PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec 26, 2019

AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening. I’m Amna Nawaz.
Judy Woodruff is away. On the “NewsHour” tonight: chaos in Iraq — fears
of continued violence, as the president and protesters reject a nominee for prime minister
linked to Iran. Then: long recovery. FEMA’s disaster relief
in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico lags behind recovery efforts on the mainland. And unconventional wisdom. Two Nobel Prize-winning
economists question the impact of immigrants on competition in the workplace. ABHIJIT BANERJEE, Nobel Prize Winner for Economics:
For low-income workers, there is no evidence that the influx of large numbers of outsiders
does anything to their wages. AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Wall Street extended its year-end
rally for another day. All three of the major indexes notched new record closing highs today,
thanks to a boost from retail and technology companies. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 106
points to close at 28621. The Nasdaq rose 69 points, to cross the 9000-point mark for
the first time, and the S&P 500 added 16. Businesses in parts of Hong Kong were brought
to a standstill today, as anti-government protesters targeted shopping malls for a third
day in a row. Riot police stepped up their presence, at times confronting crowds and
escorting several people out of the buildings. The unrest is part of a months-long campaign
for more democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. At least 20 people are dead, after a powerful
typhoon barreled through the Philippines, bringing misery to Christmas Day celebrations.
The storm made several landfalls across the country’s central region yesterday, with high
winds and pounding rains that forced thousands to flee their homes. Residents woke up today to see swollen rivers
had inundated entire villages. They waded through flooded streets and sorted through
piles of debris. Services were held across Indonesia and Thailand
today to mark the 15th anniversary of a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It claimed the
lives of some 230,000 people, making it one of modern history’s worst natural disasters.
Hundreds participated in mass prayers in Indonesia’s Aceh province, one of the hardest-hit areas. In Thailand, survivors visited memorials to
lay wreaths and flowers for their loved ones, and recalled the terror of that tragic day. SUWANNEE MALIWAN, Tsunami Survivor (through
translator): I am still scared, very scared. I want to go to live somewhere else, but it’s
not possible. Sometimes, I dream that a wave is coming. It’s an image that still haunts
me of when the wave was coming. I can still remember it. AMNA NAWAZ: A 9.1-magnitude earthquake off
Sumatra Island triggered that deadly tsunami. A dozen countries from Indonesia to East Africa
were hit. To this day, thousands of people are believed to still be unaccounted for. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu faced his first
major challenge to his decade-long rule as prime minister today. Voters cast their ballots
in a primary election to pick the leader of his conservative Likud Party. His main party
rival, veteran politician Gideon Saar, hoped to capitalize on a late surge in the run-up
to the vote. Netanyahu is widely expected to win, despite
facing corruption indictments and failing to form a coalition government twice this
year. He declared victory tonight, even though the official results won’t be announced until
tomorrow. And back in this country, Pennsylvania’s Roman
Catholic diocese have paid nearly $84 million to 564 victims of sexual abuse by clergy.
That is according to a new Associated Press review. Seven of the state’s eight dioceses
launched victims compensation funds after a Pennsylvania grand jury report on the abuse
and the church’s efforts to cover it up. The jury found that more than 300 priests
had molested over 1,000 children in the state since the 1940s. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: civil unrest
continues in Iraq, as protesters and the president reject the nominee for prime minister; FEMA’s
long-term disaster funding for U.S. territories lags far behind money for the mainland; Zimbabwe
faces famine after decades of financial and agricultural decline; and much more. In Iraq, months-long protests in major cities
led to the resignation of one prime minister, bowing to demands for reform. But political
leaders have been unable to name a replacement, leaving protesters as animated as ever. “NewsHour” correspondent Lisa Desjardins takes
a closer look at how the protests have led to the current political gridlock. LISA DESJARDINS: Basra tonight, streets lit
by the glow of burning tires. The nation has no prime minister, and protesters today have
sharply rejected the latest choice for the job by a leading political bloc. Asaad Al Eidani is currently a regional governor,
but protesters see another entrenched politician. MAN (through translator): What did Asaad Al
Eidani offer? Did he fight corruption? It’s still there. Has he brought back services?
There are no services. Regarding you, Asaad Al Eidani, whatever you do, you will not gain
the prime minister position. LISA DESJARDINS: Protesters have a pivotal
ally, Iraqi President Barham Salih. In the past day, he refused to designate the new
nominee as prime minister, saying it would cause more bloodshed. That refusal may violate
the Constitution, and President Salih has offered to resign over the issue. Key in this political uprising have been the
protests in Basra and surrounding Shiite areas in the south and in Baghdad itself. The map
shows another issue for protesters: the influence of neighboring Iran, which backs militias
and political blocs in Iraq. Rejection of Iran’s influence and an outcry
against Iraqi corruption sparked a firestorm of protests that began in October. That led
directly to the resignation of the last prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, last month. More than 450 protesters have died, largely
after security forces fired tear gas or live ammunition at them. This leaderless protest
is demanding a politically independent leader. MAN (through translator): We don’t want a
prime minister from these political parties. We want to topple the political regime, and
we want to change the constitution. LISA DESJARDINS: More fuel comes from the
economy, anemic overall, with high unemployment among the young, and concern from those who
do have jobs that their wages fall short. MAN (through translator): My mother passed
away at the hospital because there was no medicine, and I am a working man on daily
payment, and I couldn’t afford her treatment. LISA DESJARDINS: Tonight, in Iraq, a country
without a leader and a protest movement with no sign of backing down. For more, I’m joined by Abbas Kadhim. He joins
the — he leads the Iraq initiative at the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan foreign policy
think tank. He is also the author of “Reclaiming Iraq: The 1920 Revolution and the Founding
of the Modern State.” Dr. Kadhim, thank you for coming back to “NewsHour.” ABBAS KADHIM, Atlantic Council: Thanks for
having me. LISA DESJARDINS: A lot of faces in that story
just now. And, obviously, this is the third time in
a month that Iraq has been unable to name a prime minister. Why is this so difficult
and how far out of the norm is this? ABBAS KADHIM: Indeed, there are so many candidates,
and all of them come from the same pool that is rejected by the protesters. The protesters are not protesting against
a government or a party or a bloc. They are protesting against the entire political elite
that has been in charge of Iraq since 2003 until now. The problems that have been accumulating in
Iraq are the accumulation of 15, 16 years of failures. And people are fed up with everyone
who was involved. So they are asking for faces that have not been involved in any stage of
the past 15 years, and people whose hands have been — have not been polluted by Iraqi
money or blood or dignity of the Iraqi people. And that’s why it is very hard to convince
the parties to bring an outsider. LISA DESJARDINS: And that leads to another
question too. The protesters, much like Iraq’s population
itself, are generally young. ABBAS KADHIM: That’s right. LISA DESJARDINS: You know, 60 percent, I think,
of Iraq is 24 years old or younger. They clearly, as you say, don’t — know what
they do not want. But do these protesters know what they do want? Is there anything
that will be acceptable to them? ABBAS KADHIM: That is the problem. So far, they have been only practicing their
veto power. The parties are presenting names or the media and others who are floating out
names, and they’re saying, no, we don’t want this person. Because the protesters do not have an organizing
committee or a central nerve that will coordinate every activity they have, they are dispersed
all over the south and Central Iraq. So it is very hard to speak to any group, or it
is very hard also to find a — again, a spokesperson or a spokes — an entity that will speak on
their behalf. And it is very hard to see them presenting
what they want. And it is easier to see that they will wait for the political elite to
present the name or the process to bring up a name, and then the action is normally automatic,
no, we don’t want this one, even though, in the last couple of days, we have seen some
kind of signs that they might be entertaining some of the names that are — been floating
around, like Faig Al-Sheikh Ali maybe, who is an M.P. and… LISA DESJARDINS: A member of Parliament. ABBAS KADHIM: A member of Parliament. And
he is a secular member of Parliament. And that is somehow in his favor, because
most of the parties that are blamed are the Islamist parties or the traditional parties.
He is kind of a new slant of a politician. LISA DESJARDINS: Do the average Iraqi agree
with the protesters? ABBAS KADHIM: Do they… LISA DESJARDINS: The average Iraqi, do they
side with the protesters? Is this sort of a general sentiment? ABBAS KADHIM: The protesters are speaking
on behalf of all Iraqis. Again, this is very hard on the de facto,
of course. They are the ones who are speaking. We don’t see any counterdemonstrations or
any counter voices that are discrediting them from the other side. But, of course, on the (INAUDIBLE) the only
way to know what the silent majority of the 40 million Iraqis want, if you have a referendum
or if you have a general election. That’s why we hope that the next government will
prepare for a general election to know exactly where the Iraqis are standing now. LISA DESJARDINS: Who could benefit from instability
in Iraq, however long this lasts? ABBAS KADHIM: A long list, of course. Certainly, the neighboring countries come
to mind first, because they are benefiting. The weaker Iraq gets, the more vulnerable,
the more they can settle their scores on the Iraqi territory, the more they can advance
their interests inside Iraq. Iraq is a trophy. LISA DESJARDINS: Iran? ABBAS KADHIM: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey,
these are the ones that come to mind. And, also, of course, the terrorists — there
is a lot of terrorism sleeper cells and other terrorist organizations that are trying to
find any ungoverned space to expand and stretch and practice their malicious activities. So, that is that. Also, let’s face it. The
Iraqi political elite are — they are interested in this, because law and order and the rule
of law is hurting them more is curbing their ability to practice their corruption. LISA DESJARDINS: One more question for you.
How do Iraqis see the U.S.? Do they think the U.S. has any responsibility for the state
of their nation right now, or no? ABBAS KADHIM: The United States is the midwife,
if we can put it that way, that brought this change in 2003. So everything that we have
is based on the activity of the United States from 2003 to 2011. But there is a lot of blame to go around.
And I think a lot on the dysfunctionality of the government is on the Iraqis themselves,
because they cannot get their act together. But, also, I think it is not just the United
States. The Iraqi — average Iraqis — actually, there’s actually numbers that we presented
at the Atlantic Council recently. Iraqis, over 80 percent of them view the American
people in favorable way, and about 20 percent only they favor the United States government. LISA DESJARDINS: Government. ABBAS KADHIM: So, there is that… LISA DESJARDINS: Interesting. ABBAS KADHIM: … kind of dichotomy in the
Iraqi public opinion. LISA DESJARDINS: Abbas Kadhim from of the
Atlantic Council, thank you for joining us. ABBAS KADHIM: Thank you very much for having
me. AMNA NAWAZ: We’re just days away from the
start of a new year. And yet, in the U.S. territories of the Caribbean,
American citizens say they are still dealing with a painfully slow response by FEMA when
it comes to recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Those hurricanes, which flooded and leveled
parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, hit more than two years ago, in September
of 2017. Now, journalists from The New York Times have
spent time on those islands in recent weeks, and found thousands of recovery projects have
yet to get the full money from FEMA that they need, and many buildings are in disrepair
since the hurricane or stalled from completion. Zolan Kanno-Youngs is homeland security correspondent
for The New York Times. He’s been covering this. And he joins me now from Boston. Zolan, welcome to the “NewsHour.” Your reporting was based on a number of documents
you got as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. Tell me what those documents
showed about the pace of recovery funds. ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, The New York Times: Right. So when my colleague Mark Walker and I were
filing these public records requests, we really went in with this question. We know that the
territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are still struggling since those
two hurricanes devastated them, but is the recovery process actually slower for them,
rather than states in the mainland of the country? We wanted to know that specifically when it
came to federal funds, whether or not there was a system in place that made it harder
for the territories to receive that money, so that they could expedite their repair and
be resilient for the future. So we focused on critical infrastructure projects,
schools and hospitals, roads, the things that you need, really, for your home. And what we found is that the system for those
projects was cumbersome and often complex and often resulted in a debate between FEMA,
as well as the local government, over how much FEMA would cover and how much the local
government would cover. As — in regards to the exact — the exact
results of our reporting, what we found was that, as you said, over — out of thousands
of requests that these territories have made, just a fraction of them have actually been
approved, meaning that just a small amount of the money actually allocated for the territories
has made it down to people on the ground, which just isn’t the case for other states
that are prone to be hit by hurricanes. AMNA NAWAZ: Help me understand. How big of
a disparity are we talking about? You say the process is cumbersome when it comes to
the U.S. territories, that there were thousands of requests. Only a few have been fully funded. Is it vastly different when you’re talking
about mainland U.S. states? ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS: Well, yes. I mean, in Texas, there were more than 3,000
critical infrastructures approved thus far. In Puerto Rico, for example, there are about
190. So, right there, you can see the disparity. Now, what does that mean on the ground, right?
What it means is that, in a place like Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where there
regularly is only one hospital for people to go to, it means that there’s still a hole
in their roof. It means that an entire floor has been shutdown due to mold that is still
spreading throughout the hospital, that nurses are still working in this area, and, as a
result of working there, have rashes as well, and are fighting through that in order to
provide care to the people on the island. At one point, they had no working operating
rooms there due to the damage that still exists. This is this season. This is this fall. This
is still the state of this place. And the way FEMA works, it’s important to
note, it is a reimbursement system. So, when you go and you talk to government officials
about this, they might say, look, it is the — it is on the local government to front
the money, and then we repay them for it. But when you talk to people in these communities,
they say, well, look, we are already at a disadvantage. Financially, you don’t receive
some of the same grants for a hospital, the same Medicare — that its Medicare system
is different. We’re already at a disadvantage that way. But then you add on top of that the FEMA funding
process for these territories also is different. Up until earlier this year, people on the
territories basically needed to prove that a certain percentage of these critical infrastructures,
that a percentage of the damage was caused by the hurricane, it wasn’t pre-disaster damage. Congress acknowledged that that was leading
to delays, and allowed FEMA to waive that requirement. But it still took months in order
for them to come to an agreement with the local government and decide whether or not
they would just partially repair or completely rebuild some of these facilities. That hospital that I was just referencing
on the Virgin Islands, they haven’t even moved into their temporary facility yet. That’s
scheduled for spring of 2020. Actually, I just heard recently that it might be summer
2020, which would mean that they would be in the thick of their third hurricane season
without even moving into their temporary facility. AMNA NAWAZ: In the immediate response to these
disasters, there was a lot of conversation about the fact that there are a lot of logistical
hurdles to surmount when you talk about getting aid to a place like Puerto Rico or to the
U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s a lot — easy to put a on a truck and
get stuff down to Texas, for example, than it is to go to islands. Is any of that, the
logistical hurdles, does any of that feed what you described as a more cumbersome process
for residents there? ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS: Oh, of course, of course,
absolutely. I mean, just transportation, for one, as you
acknowledged, I mean, that is a challenge to provide all the resources to these places
that are not a part of the mainland. Another one is, we have to acknowledge the fact that
these two hurricanes hitting back to back, just the damage was unprecedented. And it
was. It also was at a time that FEMA was dealing
with a lot of other natural disasters across the country, wildfires in California, flooding
as well. So, absolutely. And when you talk to certain
local officials in the territories, they would say, look, we didn’t — there were some things
we just didn’t know. Also, we have to provide paperwork for this process, some of which
got damaged. And some of our employees tasked with this were forced to flee as well as a
result of the hurricane. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s an incredible piece of reporting.
I encourage people to go to The New York Times to read in full. But, Zolan, while we have you, I want to ask
you about another report you have out just today, this one focusing on President Trump’s
border wall. You actually traveled to the area, much of
which is on private land, right, private landowners who control a lot of that land that the president,
the government would need to claim via eminent domain in order to see through his border
wall promise. What did those folks on the ground tell you? ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS: So, you’re right. In South Texas, most of that path for the
border wall goes through private land. Thus far, the administration has built about 93
miles, most of it being on federal land. And they have only acquired about three of the
144 miles that is on private land. Those individuals face a choice. Will they
voluntarily give up their land to the government for the exchange of a sum of money, or do
they risk being taken to court, in which the government can assert eminent domain and probably
get that land anyways? And those people, they have a range of views.
I talked to landowners who vocally support President Trump and believe what he’s saying
in regards to border security. But they want to remind people, the border wall is not being
built on the border. The border wall is being built — built about one mile within the United
States, meaning that they would now lose easy access, as they describe it, to much of their
land, for one individual, more than half of the farm — of the acres that he uses for
farming. So that’s kind of the real-world consequence
for them. But they don’t have many options when it comes to, like you said, the ability
of the government to use eminent domain. AMNA NAWAZ: That is Zolan Kanno-Youngs, the
homeland security correspondent for The New York Times. Thank you very much. ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS: Oh, thank you for having
me. AMNA NAWAZ: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: two Nobel Prize-winning
economists challenge the economic orthodoxy on trade and the impact of immigrant workers;
author Sarah Broom discusses her National Book Award-winning work, “The Yellow House”;
a Connecticut museum showcases a collection of rare watercolors by legendary British painter
JMW Turner. For over a month, the United Nations has been
sounding the alarm about the growing food crisis in Zimbabwe. It’s estimated that 60
percent of the population doesn’t have access to adequate food. We will talk with people with deep understanding
of the situation, but, first, we have this background report. In what used to be called Southern Africa’s
breadbasket, today, Zimbabweans are desperate for food. Facing a climate disaster and an
unprecedented economic meltdown, more than half of the population is food-insecure. The United Nations’ World Food Program is
sounding the alarm. BETTINA LUESCHER, World Food Program: We are
facing the worst hunger crisis in more than a decade. The situation is nothing short of
tragic. There is no other way of putting it. AMNA NAWAZ: Zimbabwe is enduring its worst
drought in decades. And for rural farmers, largely growing water-intensive maize, erratic
rain patterns have proven catastrophic. In Hwange National Park, herds of elephants
died of drought-related starvation earlier this year. But the crisis is largely manmade,
according to the WFP. BETTINA LUESCHER: The crisis is being exacerbated
by a dire shortage of foreign currency, runaway inflation, mounting unemployment, lack of
fuel, prolonged power outages, and large-scale living — livestock losses, and they inflict
the urban population just as well as rural villages. AMNA NAWAZ: The International Monetary Fund
says Zimbabwe’s inflation rate is the world’s highest, at 300 percent. Many blame the political
and economic turmoil on former President Robert Mugabe. The anti-colonial icon was at the forefront
of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. But he clung to power for nearly 30 years, presiding
over the decline of what was once one of the continent’s most prosperous countries. He
was ousted in 2017. Hope that Mugabe’s successor, President Emmerson
Mnangagwa, can reverse the decline is running thin. The government is now scrapping a plan
to remove grain subsidies next year, a move aimed at shielding Zimbabweans from the rising
food costs. For more on all of this, we turn to two men
who know Zimbabwe well. Gerry Bourke is the Southern Africa spokesman
for the United Nations World Food Program, the lead international agency working to alleviate
the food crisis in Zimbabwe. He was just there last week. And Harry Thomas Jr. had a 34-year
career as an American diplomat and served as the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2016
to 2018. And welcome to you both. Thank you for being
here. Gerry, I do want to begin with you. Sixty percent of the country’s 14 million
don’t have the food to meet their basic needs. You were just there. Tell me what you saw
and heard from families on the ground. GERRY BOURKE, World Food Program: Well, it’s
really a national catastrophe, a calamity. People simply do not have enough food. The
larders are dry. The harvest comes in once a year, in April. Stocks from that are largely
exhausted. They’re looking forward to the next harvest in April. The rainy season has
arrived. It’s arrived two months’ late. There are patches of green, but the lack of
rain is really causing problems. Seeds put into the ground have not germinated. Some
re-planting will have to be done. And, in the meantime, people are struggling to get
by in a major way, taking kids out of school, selling off precious belongings, selling off
cattle, for example, lots of people really hurting. AMNA NAWAZ: Gerry, give me a specific example,
if you can, of the kinds of things people are telling you. What, for an example, is
an average people eating and subsisting on from day to day? GERRY BOURKE: Well, they’re eating less. They’re
skipping meals, a little bit of maize meal. But prices have skyrocketed. A loaf of bread
is now 20 times what it was six months ago. Maize, the staple food, has increased multiple
times. So it’s a huge struggle just to get by. AMNA NAWAZ: Ambassador Thomas, you heard mention
Gerry mention the rainy season coming late. There has been a drought. There’s a broader
climate crisis in the region. This isn’t just due to drought, though, is it? HARRY THOMAS JR., Former U.S. Ambassador to
Zimbabwe: No. The people of Zimbabwe deserve better. This
is because of massive corruption, mismanagement for many years. The government and leaders
of Zimbabwe are only interested in power accumulation and wealth maintenance. It’s unfortunate. It’s manmade, despite the
drought, as Gerry said. We’re very pleased, however, that the United States has stepped
up, has already put about $170 million toward food security. The British and the European
Union have as well. But the people of Zimbabwe deserve better. AMNA NAWAZ: That mismanagement, that corruption
you mentioned, it’s sort of alarming for people to think about how a country can go from being
the continent’s breadbasket, as we said in the report, to this downward spiral, where
people are struggling for basic needs. How does that happen so quickly? HARRY THOMAS JR.: It happens when its leaders
take all of the money that they earn through selling minerals, as they should, gold, plutonium
— they are a very wealthy country — and put it in their pockets. And you have to think. They had over 1,300
dams. They’re no longer maintained. The wells are no longer maintained. People are digging
boreholes to get water. And that puts — makes — they keep digging deeper and deeper. And there’s there’s less water. And it’s exacerbated
by the drought and climate change. AMNA NAWAZ: Gerry, you mentioned some of those
hard choices that people on the ground are having to make. We’re focused on the food crisis, because
that’s often one of the most visible among the crises. But Zimbabweans are dealing with
so much more. Tell me about some of the ripple effects you’re worried about this crisis could
have. GERRY BOURKE: Well, we’re very focused on
scaling up ourselves. We’re going to double within the next few weeks the number of Zimbabweans
we are supporting, those in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity. So we’re going from about two million people
now to over four million. And we will be doing that through the peak of the lean season,
which is essentially January to March,ahead of next harvest in April. So, a major scale-up, requiring all hands
to the pump, and a significant amount of money, if we are to fully effect that scale-up. AMNA NAWAZ: And, Gerry, I was reading, the
previous World Food Program work there has been largely cash assistance going into Zimbabwe. That’s no longer the case, though, is it?
Tell me what’s happening on the ground now. GERRY BOURKE: In fact, what with hyperinflation
and very limited availability of local currency, we are having to do a wholesale switch from
a cash assistance to in-kind food assistance. So we are — and because much of the rest
of Africa has also suffered from drought and flooding, we are having to source food for
Zimbabwe much further afield, in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe, some in Africa, but
most of it from elsewhere. So it’s a massive old-fashioned logistical
operation, shipping food into Durban in South Africa, in Beira in Mozambique, and then trucking
the food into landlocked Zimbabwe. AMNA NAWAZ: Ambassador Thomas, you mentioned
all the U.S. money going into Zimbabwe. And you also mentioned the corruption was part
of the problem that got people there where they are today. Is there any concern that continuing corruption
can mean that people of Zimbabwe don’t get the help they need? HARRY THOMAS JR.: Yes, there is. That is our concern, our government’s concern.
And it should be, but we need to hold the government accountable. For example, they
are trying to — they have imported wheat from Tanzania. The worldwide price is about
$240 to $250 a ton. They charge $600. So they have inflated the price, so the wealthy
and the cronies can buy it and sell it at a price over the double the worldwide price.
They’re trying to import some from Mozambique, as Gerry said. But Mozambique wants to be
paid in hard currency. This is another African nation that is saying,
you pay me in hard currency. And the people suffering — and these are a brilliant people.
I don’t if you know they — I was there for three years. This time, they had six Rhodes
Scholar. They always have Rhodes Scholars every year. I’m sure they will have more. And to see people have to not to send their
kids to school, to have to walk to work, not to have the ability to get secondary education
is heartrending. AMNA NAWAZ: We have less than 30 seconds left,
and I have to ask you a big question. With all this aid, is there a hope that things
will get better for the people of Zimbabwe? HARRY THOMAS JR.: Well, I have confidence
in the U.S. government, our European colleagues, the U.N. agencies who are stepping up to the
plate to help the people of Zimbabwe. What we need to do is have the government
of Zimbabwe be transparent. They have grains in their storage. Tell us how much they have,
so we can help them. AMNA NAWAZ: Be transparent and be accountable. HARRY THOMAS JR.: Yes. AMNA NAWAZ: Ambassador Harry Thomas, and,
of course, Gerry Bourke from the World Food Program, thanks very much to both of you. As Paul Solman reported recently, economists
Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee won this year’s Nobel Prize for their hard-nosed work
on poverty, conducting experiments in developing nations, like Banerjee’s native India. They wanted to see what actually works and
what doesn’t to improve the lives of the poor. But the married couple has also cast their
critical eyes on the developed world and economic orthodoxy in their new book, “Good Economics
for Hard Times.” Paul zeros in on the ideas of their book for
our series Making Sense. ESTHER DUFLO, Nobel Prize Winner for Economics:
We felt that there was a lot that economics could teach us about the important issues
that people are fighting about today. PAUL SOLMAN: Important issues, say Esther
Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, like immigration, which, they say, so many economists simply
get wrong. ABHIJIT BANERJEE, Nobel Prize Winner for Economics:
They say, oh, well, you know, it’s supply and demand. If supply goes up, price will
go down. PAUL SOLMAN: That, if there are more people
willing to work cheaply, then wages will go down. ABHIJIT BANERJEE: Exactly. There is no evidence
for it. In fact, there are many, many such episodes that have been studied, and for low-income
workers, there is no evidence that the influx of large numbers of outsiders does anything
to their wages. PAUL SOLMAN: Instead, he says, the influx
of workers stimulates the economy. ABHIJIT BANERJEE: They’re going to buy stuff.
And they often buy stuff that other low-income workers sell. PAUL SOLMAN: We actually saw this in immigrant-friendly
Utica, New York several years ago. Bosnian refugee Sakib Duracak, who came in
the 1990s. SAKIB DURACAK, Bosnian Refugee: At the time
when we came in Utica, it’s a relatively very dead and poor city. PAUL SOLMAN: But immigrants like Duracak revived
the city by working and spending. ELLEN KRALY, Colgate University: To have an
economy, you have to have workers, and you have to have consumers. PAUL SOLMAN: Professor Ellen Kraly teaches
demography at nearby Colgate University. ELLEN KRALY: The influx of refugees to Utica
allowed us to retain some smaller industries that were looking for highly motivated labor. PAUL SOLMAN: Moreover, say the newly-minted
Nobels, the work the immigrants do doesn’t compete with native workers, who, for the
most part, won’t take the same jobs. I was skeptical. But look at union construction workers. They
used to make a lot more money, adjusted for inflation, than they do now, due to, it seems,
the influx of immigrants. ABHIJIT BANERJEE: I think that — that’s a
very good example of something that hasn’t been commented on, which is, high-skilled
laborers do lose when there’s an influx of other comparable people. And in some sense, the political conversation
has it backwards. The high-skilled immigrants have actually an impact on the wages of comparable
people. The low-skilled immigrants are the ones who don’t. PAUL SOLMAN: Another chapter of the new book
is called “Pains From Trade,” playing off a supposed economic truism, gains from trade. ESTHER DUFLO: Economists repeat until they
are blue in the face that trade is good for you and that trade is good for the country.
But it’s based on one very strong assumption. PAUL SOLMAN: The assumption? That people who
lose jobs to foreign competition will simply up and move to get a new one. ABHIJIT BANERJEE: Except that, in the last
40 years, there’s been enormous decline in mobility. Seven percent of the people used
to move from county to county. PAUL SOLMAN: In the U.S. ABHIJIT BANERJEE: In the U.S. 40 years ago.
Now it’s 4 percent. That’s almost a halving of mobility. People have stopped moving. ESTHER DUFLO: It’s the emotional investment
in the community, your identity as someone who has been working in a factory for many,
many years. Maybe you have become a manager of your line or something like that. PAUL SOLMAN: Plus, in factories I have visited
over the years, workers develop specific skills that are non-transferable. At a Milliken textile mill in Jonesville,
South Carolina: RAYMOND HOOD, Textile Worker: You go through
about a 12-week training program, and then you need probably nine to 10 months of practical
experience on the machine before you get really competent and actually know what you’re doing
with the machine to be able to make it perform correctly. PAUL SOLMAN: Same story at a corn broom factory
in Alabama, which we visited back in the early ’90s on the eve of NAFTA, when debate over
trade with Mexico was raging. Technically, this was unskilled labor, but
it took me eight minutes to do what the average worker does in one. And I’m basically hitting myself on the index
finger at this point. No, that was the thumb getting hit, getting hit. Back then, it took a year or so to master
this skill, useless anywhere else. But when we returned 10 years later, the job was so
mechanized, said the CEO… ED PEARSON, CEO, Crystal Lake Manufacturing:
If you can screw in a lightbulb, you can make a broom. PAUL SOLMAN: Real expertise rendered obsolete.
Yes, we have trade adjustment assistance to supposedly teach new skills, but when you
bother to crunch the numbers, they show that what laid-off workers lose in wages alone
is far greater than what’s spent to reimburse and retrain them. A third and last example of where popular
economics has led us astray, say the economists, is taxes. Here’s the architect of Republican tax cuts,
Arthur Laffer, making the classic argument a few years ago. ART LAFFER, Former White House Economic Adviser:
If you raise tax rates, you collect more money per dollar of income. But then you have the
economic effect, which, if you raise tax rates, you reduce the incentives for people to do
the activity, and you will get lower income. PAUL SOLMAN: Arthur Laffer told me that he
moved from California to Tennessee, for example, because there was a lower tax rate. ABHIJIT BANERJEE: It would be really sad if
he didn’t move. A nice thing about economics is, we deal with large data sets. There’s
no clear evidence that, if you raise taxes, the rich stop working. PAUL SOLMAN: Nor is there any credible evidence,
say the laureates, that benefits keep the poor from working. Is there not — the welfare queen or welfare
king stereotype, it’s just not true? ESTHER DUFLO: There’s no evidence for it.
Neither in the U.S., nor in poor countries do we see that, when people are given more
generous help packages, they become lazy. PAUL SOLMAN: Evidence, much of it upending
the conventional wisdom in economics, which is what, applied to poverty alleviation, earned
Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee their Nobel Prize. This is Paul Solman in Boston. AMNA NAWAZ: Now Jeffrey Brown has another
title for the “NewsHour” Bookshelf. Author Sarah Broom’s memoir, “The Yellow House,”
won the 2019 National Book Award for nonfiction. Jeff began by asking Broom about the owner
of the Yellow house, her mother, Ivory Mae. SARAH BROOM, Author, “The Yellow House”: She
went on to raise me and my 11 siblings in this house. So beyond it being my mother’s
place, it’s a significant place emotionally for all of us. JEFFREY BROWN: It’s a personal memoir you
have written, but, interesting, you didn’t show up until about page 100. SARAH BROOM: That’s true. JEFFREY BROWN: You’re telling a much larger
story about not only your family, but this particular area of the city. SARAH BROOM: That’s true. And it felt completely natural to me to not
show up for 100 pages. I tried it the other way. I tried beginning the story with me,
but something about that felt like it lacked context. And I really wanted to make this
world that existed in context. And I wanted to talk about my grandmother
and how she made houses, how she was obsessed with making place, and how she passed that
quality on to my mother, and how my mother passed it on to me, so that, ultimately, when
this house is gone, what we feel is so much more intense, right, because it’s not just
a house, or — you really understand what made this place. “My mother, Ivory Mae, bought the yellow house
in 1961, when she was 19 years old. It was her first and only house. Within its walls,
my mother made her world.” Well, I really wanted to think about what
it means not just — so, not just for the person who doesn’t know New Orleans or isn’t
from a place, but for the person who really knows a place, to get very up close to something
and tell that story, but also think about and figure in what distance does, what it
means, for instance, if the story of New Orleans becomes for someone only Katrina, and they
only see that story or those images from 200 miles away, right, how that changes their
relationship to a place. So, I wanted to go very high up and present
that view, but then also say, look what you’re missing. You’re missing this 19-year-old who
bought this house. You’re missing my brother Carl, who goes there every single daily after
his job at NASA and tends to land. And then also to think about the innate taboo
for me of being the baby of 12 children telling this story. That felt painful to do. And it
was something I had to reckon with the entire time I was writing: How dare I tell this story?
It’s not my story to tell. And I’m telling too much. JEFFREY BROWN: And you told this — or you
figured your way into tell it through memories, through archival, through… SARAH BROOM: Sure. JEFFREY BROWN: I mean, there’s clearly a lot
of research, but you also interviewed family members and went as far back as you could? SARAH BROOM: I did. The foundation was a year, in 2011, when I
moved to New Orleans and actually lived in the French Quarter. JEFFREY BROWN: Moved back, you mean. SARAH BROOM: Moved back to New Orleans, and
lived in the French Quarter on the busiest corner in all of New Orleans. And during that year, I interviewed every
single one of my siblings. I recorded them, so I gained from that year hundreds of hours
of audio interviews, which I then transcribed. So those make the basis for the book. They’re
a kind of oral history. But then layered on top of that is — are hours and hours I spent
driving to various Louisiana towns, driving to cemeteries to get information, going to
archives, going to the local library, the Louisiana Collection, you know, interviewing
people, trying to interview people, and then reading everything I can, because there were
no books about New Orleans East. It’s just not that sexy, compared to the rest
of New Orleans. JEFFREY BROWN: Did you feel compelled to correct
that record, in a sense? I mean, Katrina plays a role, because Katrina is what ended up destroying
the yellow house, right? SARAH BROOM: Of course. Of course. JEFFREY BROWN: Katrina got so much attention.
Other parts of New Orleans got so much attention. SARAH BROOM: I felt moved and buoyed by the
idea that I could write something that didn’t exist, and that there’s a little girl right
now still living on the short end of the street in New Orleans East where I grew up. And I wrote it for her, so that there could
be some history already in existence. And, you know, one of the striking things about
New Orleans East is the way in which it doesn’t always appear on a map of New Orleans. So I wanted to quite literally put New Orleans
East on the map. JEFFREY BROWN: In this act of looking back,
right, did it make sense? I mean, do you see, from there, from then to now for yourself? SARAH BROOM: I think I actually grew up with
this feeling of being bifurcated as part of the way I thought about the world. I thought a lot about how our street was cut
off from the other end of itself, how New Orleans East was cut off by the Industrial
Canal from the rest of the city. I think it grew me into a person who noticed bifurcations,
who noticed disparities, who cared a lot about the ways in which injustice was baked into
the soil of a place. One of the things that intrigued me as a kid
was how soft the ground was. And, of course, when I was a child playing hide and go seek,
I didn’t understand that the ground was subsiding. JEFFREY BROWN: Right. SARAH BROOM: But I just knew and my friends
knew this is soft ground. It eats our basketballs, or — when it rains, the water pools for one
or two weeks, right? And so to sort of have been born out of this
place, where we were really thinking about environmental issues even then, but not knowing
what to call them — so, so much of, I feel, my composition and how I write and how I think
as a human is based on having come from that very specific place. JEFFREY BROWN: Who did you come to feel you
were writing this book for? SARAH BROOM: For my nieces and nephews, I’d
say… JEFFREY BROWN: Younger generation? SARAH BROOM: … primarily, yes. And the entire moment now, now that the book
exists in the world, and even the National Book Award win, is really for them. I mean,
they — many of them never heard of the National Book Award before this moment. And so to get the texts from them, screenshots
of them watching the National Book Award, is profound for me. I feel like it’s a step
toward making them better readers, even, and that makes me hugely proud. JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is “The
Yellow House.” Sarah Broom, thank you, and congratulations. SARAH BROOM: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: British painter JMW Turner was
both prolific and wide-ranging in his work. He traveled throughout England and Europe,
often with a small watercolor case at his side. Now a rare show of watercolors Turner made
throughout his career is on view at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut through February.
And it’s the only North American stop these fragile works will make. Special correspondent Jared Bowen has our
report. It’s part of our weekly series on arts and
culture, Canvas. JARED BOWEN: JMW Turner moved from cathedrals
to coasts, from the bright light of day to the deep dark of night, and from the moody
tones of his native England to the luminescent glow of Venice, Italy. For the famed painter,
they were wanders in watercolor. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN, Senior Curator, Tate
Britain: I think some of his most original and expressive and experimental, groundbreaking
work was actually in watercolor on paper. JARED BOWEN: That medium is where his ideas
formed and flourished with a fervor. Starting with the first watercolor he painted of this
gorge at age 17, Turner painted more than 30,000 in his lifetime. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: Drawing and, indeed,
painting in watercolor was almost a compulsion. It was like a kind of a nervous tick. He just
wasn’t comfortable unless he was doing it. JARED BOWEN: Turner scholar David Blayney
Brown is a senior curator with Tate Britain, the London museum that holds the Turner bequest,
a collection of tens of thousands of works, including these watercolors, that went to
the museum after his death in 1851. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: He certainly had a high
opinion of himself. He wasn’t a modest man. He realized that he was a great artist, and
he wanted to leave a legacy to the nation, to the British nation. JARED BOWEN: Now that legacy is getting some
international burnishing. The watercolors, which are extremely susceptible to light damage,
can only be shown once in a generation. After stops in Italy and Argentina, the show
is making its only North American appearance at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum. STEVE WHITE, President and CEO, Mystic Seaport
Museum: This is the most significant exhibition, I believe, that we have had in our 90-year
existence. JARED BOWEN: So significant that, five years
ago, when the museum was building this new facility, its president, Steve White, says
he told the architectural team: STEVE WHITE: The conditions and the specs
for the space have to be good enough for Turner, because that’s the — that, for us, would
be the most defining exhibition. JARED BOWEN: So this, says White, is a dream
come true, to marry Turner’s lifelong interest in maritime painting with the Mystic River
flowing just outside. STEVE WHITE: This exhibition, because of Turner,
because of his expression of the sea, his expression of landscapes, he brings the spirit
of this place alive in a much different way. JARED BOWEN: Do we have a sense of how he’s
working with movement here, or is it strictly, do you think, about color? DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: I think it’s about movement
as well, because the color has to move, doesn’t it? I mean, this is a coastline. There’s a
storm approaching. The clouds are presumably moving quite fast. And the waves are crashing
on the beach. JARED BOWEN: Five years ago, in 2014, the
Mike Leigh biopic “Mr. Turner” painted the artist as a frenzied storm of creativity. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: That film was a movie,
is what I will say. JARED BOWEN: In truth, David Blayney Brown
says, Turner was likely much more methodical. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: He must have worked with
great care and great precision, certainly in some of the images in this exhibition.
They’re extraordinarily finely worked. Some are minutely detailed. And instead of broad, sweeping surges of paint,
there are just tiny little dots, you know, laid onto the paper, almost like setting tiny
diamonds into a ring. JARED BOWEN: While many of Turner’s works
appear ethereal and idealized, he was also fond of what art critics and historians have
come to describe as litter, the little figures, animals and general stuff that frequently
dot his foregrounds. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: They can look very untidy.
But, of course, the real world is often an untidy place. He wants to root things in reality. JARED BOWEN: As an inveterate traveler, his
work changed as often as his landscapes did, especially in Venice. The work he produced
during his third and final trip there in 1840 prompted one critic to proclaim Turner a magician,
with command over the spirits of earth, air, fire, and water. DAVID BLAYNEY BROWN: The real thrill of Venice
for him was probably the fact that it has this extraordinary aqueous light. For an artist
who’s very interested in luminous effects and how to bring light into pictures, the
effect the light has and the way it seems to merge the sea and the sky is something
I think that made an enormous impression on him. JARED BOWEN: And made for one of his myriad
masterstrokes. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jared Bowen of
WGBH in Mystic, Connecticut. AMNA NAWAZ: Tonight’s Brief But Spectacular
features singer and songwriter Mike Love, best known as one of the founding members
of the Beach Boys. The band won over fans around the world with
infectious harmonies and their unique California sound. MIKE LOVE, Beach Boys: For our original fans,
it’s nostalgic when we do “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” But if somebody is in grade school
and listens to the Beach Boys and hears “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” for the first time, it totally
relates to them at that stage of life. The Beach Boys have always emphasized harmony.
And what brought us together is the love of harmonizing, at Christmas parties and Thanksgiving. My earliest memories of my cousin Brian sitting
on my grandmother Wilson’s lap singing “Danny Boy,” and what an amazing voice he had. I
enjoy personally sing the bass parts, with all the other parts above. But the real specialness of it is when it
all comes together, all the various parts and blending. That’s the secret sauce there,
the blend, as well as the harmonies. I remember the first time we ever heard our
record on the radio in 1961. Our song, “Surfin'” was played on a radio station which played
like four or five brand-new singles by various groups. And the one that got the most call-in requests
would become the record of the week the following week. And we had cousins and uncles and aunts
and everybody phoning in. And we easily won the record of the week. The problem was started with my uncle Murry
not being very ethical. And he actually took and sold our publishing for a minuscule amount
compared to what it really is worth. That was a tough thing to deal with. I know it
was tough on Brian, Dennis, and Carl. It was tough on me, too. He also didn’t credit me with writing so many
of the songs that I created all the words for. I, unfortunately, because of that, had
to go into a lawsuit situation to establish my authorship. These are unfortunate things that happened.
But if you focus on that stuff, it loses sight on the incredible positivity that our music
has meant, transcended boundaries and borders and ethnic groups. To be able to just go out on stage and sing
these songs, and seeing that they’re so appreciated and people still love them, that is somewhat
of a precious miracle. My name is Mike Love, and this is my Brief
But Spectacular take on my life as a Beach Boy. AMNA NAWAZ: And you can watch additional Brief
But Spectacular episodes on our Web site. That’s PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. On the “NewsHour” online, our in-depth series
on the unrest that broke out across the globe this year continues. Tonight, we ask, what
happened to protests in Iran? You can find all that and more when you follow us on Instagram
@NewsHour. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m
Amna Nawaz. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.
For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank you, and we’ll see you soon.

Maurice Vega

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