tv Amanpour Company PBS November 14, 2018 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & co." here's what's coming up. in the face of unprecedented disaster, california residents pray for relief. >> please, please drive. just please drive. >> i speak with governor jerry brown about the state's worst ever fires. then, iran calls new u.s. sanctions an act of economic war. iran's ambassador to britain joins me in london. and with comedy hit "broad city" and a new memoir in her pocket, i talk love, vulnerability, and the rest with millennial superstar abbi jacobson. plus, as we come to grips with the dangers of digital media, our walter isaacson
speaks with a tech world innovator who says technology is still a force for good. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels, she had bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water, a river specifically, multiple rivers that would one day be home to uniworld river cruises and their floating boutique hotels. today that dream sets sail in europe, asia, india, egypt, and more. bookings available through your travel agent. for more information, visit uniworld.com. >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar wachenheim iii, the cheryl and philip milstein family, and by contributions to your pbs stations from viewers like you.
thank you. welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. in the face of this inconceivable inferno, it is best to let the sights and sounds of the deadliest, most destructive fires in california history speak for themselves. >> oh, my [ bleep ] god. oh, my god. get me the [ bleep ] out of here. >> heavenly father, please help us. please help us to be safe. >> we are evacuating paradise, california. we can't even see. we don't know where the fire is. so please, please, please pray for us that we get out of here okay. >> it'll be all right.
we just -- we'll be okay. >> we're not going to catch on fire, okay? we're going to stay away from it. and we'll be just fine. okay? >> okay. >> we're doing all right. >> i thought the windows were going to shatter because it was just so hot. >> some people even said the smoke turned day into night. so far we know of 44 people who were not able to make it out of the fire safely, and the massive walls of flames continue to burn with intense heat. up north camp fire burned more than 6,000 family homes and caused 42 known deaths. and in southern california, in malibu and ventura county, two more people were killed and hundreds more homes are destroyed in the woolsey and the hill fires. meteorologists say the region remains under critical and extreme risk today with possible
wind gusts of up to 70 miles an hour. governor jerry brown calls the conflagration the new abnormal in the face of climate change, a massive residential development, he predicts his state will suffer many more such catastrophes over the coming decades. he joined me for an exclusive interview about what californians are dealing with today and what they're sure to face again in the future. >> governor brown, welcome to the program. >> thank you. glad to be here. >> governor, we have spoken to you many times about these terrible fires in the past, the whole world is watching and really grieving for california and those who are affected. can you just give us an exact sit-rep of the fires, the speed, the number of casualties? >> well, tragically in the northern part of the state so far 42 people have been identified as having perished in the fires. there are still many missing. that number could go up. in southern california it's only
a couple at this point. i would say generally the fires are still burning. the threat now is greater in the south because of the nature of the dry winds. and this whole thing comes about because the vegetation, the trees, the soil, the dirt, it's all warmer, it's drier. there's not as much moisture, water in the environment and, therefore, when the winds come and there's a spark, these fires just take off and they move very rapidly from one spot to another and people have very little time to react. >> we've just seen and heard these terrible sounds and sights of what's going on just before we started to talk to you. you can clearly hear the panic, and we know even cars were not fast enough to evacuate people and it was a really hellacious time for those caught up in it. >> well, yes. there's material, kindling,
bushes or trees or grass. when it gets dry, and most of the time there's plenty of moisture, but during this period, the end of the summer and now in the fall, it's very dry and, of course, the last decade or so it's getting drier and warmer, more dry and for a longer period of time. so that compounds everything and catches people by surprise. the fire just comes out of nowhere and people don't have and now in the fall, it's very >> you've called this the new abnormal. californians will have to get used to this. we've seen the maps, the satellite imagery, the smoke billowing and affecting other states as well. it's incredible these are happening not just in one season they seem to be happening out of the season as well. >> this fits in with what the scientists have been telling us. when i say scientists,
i mean well over 90% of scientists in general. and 100% of those who look at the southwest and the mediterranean climate that we have. it's not just california but will be throughout california and the world. temperatures are going up probably significantly even in the next ten years and that drying, warmth, lack of moisture, all of that will bring about more unfortunately and tragically, more of what we're seeing today and eventually see more and more of that on a regular basis. >> it doesn't bear thinking about but i want to ask you about the immediate firefighting capabilities. after a threat to cut off fudged over the weekend, president trump has declared it a major disaster area and i believe that means a whole load of federal funds are unblocked to help. is that correct? are you getting what you need to fight these fires? >> yes.
we're getting what we need and very particularly we're getting what fwrev other states, texas and the surrounding states of washington, oregon, and nevada. they're all helping and even further away. we're maxed out for resources. we have thousands of inmates trained as firefighters to be on the line, and they're there along with the regular firefighters, the highway patrol, local sheriffs, first responders. everybody's pulling together to do everything they can to not only fight the fire but help people escape from it. >> that's a remarkable image. you're taking people out of prison to help fight these fires? >> we do that on a regular basis. there are thousands of inmates who practice and who are employed, have been employed before, will be employed again. it's a very important component of the firefighting force. >> so let me read to you what caused a huge amount of upset in
your state. over the weekend president trump tweeted there is no reason for these massive, deadly forest fires in california except that forest management is so poor. billions of dollars are given each year with so many lives lost all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. remedy now or no more federal payments. all right. break that down. he's changed his mind on payments and declared this a major disaster. but what about mismanagement? where does the onus lie there? >> well, first of all, you have to understand that more land is owned and managed by the federal government, under the president, than is in the hands of california. that's number one. number two, there is increasing management of the forest. more is needed and we have to understand scientifically what we do. just pulling out all the trees can create even more dryness and lack of moisture and water that can contribute to the fire.
so it's one element, but there's a lot of other elements, the winds, the rising temperatures, the dryness that goes on for days and weeks. there are many atmospheric elements as well as the fact there are cities in close interface with more forested areas. you've got a lot of factors here, and that statement as expressed misses two fundamental facts. number one, there are many factors and, number two, the largest management area is under the direct jurisdiction of the president himself. >> can i ask you then about what you touched on, the extra stress that has been put on this area and areas like it by increasing population and people who are moving out to these areas that may not have been fit for habitation or potentially can't tolerate so much humanity there in the midst
of all of these forests. tell me a little bit about that and does there need to be a rethink in so-called urban planning or dwelling planning? >> we should know one historical fact. for over 10,000 years california could only support about 300,000 people. today we have over 40 million. with that 40 million we have a lot of technology, much of it allowing us to be here but a lot of it by way of emissions, carbon, exacerbating the problem. that's one thing. the next thing is, where are people going? they're not native peoples moving from the mountain to the sea and back again depending on the time of year. people are getting very fixed in fixed dwellings all over the place. yes, we need to look at our planning, revise it.
but you're talking about the entire state, about modern civilization. we're in a configuration that may not be, and certainly in some respects, is not compatible with the natural environment by way of fires, winds, and the topography of the way the state is constituted. >> which kind of begs the question, what happens in the future? we read that at one point the camp fire was burning fast enough to consume one football pitch every second. americans can understand that size and that speed. >> i don't think we understood it as well as we do today. hopefully we learned from what has happened. yes, there are real dangers, but also we have the threat of massive earthquake. the prediction in california is over 50%, some say 60% of the likelihood of a massive, catastrophic earthquake. there are millions of people living in areas that could be
affected by that. there's a lot of hazard here. we live in a world, a modern world, where we think comfort, prosperity and security, but the truth of the matter is we're highly vulnerable in this state as you are in new york and great britain and other places. sometimes with the modern world and all the conveniences and instant coffee and the grocery stores make it look like we're out of the woods, as it were. well, we're not. we're embedded in a very fragile or dangerous and sometimes very hostile environment. >> you mentioned where we are, europe, this summer this terrible fires in portugal and places like that. it is actually a global issue and it happens further afield as well. i just wanted to ask you because you said we've had support from neighboring states, support from around the united states. colorado republican senator talked about funding in response to what president trump said over the weekend.
this is what he said. >> i don't think it's appropriate to threaten funding. that's not going to happen. funding will be available. it always is available to our people wherever they are, whatever disaster they are facing. i do think this year we came up with a strong bipartisan success in fixing the wildfire funding issue that paralyzed our ability to fight and suppress fires and mitigate next year's forest fires. one of the great bipartisan accomplishments of the past congress was in the area of forest fires and finding a solution for funding. >> do you agree, governor brown, there is a bipartisan consensus around this issue? >> let me put it this way. there's a bipartisan consensus to get us more reliable money. but there's not a bipartisan consensus for dealing with the underlying problem and i know it may sound more remote but i have to say that the temperatures are warming, the winds are getting more intense, fires are more likely, hurricanes are more
intense. warming is occurring because of the continuing and rising carbon emissions. and that's occurring in many countries in europe as well as the united states. you have an entire republican party virtually in denial about this as well as the president but you also have leaders in europe not doing what they need to. what you're seeing in california is the new abnormal. you will see it in europe. you'll see it in russia. you'll see it in china. you'll see millions of refugees from africa because the heat will be unbearable. we're not talking 50 years. we're talking 10, 15, 20 years, and these events come about in ways we never expect. so there are tipping points. we can pass them before we even know about it. let's focus on today but realize the underlying dynamic of this tragedy is not being addressed.
it's being exacerbated every day, everywhere, and that's what i think leaders need to come to grips with. >> it's quite a passionate statement you made there particularly we note, obviously, that you are soon to be the former governor of california. your successor will take over. just sum up your time in office and particularly on this issue and others that have meant a lot to you and you feel you have a legacy. >> well, i would say that in terms of fires, every year we go through this. people are dying. they're losing loved ones. it's a horror. just fighting it in the short term, yes, we have to do it and should do it. but we ought to go out and see the facts. we know that this planet is changing and we have the ability to stop the carbon emissions,
and we have to bring them down they got together in paris and they didn't say much about world war i when all these great leaders of europe and america were totally stupid in what they did, they created a horror and didn't see it. those similar horrors are being generated on a longer term basis by the same leaders who are equally as blind, i have to report. and that's very tragic. >> that puts it in very dramatic and historical context. governor brown, thank you very much for all that you've been and the major voice you are on this issue. thanks for joining us. >> okay, thank you. >> so a difficult end to jerry brown's tenure as governor of california. now, the trump administration is talking tough about reimposing draconian
economic sanctions on iran's oil, shipping, and banking industries. here's national security adviser john bolton speaking on the fox business channel just before the midterm elections last week. >> these are not permanent waivers, no way. we're going to do everything we can to squeeze iran hard. as the british say, to squeeze them until the pips squeak. we're going to do everything we can. their choice and those in tehran either change their behavior dramatically or face economic disaster. >> so the waivers refer to the administration's decision to exempt some of iran's biggest oil purchases including china, india, and japan from this new ban and that would be from the next six months and possibly even longer. the white house believes the sanctions will bleed iran's economy to the point where the country will no longer be able to fund militant organizations and terrorism across the
middle east. president rouhani says iran won't bend to, quote, the language of force, pressure and threats. meanwhile, it is still complying with the iran nuclear deal which trump has withdrawn from. hamid baeidinejad is iran's ambassador to the united kingdom, we want to welcome you back to our studios in london. so you heard what john bolton said, bleed and squeeze iran's economy to the point when you're going to cry uncle and surrender and change your comportment, your activities. is that realistic? >> you're sorry these languages are used, which really are disastrous. we heard mike pompeo, secretary pompeo, saying if iran wants to feed their nation and have them eat, they should agree with the u.s. and listen to the u.s. these languages are really extraordinary and not
understandable. as you see the exemptions that they have been providing to many states around the globe means that the united states has been failed to, in fact, create a kind of consensus among the countries to have unified sanctions against iran than they have been under pressure from so many circles here and there, that they want, really, to continue working with iran so they have been under pressure to accept to giving some waivers and exemptions. >> those may not last for of, -- forever. and in the meantime, you know, these countries are buying your oil. so what are you saying, the fact india, china, and the others are able to keep buying, you're not -- you can still maintain your economy? the economy is hurting. there's the devaluation of the currency. there's, you know, a real spiral in people's ability to pay for their daily lives. >> sure.
we started feeling these hurts from around five, six months ago because the importance here is the psychological impact rather than having practical on the ground. they start add psychological warfare to frighten our people and to sabotage our economy, but gradually we could, in fact, manage to, in fact, find ways and means that we can guarantee that we can continue to export oil and now they aren't on the record to say we would be zeroing the iranian oil export which has not been successful. >> tell me how you do it. i read you're trying to find private companies to sell your oil to and then they can export it. is that what's happening? >> we have a lot of alternatives because we have had some experiences from the past and we know that, in fact, the
difference from this time comparing to the previous time is that the countries are not ready to comply with the united states' request. so we have enough leverages to continue our exports. >> you say that but you can see companies leaving in droves from iran and in the wake of the iran nuclear deal have bolted. they do not want to get on the wrong side of the united states. that must be a serious threat to your economy. >> we are not happy that, in fact, the big companies are leaving iran because of the u.s. pressure, but in the meantime, we have a lot of interest from medium and small sized companies to work with iran and we are in close contact with the european union how we can ensure that, in fact, medium sized and small sized companies could continue their work with iran. >> let's get to the heart of the matter. i'm going to play a sound bite from
secretary of state mike pompeo where he laid out what iran has to do in order to get relief from these sanctions. >> we must begin to define what it is we demand from iran. iran must stop enrichment, end support to middle east terrorist groups including hezbollah, hamas, and the palestinian islamic jihad. iran must withdraw all forces under iranian command throughout the entirety of syria. iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors. the list is pretty long. if you take a look at it, these are very basic requirements. >> have you stopped any of those things? >> of course not because, in fact, these are just the allegations and some of them very unbased accusations the united states is making against iran. and this is the contradiction we receive in the u.s. that in one
way president trump is inviting a lot of times, president rouhani would meet him. in other occasions, we see that this kind of contradictory statements -- this shows there is no consistent palsy in the united states and they are putting forward conditions they know better than everybody else that it's impossible for iran to be accomplishing because, in fact, when you started the nuclear deal, for example, on enrichment, that was possible because the united states shifted its policy from zero enrichment to accept iran can have a kind of level of enrichment. now they are saying that we should come back to zero enrichment policy, which is impossible. >> are you still, the u.n. agency says you're still complying with your end of the deal. under the jcpoa, is that
correct? >> exactly. >> will that continue? >> we are in close negotiations with other countries or partners, china and russia and the eu is heavily involved. we were that we can reach an understanding that they would be ensuring their jcpoa will continue to be implemented. if we can reach that understanding we would be continuing complying. >> let's move a little bit wider now because we have at the moment a big international pressure on saudi arabia which the trump administration has banked on to isolate and confront iran in the region. but in the wake of the khashoggi murder there's a lot of pressure on saudi arabia. the former state department official has written today as mr. trump's mirage of an order evaporates, a stark reality
emerges. there is no credible challenge to regional influence nor any prospects to reducing it with american threats and bluster. i assume you would agree with that, but i want to ask you factually, do you feel you are benefiting from the pressure now on saudi arabia and its behavior? >> the benefit that we can get from this new situation is that the westens better that, in fact, there is more possibility that the policy of coercion and intimidation by the saudi arabia would be successful in the region because they started the yemeni war, in fact, they took hostage the prime minister of lebanon, they tried to block it in qatar, and they had endangering peace and security. if now the west, the united states and the european partners would understand this has had
devastating impacts under the security of the region and what they can do to redress the situation, that would be a benefit we can get, all of us. >> you talked about the yemen war and the british and americans believe this pressure on saudi arabia could lead to at lution to this terrible war. of you are blamed for supporting the houthi side. do you believe there's a moment now, would iran come to a cease-fire agreement? >> we have been always agreeing that there should be a ceasefire on the ground and according to our knowledge, the houthi government was ready to end into a ceasefire agreement. the problem was and is the coalition, they never believed that a political solution is the only way to resolve the yemeni
issue. and they always try to resolve the issue to military forces, which is impossible. >> again, about iran's behavior, iran is trying to get europe to play ball, trying to find other mechanisms. and right in the middle the all of this, the danish government accused iran of sponsoring a murder in denmark of an iranian/american opposition figure, apparently a plot to kill, and the danish foreign minister has said a planned assassination on danish soil. this is completely unacceptable. in fact, the gravity the matter is difficult to describe. i mean, that's at a pretty serious knock and serious allegation from the countries you hope to save you from the sanctions. >> exactly. if these accusations would have any ground, we would be the first country to be interested to know more and
detail aspects of this event in denmark. and we recall really faced with the astonishment and surprise to see that without any prior consultation and dialogue with us, in fact, there was media engagement and there were statements by the danish authorities. we told them we are ready to enter into a dialogue to see what are the facts on the ground because there are some elements which are very suspicious. the timing of announcement of this event and incident is very suspicious because, in fact, it was at the venture of important dialogue with the european and announcement of the u.s. policy on sanctions. we believe we have good
relations and we can tackle these issues rather than through intimidation and going to the media. >> all right, ambassador. i'm afraid we have to leave it there. thank you for coming in on this issue. so turning now to a completely different lane, one of comedy central's biggest stars, relatable, funny, with a pinch of politics, abby jacobson is the co-creator, actress and writer of "broad city" which follows the everyday lives of two new york girls. the comedienne recently pressed pause on her life to take a solo road trip across america which inspired her new book called "i puts her readers in the passenger seat as she reflects on love, loss and work. i spoke to abbi jacobson about navigating comedy in trump town. abbi jacobson, welcome to the program. >> thank you for having me. >> so, i might regret this. what might you regret precisely?
>> it took me so long to find this title. this book of essays is very vulnerable. i was writing very personally. "broad city" in a way is personal, but i get to hide behind this character. the whole time, and this feels -- i'm putting much more of myself out there. i don't think i'm regret it. but that's the feeling i had while writing it, was a little bit of what am i doing? >> it's nerve-racking, isn't it? vulnerability, intimacy is plain nerve-racking. >> yeah. >> why did you go there? >> i think i was feeling -- i went on this road trip. we had wrapped "broad city" season 4. i was feeling overwhelmed with work and was really heartbroken. i just basically had been dumped a couple months earlier.
i was very heart-broken and i needed to get away from anything that i knew as my routine life. i needed to be in l.a. for work, and so i planned this road trip by myself. i think it's a mix of me writing in this longer format. i've never really written essays or longer format other than script. it was a mix of being nervous about that and being nervous about just opening up so much. >> you say about writing in the book, i became a writer because being a working actor wasn't really happening. i had no control over my career being just an actor. as i said before, i enjoy being in control. in a bizarre turn of events i ended up in the driver's seat by creasing a part for myself. >> yeah. i entered the world of comedy and was trying to audition and i couldn't get parts on the stage there, and i couldn't even get terrible commercials.
i read about in the book -- >> not even terrible commercials? forget good ones. >> this is so embarrassing. i remember being upset that i didn't get this commercial for foot fungus cream. >> foot fungus cream? >> yes. because it was so rare for me to even get an audition for a commercial. but i was like, i can't believe i didn't get this commercial. it just was not working out. and then ilana and i had been doing improv for three years and we had such a clear dynamic that felt different than anything else. >> let us play this clip. >> you're in an elevator? >> why would you go into a big building today of all days? >> it's inauguration day. >> i'm sorry, okay. >> it was the last voucher for my laser hair removal. >> it is about to get i am legend up in here. >> you're going to need those pubes for warmth. >> i prepaid for the package. am i not going to finish a package? i'm sorry. i don't want a mustache for the apocalypse.
mustaches will be currency soon. it's going to grow back. laser hardly works on me. i think it's about the equipment and the settings more importantly. okay, okay, it's happening. we are t-minus 60 seconds until the inauguration. >> in this moment of really vitriolic and virulent conversation in public, trump attacking us, potentially we attacking him, how do you feel about matching like with like? it was very anti-trump with a lot of swear words, very, very vicious. what do you feel about being in that mix of that rhetoric? >> it's starting to get a little scary to be so actively anti-trump publicly, but also as a comedian, i mean, that was this -- we don't this content that allows us to do content when we're not airing. so the inauguration wasn't when we were airing. that felt like a day we wanted to comment on.
they're always intended to be funny, but it's also, i mean, as a comedian, funny first. you can't ignore what's going on in the world. if our voices lend itself to commenting on something that's important and significant for the time, i mean, that's like my job. >> a lot of what is happening, in our political culture actually affects the rights of women. i want to play this really, really sweet clip. and you i will -- and elana are at hillary clinton's campaign headquarters in 2016, obviously before the election. and here it goes. ♪
>> holy -- >> sorry. we are just so excited. >> that's all right. just take your time. >> that pretty much sums it up. >> i mean, i think she -- she ad-libbed take your time because we just went on and on. she was such a pleasure, and i wish people kind of got to see how she was with us on set. she was just laughing with us. >> you and alana came out and said she shouldn't run again for president. >> i adore -- i really love hillary. i think she was the most experienced person to ever run for president, but i just think that we need some fresh blood in there. we need somebody new to come in. this is what i said in the interview in d.c., too, i hope she continues to do something. i'm so excited to see what she does next. >> the rights of women and girls are always in play. some are saying there's an
unseemly backlash against me too not just from certain male corners, but actually, girl on girl, so to speak. i went to a comedy show in london, stand up, and she did this routine called girl on girl. it was actually about the backlash against women from other women, and women being encouraged to almost beat up on each other over this whole me too moment. what do you make of it and how do you process and translate that for yourself and for your millennial, female and male, audience? >> i haven't experienced that personally, the backlash of women against women. that's just something that exists, that people expect women to, like, be competitive with one another and, like, a lot of interviews alana and i used to do people would just ask us what we fight about or what makes us -- and it's like, that's such a bizarre place to go. why is that your go-to question?
but i think it might go into the me too movement, too. i don't know if that's a narrative that's put upon the movement. >> it is interesting because we see certainly with the proliferation of social media and how young girls, teenagers, young teenagers, are on this all the time. and it's not just kumbaya. there is quite a lot of catfighting and unpleasantness between young girls on social media. what's going on? what do you think you'd like to say about that? >> social media, i'm of two minds. it is why i have a career at all. we started on youtube and we shared- my whole comedy career began because we shared stuff on social media. it brings out the worst and allows us to be anonymous and
full of hate. and i'm so happy i didn't grow up with social media. i think i had facebook when i was in college. i was part of the first round of facebook. i didn't even have a cell phone. i cannot imagine what that must be like to be in high school and to be plugged in and like the bullying that exists in person is tenfold on social media because you can hide behind that. >> what will the fifth season bring? we're in the post-election world but you have at least another two years of this cycle. what will this next season tell us? >> so this season we don't go into feelings about this administration as much as we did in the fourth. it's commented on every once in a while like one would in their everyday lives. but it ends. this is the last season. and so -- >> that's it? >> yeah. >> why did you decide to end it? >> it was tough.
we thought about it for a long time. it's really about living in new york in your 20s and we're playing younger versions of ourselves and it just felt like the kind of show that shouldn't go on forever. we really wanted to be good. we don't want people -- i think it should end when people still love it. >> a lot of people have looked at "broad city" as a real sort of millennial feminist track. "the wall street journal" came up with this thing like a sneak -- what was it? >> a sneak attack. >> sneak attack. what did you get from that? what did you think it meant? >> i love that term because when we set out to write the show, we never -- we didn't say, oh, let's make a feminist show. and when that came out, we realized, oh, this is sneak attack because it is so feminist but it's just feminist by us being very true to who we are and what we believe in. i think maybe at the time when
we started doing the show, you kind of had to be a little sneaky about it. when we pitched the show, girls was on the air as well and new girl which, like, very different shows, but when we pitched it was like networks would be like, we already have a show about women. >> about girls. >> yeah, and it's like, there can only be one. and now i feel like it's way more let's get more shows like this. >> more shows, more books. abbi jacobson, thank you so much. >> what a pleasure. >> now it's hard to remember a time when we didn't pick up our phones to do just about everything. but for governments there's some catching up to do. step forward jennifer pahlka. the former u.s. deputy chief technology officer who now runs code for america. it's a group of tech wizards helping big bureaucratic institutions benefit from the digital age. she tells our walter isaacson that it's not just about apps, it's about a complete mind shift
for everyone. the pair chat about the defense innovation board they both sit on. >> jennifer, thanks for joining us. >> hi, walter. thanks for having me. >> you started in the gaming industry. what did you learn from that? >> i was in the business to business media. industry doing video game development, conferences and trade shows. and it was an amazing time. they were creating new worlds people could play in. it was the ambition of the community that got me lit up. >> and it made it into a community and leads to web 2.0, right? zblaerks. >> yeah, absolutely. >> i was doing this big show and watching an industry grow and our awareness of what you can do online and what kinds of experiences you can create and then we transitioned into web 2.0 which was about participatory web, and that was amazing because people are not just creating imaginary worlds
but really changing the world we live in through technology. >> the narrative almost leads up to code for america. this is a very par advertise pa tori thing where people are creating services in new ways for government to do services. >> it's true there's a huge contrast. going from a world in which we were working with twitter and facebook and google in the very early days and through telling this story of the participatory web, bringing those principles and values to government. well, government works slowly and uses technology in a very, very different way. and that was really what got me started on the idea. >> is it necessary government has to be slower and use technology different or you could push government to be more like a startup? >> we push government to be different every day. i don't necessarily think it should work exactly like a startup.
but it could bring those approaches that you see in tech platforms and we think of those as being user centered and data driven to government. i know we can do that. we do it all the time. it's just that we've made the the government very risk averse. when i say we, i literally mean we the people. we can't just blame politicians and bureaucrats. >> and by risk averse, if government makes a little mistake on something, we'll jump on them whereas private industry they can move fast, break things and then fix them, right? >> and governments really learn to do these very long planning processes where they try to get everything right from the beginning and they roll stuff out. it often doesn't work because it hasn't actually been tested with users. if you look at the platforms we use in our personal lives were built, they started small and and it rated and they tried little things that didn't work. we talk about the startup world embracing failure, but what we're really saying is fail small and fail fast because the consequences are small. instead of these big projects,
and then when they don't work, the failure is really devastating. >> let's give some examples. if i needed a car, what have you done for local governments like that? >> right. so an example of what you would call an app is something we did in california called get cal fresh. the way you would apply online for food stamps was an application that took an hour to fill out. it had about 50 screens, 200 questions, didn't work on a mobile phone. if you tried to use it on a library computer, the computer would time-out before you could get through it. we made an application that's about seven minutes to fill out. works on your phone. it's really clear, the language is really simple. but it's really just an entry point for gaining situational awareness about what users are doing. we know when they're stuck. we follow up by text message. we think of it as an app. but what it really is an
entryway into changing the policies and operations of the programs based on what the users of the program really need. >> you say you do it by text message too. if i need my license, to just be able to text somebody, is that possible? >> we're doing it. it requires whole scale change in not just the technology government runs but in how government thinks. we should be going to where the users are and text messages is where our users are these days. we have a bunch of programs that we run where we primarily communicate with the users to the government programs by text including one that helps people stay compliant with the terms of their probation, for instance. much easier to text somebody if you are about to miss your drug test and you're on probation. you can text your probation officer and tell them, oh, i missed the bus, i'm going to miss my drug test and make sure you reschedule instead of going back to jail.
>> this morning just by happenstance i was following my twitter feed, the mayor of new orleans which is where i live, tweeted out smgs code for america had done, which is called blight -- >> blight status. >> i looked it up. i'm going to do it here and it was after the hurricane, the blight, and i can type in napoleon avenue and there, boom, done. all the things in my neighborhood, all the blight. and it tells us what the status is, the latest activity. >> it was a great project. we did it in 2012 with an amazing team. and it changed the conversations between the people in the neighborhoods who were advocating for various properties to be demolished or rehabilitated and the government. prior to blight status there was
no way of knowing where these properties stood. you had these meetings between government and the neighborhood activists that were just sort of shouting at each other. once they could literally all be on the same page, they started working productively together. >> and clear my record, that one fascinated me. explain that. >> clear my record is driven by what we cayou will the implementation gap. an example of an implementation gap is in every state, particularly california where we live, there are remedies that allow people who have low level convictions on their record to clear them. very often these are felonies but they were for maybe dealing marijuana several years ago. if you have that on your record, it means you can't get a job, you can't get student loans, you can't live in public housing. there's thousands of statutory limitations to your life, and it means you're probably stuck in a cycle of poverty and incarceration.
so the people said, this is did you mean, why are we doing this? let's take this off the records. prop 7 in california allows for it legally. it doesn't implement the law. and so several years later only 3% of those eligible have. because you have to go to a legal clinic between 9:00 and 11:00 on tuesdays. you have to get your wrap sheet, which is written in code, and you have to figure out what it says and verify that it's correct but you have no idea what it says. ten steps involving lawyers and courts and fees and filing that is very difficult to get through unless you're persistent. it takes about a year. what we've done at code for america is show you can download rap sheets in bulk, algorithmically fill out petitions to the courts. we can do this at great scale and actually honor the intentions of the voters in a short amount of time by not making people petition. this is how government should
run. if we say we're going to do something, we should do it. >> you can do it at great scale. but it would seem to me if things require mobile and some tech savvy, that we might be exacerbating the digital divide when everything the government does is a services app you have to do online and on the phone. what do you do to prevent that? >> certainly mobile is for most people greater access than the desktop. >> the computer or the web. >> so many government programs moved into the digital age when there was assumption you would do this at a computer for many low-income people at a library but that's not terribly accessible. mobile is a great way to bridge the divide to a certain extent. >> something else you've been involved in is a digital service, trying to get techies
to serve their government as a part of a year or two as digital service members? >> many of them are there longer than a year or two now. we'll put them on particular services. usds is really just building digital excess at the center of government. it's a part of the white house and people come in and they're bringing all of those skills and approaches, some of them from government, many of them from the private sector, many from tech companies. >> is it hard to get people from the private sector to work in government or is it a patriotic thing like serving your nation? >> it is very patriotic. it is something that is increasingly seen by the tech community as the most valuable. way that they can give back. because if you work in government to fix problems you're working at the greatest scale that you can possibly work at. for example, we think about alleviating poverty in this country. most of us will think of philanthropy, helping people.
philanthropy spends about $42 billion on social services. the government spends between 10 and 20 times that. if you can make a government problem just 5% or 10% more effective, you can actually eclipse the impact of all philanthropy. >> another thing that you joined is something called the defense innovation board, which may seem like a contradiction in terms, the defense department could be that innovative. it started in the obama administration with secretary ash carter, but then general mattis, secretary of defense, now in the trump administration, has asked you and the rest of us to continue. explain your grandparents were very -- part of the military, if i remember reading that right. your parents were a little bit more of the generation, that anti-war generation of the late '60s. did you have hesitancy about saying i'm going to go help the pentagon? >> when i was asked to join, my initial answer was no. it didn't seem like it was my sort of thing.
the more and more i thought about it, i realized it was pretty important for us to bring these approaches that we're bringing to all levels of government, particularly to the defense department where people's lives are also on the line. americans lives, others lives. you realize how devastating it can be when we get the technology wrong, the systems wrong. i realize there's a lot at stake there. i decided it was important if i had anything to bring to the table, i should be bringing it to that table as well. >> did you find the defense department to be receptive or resistant to technology change when it comes to the type of system change you're talking about? >> there is certainly a desire for better technology in the defense department broadly. think there's a skepticism that the bureaucratic process that have grown up around the defense department and, frankly,
all around government, will allow for it. we have these very long, complex processes of procurement that involve years of writing requirements, documents -- >> for weapons systems? >> for anything. for software, for weapons, for the most basic things. part of the usds at the defense department, the digital service is doing just the travel system. everything is harder when you don't have the right tools because you can't get software that works. so do they want it? absolutely. they want change. but they don't just want technical change. they want what we call bureaucracy hacking. they want to streamline the bureaucracy so they can do software and systems the way they're done well today, that makes systems work for people. >> so what i'm hearing you say from code for america, the u.s. digital services, the defense innovation board is not just about apps, it's about applying a new way of thinking and new systems of thinking so that we take what
we've learned in the technology world and apply it to the rest of our more bureaucratic lives. >> absolutely. and i think when we say we, again, it's really everybody has to have that expectation of government. government has to change, the vendors and the ecosystem have to change, and we have to expect government to work that way. we call it delivery-driven government because it's really about that delivery level where you interact with the government services. if those interactions drive the creation of policy and operations, it's a fundamentally different game. >> jennifer, thanks for joining us. >> thank you so much. >> jennifer pahlka clearly has her work cut out for her. that is it for us for now. thank you for watching "amanpour & co." on pbs. join us tomorrow night. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels,
she had bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water, a river specifically, multiple rivers that would one day be home to uniworld river cruises and their floating boutique hotels. today that dream sets sail in europe, asia, india, egypt, and more. bookings available through your travel agent. for more information, visit uniworld.com. >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar wachenheim iii, the cheryl and philip milstein family, is he ton melvin, judy and josh westin, and by contributions to your pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you.
business report, with sue herera and bill griffeth. triple threat. stocks try to stage a rebound but apple, the banks and brexit push the market lower and keep investors in check. price hikes. consumer inflation posted the biggest rise in nine months but unclear what might happen next. safe bet? pg&e admits it could be in financial trouble if it's found liable for one california wildfire. are utilities a lot riskier than they once were. those stories and more ton on nightly business report for wednesday, november 14th. and good evening, everyone. and welcome. it happened twi
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