tv PBS News Hour PBS January 1, 2018 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> brangham: happy new year. i'm william brangham. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight, anti- government protests continue across iran leaving at least a dozen dead. >> i saw a group of 50 protesters that came out on the streets, shouted slogans against iran's supreme leader, shouted slogans against iran's intervention in syria and iraq, who burned down some trash bins on the street and then were, of course, chased by police and ran off. >> brangham: then, new year, new laws: the changes taking effect across the country from increases in the minimum wage, mandatory sick leave, and marijuana legalization. and, clearing deadly mines in afghanistan to save lives. >> clearing explosives is a slow
and dangerous business. this area has been mined since the 1980s. mine clearance organizations have been able to get rid of about 80% of the old ordnance left in afghanistan. but new fighting means they still have a lot of work ahead of them. >> brangham: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects
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station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brangham: in iran tonight, leaders of the islamic republic are facing the most serious challenge to their rule in nearly a decade. protests have erupted across the country, with at least 13 killed so far, and growing fears of a new crackdown. iranian state tv initially ignored these protests, but no more. today, it broadcast what it said was the aftermath of deadly overnight clashes between protesters and police. >> ( translated ): unfortunately in total, some 10 people died in various cities last night. during the unrest some public places were set on fire or seriously damaged. >> brangham: the report said armed protesters tried to take over police stations and military bases. it did not say where that occurred. the unrest began thursday, in
the city of mashhad, hometown of the country's supreme leader, ayatollah ali khamenei. demonstrations initially over economic woes quickly spread across the country, including the capital tehran. in the process, crowds began directly challenging the very head of the regime. they yelled "death to khamenei," and some even shouted support for the late shah, who was ousted in the 1979 revolution. in tehran, on sunday, protesters overturned police vans, and threw rocks at security forces, who in turn used tear gas, batons and live fire. these are the biggest protests in iran since 2009's "green movement," when masses accused then-president mahmoud ahmadinejad of rigging his re- election. security forces swiftly and harshly cracked down on that uprising. this time, the response has been somewhat more restrained. president hassan rouhani acknowledged sunday that many iranians haven't seen the
economic benefits they were promised after the signing of the iran nuclear deal. >> ( translated ): so the people have a right to criticize, all over the country. but, criticism is entirely different from violence. while those responsible in our country must respect the grounds for legal complaints of the people, at the same time, we must not allow the creation of an atmosphere where supporters of the revolution and our people worry about their lives and security. >> brangham: today, officials in najafabad, in western iran, said protesters shot at police, killing one and injuring three more. other officials warned the demonstrators will "pay the price." >> ( translated ): those who carry out acts of sabotage, riot and unrest, and set fire to public and private venues and properties, should be dealt with strongly. >> brangham: president trump encouraged the protesters on twitter this weekend, and declared it's "time for change" in iran. meanwhile, hundreds of people have been arrested, and the government blocked instagram and
the messaging app telegram, to try and limit the organization of more protests. for more on the latest in iran, i spoke a short while ago with thomas erdbrink of the "new york times," he's in tehran, i began by asking him to describe the scene today. >> so i was out on the streets of tehran today, like many, many other people who were walking the pavements maybe with the intention to protest or shout sloughens but they definitely weren't able to because the squares of a tehran were lined with police officers in riot gear, plain-clothed officers on motorcycles. clearly the decision had been made today to not allow the protests at least in the capital from growing any further. but despite that, i saw a group of 50 protesters that came out on the streets, shouted slogans against iran's supreme leader, shouted slogans against iran's intervention in syria and iraq, who burned down some trash bins
on the streets and then were, of course, chased by the police and ran off. >> brangham: do you have a sense of what it is that these protesters actually want? >> well, these protests are based on the broad feeling of discontent i a mong average, ordinary iranians, and the root of this discontent is inside iran's economy. now, of course, iran's economy has been under sanctions during the past ten years and continues to be under unilateral american sanctions even after the 2015 nuclear agreement between iran and world powers. it is still impossible to send and receive money to this country. but, at the same time, iran's economy has also been mismanaged by iran's leaders, not for the past ten years, but for decades, already. well, as a result, there are many young people here who are without a job who can not make ends meet and, who for years, already, have been complaining about the economy. >> brangham: and, thomas, who are these protesters?
who is it that is actually out on the streets today? >> well, there are two groups of protesters, there is a big group of people who are dissatisfied with the economical situation and also because, in iran, everything is political as this is an ideological country, they are ultimately also dissatisfied with the political choices their leaders have made. now, those people can be taxi drivers, lawyers, housewives. they are the ones who might intend to go on the streets but are not going so at this point in time because they are afraid to lose whatever they have -- maybe they will get in trouble with the law -- but then there is a smaller group of young people who are maybe poor, who feel as if they have nothing to lose, who seem to be very determined to go out on the street, to shout these slogans and to, even at points, throw stones at the police, vandalize, burn down trash bins and and otr things to make their point.
>> brangham: thomas erdbrink of the "new york times." thank you very much. >> thank you for having me. >> brangham: we'll focus more on what's driving the unrest in iran, after the news summary. in the day's other news: the new year brought more slaughter in yemen. security officials and witnesses say at least 23 people died in air strikes by the saudi arabian coalition. the strikes targeted the port city of hodeida on the red sea. it's held by shiite rebels. the war in yemen has killed more than 10,000 civilians since 2015. much of the u.s. began the year still in the deep freeze. it was minus 32 in aberdeen, south dakota, the coldest new year's day in 99 years. readings in omaha, nebraska plunged to 15 below zero overnight, smashing a record set in 1884. the wind chill made it feel more like minus 40. and the deep south braced for temperatures in the teens tonight. despite the frigid weather, some people ushered in 2018 with a traditional swim. in new york, hundreds of swimmers at coney island braved 17 degrees to take the annual polar bear plunge. it raises money for the local
community. the 129th annual rose parade was considerably warmer. it rolled through the streets of pasadena, california, with dozens of floats covered in flowers. people lined up for hours beforehand. >> just everyone getting together with the family from out of town you know and then just having front row seats to the you know the rose parade. >> never been. first time. it's been on my bucket list to see the rose bowl parade. we made it! yay! >> brangham: the new year also brings in a number of new laws nationwide. we'll look at some of them, later in the program. president trump's first tweet of the new year was a shot at pakistan, for harboring terror groups. he said the u.s. has given pakistan billions of dollars in aid. but he charged, "they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking our leaders as fools." pakistan's foreign minister dismissed the criticism, saying "america is frustrated over defeat in afghanistan." in northern england, a huge fire engulfed a parking garage in liverpool last night, destroying some 1400 cars.
flames and thick smoke could be seen billowing out of the seven- story parking deck next to an event arena. police officials said the fire started accidentally in the engine of an older vehicle. no injuries were reported. and, homicide rates fell in several major u.s. cities last year. the number in new york appeared to fall below 300 for the first time in nearly 70 years. chicago had 650 killings, down more than 15% from last year. but baltimore had 343, its highest rate of homicides ever. still to come on the newshour: unrest in iran-- the implications of recent protests. what signals is north korean leader kim jong-un sending in his new year's speech. in the u.s., states ring in the new year with a raft of brand- new laws, and much more.
>> brangham: we return now to the protests in iran. how significant are they? and how are they different from what we saw in iran in 2009? karim sadjapour is a senior fellow at the carnegie endowment for international peace and writes extensively about iran. welcome to the "newshour". >> thank you. >> brangham: so how significant are these protests? >> i think the protests are significant. they are different than the major protests of 2009 in a few different ways. number one, in 2009, you had millions of people take to the streets. so far, we have seen in these protests tens of thousands, so the scale has been smaller, but what's been larger in 2009 is the geographic scope. in 2009, it was mostly in the city of tehran. these protests began in very religious cities and spilled over to smaller provincial cities, so the geographic scope has really been unprecedented. number three is that the slogans of these protests have been far more intense than 2009. 2009, people were saying,
where's my vote? they want their vote back. this time around people are calling to death to the supreme leader and end to the islamic republic. >> brangham: for people who weren't aware of iranian society, that is a very exciting thing for people to be chanting publicly. >> absolutely because we're talking about a highly repressive authoritarian regime, a government which has a monopoly of coercion, they're highly organized and well practiced in the science of oppression, and those who are protesting are really leaderless, unorganized and for the most part unarmed, but i think there is one really important statistic to, again, contrast with 2009 which is, in the 2009 protest, only 1 million iranians have smartphones. now nearly 48 million iranians have smartphones. so the state's ability to control communication and information is much more difficult when people have smartphones in their pockets
with video cameras. >> brangham: i asked thomas erdbrink this same question -- why is this happening now and what is it from this mass of people, what is it they seem to want? >> well, i think people's frustrations have been boiling over for many months, now. in fact, you could argue decades. there is a theory of popular uprisings which says that they commonly happen when people's expectations are raised and suddenly dashed, and people's exec takes were raised by the nuclear deal, they thought the quality of life would be better and it hasn't improved meaningfully as a result of the nuclear deal. so thomas is right, it's above all economic frustrations, but in a place like iran which is not only politically but economically and socially authoritarian, all of that has come out and become evident. >> brangham: we saw president trump supporting the protesters in a tweet and saying there needs to be change in
iran. is that helpful? i mean, if you were advising the president, what would you urge the u.s. policy to be in this regard? >> i think the u.s. government needs to be careful. of course, when there are protests against regime whose official slogan is death to america, all american politicians are going to want to support those protests, but there's a difference between carefully crafted official statements of solidarity, which i think is right, in contrast to kind of free-wheeling presidential tweets which could backfire, but i think more important than what the u.s. says is what the u.s. does, and it's true that the u.s. has limited leverage over iran, but one thing we should be doing is everything in our power to inhibit the regime's ability to control communications, to control information and to repress society, and one way of doing that is to make clear to companies and countries around the world that they will be censured if they provide the iranian regime the means and technology to sensor and black
out communications. >> brangham: you heard thomas say he saw clear evidence the government is trying to stop theo protests. what is your sense? will they grow or this be it? >> i think we can salute the courage of these protests while, at the same time, being sober for the prospects of success. this is a regime which is very well practiced, and the science of brutality, they are deeply resolved to stay in power, and the protesters, as i said, they don't have leadership, they're unorganized, they don't have arms. so i think that they face enormous hurdleles. >> brangham:. >> brangham: karim sadjadpour, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> brangham: next, jeffrey brown explores the mixed signals coming out of north korea today, where a possible overture also came with more threats against the u.s.
>> brown: it was an annual new year's address from north korean leader kim jung-un, but this year it came with a surprise outreach to seoul, including possible participation in next month's winter olympics, to be held in south korea. coupled with that, though: new boasts of the north's nuclear power. here are some key excerpts. e entire united states is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. this is reality, not a threat. this year, we should focus on mass producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment. the winter games to be held in south korea will be a good occasion for the country. we sincerely hope that the winter olympics will be a success. we are prepared to take various steps, including the dispatch of the delegation. officials from the two koreas may urgently meet to discuss the >> brown: what to make of the
mixed messages? frank jannuzi took part in clinton administration talks with north korea and has since worked on east asia policy in and out of government. he now heads the mansfield foundation. >> brangham: let's start with the new call for dialogue with south korea. how important? >> critically important. this is not a tweet. this is a carefully prepared government policy document, and the outreach to south korea on two fronts, the olympics but also on the issue of reducing tension and trying to live side by side in peace, this was the first time that the kim jong un government has really responded favorably to the peace initiatives offered up by south korean president moon jae-in. >> brangham: on the other hand it comes with continued warning and reiteration to the u.s. of the nuclear power. so no change there. >> well, indeed, kim jong un's dual track approach of military preparedness and economic
modernization is predicated on first north korea establishing a credible nuclear deterrent. they now claim they've done that. it happens opens the door to dialogue first with south korea and hopefully down the road with the united states. >> brangham: well, even in recent days, the current administration has tried to martial international other countries for continued and even stronger sanctions, right. so does a speech like this have the potential to change the calculus if not for the u.s. but perhaps for other countries? >> well, i would certainly hope the trump administration is watching the speech extremely closely because it may represent the first positive outcome of the trump administration's engagement and strategy. the pressure from new york, the security council, the diplomatic effort may be bearing fruit and seek offramps. >> brangham: is it something the trump administration could
take credit for it? >> i don't care who takes credit. i think they could take credit. i hope they will, because if the policy is working it could lead to tension reduction and ability to make progress on the critical issues that confront us. >> brangham: but another reading is could be an attempt to create a wedge between the u.s. and south korea. >> indeed, because president moon jae-in has adopted a softer approach to the north than has the trump administration. i think we should not worry too much. south korean-u.s. alliance is as strong as i've ever seen in the 30 years of looking at that special partnership. >> brangham: but where does it leave south korea? as you say, the president has called for this kind of new openness and now it might actually happen. >> well, moon jae-in wants to lead on the issues on the korean peninsula. he doesn't want to delegate that job to washington. so if he can now orchestrate a meaningful tension reduction and north korean participation in the olympics, he may get the chance to lead in 2018. >> brangham: it's interesting,
finally, to think of the olympics. this is the olympics as kind of diplomatic diplomacy ball, right? >> well, we've had sports diplomacy in east asia going back to the nixon ping-pong era. so if the olympics can help bring a mood of peace and a spirit of cooperation, that would be a wonderful outcome for these winter games. >> brangham: what does happen next? what do you look for? because we've seen swings so many times in this, right? >> absolutely. the first critical objective is to secure north korea's participation in the games. if that falls through we might see diplomatic backlash, but the next steps are more important, tension reduction. nobody should expect north korea to unilaterally disarm or halt all military testing and exercises. it's going to take careful negotiations. >> brangham: frank jannuzi, thank you very much. >> thank you, jeff.
>> brangham: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: a look ahead to politics in 2018 with our regular monday duo. creating safer ground in afghanistan by removing dangerous explosives. and tiny satellites that could bring lighting-fast internet to billions of people on earth. but first, millions of americans across the country got a pay raise starting today. lisa dejardins reviews some of the new state laws that just went into effect. >> desjardins: the changes impact big policy areas, from minimum wage increases to immigration and the legalization of marijuana in california, the nation's largest state. and in some cases, states are acting where the federal government can not or will not. reid wilson is a reporter at the hill newspaper. let's start with a map about these minimum wage increases. effect today 18 states are raising their minimum-wage and the federal minimum-wage is $7.25. so how significant are these increases? >> well, in some states they're
very significant. maine-ers will see a full dollar per hour of minimum-wage increase, washington state up by 50 cents. in other states, not so significant, alaska's minimum-wage goes up just 4 cents today. seeing action in the states where the federal government has not changed the minimum-wage in a couple of decades now and the fact is there are a lot of progressive union groups and pro labor organizations that are using ballot measures to push the minimum-wage to $11.50 in washington state which is now the highest in the country. in a couple of years that will ratchet up to $13.50, and even in some of washington's cities, seethe and sea-tac, the minimum-wage is north of $15. >> desjardins: and a dollar increase is significant. >> that would be about $1,000 a year for lowest wage workers, pretty significant for someone making about $20,000 a year. >> desjardins: from national
trend, a state trying to set trends, california, they are moving leftward in a couple of areas, one, recreational manner. starting today, you can use and buy small amounts of marijuana with some limits like other states have. but california is a massive state and economy. is this going to change the truck policy, the drug marketplace? >> well, it could change a little in congress because there are a significant number of republicans in specifically marijuana legalization states. california is now the sixth state in which marijuana is legal for recreational purposes. there are a number of republicans who are trying to push the federal government to leave these states alone. even if you're anti-marijuana, even if you're a conservative republican, you don't want the federal justice department suing your state over something your voters chose. that's not a great way to do brick policy or get reelected. so i think has more states move towards legalization, we're going to start to see some changing attitudes in congress. not necessarily pro legalization
attitude change but a hands-off, let's let the states do what they want. >> desjardins: california is also making a big policy statement on immigration, the state calling itself today a sanctuary state. what does that mean? >> so california's passed a law that will prohibit late law enforcement agencies from lyasing with the federal immigration authorities in some senses. if there is somebody who is arrested and charged with a very serious crime, there's a list of about 60 crimes they could qualify for, yes, the california law enforcement can hand that person over for deportation at the end of his or her sentence, but just an average, say, traffic stop or something like that, if the feds ask for a detainer -- or submit a detainer request, the california law enforcement are not necessarily honor that. >> desjardins: yeah, i understood that some desks at workplaces i.c.e. has in local sheriffs departments, they're being asked to leave. >> yes, and this is a part of larger movement we're seeing in
liberal states and larger cities that are trying to build a relationship between local police departments and immigrant communities, that relationship, they say, helps reduce crime. federal authorities want to effectively find ways to deport those who are in the country illegally. it's a tenuous sort of triangle there, but it's one that local law enforcement agencies are increasingly asserting their rights over. >> desjardins: obviously a lot of politics there, too. let's end on a fun note. there are always thousands of new laws every january 1, always oddball ones. do you have a favorite? >> right, so there are a couple. there are about 40,000 new laws taking effect on january 1. in illinois, august 4, from now on, will be known as barack obama day. it's not in a state holiday but it's something they're going to observe. >> desjardins: considered his home state. >> absolutely. >> desjardins: happy new year, thanks for joining us. reid wilson on the hill.
>> brangham: transgender individuals may openly join the u.s. military, for now. the change in policy comes despite the opposition of the nation's commander-in-chief. president trump tweeted last july that he would "not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity." since then, several federal courts have since rejected that position. and the justice department said friday it will allow the transgender individuals to serve pending the results of a pentagon study currently underway. back in may of 2016, back in the obama administration and before any of these other developments, we reported on what this shift in military policy could mean for supporters and critics alike. tonight, a second look at that report. >> brangham: in 2014, lieutenant blake dreaman was going to be one of the first women to serve on a u.s. navy submarine. >> we got invited to the white house and this is me with the president. >> brangham: but by the time that vessel launched in late 2013, blake was physically transitioning to the male
gender, and giving himself weekly hormone injections. >> i took my first shot the week before we got under way and i took them underway with us. >> brangham: blake is a transgender man. his sex at birth was female, but he's long identified himself as male. >> i probably knew when i was like five. right? that something was amiss. but you grow up in the church, you grow up in bible college, that type of environment and you just learn to ignore it. >> brangham: blake is now stationed at the pentagon. he says most of the other officers treat him like any another colleague. >> the senior officers have been very receptive about it. i've talked to numerous, all kinds of them for sometimes an hour or an hour and a half at a time and if you ask, i'm very open. >> brangham: the tide has slowly been turning for transgender service members like blake. until 2015, if a soldier, sailor, airman or marine changed their gender identity, pentagon policy was to give them a medical disqualification and discharge them from service.
this was policy, but it wasn't always strictly enforced. former secretary of defense ash carter stopped these dismissals, and ordered the pentagon to draft plans to allow transgender people to serve openly. but that change came too late for some. as a man, brynn tannehill graduated with honors from the naval academy in 1997. she went on to serve as a navy pilot for over a decade. >> i was flying an s.h.-60b helicopter, that's kind of the full of sub hunting gear and surface search radars and infrared cameras. we could carry anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. >> brangham: she served in the persian gulf and elsewhere. and after leaving the navy, she joined the reserves, but soon realized she couldn't keep flying. >> i left the military in 2010, left the reserves, because i was dealing with gender dysphoria. i was dealing with the fact that i did not identify with the gender i'd been assigned at birth.
>> brangham: in 2016 she was a military consultant. in her free time she makes her own medieval-style body armor and participates in popular, one-on-one mock combat. gender dysphoria, according to the current thinking among mental health professionals, is the real, deep-seated sense that the gender you were born with isn't really who you are. a survey of over 6,000 transgender americans found that 20%-- that's one in five-- had served in the military. that's more than twice the percentage of the general population. another study, by the u.c.l.a. school of law, estimates that about 15,500 trans people serve in the u.s. armed forces, out of a total force of 1.5 million. the same study found that there are about 130,000 trans veterans, out of 22 million total veterans. >> they have to live a double life, live secretly. and there are problems that arrive out of that type of existence. >> brangham: george brown is associate chairman for veteran's affairs at east tennessee state university. he spent 15 years as an airforce psychiatrist. since the 1980's dr. brown has treated hundreds of transgender
soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. and he's developed a theory about why so many trans men and women serve. >> 90% of the people i interviewed would say, you know, when i was 17-, 18-, 19-years- old i knew there was something different about me, about myself, and i really wanted to run away from this. i thought if i joined the military i could become a real man. >> brangham: however trans men and women end up in the military, brynn tannehil wants them to be treated the same way that all other federal government workers are treated. >> the federal workforce already has policies in place that allow other federal workers to transition, to change their names, change their gender markers, to use bathrooms, to use locker rooms. all of this has been worked out with every other federal agency. so the military is really kind of a little bit behind the curve on this one. >> brangham: she says v.a hospitals have been providing hormones and therapy to trans veterans since 2011. but that's not the case for service members on active duty or in the reserves. tannehil says if a woman needs
hormone replacement therapy to address menopausal symptoms or after cancer treatment, she can get it through the military health care system. but not women like her. >> if a transgender woman needs that same estrogen in the same doses she can't get it. >> brangham: according to a 2015 study in the new england journal of medicine by aaron belkin of the palm center, they're a research and advocacy group that focuses on transgender issues, it would cost the military about $5.6 million to pay for hormones and other transition-related treatments annually. and according this same estimate, about 188 soldiers would transition each year. while this represents just a sliver of the pentagon's personnel, and its nearly $600 billion annual budget-- for retired marine colonel gary anderson, his concerns about trans service members go beyond just money. >> i have nothing personally against women in combat, gays in the military, or transsexuals in the military, or gay pregnant whales in the military, as long
as somebody can show me that there is value added and not value taken away from the military readiness. >> brangham: anderson says that letting transgender people and gays serve has damaged morale. he claims it's the lowest it's been in decades. the cause? changing attitudes about the l.g.b.t.q.i. community. >> i think progressive fascism is a fair description. >> brangham: in the past, the pentagon has said that the impact of letting gays and lesbians serve openly has been" negligible." but anderson also says that transgender service members present logistical challenges. >> will there be a requirement for a third bathing and sanitary facility aboard submarines, on fire bases and so forth? >> we got stalls. we're mature enough to not-- you know, you shut the door, everybody knows, it's not like there's any secret to what going on when you walk into the bathroom. >> brangham: according to the palm center, 18 countries, including canada, the u.k. and
other nato allies have allowed transgender soldiers to serve. and tannehil says there's no evidence those militaries suffered any problems or setbacks. >> they've dealt with all the same issues that the d.o.d. is looking at and they dealt with them 15, 16 to 20 years ago, including facilities, including medical care, including non discrimination and anti- harassment policies. >> brangham: turning now to politics. here to preview what's on the horizon for congress, and the white house, is tamara keith of npr and amy walter of the "cook political report," our politics monday team. happy new year to you both. >> happy new year. >> brangham: so nice to see you. okay, let's just dive into this. congress is back this week, the senate next week. can you -- there are so many to-do lists being held by so many different people, what is at the top to have the priority
list? >> keeping the government funded. >> brangham: that's a big one. the basic functions of government, that's the big dead will coming up. the question is what possibly gets attached to that or is brought up in conjunction with it. you know, mark short who is the legislative affairs director for the white house has said that he hopes to have some sort of a deal on daca, that is the immigration program for young people who came to the country as young people and are now in the country illegally, the president wants to work something out, republicans and democrats, some republicans in congress, all the democrats in congress want to work something out. whether they can agree on what that would be is very much an open question. >> brangham: because the president has said i'm getting a wall before i'm giving on daca. >> exactly and he said it again this a tweet over the weekend, so president is making it very clear he is serious about getting the wall. democrat said we'll give you border security, we are not giving you a wall.
one question about this is there isn't actually a deadline. the program doesn't completely end until march. so is there enough of a deadline, are democrats able to use or do they even want to use the government funding bill as leverage to get that? or does this end up sort of just pushing? >> brangham: right. we spent all of 2017 with republicans passing or in some cases not passing major legislation with republican-only votes, right. the obamacare repeal ultimately failed, but it was all with republicans, the tax cut, all with republicans. this would be, if daca affects anything on immigration in general, there is talk about infrastructure, there's no longer the 51 votes with just republicans now, they've got to get a bunch of democrats on board, 60 votes, and they have fewer members now, one fewer, thanks to the election in alabama, though i would argue
doug jones as a conservative democrat is probably going to be pressured a lot to vote with republicans, but i think it's going to make for very difficult the idea of seeing, you know, this bipartisanship suddenly become the norm. i think tam is exactly right. what's going to happen for 2018 is let's just try to keep things on track, let's get stuff done that needs to get done, and i think getting through a big to-do list is not likely. >> brangham: now, i know it's january 1. am i allowed to talk about the mid-term elections or is it too early? >> it is never too early to talk about elections, come on. (laughter) >> brangham: all right. can you lay out the math for us? how many races are really competitive? do the democrats have a lotshot of taking one or both houses back? >> yeah, the biggest change since a year ago was there was no possibility back at this time last year, nobody thought there was a possibility that the senate could flip because the
map is so tilted against democrats. they are defending more seats than republicans are and most of the seats that are difficult for them to defend are in states that trump carried, some by double digits. now after what happened in alabama, the fact we are also seeing an theseiasm advantage for democrats sort of across the board in governor's races, we've seen it in special elections for the house, democratic voters turning out, there is talk about the possibility, i don't think it's likely, about the possibility of democrats getting the three seats they need to flip control of the senate. it requires a lot of things going right, hold on to all our seats, and they get help from people like steve bannon who is likely to be involved in the senate primaries. >> brangham: the democrats get help, you say. >> yes, steve bannon was very helpful to them in alabama by backing the one candidate workeddent win in the state as red as alabama, who was as flawed as roy moore. if he finds candidates or
supports candidates who are weak, especially in more competitive states like nevada and arizona, those are pickup potential for democrats. the house is a different story. democrats need 24 seats if they're going to flip the house. there aren't as many seats in play as democrats would like to have, but the environment looking much better for democrats, their enthusiasm is much better, the geographic challenges are still there for them, trying to find enough districts where they're not drawn or configured in a way that benefit republicans, but it is absolutely a possibility. they may even be a slight favorite right now, democrats a slight favorite to winning the house, just from what we're seeing in the numbers today. again, we're months out. >> brangham: tam, question, amy is talking about democratic enthusiasm, but what about g.o.p. enthusiasm?
if i blindfolded you right now and didn't tell you who the president was and just told you ihe was a republican and say you got tax cuts, a supreme court justice, rollback, regulations, you would be hard pressed to snow that wasn't just straightforward republican agenda enacted by trump: will there be g.o.p. rank and file because of what's been accomplished? >> there may be in the races on farm. in the special elections, democrats have outperformed hillary clinton and republicans have underperformed how donald trump did in 2016. so right now, there is definitely an enthusiasm difference, but absolutely, conservatives who were concerned about a president trump, were concerned he wouldn't be reliably conservative, they've gotten a reliably conservative president. they've gotten someone who did what basically any republican
president would do and, for those sort of trump voters who wanted to just, like, stick it to the man, they're getting that, too, because they're getting a candidate who is -- you know, he said i'll be so presidential you're bored, but then -- >> brangham: didn't turn out that way. >> -- but sense said, i don't have to do that, i can keep being interesting more or less, and he has continued to tweet up a storm and, you know, even his new year's greeting to the losers and the fake media, he has sort of remained as consistent as the outsider, bomb thrower rhetorically to please his base while, at the same time, pleasing sort of straight conservative, you know, the -- >> brangham: red meat conservative issues. >> -- red meat conservative issues, absolutely. >> brangham: cam tamera keith, amy walter, happy new year. >> happy new year.
>> brangham: 20 years ago, the ottawa treaty banned the production, use and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines, but those deadly explosives they still litter the landscape in many war-torn nations, like afghanistan. but afghanistan is also home to the world's largest landmine removal program, which has cleared nearly 80% of known mines from the soviet and afghan civil war era. as special correspondent jennifer glasse reports, mine agencies have not done much to clear explosives left behind by renewed fighting from the u.s.- lead war on terrorism, and casualties are mounting. >> reporter: for some, the scars of war will last a lifetime. three months ago 13 year old noorzia, who like most afghans goes by just one name, stepped on a landmine while collecting firewood. today she's walking on new artificial legs. >> when she came here first, she just crying, even she afraid from her residual limb, she hide her face to not look at residual limb. >> reporter: but now noorzia is learning to put her legs on herself. and she couldn't have a better
teacher. mahpikay siddiqi lost her legs 20 years ago also to a mine, also while collecting firewood. noorzia's father brought her here to kabul from nangarhar province in the east to get legs so she can go to school. >> ( translated ): she is disabled now. we need to make sure she can get an education, so she can become a doctor or an engineer or a teacher. >> reporter: mines that contaminate 33 of afghanistan's 34 provinces, and have changed lives forever. at least 30,000 afghans civilians have been injured or killed by mines or other explosives left behind by war since 1989, when mine clearing began here after the soviet union left. just five years ago casualties caused by mines and other explosive devices looked to become a thing of the past here, but this year, those numbers are expected to be the highest since 2001, because of improvised explosive devices set by the taliban and other anti- government groups and increased fighting around the country. this is the tangi saydan valley
just outside kabul. the soviets laid mines here in the '80s, then through the '90s then the afghan government, the taliban and other groups all fighting for control laid additional mines through the '90's. until now so far it's these old sites that have been the focus de-mining organisations have focused on. but it's new mines that are causing recent casualties. patrick fruchet runs the u.n.'s mine action service. >> back in in 2012 there were only about 35 recorded casualties per month. and those numbers have jumped right back up. we're at 181 recorded casualties per month here in 2017. that's the highest number in the world. >> reporter: and that's because america's war continues in afghanistan, now into its 17th year. there are more than 15,000 u.s. troops here, some fighting alongside afghan forces the united states has carried out three times as many air strikes this year compared to last year. some of that ordinance won't explode and will become a hazard. and the taliban, islamic state and other anti-government
militants are regularly use using i.e.d.'s, improvised explosive devices, many triggered by pressure plates. they're on roads, in fields and villages. rahmatullah rahmat is with the halo trust, a demining organization. >> so far the demining organizations or mine action program in afghanistan didn't decide to touch with the new mines. >> reporter: for political and practical reasons, mine organizations have primarily focused on what they call legacy mine and battlefields, from the soviet periods until 2001. clearing explosives is a slow and dangerous business. this area has been mined since the 1980s. mine clearance organizations have been able to get rid of about 80% of the old ordnance left in afghanistan. but new fighting means they still have a lot of work ahead of them. new mines means pretty much anything laid after 2001, when the americans invaded. after the arrival of u.s. and nato troops. removing them will be complicated for a number of
reasons. there aren't any official negotiations with the taliban or other insurgent groups, and fighting is ongoing, so access will be difficult. and the explosives used by insurgent groups are different from mines laid in the past. >> the new minefields are mostly these different types of these which we our teams are not trained to that. >> reporter: the de-miners will need new training and that will cost money. already recent cutbacks have forced mine organizations to lay off more than half of the country's 15,000 trained de- miners in afghanistan. having since 2001, mine clearance organizations have spent $1.3 billion here since 2001. >> afghanistan has a commitment to clear all of it's in place anti-personnel land mines by 2023. the bill for that is about $350 million dollars. >> reporter: to clear the more recent ordinance, recently laid mines the de-miners first need will have to be able to get to them. that is hard to do in places where there is active fighting mean un officials will need to
figure out who is in charge of which area so they can negotiate safe access. >> we are trying to speak to the parties to the conflict so that we can agree with everyone that devices should be abandoned, can be abandoned, so that we can go in and clear. so that the civilian population which bears the brunt of casualties in the conflict in afghanistan. the civilian population can be protected from these devices. >> reporter: afghanistan has had some success in clearing the country of mines come a long way in 1995, six years after demining began, more than 60% of the capital was contaminated. today, kabul's sprawling expanse is a testament to how much has been cleared in nearly three decades. on one of the capital's busiest streets, artists are painting a mural of a de-miner as a hero. the artists want to raise awareness. cities may be safe, the countryside isn't. >> ( translated ): outside of kabul people have to worry about mines every day. they could get hurt any time, so at the end of a day when it doesn't happen, people count themselves lucky.
for afghans, dealing with the threat of mine blasts has become a normal part of life. >> reporter: mine injuries are mine agencies believe the only way to stop the rising casualty count, is to start clearing the explosives left, caused by the current conflict. for the pbs newshour, i'm jennifer glasse in kabul. >> brangham: finally tonight, a story about a space race that's very close to its finish line. cubesats are tiny satellites critical to space exploration. newshour science producer nsikan akpan reports how one scientist plans to propel these rubix cube-sized satellites to infinity and beyond. >> reporter: have you heard of space internet? 4,000 small satellites orbiting earth, beaming down high-speed broadband to the most remote nooks of the planet, reaching billions.
spacex, virgin galactic, boeing and airbus are all racing to make space internet a reality. this scheme depends on cubesats- -low-cost, bite-sized satellites that many view as the future of telecommunications and deep space exploration. but these cubesats have a big problem. conventional rockets with their huge chemical fuel tanks are too large and powerful for cubesats, which are as tiny as rubix cubes or small printers. it'd be like strapping your bicycle to a monster truck. so cubesats are currently built without propulsion and can't be controlled once in orbit. this restricts cubesats to lower orbits, safe from collisions with normal satellites with boosters. after a few months, the cubesats fall back to earth. what cubesats need to stay in space are mini boosters, and scientists are racing to build them. and if you look inside this chamber, we can show you one, capable of blasting them deep into the cosmos. >> i grew up in mexico, and i was very young, i watched carl
sagan's "cosmos," as probably every other child in my generation. that inspired me to study the stars, to work on things that leave the earth. >> reporter: paulo losano is the director of the space propulsion lab at the massachusetts institute of technology. he's found a solution to the cubesat problem, and the idea fueling his cubesat mini-rocket is simpler than you might think. >> what we can do is to rub the plastic on any fabric, really, and you can put a little bit of liquid on your finger and then get it close, and you will see, the liquid flying, producing a little cone and then flying to the plastic. >> reporter: that's static electricity, and it's not just tugging at the droplet. look more closely and you'll see the static creates a spray of charged molecules called ions. lozano's tiny rockets, which are
the size of quarters, generate these ion sprays. >> they don't produce a lot of force. so it's always less than a millinewton. that's about the weight of a mosquito. >> reporter: this may sound wimpy, but even a small action creates a reaction in the frictionless vacuum of outer space. move ions in one direction, and a cubesat will move uber fast in the other. >> the best chemical rocket will produce an exhaust of particles that move at about 4,000 meters a second. that's four kilometers and an ion engine can go much higher. it can reach 40,000, 50,000 or even more meters a second. >> reporter: up to 111,000 miles per hour. more than enough to stay in orbit around earth or even blast off to mars. lozano's ion engines look like computer microchips. they contain a grid of 500 needles, each a solar powered, custom-built nozzle for spewing ions. >> my name is katherine miller. i am a second year phd student
here. i am also a nasa space technology research fellow. they're electrochemically etched and chemically roughened to make the needle tip the radius of curvature of 10 microns. it's extremely, extremely sharp. from there, you can dip the ionic liquid onto the surface of the needle and produce an ion beam that way. >> reporter: latch on a fuel tank the size of a sugar cube, and you're almost ready for liftoff. >> what we have in here is relatively big vacuum chamber in you can see what we have right now is a little satellite that is actually magnetically levitated. we have a tiny little thrusters in there that can move the satellite and rotate it around. we can investigate then how the thrusters behave, how do they affect the motion of the satellite while the vacuum chamber is closed. >> reporter: ion engines aren't new. nasa's dawn mission, which hopped its way to the asteroid ceres, would have been impossible without its high velocity ion engine. but the dawn mission cost half a
billion dollars. commercial cubesats can cost as little as $100,000, and this price is dropping. even children are building cubesats at their elementary schools. sure, you're thinking an individual cubesat can't perform as many operations as a big mission satellite. but there is strength in numbers. >> instead of one large instead of going to an asteroid every five, 10 years the traditional way, release a fleet of these tiny little cubesats and visit 100 asteroids. >> reporter: doing so could prevent armageddon. >> because some of these asteroids, especially the very small ones, they have orbits and some of them have the potential to collide with the earth. and okay, they are very small, they won't kill the earth, but they can kill a city. >> reporter: by launching a fleet of cubesats, scientists could learn the chemical compositions of these city killers. that could be key to destroying or redirecting them. an asteroid made of silicon would be much tougher to stop than one made of iron. meanwhile closer to home, lozano's ion engines could install cubesats into shiftable orbits for a space internet.
so from a truly world wide web to stopping asteroids, lozano's minithrusters hope to carry cubesats to infinity and beyond. until next time, i'm nsikan akpan and this is sciencescope from pbs newshour. >> brangham: on our website, read more about how those tiny satellites could not only teach us more about asteroids and deep space, but could also help test new technologies that could eventually be used by nasa. that's at pbs.org/newshour. tonight, untold tales of armistead maupin. from conservative son of the old south to gay rights pioneer. that's "independence lens" for news year's day at 10:30 eastern, 9:30 central. and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, the growing market in instructional lesson plans. i'm william brangham 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:
>> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's 10-15 minute lessons are available as an app, or online. more information on babbel.com. >> 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 >> this program was made possible by the corporation for
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