a rebellion in its ranks, and it's relying on opposition support to approve the deal. >> woodruff: iraq today strongly criticized general ray odierno, the retiring chief of the u.s. army, for suggesting the country may have to be divided. a spokesman for prime minister haider al-abadi called the general's comment irresponsible. odierno was asked about the iraqi situation yesterday, at his final pentagon news conference. >> i think there might be some alternative solutions that might have to come into this sometime in the future, where iraq might not look like it did in the past. it might be the only solution, but i'm not ready to say that yet. >> woodruff: chunks of iraq are already controlled by islamic state militants, kurds and shiites.
and today, an islamic state bombing in baghdad killed dozens of people. we'll have a full report, after the news summary. >> ifill: back in this country, the supreme court of connecticut has ordered an end to executions. that decision today spared the lives of the 11 inmates still on the state's death row. they were sentenced in advance of a 2012 law that abolished capital punishment. the court ruled, 4 to 3, that carrying out those executions now would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. >> woodruff: u.s. customs officials returned a stolen picasso to french hands today, more than a decade after it was stolen in paris. the work, known in english as "the hairdresser," is valued at $15 million. customs agents recovered it in december, and their director handed it over today, in a ceremony at the french embassy in washington. >> while we recognize that there is certainly a value that's been attached to this particular
painting, we take pride in the fact that art like this is truly priceless. and we're so glad that it's going to be shown to the world again. >> woodruff: the painting was found in a package shipped from belgium to new jersey. the shipping label described it as a handicraft worth $37. so far, no one's been arrested. >> ifill: sightings of drones by airline pilots and others have more than doubled in the last year. the federal aviation administration says it's received more than 650 reports this year. some of the drones were spotted as high as 10,000 feet. just yesterday, a med-evac helicopter, with a patient on board, had to dodge a drone near fresno, california. >> i think people just need to remember that we're up in the air as well. it's not a toy that they're flying around, you know, it's up in our space, and if it were to contact the aircraft, it would create a pretty catastrophic situation. >> ifill: also this week, four commercial flights spotted
drones nearby, as they came in to land at newark-liberty international airport in new jersey. >> woodruff: wall street spent the day looking for direction, but didn't find much. the dow jones industrial average gained 5 points to close near 17,410. while the nasdaq fell about 11 points, and the s&p 500 slipped 2. >> ifill: after 45 years, the pbs mainstay "sesame street" is getting a new partner-- hbo. the producers of the iconic children's program announced the five-year deal today. it calls for new episodes to air first on hbo and then, nine months later, on pbs stations. >> woodruff: and, it's confirmed: president warren g. harding did, indeed, have a daughter out of wedlock. "the new york times" reports d.n.a testing now proves the 29th president fathered a child by a mistress, nan britton, before he was elected. the daughter, elizabeth ann blaesing, died in 2005.
>> ifill: still to come on the newshour: the fight to take down the islamic state and stop sex slavery. the damage done by wildfires in the west. and much more. >> woodruff: the fight against the islamic state hit another setback today, as the extremist group claimed responsibility for the deaths of more than 60 people in a baghdad truck bombing. it's one of the deadliest attacks in the iraqi capital in years. just after dawn, a truck bomb ripped through the jameela food market in the mainly shiite neighborhood known as sadr city. >> ( translated ): it was around 6:00, and the market was very crowded. here basically everyday from five to seven is crowded, especially at this side.
there are many bombings in the world, but that like this at such a crowded place is quite rare. this is why it's such a tragedy >> woodruff: smoke rose from the charred debris, as rescuers pulled bodies from the wreckage. and at a nearby hospital, families tended to wounded relatives. the islamic state group, dominated by sunni extremists, claimed responsibility. in a social media post, it said: shiites must, "experience the same harm as their bombardments cause to our muslim people." the attack came as iraqi prime minister haider al-abadi is under pressure to drive back the militants. he's pushed reforms through parliament this week to root out corruption and bolster the military. meanwhile, the u.s. military says it launched its first manned air strikes from turkey yesterday on islamic state targets in syria. but the turkish foreign minister disputed that statement today.
>> ( translated ): yesterday, u.s. forces did not hit islamic state targets after taking off from turkey. air strikes against islamic state are currently being carried out from other countries in the region, like jordan. jets taking off from turkey have not yet joined the operation, those are reconnaissance flights. >> woodruff: turkey has stepped up its own involvement in the fight against isis, but the foreign minister said today his government does not plan to send ground forces into syria. now, to the human toll exacted by the islamic state during its rule over parts of iraq and syria. for that, we turn to "new york times" reporter, rukmini callimachi, who wrote today of a brutal, ritualistic sex slave trade that the islamic state has imposed on thousands women and girls. they belong to the yazidi sect, a persecuted religious minority. and rukmini joins me from northern iraq via skype. rukmini, welcome. i think people can tell from the subject that this is a really
horrific thing that you were writing about. i just want to warn our viewers before we go any further, but remind us how this all started just about exactly a year ago when isis was on the move in iraq. >> it was exactly a year ago on august 3, 2013, isis has recently taken the secured mosul and they then set their sights just to the north. they invaded the mount. people assumed initially it was just another part of their expansion strategy, but from the very beginning it was clear that there was something else going on. survivors tell us that men and women were immediately separated within the first hour, and the fighters arrived with fleets of buses and empty trucks and that they were used to herd the women away. so they came with a plan to take the women and girls for the sexual conquest that then followed.
>> woodruff: what did they do with these women? you write how they transported them and took them to different locations. how did they treat them? >> what happened is they were initially taken to a series of, if you will, holding pens. most of them were in the city of mosul inside the galaxy wedding hall, inside the ministry of youth, inside a former prison. and the women say they arrived at these enormous halls. they were already outfitted with plates with accoutrements, with food, so they had planned to put large numbers of people there. and they very soon after isis fighters showed up and they began doing a very detailed survey of the people in their possession. the women were asked to give their first, middle and last name, their village, their marital status, the number of children they have. and then they were asked incredibly personal questions, such as how long ago did you have your last period, and they
then divined that the fighters were trying to figure out if they were pregnant or not because there is a sharia ruling about not being able to have sex with a pregnant slaism from there the women were further separated into young and old, beautiful and unattractive and in batches they were taken away and then bought and then further sold to fighters who use them as sex slaves. >> woodruff: and you had some i'm sure very difficult conversations with these women who were able to escape the isis fighters. what kinds of things did they tell you? >> you know, judy, i've done interviews with rape victims all over the world in congo, in guinea, in mali, and these are some of the hardest interviews that i've done. the horrors that these women were forced to endure really challenged the imagination. what they talk about is how
systematic the rape was and how they tried to, you know, protest and they tried to ask the fighters why are you doing this to me, and everything was cloaked in a religious justification. they told them, we are infidels. you are unbelievers. they are not muslim. they do believe in seven angels and are therefore considered polytheists by isis. the fighters explained to them because of their lack of faith, the koran gives us the right to rape you, and whatever we do is not only justified in scripture, it is considered virtuous. the most interviews to do were with the very young women, one was 12, another was 15, and they described how the fighters got on the floor and prayed before getting on top of them and raping them, and then after the rape, they would go and take a shower and then pray again. so the acts of the sexual assault itself, the acts of rape
were book ended in an act of religiousness. >> woodruff: this was repeated. this went on for months and months. hundreds of these women are still being held in captivity. this is still happening to them. just quickly, rukmini, you wrote about one woman whose captor gave her a paper of emancipation. what happened? >> this is what's really curious about this, judy. it really reminds you of what happened in the american south in the preabolition times. there is a scripture for release of slaves considered very virtuous. so what we found that was in the case when a woman was bought by a suicide bomber, at the moment when the suicide bomber was getting ready to set off on his final mission, in two cases that i spoke to, that i interviewed, the women were given a certificate of emancipation and they were freed, and they were, in the case of one of the girl, i was actually able to see the
certificate and we were allowed to photograph it, it gave her basically the right to be a free muslim woman. it says that she is under the rule of the islamic state and has all of the duties and responsibilities of being a muslim woman. and this certificate that she got laminated allowed her to pass the checkpoints that finally allowed her to go to safely and return to her family last month here in iraq. >> woodruff: there is so much more to this story. it is just incredibly disturbing and we really only have begun to touch on it. i highly recommend it to anyone, to everyone to read more of this. rukmini callimachi joining us from iraq. we thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: 12,000 firefighters are battling 14 active wildfires
in california, and the state, which is in its fourth year of drought, is on track to have one of its worst fire seasons ever. the newshour's cat wise spent time this week in one of the hardest hit areas: lake county, north of san francisco. >> is there a fire by you? someone just called one in. they said there are flames and black smoke. >> reporter: rancher lonne sloan is keeping a close eye on the horizon these days. for the past week, sloan and her husband larry have been on the frontlines of wildfires raging across california. their 340 acre ranch, near the town of lower lake, went up in flames last wednesday during one of the states biggest fires so far this year called the rocky fire. >> this was our equipment shed. the fire started over the hill. >> reporter: the sloans, who managed to save their home with the help of nearby fire crews, estimate they lost about
$150,000 dollars of equipment, most of it uninsured. >> this was my horse trailer that is melted. i ride horses professionally in parades >> reporter: their property, like so many in the area, is now a moonscape totally devoid of any vegetation. a sign of the intensity of the blaze that went through here. the rocky fire began july 29th and burned nearly 70,000 acres and 43 homes. its is now almost fully contained. but on sunday, a new wildfire, called the jerusalem fire broke out nearby and quickly began spreading. it's only 30% contained, and has burned 20,000 acres. the fires, which have now merged, are burning in hilly terrain with heavy brush known as chaparral. high temperatures, unpredictable winds, and extremely dry conditions in the area have been a bad mix for firefighters. >> we've seen some pretty dramatic fire behavior. >> reporter: captain steve kaufmann is a firefighter and
public information officer from ventura county who has been assisting on the ground for the last two weeks. >> because the fuels are bone dry and there's no moisture whatsoever in most of our fuels, is its like they're explosive. it's almost like they all catch fire at once. i've been a firefighter for almost 20 years, i've heard 30- year firefighters and 40-year firefighters say they've never seen this kind of fire behavior in their career. >> reporter: california, like many states throughout the west, is no stranger to wildfires. but the ongoing drought is creating conditions that fire crews are having a tough time managing with their standard tools. >> fires are burning intense, so intense that they're going beyond the capabilities of the models. >> reporter: jeff shelton is a fire behavior specialist. we met up with him at the command post for the rocky and jerusalem fires. shelton uses a sophisticated software program that models fire behavior so he can keep fire crews informed about what the fire might do. but shelton says during the initial outbreak of the rocky fire his models, in some cases, weren't reflecting the reality
on the ground. so this is the perimeter of the fire on july 31st. what did the models tell you was going to happen? >> the models said there was a chance in seven days that it would get to these zones. these other colors out here... what happened was in five hours it got much further out. >> reporter: wow >> it did what it was potentially supposed to do in seven days, in five hours. >> reporter: to highlight why these fires are proving to be so destructive, shelton took us to an area that had just burned. so if this had been a normal fire you wouldn't see such devastation right? >> the intensity of this fire was immense. >> reporter: how long will it take to get back to a normal landscape? >> 10 to 15 years. >> reporter: while firefighters continue containment efforts with the brush fires here in lake county, many of the states most active fires are forest fires in the mountains. and in recent years, there's been a big shift in the duration and intensity of those fires as well. hugh safford is a regional
ecologist with the u.s. forest service who studies the impacts of wildfires. and a changing climate, in the sierra nevada mountains near lake tahoe. at the spot of a recent fire, safford pointed out a troubling trend. many trees that would normally withstand forest fires, are now dying, weakened by the drought. >> we've got what we would call a high severity patch. a patch of fire that burned very hot and killed most of the canopy trees. what we're having these days is this kind of effect in a very massive scale. these species are really adapted to drought conditions, but when you expand that summer drought into the whole darn year for four straight years, even these trees have a heck of a time dealing with it. >> reporter: but safford says it's not just the drought that's impacting the trees. past forest management policies have also played a role. >> for 100 years, more or less, we've been putting out almost all fires in this forest type and this system that was characterized by a lot of fires historically. so what we've got now on this
site is a jungle of fuels. and its just simple physics right? when you build a bigger pile of wood it makes a bigger fire when you light it. >> reporter: in fact, a new report says that the forest service, for the first time in the agency's history, is now spending more than half its yearly budget battling wildfires. back in lake county, firefighters are focusing largely on saving personal property. a tough job when the fires are so extreme. >> it's no secret that as our society grows bigger, we move into more rural locations. now that we have houses in these rural locations, we feel a responsibility to go in there and try to protect is as best we can. >> reporter: the state requires that residents living in rural areas create a defensible space by clearing dead trees and brush 100 feet around their property. fire officials say many in lake county have followed those rules. but as the jerusalem fire continues to grow, more evacuations could occur in the coming days.
lonne and larry sloan, who have lived on this same plot of land for 40 years, are planning to stay even if a new fire approaches. for now, their main task is ensuring all the smoldering stumps on their property won't catch fire again. for the pbs newshour, im cat wise in lake county, california. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour. the cultural shift that changed the demands of modern parenthood. a new perspective on the life of ronald reagan, the politician and the pragmatist. and, looking to the night sky for a star-studded show. but first, an ongoing financial crisis in a u.s. territory.
special correspondent chris bury looks at how puerto rico's government debt burden is crippling the island's economy, and spurring it's people to leave. it's part of our weekly series, "making sense," which airs every thursday on the newshour. >> reporter: for yaritza lozano, who owns a bakery in san juan, the capital, this is a time of high anxiety. the 28-year-old, laid off from her job as an art teacher, turned her passion for baking into a business only a year ago. now, puerto rico's debt crisis is trimming her profits in an already troubled economy. >> my major concern is our customers. i wonder if i am raising my prices too high. >> reporter: lozano is raising her prices because the cash- strapped government has dramatically hiked sales taxes, from 7% to 11.5%, far higher than any in the united states. taxes that lozano has to pay on
sugar, eggs, butter and flour. so her popular red velvet cupcakes are now selling for three dollars each, up from $2.75. what's your concern about the taxes going up? >> that i have to keep raising my prices and eventually lose business because people won't be able to afford anything. >> reporter: for the people of puerto rico, about 3.5 million of them, new austerity measures such as higher sales taxes are imposing more economic pain on a u.s. territory that already has a poverty rate nearly double that of mississippi, america's poorest state. the government raised taxes to help pay back the billions that it has borrowed selling bonds on wall street and to residents here. the bonds, popular because they are tax exempt and pay a higher yield than other municipal debt, and many are backed by a puerto- rican government guarantee.
eye doctor raul franceschi bought some to save for his children's college education. when you bought those bonds, how safe did you think they were? >> oh, when i bought them, it was pretty safe. it was in the constitution of puerto rico, you cannot stop paying the bonds. >> reporter: but now puerto rico claims it cannot pay at least some of the $72 billion owed, more debt per capita than any state. for all intents and purposes is puerto rico bankrupt right now? >> i believe puerto rico is bankrupt. >> reporter: university of puerto rico economist orlando sotomayor says wall street was just as eager to lend the money as government leaders here were to borrow it. did the puerto rican government borrow too much money with little thought to paying it back? >> without any question, yes. the money was available, they took it, and they were happy to get it. i'm sure in their minds, they
will be saying, "i'm going to benefit from the money that i'll be able to spend today, and the next governor will have to pay the debt." >> reporter: kick the can down the road. >> that's right, we are experts. >> reporter: puerto rico's status as a territory, not a state, also played a role in the island borrowing so much according to pedro pierluisi, puerto rico's resident commissioner and nonvoting representative to congress. >> financially we don't get the same federal funds that states do. and yet we're american citizens. we aspire to have the same quality of life as our fellow american citizens, and to some extent the government was kind of making up here, trying to provide assistance to the needy population without the resources for doing so. so they ended up borrowing a lot. >> reporter: the debt burden has been building here for decades. but a deep recession, now nearly 10 years old, has battered the island's economy like a hurricane. thousands of businesses have
closed, hollowing out entire neighborhoods, and leaving the government with far less tax money to pay its bills. >> reporter: in san juan's rio piedras neighborhood, this variety store, among the few left open, promises bargains for a hard time. but its owner tells us shoppers are picky. >> ( translated ): once they put the new sales tax into place sales went down and people are really just buying the necessary things. >> reporter: for omayra torrez muniz, a school custodian, the debt crisis is one domino too many. laid off once before, she fears for her job again. puerto rico has already closed 100 schools this year alone. >> they got my mind crazy. i don't know what's going to happen to me. i can't believe this is my puerto rico. i can't believe it. everything is bad.
economy, government, the people. >> reporter: so now the 42-year- old mother of three had decided to leave puerto rico, and her parents, to start a new life in orlando, florida. do you worry about leaving your family behind, your parents? >> yes, i do. it's hard. but i have to do it. because i got three kids, and i want better for them. >> reporter: omayra is part of a massive exodus to the mainland: 50,000 puerto ricans a year are leaving for the u.s. accelerating a population decline that began with the recession in 2006. are you confident you can find work in the u.s.? >> oh yes. there's a lot of work over there. i'd do anything. anything. i don't care. but i'm gonna work. >> reporter: daralee vasquez- garcia, visiting her mother in puerto rico, has already made the move to new york, where she teaches in a public school. leaving her family and friends was difficult.
>> it was like someone was ripping a part of my heart. >> reporter: but in new york, vasquez-garcia earns nearly four times what she made as a teacher in puerto rico. >> there's a lot of talent here. so but when the talent is not given opportunities, we took the opportunity to say "let's go reach out to a place where our talent is accepted." >> reporter: states like texas are actively recruiting that talent in puerto rico. the for sale signs-- "se vende"- - are everywhere. economist heidye calero calls out-migration the single greatest threat to the island's economy. >> the problem is that the people who are leaving are young people, they are professionals, those who are working, or a working age, and i need them to be here in the labor market, so that they pay taxes. so unless the opportunities are here we are going to see an exodus of people, and unlike other countries in the world we
have a u.s. passport, remember, we are us citizens. >> reporter: the debt crisis is complicated, too, by puerto rico's tangled, often troubled, ties to the u.s. the territory has been subject to the whims of congress since the u.s. took the island from spain in 1898. for example, a 100 year old law- -the jones act-- requires that most goods shipped to and from puerto rico must be carried on ships built in the u.s. and staffed by american crews. that means yaritza lozano has to pay much more for her raw ingredients. for years, congress offered generous tax breaks to attract manufacturers to puerto rico, including many big pharmaceutical companies, that employed thousands of skilled workers but, by 2005, those subsidies had been phased out, leaving shuttered factories behind. but congress still requires puerto rico to pay the federal minimum wage-- $7.25 an hour, much more than its caribbean
neighbors pay. and some economists say generous welfare benefits, the same food stamp and disability programs as the u.s., as well as local benefits like subsidies for utilities, provide a perverse incentive not to work. even so, yaritza lazano would like to pay her 12 employees at the bakery even more than the minimum, because, she says, they work so hard. >> but i really can't. so i actually take from my own salary in a way. >> reporter: for lazano, and many others, the crisis is clearly taking its toll. more than 150,000 puerto ricans are projected to leave in the next five years. for now, this young baker has decided to make a go of it here, even though both her parents have left for the states. >> i think that my place is here, you know, in my country, trying to help in a way that i can.
>> reporter: but the government, broke and beholden to creditors, may cut services, including bus routes, and raise taxes even more. in this tropical paradise, many of those left behind feel caught in a vicious circle of uncertainty. i'm chris bury for the pbs newshour in san juan, puerto rico. >> ifill: we turn next to our weekly "brief but spectacular" feature. tonight, author jennifer senior shares her ideas about the tribulations modern mothers and fathers face raising their children, and the ways parenthood has changed over the years. >> people constantly come up to me mistakenly thinking i'm an expert on parenting, and it's with terrible disappointment that i look at them and say, i
no nothing about raising a child. i know about parenthood. i can tell you about you. i can't tell you about your kids. i crush them every time. in plymouth colony, there were eight kids per family. in 1850 there were five. thrud are two, just two. today if you are a college-educated woman, you will have your first baby at 30.3 years old. and if you're in a straight relationship, your husband is going to be 32.3. so we have all these expectations on this experience,. and we're only having two kids. 40% of all mothers are the primary if not sole breadwinners of their families. that's just huge. something like 79% of us think we should not go back to the old kind of domestic arrangements where women stay home and men go out to work, which is great. 51% of us think kids would be
better off if women stayed home full time. go ahead, reconcile those two things. you can't do it. women are seriously overcompensating. they are not only working like all the time, they're spending record amounts of time with their kids. kids used to work. they worked in our factories, in our mills, in our mines, in street trades, and mainly on our farms. i am not pining for thedy ken accident days of yore when children are working, but once kids stopped working, the economics of parenting really changed. they weren't working for us, we were working for them, violin lessons are their new work. college calc in ninth grade is their new work, and that's fine. it benefits them maybe. it does not benefit their parents. it costs their parents. the one mantra every parent has is all i want is for my kids to be happen -- happy, but some kids are never going to be happy, the best thing you can do for those children and also for yourself is to try and aim for
something, dings that i think can maybe be taught. deep your kids how to be decent. that used to be once upon a time not so long go, that used to be enough. my name is jennifer senior, and this is my brief but spectacular take on the paradox of modern parenthood. >> woodruff: we'll be back with a new book looking at the life of president ronald reagan. but first, take a moment to hear from your local pbs station. take the opportunity to offer
as the 2016 presidential elections start ramping up with the biggest field of candidates ever, we take a look at the man who in many ways redefined the modern republican party: ronald reagan. historian and university of texas professor h.w. brands offers a new perspective on the politician and the pragmatist. his latest book is "reagan: the life." jeffrey brown recently talked with him. >> brown: h.w. brands, welcome. >> thank you. >> a life so documented, so public, so much written of, what did you feel was left to say or important to say about ronald reagan? >> to me the important thing with ronald reagan is how a comparatively ordinary man, someone with not extraordinary talents, accomplished such extraordinary results. at the age of 50, no one expected that this was going to be the guy who would become, at least in my interpretation, one of the two most important presidents of the 20th century. >> that's where you rank him? >> yes, there is franklin
roosevelt, who really dominates the first half of the 20th century, push american politics in a liberal direction, and ronald reagan, who dominates the second half of the 20th century, and pushes american politics back in a conservative direction. during the end of the 1964 presidential campaign, reagan gives a speech on behalf of barry goldwater. it was like a screen test for a new career. >> this idea that government is beholden to the people, this idea that it has no other source of power other than the sovereign people. >> his hollywood career was ended. he didn't know what his future would be. he was given a chance to mount a new stage. he give a speech called "the speech." it was so powerful that people the next day started forming reagan for president committees for this guy who had never been thoughts of in a political sense. >> a lot of people to this day think that there was a sense of it's hard to know the real ronald reagan. >> hello, little girl. what's your name? >> lisa meyers. >> brown: you probably remember the old "saturday night live" skit where he's avuncular,
featherbrained while the cameras are on. >> well, it was nice meeting you. >> come on, lisa. >> bye-bye. back to work! >> they all go away and suddenly the micromanager, knows everything. >> brown: was it hard to get a sense of your arms around the guy, to know him? >> that skit overstates something that has a kernel of truth to it. reagan conspired in the underestimation of his own ability. and he... >> brown: conspired? >> yeah, in the sense he was quite willing to let people underestimate him. and clark clifford infamously called him an amiable dunce. well, he wouldn't have accepted that, but he didn't pretend to be the master of everything that happened in his administration. in fact, he often held himself out of the contrast to jimmy carter, who really was that micromanager in the oval office, and who had a very unsuccessful presidency. reagan focused on a couple of things. >> give me an anecdote or an
example. >> well, reagan gave the speech that opened his political career in 1964. in that speech he laid out two things for the united states. and the two things were we need to shrink government at home. we need to defeat communism abroad. and reagan in essence gave that same speech again and again during the 25 years of his political life. >> mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. [cheering and applause] >> you're working in an area where these debates are still with us, right? this is the most partisan in a way of subjects, polarizing figure. how did he become that? and why is it still with us? >> well, reagan is still an icon for republicans because there are essentially two reagans. there is the reagan who gave the speeches. this is the reagan who was the candidate. if you read reagan's speeches, they read just like the playbook from the tea party today. it's 1400% conservative. so the most conservative members of the republican party today can read reagan and watch his speeches on youtube and elsewhere and say, that's our guy. but there is also the reagan who
was governor of california, who was president of the united states, the reagan who knew that the point of getting elected was to govern, and to governor northeastern a democracy is to compromise. reagan used to say that he would rather get 80% of what he wanted than go over the cliff with his flags flying. this is the reagan that would make tea party types uncomfortable today. depending on which reagan you look at, you can take a different interpretation away. >> brown: there is also the ronald reagan that was a democrat in his youth. do you see a fairly direct line for what he became or do you see man who was adjusting as he went? >> well, there is a direct line, but it has a big bend in it. >> when it comes to political philosophies. reagan's first political hero was franklin roosevelt. and as a young man, he voted four times for franklin roosevelt. reagan's political philosophy eventually went 180 degrees the other way. so he became a conservative. but his idea of being president, his model for being president,
remained franklin roosevelt. he understood that roosevelt's power came from roosevelt's ability to convey a vision to the american people and to share that vision, and reagan, when he became president, did exactly the same thing. >> what role do you think he has today. >> reagan remains this anchor for conservativetive political philosophy today. if you want... if you are a conservative and you want to know what the conservative agenda should be, go read reagan's speeches. on the other hand, if you want to understand how presidents actually make changes, beyond just making speech, how they make changes, then take a look at reagan as he was the governor, as he was governor and then as president. how he actually operated in office. >> you think this is one of the things that we have not understood very well, his abilities as a politician. >> exactly. he's underestimated i think by both liberals and conservatives. the liberals don't want to give him credit for what he accomplished. and the conservatives often don't want the believe that he made these compromises in a
liberal direction. >> brown: all right. the book is "reagan: the life." h.w. brands, thank you so much. >> my pleasure. >> ifill: finally tonight, our "newshour shares" of the day. something that caught our eye which might be of interest to you, too. stargazers around the world got into position last night for the annual perseid meteor shower. every august, hundreds of stars light up the night. and this year, the show is proving to be especially spectacular. from the skies over southern california, to an orthodox church in belarus, to an ancient roman theatre in spain. made up of bits of dust and ice, the meteors enter the atmosphere at a speed of 37 miles a second, leaving behind glowing smoke trails. and because there's no moon in the sky this year, the streaks of light are brighter than ever. it's not too late to see the show. tonight's peak is expected to
occur at about 4:00 a.m. eastern time. >> woodruff: on the newshour online, the color red conjures images of wealth, power and seduction, and for artists and designers, finding that perfect shade has been a quest. for centuries, they have turned to a tiny insect the size of the head of a pin to provide some of the richest red pigment that's still used today. it's also the subject of an exhibit at the international folk art museum in santa fe, new mexico. you can see a photo gallery of items using this dye, those are on our home page. that's at pbs.org/newshour. tune in later this evening, on charlie rose: taking electronic dance music mainstream. skrillex and diplo present jack oooh. >> ifill: and on tomorrow's newshour, jeffrey brown previews
the new film "straight outta compton," which details the rise of n.w.a., the hip-hop group whose profane songs of protest attracted both fame and infamy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. more than 25 years later, ice cube of n.w.a. told us that message resonates more than ever. >> that's actually sad to be honest. that the stuff that we were going through in the late '80s, the early '90s, you know its still fresh in the news today. so what we were speaking on was the reality of how we were living and what we were going through. and its just a shame that people are still going through the same things. nothing has changed. >> woodruff: tune in for the full story tomorrow. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. join us on-line, and again here tomorrow evening with david brooks and david corn. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night.
>> 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. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue guerra. >> shell shocked, egg prices cracked record making. breakfast a lot more expensive and it could be a while before prices recede. solid sales. americans went shopping in july and there's one item that could save the retailers. >> economic ripple. why calculating the full cost of the damage at the colorado mine spill could be a very tricky task. all that and more on "nightly business report" for others, august 13th. good evening, everyone. as you know, it is widely expected that the federal reserve will raise interest rates sometime this year. and today we got another batch of economic data that bolsters that case. but there's one piece that's been missing from that