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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 18, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, multiple deaths and dozens of injuries in washington state after an amtrak passenger train spills over a highway on the frst day of a new route. then... >> we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before. >> woodruff: ...president trump announces a new "america first" strategy-- we ask white house national security adviser h.r. mcmaster about what the plan means for the u.s. posture in the world. also ahead, republicans near a vote on their tax bill-- we talk with michael bloomberg who has called it a trillion dollar blunder. >> congress is going to vote for
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this bill without having doing any due diligence, without having consulted any experts. it is about as irresponsible a ways to create policies and law as anyone could possibly think of. >> woodruff: plus, a bittersweet celebration after isis goes-- yazidis unite for a religious festival amid memories of genocide and missing family members. >> the religious practices of the yazidi community are some of the oldest in the world, and with so many members of the community leaving the country, traditions like this are in danger of dying out. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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>> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at >> 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. >> woodruff: the wreckage of an amtrak train lies strewn around
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an overpass in washington state tonight. it derailed this morning, with more than 80 people on board. at least six were killed and dozens were hurt. the southbound train went off the rails near the town of dupont and shut down part of interstate 5. near the scene is austin jenkins of radio station kuow and the northwest news network, a collaboration of npr stations. i spoke to him a short while ago. austin jenkins, thank you for talking with us. what do you know so far about the extent of the casualties? >> we know there are multiple deaths. we do not have a confirmed number. we know there are multiple injuries. this was a passenger train with 12 cars. it was not packed full. in fact, it was pharrell light in terms of passengers, but we know that most if not all of the train cars derailed. at least one fell to the freeway below. another train car or two are
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hanging from this bridge over the interstate. this is a major disaster and a major scene with all of these railcars off the track. >> woodruff: how is this rescue operation going? are they still hoping to find people alive? >> my sense is they have rescued everybody who survived this and either took them to local hospitals or, if they were not injured or ambulatory, then they put them on buses, and those passengers have now reunited with their families. at this point, looks like this is a recovery mission and it's also the beginnings of an extensive investigation into what went wrong. >> woodruff: austin jenkins, this was a new route we have been reporting. so it truly had not been used for commuters before. >> that's right, and it's a very new stretch of track, a straight stretch where the train might have been going upwards of 70 miles an hour, and then it comes to a bend in the track and
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comes across this bridge over interstate 5 and that's where this derailment happened. what led to that derailment, we don't know. there have been speculations but nothing confirmed at this point. >> woodruff: we can assume both people in washington state andor orb are going to be affected. >> absolutely and interstate 5 is the major thoroughfare and the southbound lanes are shut down for the foreseeable future. >> woodruff: austin jenkins with the northwest news network, thank you. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: the world's busiest airport, atlanta's hartsfield- jackson, worked today to get back up to speed after a power outage sunday. more than 1,400 flights were canceled through today, mostly by delta. georgia power company says an underground electrical fire triggered the 11-hour outage. thousands of passengers were stranded. >> there was no real method for evacuation.
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i mean there was 40 or 50 people per terminal area that we were in, that were confined to wheelchairs, and there was no plan at all to get them out of here without any power. the escalators didn't work, no elevators. we were literallcarrying people down the escalators using >> woodruff: delta said this afternoon it expects to be back to nearly a normal schedule by tomorrow. fire crews in southern california worked today to take advantage of lighter winds to contain more of the massive "thomas fire." more than 8,000 firefighters have lines around 45% of the blaze. but it's still threatening thousands of homes in santa barbara county, and forecasters expect gusty winds to return wednesday evening. one of president trump's judicial nominees withdrew today, after he was ridiculed for failing to answer basic legal questions. matthew peterson is a lawyer and a member of the federal election commission, but has never tried a case. in a letter to the president, he said his nomination had become a distraction to the
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administration. a federal appellate judge accused of sexual harassment is resigning. judge alex kozinski sits on the 9th circuit court of appeals, based in san francisco. at least 15 women have accused him of misconduct. meanwhile, the owner of the n.f.l.'s carolina panthers, jerry richardson, says he's selling the football team. he faces allegations of sexual harassment and racist language. meanwhile, tavis smiley says pbs made "a big mistake" in suspending him from his talk show over sexual misconduct accusations. the network has said an independent investigation found "multiple, credible allegations." smiley said today he's been found "guilty simply by accusation." >> i have never groped, i have never coerced, i have never exposed myself inappropriately to anyone, in 30 years at six different networks, there's never been any allegation of that. i celebrate and applaud these women who've had the courage to
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come out and tell their truth, and lead us in a conversation about how to create healthy workspaces. >> woodruff: pbs responded that smiley has changed his story, and it said, "additional allegations are continuing to come to light." military investigators have determined that u.s. army sergeant la david t. johnson died fighting during an ambush in niger. there had been suggestions he was captured and executed by islamic state militants who attacked his special forces unit in october. the associated press reports investigators found johnson was shot as many as 18 times as he fought to the death. the united states today vetoed a u.n. security council resolution that demanded president trump rescind recognition of jerusalem as israel's capital. the 14 other members of the u.n. security council voted for the resolution. but u.s. ambassador nikki haley rejected the move. she called it an "insult that won't be forgotten."
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>> it's one more example of the u.n. doing more harm than good in addressing the israeli- palestinian conflict. today for the simple act of deciding where to put our embassy, the u.s. was forced to defend its sovereignty, the record will reflect that we did so proudly. >> woodruff: afterward, palestinian president mahmoud abbas said he will no longer accept the u.s. as a moderator of middle east peace efforts. in south africa, the ruling party, the african national congress, elected deputy president cyril ramaphosa as its new leader today. he'll be the party's choice in the 2019 elections to succeed president jacob zuma, who's been plagued by corruption scandals. back in this country, twitter says it's suspending the accounts of several white nationalist groups. they include the far-right "britain first" and two of its leaders. one of them posted anti-muslim
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videos that president trump retweeted last month. twitter's action is part of its new rules aimed at abusive content. the president of espn resigned today, citing substance abuse. john skipper said in a statement that he had struggled for many years with the problem, and that he needs now to focus on treatment. he gave no other details. and on wall street, stocks rose again on prospects of a republican tax cut plan passing this week. the dow jones industrial average gained 140 points to close above 24,790. the nasdaq rose 58 points, and the s&p 500 added 14. still to come on the newshour: national security adviser h.r. mcmaster on the security strategy unveiled today. former new york city mayor michael bloomberg weighs in on the republican tax plan. life after isis for an iraqi religous minority, and much more.
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>> woodruff: president trump unveiled his first national security strategy this afternoon. mandated by congress, mr. trump used the opportunity to showcase his view of american priorities and goals in an unstable world. >> america is coming back and america is coming back strong. >> woodruff: the president used the speech to put his "america first" stamp on u.s.oreign and military policy. >> we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but we will champion the values without apology. we want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity. we will make new partnerships with those who share our goals and make common interests into a
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common cause. >> woodruff: the new trump doctrine focuses on four main themes: protecting the homeland, promoting american prosperity, keeping the peace by showing military strength, and advancing america's influence throughout the world. mr. trump has sought warmer ties with russian president vladimir putin and chinese president xi jinping. but the doctrine he rolled out today brands both nations as "revisionist powers" that challenge american influence. >> we will attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries but in a manner that always protects our national interest. but while we seek such opportunities of cooperation, we will stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we've never stood up before.
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>> woodruff: china is described as a strategic competitor, aggressively building up its military and extending its claims in the south china sea. russia is criticized for using "subversive measures," as in the annexation of crimea from ukraine. but there is no mention of russian interference in the u.s. election. the strategy also cites ongoing threats from the islamic state and other militant groups. and, it calls out "rogue regimes" like north korea. >> america and its allies will take all necessary steps to achieve a denuclearization and ensure that this regime cannot threaten the world. this situation should have been taken care of long before i got into office when it was much easier to handle but it will be taken care of. we have no choice. >> woodruff: but the trump plan makes little reference to global warming as a risk to national security.
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that's in spite of concerns about climate change destabilizing countries, and triggering mass migrations of refugees. now, with me is the man who led the process to devise this new strategy, the president's national security adviser, lieutenant general h.r. mcmaster. general mcmaster, thank you for joining us. to the extent this is described as an america first strategy, how is it different from what came before? >> well,ettes very different, judy. first of all, it's a pleasure to be with you. the president has given clear direction that allows us now to prioritize our efforts very clearly. the first priority is always to protect the homeland and american citizens, and you see what the president's done to move out on that agenda, already, in terms of improved border security, but what the strategy really emphasizes as well is the need to protect our technological and industrial and national security innovation base from more sophisticated
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forms of aggression including cyber espionage and unfair trade and economic prices. on promoting american pros outer pert, what's' different i think about this strategy is the close connection between the need to grow and strengthen our economy and national security and, in particular, the emphasis on fair and reciprocal trade and check practices, ending all forms of economic aggression, which involves, for example, transfer of intellectual property based on unfair market access. the third key to this is peace through strength, and the president has moved out on this as well, as you can see, with the defense budget and addressing about wave of deferred military modernization and reversing the reduction of the size of our force even as threats to our national security increased, and peace through strength is a very important them that, as you know, goes back to the first national security strategy of president ronald reagan.
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finally, advancing american -- influence, the cooperation with reciprocity, and what the president wants to do is strengthen our alliances by equitable burden and responsibility sharing. you see that with his approach to n.a.t.o., in particular, but you see now more n.a.t.o. country contributor more to their defense and key allies like south korea and japan as well bearing more of the burden in our common approach to common problems. >> woodruff: there is so much to ask you but to the extent this is a more competitive world you describe, does the rest of the world have more to fear from the united states? >> no, the rest of the world should welcome the united states leading again, competing again. so what we've found is when we've looked at some previous approaches, a lot of these strategies in the past have been aspirational. we said, we have to really look at the world as it is and we have to be able to compete
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effectively across multiple arenas. economic competition, as i mentioned, but security competition and then, also, new forms of competition that we're seeing using new domains, spaces now, competitive domain. cyber space, certainly a new competitive space. so what this strategy emphasizes is that we need to compete to advance and protect our interests, and we want to do that with like modern nations, allies and partners, but we'll always prioritize the vital interests of the american people, the four pillars of the national security strategy. >> well, you mentioned dealing with the world as it really, is and i know on everyone's lips right now, people want to know is the u.s. going to go to war with north korea? you were quoted in an interview a couple of weeks ago as saying the chance of war increases almost every day. is it still the case? >> i think it is still the case, and the reason for this, judy, is that we are out of time with this problem, not out of time
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completely. we have a very short amount of time to be able to address the problem of north korea. as you know, they have continued -- the north korean regime has don't its nuclear testing and missile testing in a way that threatens the whole world, and failed agreements of the past had assumed that while we have more time to really cope with this problem set and to reach denuclearization. so what we really want to do is do everything we can now with everyone across the world, with allies and partners and china and russia to take all the diplomatic action, all the economic action we can to convince kim jong un this is a dead end, and the reason why this is so important is because it poses such a grave threat to the world. i mean, this is a regime -- the last regime on earth you would trust with a nuclear weapon, and his intentions likely involve nuclear black mail as well, and it could lead to the breakdown
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of the nonproliferation regime in northeast asia in a way that could see other countries arming with the most destructive weapons on earth. >> woodruff: it sounds from the administration's definition that north korea already poses the worst kind of threat to the region, to south korea, to japan, to u.s. territories in the pacific. what more is it that the u.s. is waiting for the north to do if the u.s. is prepared to take preemptive action? >> well, as you know, these are programs that are continued -- continuing to develop. the nuclear tests they have conducted and the missile tests allow them to get better and to begin to perfect this intercontinental, long-range, ballistic missile capability and then marry that to a nuclear device in a way that does pose a threat to the entire world. so what we need to do is act urgently to make sure the regime, first of all, doesn't have the resources it needs to continue this program as well as to continue to support its
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military. you can't fire missiles without fuel, for example. so it's time to not only enforce the existing u.n. sanctions, but for us to do much, much more. and you've heard the president call all nations -- on all nations to cut off all trade with north korea, make it clear to this regime that unless he denuclearizes, there's no way that theek can -- that north korea can succeed. >> woodruff: most people leave the north korean leader is not at all prepared to denuclearize. my question is isn't nrth korea ready posing an unacceptable threat to the u.s. and the region and, if that's the case, what is the u.s. waiting for? >> well, you could argue north korea has posed a threat to the region since 1950 and, as you know, since the end of -- the armistice at ended the open conflict between north korea and south korea, that since then
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north korea has held certain portions of the south korean population at risk with conventional artillery and rockets and missiles. as this regime continues to perfect its long-range nuclear capabilities, it's just a risk the world cannot tolerate. >> woodruff: i want to try to stick with this just with one more question on that specific point, and that is, because i have people asking this vie if my presence all the time, how does the u.s. know that it could strike north korea without running the risk of a retaliatory strike on south korea, japan and hundreds of thousands if not mills of civilians in that area? >> i don't want to get into specifics of military plans and estimates but i will tell you the president asked us to continue to refine a military option should we have to use it. of course, we're working on that very closely with our very close ally south korea who is the closest to this danger, and with japan.
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but what we have to do is everything we can now to resolve this short of war, and the grave danger is not just the direct threat that north korea poses any nation, but it's also the threat that's posed by the breakdown of that nonproliferation regime, and we should point out, i mean, everybody should be aware that this regime has never met a weapon that it didn't try to sell. >> woodruff: but aren't they already able to sell, though, to proliferate what they've already developed? >> well, this is why we have to move out with a high degree of urgency. as you know, this is a regime that has very destructive chemical weapons that used a banned nerve agent to murder his brother in a public airport in malaysia. so this is a regime that is dangerous on a number of levels, and that's why i think the international community has come together behind the president's
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leadership to confront this regime and making a dramatic shift. these are the most severe sanctions that have been put in place, and what you've seen is china recognize this is not an issue between the united states and north korea, this is an issue between north korea and the world. >> woodruff: last question, general mcmaster. you are known as a scholar of military history, especially vietnam, you've written about that. are there lessons about vietnam, about the united states not getting sucked into a conflict when diplomacy could be a better answer? >> the lesson of vietnam is brig all options to a president and considering the long-term consequences of every decision. what we've done with this national security strategy is to regain our strategic competence as a nation, and what we're going to do and what we are already doing is view national security challenges through the
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lens of those four vital interests, craft clearly understandable goals and objectives and then explore options with a clear-eyed view to the advantages and disadvantages of options and a recognition of what the potential costs and consequences of decisions might be. that's what we owe the president, that's what we give the president are options, and then once he makes a decision, we help drive the implementation of his decisions always to advance and protect the vital interests of the american people. >> woodruff: general h.r. mcmaster, the president's national security advisor, thank you very much. >> thank you, judy, pleasure to be with you. of >> woodruff: republican lawmakers have a major victory within their sights. it's expected the house will
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pass a tax bill tomorrow, likely without democratic support before sending it on to the senate this week. since the latest version was released, analysts and political observers have been looking closer to see who is benefiting more, who won some last-minute victories, who lost and the impact of it all. our lisa desjardins has been studying it too and joins me now. lisa, let's start out with the winners. who's doing well is this. >> you look into this bill and see a lot of different winners. is that righting with corporations. there are taxes -- their taxes cut to 21% from 35%. most families and individuals will see a tax cut temporarily for the first eight years. wealthiest estates might not get as much attention. somebody to give a gift up to $11 million tax free, a doubling. and interesting energy companies, not just because they can now drill in the alaskan wildlife refuge but there is a provision allowing publicly traded partnerships, mostly
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energy companies some with a lot of money, to take a deduction that used to be considered for small businesses. two more quickly, architects and engineers. those of you out there, you are now be able to get a special ceduction you couldn't in previous versions of this bill, that was new friday. kraft beer brewers will see a deduction on the tax rate they pay per barrel at least for go years. >> woodruff: somebody likes beer. so some of the winners. what about some of the losers, who are they? >> future taxpayers, as i said, some of those individual rate cuts are temporary. in fact, most of the individual rate cuts, not just the rates but also amt, all of it is temporary in this bill for individuals. second, cities in high-tax states, we talked about this before, they will get a small deduction for the local taxes but not as much as they're getting now. other losers, puerto rico. puerto rico wanted a special tax treatment for various reasons, including if they have to
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rebuild infrastructure now, did not get it in this bill. interesting, those paying alimony, they can deduct that currently. no more. that reverses and now the tax benefit goes to those receiving alimony under this bill. that starts in 2019. one more, the individual healthcare market, judy, obviously we know that with the individual mandate repealed might give more people the ability to not get healthcare but may destabilize the market. one loser in all this, judy, is the idea of simplifying the tax code. this is not simpler. >> woodruff: as we have been hearing them say, they say most people will be able to file on a postcard but there's a real question about that. what about the overall effects of this, lisa, and separately from that, i know you have been looking at some of the members of the senate who've made up their mind and decided what they're going to do. >> that's right and particularly in the news in the last day was senator bob corker of tennessee. turns out there's a provision in this bill to help people who
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have real estate investment trusts, those would be able to get a deduction meant mostly for small businesses, originally. some of these could be million-dollar trusts and operated without any employees. this bill allows those who own this like bob corker to take that deduction. he's not the only one. there's a question of why he changed his vote from no to yes last week. talking to his office, he said he had no idea there was this provision in the bill and i will say this is erroneous reporting this was dropped into the bill suddenly and it was needed in the house bill. bob corker is not the only one who benefits. >> woodruff: there is much that happens behind closed doors not known till somebody brings it out. >> that's right. we have a lot of discussion about potential setdown that could happen at the end of the week and a quick update on that, what we expect now is for the
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house to pass a continuing resolution that the senate will reject leading to a faceoff wednesday or thursday. but talking to sources on both sides, they think there will be another short-term bill that gets to january. how they do it is very unclear and we're going to need to watch carefully over the next few days. >> watch closely and it keeps on getting extended. >> that's right. >> woodruff: lisa desjardins, thank you. >> woodruff: now, a tough assessment about the impact of this bill. it's part of our continuing coverage of this major legislation. michael bloomberg is the former mayor of new york city and of course, a billionaire investor and business owner. he wrote an opinion column this weekend calling it "a trillion dollar blunder." i spoke with him a short time ago. mayor michael bloomberg, welcome. the republicans and president trump say this tax bill is going to make historic changes to a system that isway out of what can. you are a successful business person. why do you think it's not going
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to work? >> well, i think it will make a star change to our system. unfortunately, it's all in the wrong direction. what this bill is going to do is create a 1.5, 1.7 there does dea --1.5 to $1.7 trillion defi. we won't have money to improve our school systems or do any of these things and it exacerbates the income inequality problem at the same time. it's really hard to see how you could call this bill reform. it has no reforms in it whatsoever. so if you had tax breaks before, basically you still have them, you're just going to have a lower tax rate for some people, mainly for the very wealthy, and those people are just going to have a bigger percentage of the pie. >> woodruff: just yesterday, treasury secretary mnuchin said this is a bill that's going to lead to massive economic growth, he said as high as 6% in some
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quarters, and he said it's going to lead to average wage increases of $4,500 a year. >> well, number one, if the treasury secretary really believes that, everybody is holding with baited breath, waiting with baited breath for him to give us the report that he said he had 100 people in treasury working on. what he did was came one piece of paper and it just said all is going to be good. the truth of the matter is we've never had growth for a long period of time like that, and in the past when we have reduced taxes, it has not gone to increase wages or really to stimulate economic activity. if you think about it, without a tax increase, the stock market in the last year is up 25%, 27%. i don't know what stimulation you can get beyond that. >> woodruff: you agree the corporate tax rate is too high. you run a global business. do you think this is going to lead businesses to bring jobs back to the united states? >> i think there is a reason to
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reduce corporate taxes. we are much higher than everybody else, and, to be competitive, you have to do that. but doing things that will stimulate economic activity is very different than just cutting taxes. we need to invest it in things they can infrastructure, not reduce our ability to go and invest in infrastructure. this is a political bell, judy, that was designed because the president of the united states made a campaign promise an wants to fulfill the campaign promise, and congress has passed a bill in the dead of night when nobody read the bill, nobody knows what's in it, congress will vote for this bill without having done any due diligence or consulted any experts. it is about as irresponsible ways to create policy and laws as neb could possibly think of. >> woodruff: you also mentioned, mayor bloomberg, education, that the burden will
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fall helviest on the cities with the poorest students. how so? >> we have a group of people in this country who are poor and don't seem to be able to work their ways out of poverty. one of the real reasons for that is they don't get a good education. we put teachers in the classroom who, in many cases, shouldn't be there and can't qualify unfortunately, and we should spend money to take the teachers and give them the help they need to become better teachers so they can help these people get an education, and if you get an education, then you can work yourself out of poverty. by taking the away the state and local deductions in the big states where they have more of the people who, unfortunately, have been mired in poverty for a long time, we're taking away their ability to give the poor people of this country what they need to work themselves out of this spiral, this succession of
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generation after generation that remains poor. we keep talking about helping them, and we're not helping them, and this is going to make it harder to do that. >> woodruff: one other thing this bill does is to do away with the individual mandate under obamacare, health insurance, that people are required to purchase health insurance. what effect do you think that's going to have on premiums? >> well, somebody's got to pay. that's the dirty little secret here is medical costs keep going up and we're unwilling to do anything about the costs, like negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices, which other countries do. but regardless, whatever the cost of med kin is, we want to have everybody covered. we've made a decision in this country we're not going to let anybody die in the streets. if you need hospital care, medical care, the government will pay for it, either through an insurance program like obamacare or direct subsidies from the taxpayers to hospitals and doctors that have to provide that care. and to take away the mandate is
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real will you saying the only -- is really saying the only people who are going to pay are those who need healthcare, and the way healthcare works is everybody pays so it reduces the cost so that people who need healthcare can afford it because, otherwise, they could never afford it on their own. that's what an insurance plan is, everybody pays in, some people benefit. why would you pay into that? because it might be you some day that needs the benefit. >> woodruff: final question. you have been critical of president trump since before he was elected. what grade would you give him after 11 months in office? >> well, i think the president has to learn the job and he's still doing that. he's doing it slower than i would have thought. he has to build a team and he's really not done that. now it's harder for him to attract good people. the bottom line is this president as all presidents need a team and let them make decisions. you've got to hire people and give them authority to go along with the responsibility and you've got to hire people who
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are experts in each facet of government rather than people who just happen to agree with your political point of views. and he's not separated out the politics from the knowledge that we need. to sit there and say to c.d.c., the centers for disease control, you can't use certain words or we can't talk about climate change, we can't talk about certain things that are politically not what the president believes in, but you can't manage scenes. we're almost going back to the dark ages of saying what science, is what things they can look at and what their conclusions have to be from a political point of view regardless of whether the scenes gets there. the president has to understand that he's the president of all the people and that his political views, he has a right to those and there is nothing wrong with him trying to push those, he was elected by 63-odd million people, but certain things you just have to do based on the facts and have experts,
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non-political experts do it. >> woodruff: former new york city mayor, michael bloomberg. thank you. >> judy, thank you for having me. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: it's politics monday-- the latest on special counsel be mus investigation and new criticism he faces from conservatives. but first, the american war against isis was driven initially by the militants' attack on the yazidi religious minority of iraq. the campaign of mass murder, forced displacement and enslavement of the yazidis shocked the world. now, many have returned to their ancestral homeland around sinjar mountain, in iraq's far northwest. but as special correspondent jane ferguson found, so much there will never be the same.
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>> reporter: on iraq's sinjar mountain, this is a celebration of one of the world's oldest religions-- people giving thanks to god and the angels for who they are. among the graves of their ancestors, families meet here for one of the greatest festivals of the year in the yazidi religion, a time to celebrate their identity as a people. it's called the eid al jamma festival, or the feast of the assembly the community invited us to join in their celebrations. it's normally a time of spiritual rebirth for the yazidi people and right now, rebirth is something they desperately need. >> ( translated ): the men are not here because they are happy, they are here to pray and ask god for the return of their wives and daughters. >> reporter: when isis gunmen swept across iraq in 2014, they came here, to this peaceful rural community, declaring the yazidi people infidels for their ancient religious practices.
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they took away thousands of women and girls as sex slaves, and they slaughtered many of the men. the road back to sinjar is an emotional journey for adiba qasim. her homeland is a broken, scarred place, haunted by memories of what the united nations determined was a genocide. she is a local journalist who brought us here. when isis arrived into her village, khana sor, the extremists showed no mercy. adiba grew up on this street, surrounded by her extended family. when they got word isis was coming, her aunts and uncles decided to stay, despite rumors of isis brutality, they could not imagine the stories were true. they never thought anything so terrible would happen to them. adeeba's parents alongside her and her siblings played it safe and drove away, just 15 minutes before the is fighters came down here. do you ever think about what would have happened if you had stayed?
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>> ( translated ): the other people stayed, they were all killed. their bodies are in the mass graves, so we were lucky. >> reporter: around 70 members of her wider family are still missing, she tells us. some were young women sold as sex slaves. the men were probably killed. her half brother has come back here now with his family. when adiba brings us for a visit, it's a rare moment of joy for family. adiba is now 24 years old, and like thousands of other yazidi survivors, she is trying to recover. she moved to the nearby capital of kurdistan and works with foreign journalists and aid workers. her whole family are scattered. some have managed to get asylum in germany, while others are refugees in turkey. and then there are those who became isis's victims, missing or killed.
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she took us to her old home. >> i lost everything. this house is full of memories of mine. beautiful things but, not any more. >> reporter: you don't want to go inside? >> no never. >> reporter: do you think you will ever go back to this house? >> no, i don't think so. >> reporter: helping other yazidi women and girls is now part of adiba's recovery. she took us to visit one such family she met through her work with charities providing psychological support for victims. they are one of the only yazidi families to return to hardan village, and now, they're trying to move on with their lives. zahida was just 17 when the militants came. they took her to mosul city as a sex slave for a year before she managed to escape. her mother ramzia was held as a house slave, cooking and cleaning for an isis family until finally being freed just a few days ago.
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we have changed their names and hidden their identities because other family members are still being held by isis. >> ( translated ): isis families wanted yezidi old women to clean for them but not if they came with children. they put my picture and my name on social media as a slave for sale and said i come without children. >> reporter: she was bought by a saudi family in raqqa, at the time the islamic state's capital in neighboring syria. >> ( translated ): i told the woman who bought me that i dreamed of going home and she said you will never go home, you will die in my house. >> reporter: she didn't die there. instead, as raqqa began to fall to coalition forces, her captors contacted her family and sold her back, exchanging her freedom
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for $13,000. her daughter's story is one of personal triumph. she waited in a refugee camp after escaping, while one by one her sisters also managed to buy their freedom, and after so much pain, zahida found love. >> ( translated ): i never thought i would be happy again. when something so terrible happens to you when you are just a girl, just 17, it's very hard to forget it. in the refugee camp life was very tough, but eventually my sisters returned and then i met my husband in the camp. we dated for a year and fell in love. so i have experienced both great sadness and great happiness in my life. >> reporter: the wedding was just a month ago. she and her husband now live in the battered village. just a few hundred yards down the road a mass grave-- this nameless hump of scrub land- is a cruel reminder that the men of the village who are still missing are unlikely to be coming home. the old lady in that village
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just told you that she saw your cousins, she heard from them? >> yes, she told me that she saw two of them and i mean the last time i saw them they were like 12 years old. she told me that they were bought and sold. they were, like, slaves. and last time that she saw them was last year and after that she couldn't hear from them any more. >> reporter: for the rest of the community, many turn to prayer to recover from the past. and celebrations like eid al jamma are as much about keeping their identity alive too. since 2014, thousands of yazidis have left iraq as refugees. the religious practices of the yazidi community are some of the oldest in the world, and with so many members of the community leaving the country, traditions
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like this are in danger of dying out. once people enter into the temple, they take pieces of colored cloth and they tie it on to the walls inside here. each one represents a prayer, or a wish. the elders here are praying for jy to return. >> ( translated ): in the past, people were coming here and dancing and celebrating, but afer the genocide, they don't dance anymore. >> reporter: during the ceremony's climax, the atmosphere is triumphant. a bright cloth, representing the colors of life and god is carried with elation into the temple. for the people here it is a brief moment of triumph. something to be savored at times like these. standing in the way of recovery, is a deep sense of betrayal. many of the yazidis we spoke with adamantly believe their arab-muslim neighbors welcomed isis in and handed them over.
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it has left a bitterness those like adeeba struggle to overcome, especially, she says, because her father's friends in nearby villages assured them they would be safe. do you think there can be never any healing? >> never. there is something in our hearts and we will never get healing for it. never. and it will never be forgotten. >> reporter: you can't forgive? >> it's difficult to forgive. it's not easy. >> reporter: across iraq the violence of recent years has pitted neighbor against neighbor. bitterness and mistrust have pulled diverse communities apart from one another, and in turn pulled the country apart. for the yazidis, the memory of this genocide will last for many generations to come, and forgiveness may take generations too. for the pbs newshour, i'm jane ferguson, in sinjar, iraq.
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>> woodruff: as we heard, this is a critical week for congress, as republican leaders sprint toward a final vote on their tax plan and avert a looming government shutdown. meanwhile, the conservative drumbeat to discredit the special counsel's russia probe is growing even louder. and to william brangham. >> brangham: thanks judy. to help us wade through this thicket, we are joined by our politics monday team: tamara keith of npr and amy walter of the "cook political report." welcome to you both. >> thank you. am, let's talk about the tax bill. looks like the president is on the cusp of his first major legislative victory. is this all but over? >> pretty much. vice president mike pence announced he is definitely staying in town. he's delaying a trip to israel that was supposed to take place later this week until january just so that he can be in town just in case to make that deciding tiebreaking vote. but by every account, this is on
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a glide path at this point to passage, and if it does pass, this is not just a tax bill, this is president trump actually accomplishing a surprisingly large number of things. while everyone was focused on the russia investigation and the tweets, this bill not only is a $1.5 trillion tax cut, but it is also a repeal of the individual mandate under the affordable care act which is the least popular part of the affordable care act. it opens up drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge. then if you add some of the other things the president has done like rolling back regulationand stacking the judiciary and getting judge gorsuch, all of a sudden this looks like a conservative agenda that one could call a success for the president. >> brangham: amy, the polls show this is not a terribly
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popular bill but the president and allies have been effective in their messaging. they say it is a middle class tax cut, not a tax cut for the rich, but yet the data show it does, over time, will raise taxes on the middle class in the end. does a legislative victory offset something that is unpopular in the end? will this matter that way? >> so it's unpopular right now and the question is does ut become more popular over time. sometimes we've seen bills that start off as unpopular and, being unpopular, changing people's perceptions of this legislation is going to depend on a few things. the first thing is republicans do a better job describing this bill. the argument from some republicans is the mainstream media has described this incorrectly. they have been calling this a tax cut for the wealthy. it's really not. once we get it passed, we're going to fill that vacuum with better mentioning to tell our story. the second is that people will
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actually see something in their paychecks as soon as next year. >> tangible something. relief. only 5% of american families will see an actual increase in their taxes. everybody else is getting something of a tax cut in the immediate future. so that could change perceptions of it. finally, if p the economy continues to do well, there's talk of course about it doing even better than it is now, then it will also change perceptions not just of the legislation but of republicans. the aside on all this, of course, is that the economy is doing well by objective standards. people think the economy is doing better, at least in consumer surveys, and yet the very people who are doing well, especially those who are involved in the stock market, if you have a 401k, are also the very people who don't approve of the job the president's doing, they don't approve of the congress and, as we've seen in the most recent special elections, it's these types of suburban, well-off voters that are breaking away from the republican party.
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so even the idea of an improving economy or more money in the pockets of taxpayers may not be enough to change the overall perception both of the president and the congress. >> can i just add that, as you were talking about the republican hopes for this legislation and how perception might change, that it sounded exactly like what democrats were saying with the affordable care act where they were saying, you know, the affordable care act is going to into place, the pre-existing condition stuff will go into effect immediately, people won't have to pay co-pace for their annual visits and people will appreciate it right away, and they didn't. >> they didn't. it didn't get implemented till 2014, so very delayed gratification, and the vacuum was filled bioponents. we've talked about it a lot on the show, but democrats passed it, they then moved on to other things. republicans spent millions of dollars in 2010 and beyond calling it a terrible piece of legislation.
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so democrats essentially seeded the messaging ground to republicans. republicans don't want to do that, allow democrats to do to them what they did on the affordable care act. >> big vote tomorrow open that. we'll be watching. let's talk about the russia investigation. i know, tim, you have been doing a lot of reporting about this. over the weekend, president trump's lawyers expressed a sense of outrage that somehow special counselor mueller had gotten copies of e-mails during the transition. can you tell us what the fight was about? >> yeah, and this is one of those things where you wake up monday morning and you're, like, did we just spend the whole weekend on this? yes, we did. these are not president trump's current lawyers. these are trump-linked lawyers, lawyers that were involved with the transition, and what sources tell me is the white house team and president trump's current lawyers didn't know about this until it was raised and that they were not on board with this strategy, but what these transition lawyers are saying is mueller's team got these e-mails from the transition through some
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sort of improper means, and what this really is, and mueller's team has disputed this and various other -- republican membes of congress have even said that's actually something that should be settled by the courts not congress, why did you send a letter to us exactly? well, because this is sort of a political thing. >> right. this is the bigger picture here is this is part of this larger pushback against the mueller operation that is coming from outside of the trump team. >> let's talk a little bit about that. there has been this steady drum beat on fox news and some of the president's allies pushing back against mueller trying to discredit them. this is nothing new we know. this has been going on for a while. you were telling us about this before. tell me what you think was going on there. >> it's pretty clear that, and this happens -- we've seen it in previous investigations, you know, all the way back to iran contra or watergate, you go
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after either the prosecutor or the case, you try to discredit them so that, you know, when all is said and done, both those things no longer have the credibility that they once did. but when you go back and look at the most recent example, of course, was the ken star investigation. the coverage of it, white house official was blunt about it the strategy in '98 calling the coordinated attacks in a campaign to destroy ken star. then he was unpopular. clinton's popularity was in the 60s and 70s. the challenge to discredit mueller is he's more popular. his approval 55%, even among republicans 44% believe he's doing a credible job. >> brangham: amy walter, tamera keith, thank you so much. >> you're welcome.
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>> woodruff: on the newshour online, we'll have continuing updates on the washington state amtrak train derailment. you can find that and more on our web site, and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> 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
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>> 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
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tukufu: we're the history detectives, and we're going to investigate some untold stories from america's past. elyse: this week, could this mysterious metal craft be the secret weapon the confederates hoped would win the civil war? wes: is this native american pipe evidence of a dramatic standoff between the famous lakota leader red cloud and the u.s. government? gwen: and does this seemingly simple house reveal one of the legendary inventor thomas edison's greatest failures? ♪ watchin' the detectives ♪ i get so angry when the teardrops start ♪