PBS NewsHour full episode November 28, 2019

AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening. I’m Amna Nawaz. Judy Woodruff is away. On the “NewsHour” this Thanksgiving Day: During
an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, President Trump says he’s restarted talks with the Taliban. Then: a look back at presidential impeachments
in America and what lessons they hold for the current inquiry into President Trump. And a look inside the effort to turn the massive
amount of food waste in America into energy to power more efficient food production. DANA GUNDERS, Next Course: We, in our homes,
actually make up the biggest source of all the food that is going to waste. AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: President Trump spent part of
this Thanksgiving in Afghanistan at Bagram Airfield north of Kabul. Mr. Trump met with several hundred American
troops, served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to many, and met with Afghan President
Ashraf Ghani. President Trump also said he had restarted
peace talks with the Taliban, talks which he cut off in early September. For more on this, I’m joined by our own John
Yang here in the studio. Good to see you, John. Let’s talk about what the president said. Restarting the peace talks? Where do they stand? JOHN YANG: Well, it’s interesting, Amna. Administration officials tell “PBS NewsHour”
that this trip was never intended to be about talking about the peace talks. As Stephanie Grisham, the White House press
secretary, told reporters on Air Force One on the way over, this was simply meant to
be a show of support for the troops, a holiday greeting, a traditional thing for presidents
to do. But, as so often is the case, President Trump
had different ideas when he sat down with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
We have been wanting to make a deal, and so have the Taliban. And we pulled back. We were getting close. And we pulled back. We didn’t want to do it because of what they
did. It wasn’t a good — it was not a good thing
they did with killing the soldier. Don’t know if they knew he was a soldier,
but he was a soldier, an American soldier. They want to make a deal. So we will see what happens. If they make it, fine. If they don’t make it, that’s fine. We’re going to be able to do everything we’re
doing, and actually more. And, at the same time, we’re bring down the
number of groups substantially. And we will be down at a number that’s very
— it’s a good number. And we’re going to stay until such time as
we have a deal or we have total victory. JOHN YANG: Now, these talks have been going
on, we’re being told, for about three weeks now. They’re at what they call an informal level. And they’re not starting at scratch. They’re starting essentially with the proposed
agreement that was offered to President Trump in September, when he stopped the talks. You will remember, he went on Twitter, blew
up talks that were scheduled for Camp David. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy, and his
counterparts are reviewing that proposal. And that’s what — the process that’s going
on now. He’s been in the region for three weeks in
Pakistan and Qatar and holding these talks with Taliban officials. AMNA NAWAZ: So the talks are continuing, in
other words. JOHN YANG: Exactly. AMNA NAWAZ: Let’s mention something else that
he said that caught a lot of people’s attention. It was about the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. He said — President Trump, that is — that
he would like to bring that number down to 8,600. It was a very specific number. We should say the pretense for the peace talks
was to try to get that number down to zero. So, where did that 8,600 number come from? JOHN YANG: Zero, of course, is the number
he promised in the 2016 campaign. That number 8,600, the troops levels now are
about 13,000; 8,600 is the number that General Scott Miller, the U.S. commander of troops
in Afghanistan, says that he can carry out a mission of supporting Afghan troops, training
Afghan troops, and carrying out counterterrorism efforts with that level of about 8,600. It’s interesting. And when he was talking to reporters, the
president said — was asked about what level he wanted. And he said, well, I don’t think I want to
tell you that level. I don’t want to tell you what we’re planning,
what do I want to do. A reporter asked him, is it 8,600? He said, yes. (LAUGHTER) AMNA NAWAZ: OK, so confirmed, and moving on
then. I do want to ask you about something else
he mentioned, which is, this is something of a tradition, right, for U.S. presidents
to visit U.S. troops deployed around the world on Thanksgiving. Is it particularly significant for President
Trump right now in his presidency? JOHN YANG: It’s only his second trip to a
war zone. He was in Iraq last Christmas and now in Afghanistan
this Thanksgiving. It is, remember, the beginning of a campaign
season. He campaigned on being full out of Afghanistan
by the — by next year, by the election. Promises made, promises kept is something
we’re likely to hear a lot about over the next year. And, also, it’s a — it was a chance for him
to be on the world stage as commander in chief, seen with the troops going into a week when
the House Judiciary Committee is holding its first impeachment hearing. AMNA NAWAZ: John Yang with the latest for
us. Happy Thanksgiving, John. JOHN YANG: Happy Thanksgiving. AMNA NAWAZ: In the day’s other news: Tensions
surged even higher in Iraq after a bloodbath in the last 24 hours. Security forces shot dead at least 40 protesters. Gunfire sounded in the southern city of Nasiriyah,
where 31 people were killed. Crowds later joined funeral processions, despite
a curfew. Four more died in Baghdad as protesters again
denounced government corruption and economic mismanagement. MAN (through translator): People are here
today to demand their rights that have been stolen. For the past 16 years, the people have been
played. We have been living in destruction and wars. The youths and all the generations have been
destroyed. AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, video from Najaf showed
the Iranian Consulate there burning last night and protesters cheering as they condemned
Tehran’s influence in their country. In recent days, Iran carried out a crackdown
on widespread protests in its own cities. We will discuss that situation later in the
program. Fierce fires are still burning tonight at
a chemical plant in East Texas, forcing more than 50,000 people to spend Thanksgiving away
from their homes. Two explosions rocked the site of Port Neches
on Wednesday, leading to evacuations within a four-mile radius. Today, huge plumes of black smoke billowed
overhead as the fires raged on. Fire crews used water cannons to cool down
nearby tanks and prevent new explosions. A winter storm system that disrupted Thanksgiving
travel across parts of the country eased today. In New York, giant balloons were able to fly
at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but they stayed much lower, as spectators
looked on. MAN: Very windy. All of the balloons, all of the people carrying
the balloons, they really had a tough task today keeping everything under control. WOMAN: I saw a few people go down. I hope they’re OK. Yes, it was pretty rough. AMNA NAWAZ: In Southern California, snow forced
Interstate 5 to close for the second time in three days. Forecasters also warned of trouble ahead for
holiday travels — travelers, rather, in the Western and Central U.S. Beginning tomorrow
night through Saturday, the region could get two feet of snow. An unusually severe rainy season in East Africa
is causing severe flooding across three countries. In Djibouti, more than a foot of rain fell
in a single day. That’s about two years’ worth of normal rainfall
in an otherwise arid country. In Kenya, the government says 120 people have
died in mudslides and flooding. And Somalia has seen heavy flooding as well. The rains could continue through the end of
the month. China today condemned President Trump’s signing
of two bills backing human rights in Hong Kong. The Foreign Ministry in Beijing warned the
measures could damage cooperation with the U.S., but it didn’t directly mention trade
talks. In Hong Kong, thousands of pro-democracy activists
gathered this evening, many of them wearing masks. They welcomed the new American laws. KATHY CHAN, Protester: We are very thankful
for that, and we knew that today is Thanksgiving, so we especially want to thank the United
States citizens and also the president, Donald Trump, for supporting Hong Kong. AMNA NAWAZ: The rally was the latest in six
months of protests that have roiled Hong Kong. North Korea has carried out another weapons
test, the 13th this year. The North today fired two short-range projectiles
that flew 235 miles out to sea off its eastern coast. State media said it was the latest test of
a new rocket launcher. The North has carried out several launches
in recent months, and it presses the U.S. for progress in nuclear talks by the end of
the year. A federal appeals court in Washington has
temporarily delayed forcing former White House counsel Don McGahn to appear before Congress. A lower court had ruled Monday that he must
comply with a congressional subpoena that was issued as part of the Russia investigation. The appeals court said it will hear arguments
in the case on January 3. And as American shoppers gear up for a Black
Friday buying binge, some lawmakers in France say they want to put an end to it. They say it overpromotes overconsumption and
waste and generates emissions that damage the climate. The proposal to ban Black Friday will be debated
in the National Assembly next month. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a discussion
with experts on past impeachments; how some farms are turning food waste into sustainable
energy; a report from Iran following a violent crackdown on nationwide protests; and much
more. Impeachment is a rare event. And, as the nation has watched the last weeks
of public hearings, we have naturally wondered how this time in history compares to the others. To answer that question, I spoke with three
historians last week. Each focused on a former president who had
to deal with the threat of impeachment. To tell us about Bill Clinton’s impeachment,
Peter Baker joins us. He is chief White House correspondent at The
New York Times and co-author of “Impeachment: An American History.” On Richard Nixon, Timothy Naftali joins us. He is a professor at New York University and
former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. And he also co-authored “Impeachment: An American
History.” And for Andrew Johnson, Brenda Wineapple joins
us. She is the author of “The Impeachers: The
Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation.” Thank you, all of you, for being here. And, Peter, I will start with you. I want to go kind of backwards in time here. If you had to give sort of a 90-second history
lesson on what the story of Bill Clinton’s impeachment was about, how would do you that? PETER BAKER, White House Correspondent, The
New York Times: Well, it’s hard to do in 90 seconds, but we will give it a try. (LAUGHTER) PETER BAKER: Look, President Clinton got caught
up in a sex scandal. He was being accuse of sexual harassment in
a lawsuit. And as part of that lawsuit, he was asked
to testify about his relationship with other women. He lied about a relationship with a former
intern named Monica Lewinsky. BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United
States: I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. PETER BAKER: And the House ultimately impeached
him along party lines for perjury and obstruction of justice. MAN: I hereby deliver these articles of impeachment. PETER BAKER: It went to the Senate for trial,
but he ended up getting acquitted on a pretty strong vote. The prosecutors didn’t get more than 50 votes,
even though they needed 67 to convict him. WILLIAM REHNQUIST, Former U.S. Supreme Court
Chief Justice: It is, therefore, ordered and adjudged that the said William Jefferson Clinton
be and he is hereby is acquitted of the charges in the said articles. PETER BAKER: That was the crux of it. But, really, at the heart, of course, are
all kinds of interesting questions about accountability, balance of power, separation of powers, what’s
important in terms of impeachment, what constitutes a high crime, misdemeanor, and these are the
issues we see today as well. BILL CLINTON: I want to say again to the American
people how profoundly sorry I am. AMNA NAWAZ: Tim Naftali, what about you? Tell us the story of Richard Nixon’s impeachment. And what was at stake there? TIMOTHY NAFTALI, Former Director, Nixon Presidential
Library: Well, Richard Nixon gets caught up in a — an espionage and break-in story. In the summer of 1972, a group of burglars
are caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate. This leads to some excellent journalism, largely
by Woodward and Bernstein. And after the 1972 election, a special Senate
Watergate Committee looks into two issues and questions of misconduct in the campaign. That leads to very celebrated public hearings. ROBERT MACNEIL, “NewsHour” Co-Founder: Good
evening from Washington. In a few moments, we’re going to bring you
the entire proceedings in the first day of the Senate Watergate hearings. MAN: The committee will come to order. TIMOTHY NAFTALI: No one’s talking about impeachment
at that point. SEN. SAM ERVIN (D-NC): We are beginning these hearings
today in an atmosphere of utmost gravity. TIMOTHY NAFTALI: But public hearings that
bring out the possibility that the president himself was involved in a cover-up and the
fact that the president is taping his conversations in the White House. ALEXANDER BUTTERFIELD, Former White House
Aide: I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir. TIMOTHY NAFTALI: There might not have been
an impeachment inquiry at all, but the president is very nervous, because, in addition to the
Senate looking into him, there is a special prosecutor that’s looking into him. And that special prosecutor wants access to
those tapes. The president doesn’t want those tapes to
go to the special prosecutor. He fights it. And when he doesn’t get what he wants, and
is on the verge of losing in court, he fires the special prosecutor. And not only does he fire Archibald Cox, but
he tries to put the entire independent investigation out of business. That sends a shockwave through the country
after something called the Saturday Night Massacre. And it is then the not just Democrats, who
control both houses, by the way, in Congress at that time, but Republicans too, join and
say, we need to investigate. From that point in late ’73, until August
of ’74, the House is engaged in an impeachment inquiry. Ultimately, the House votes three articles
of impeachment. All three have bipartisan support. Before those articles of impeachment can be
voted on by the entire House, Richard Nixon, who understands his support is crumbling,
Richard Nixon resigns. RICHARD NIXON, Former President of the United
States: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. TIMOTHY NAFTALI: Richard Nixon’s case involved
obstruction of justice and abuse of power. And it’s that abuse of power element of the
Watergate story that seems so relevant in the current discussion of Water — of impeachment. AMNA NAWAZ: And we’re going to dig through
some of those issues you raised there in a bit more detail. But, Brenda Wineapple, over to you. Tell us the story of Andrew Johnson and his
impeachment proceedings. BRENDA WINEAPPLE, Author, “The Impeachers:
The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation”: Johnson was impeached just
three years after the Civil War. And when you think about what was going on
there, and that the country was in need, desperate need, of putting itself back together again,
you had a chief executive who assigned himself the role of not so much peacemaker, but a
person who restored the South or wanted to restore the South to its former supremacy,
which was white supremacy. And it wasn’t a question of treason or bribery. But when Andrew Johnson actually broke a law
that Congress had passed in order to rein him in, so that Johnson would execute the
laws of Congress, which really restored civil rights and finally voting rights to black
men in the South to give them representation in the country, when Johnson broke that law,
the House had no choice, it felt, and voted overwhelmingly to impeach Andrew Johnson. So, technically, he was impeached because
he stepped on a statute, because he violated a law, he broke the law, but it had been a
long time coming. And for many, many people in the country and
certainly in Congress among the Republicans felt that he’d been abusing power, denying
the legitimacy of Congress and obstructing justice and the law for much, much too long. And he was really squandering, they felt,
the victory, the Union victory, which had abolished slavery, but not its effect. AMNA NAWAZ: Central to these narratives is,
of course, how each of these presidents reacted in the time, in the moment to the impeachment
proceedings. Peter, I will come back to you here. What do we know? And how would you characterize the Clinton
reaction to the impeachment proceedings? PETER BAKER: Well, Clinton took the approach
of being above it all. That’s the image he wanted to project to the
country. He was focused on the people’s business. He wasn’t going to get down in the dirt with
all these other people who are obsessed with scandal. And he tried to, therefore, basically shove
it off to the side, in effect. He wasn’t going to dignify it, if you will,
with being too obsessed by it in public. Behind the scenes, of course, he was obsessed
by it. He was consumed by it. He was filled with rage and grievance and
anger and unhappiness and resentment. He was so absorbed by it, that people would
leave meetings with him and say it wasn’t — it was like he wasn’t even there. One of his aides during a trip to the Middle
East when he in — I think in Gaza trying to negotiate Middle East peace between the
Palestinians and the Israelis noticed — over his shoulder, they noticed the president writing
on his notepad: “Focus on your job. Focus on your job.” He was trying very hard to project this idea
of a president who was unaffected. But, in fact, he was, as any person, I suppose,
would be quite consumed by it in private. Now, the difference between him and the other
two presidents is, he was very popular at the time. So he had a wellspring of public support. His numbers were above 60 percent approval
rating throughout the entire investigation by Ken Starr and the House impeachment and
Senate trial. In fact, it went up, not down, the day after
the impeachment vote in the House. It went up to 73 percent. So he had that sort of basic political base
to work from that other presidents didn’t have. But behind the scenes, of course, it was an
all-consuming thing for him. AMNA NAWAZ: Brenda, what about you? What do we know? Obviously, we didn’t have tweets in real time
reacting to what was going on in any of the proceedings. (LAUGHTER) AMNA NAWAZ: But what do we know about the
way that Andrew Johnson was reacting to those proceedings? BRENDA WINEAPPLE: If Andrew Johnson could
have tweeted, he would have been tweeting, believe me. He really — he was aggrieved too, just like
Peter was saying Clinton was. And he wanted to take his case to the people. He understood what impeachment was, but it
was almost as if he didn’t, and he thought that, if could go on a series of rallies and
get people behind him, that somehow none of this would be happening. And his lawyers very deftly and very carefully
warned him to stay in the White House, which they made him do. He wanted to testify on his own behalf. But they were really afraid. He was a very pugnacious person, and they
were very afraid of what he might say, what he might do, and that he could further alienated
people who may have been wobbling. And there were a couple of who really were. AMNA NAWAZ: And, Tim, I found it so interesting. You told my colleague earlier that, in the
moment, Richard Nixon actually withdrew. He wasn’t out there publicly advocating for
himself. But I’m curious about how the rest of his
party reacted. It’s so interesting we see now Republicans
in the House really standing by President Trump, staunchly defending him. Was that true of President Nixon and his party
at the time? TIMOTHY NAFTALI: In 1974, the public had no
idea that the leadership of the Republican Party was hoping that Richard Nixon would
resign. When he didn’t resign, those leaders felt
they had no choice but to stand behind him. They discovered that there was a lot of support
for Richard Nixon outside of Washington. And so they decided they had no better alternative
than to stand by him. What happens in this story is that rank-and-file
Republicans, the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, as they absorbed the
data that’s amassed for them, they come to the conclusion that Richard Nixon staying
in power would be a threat to the Constitution. And they decided, against their political
judgment — their political fortunes, and against the recommendations of the leaders
of the Republican Party, to vote against the president. So there’s — there are two different stories
there. There’s a story of the Republican leadership
in 1974, which ultimately stands behind Nixon, and there’s the story of the Republicans on
the House Judiciary Committee, many of whom thought they had no alternative but to do
their constitutional duty and vote for impeachment. AMNA NAWAZ: Brenda Wineapple, I will give
you the last word here. Of course, a lot of people are studying these
moments in history to see if there are lessons to be learned. What do you see in the way of echoes of past
impeachment proceedings or parallels between those proceedings in the past and the one
we’re seeing today? BRENDA WINEAPPLE: Well, one interesting parallel
is the fact that there was an election coming. Johnson was impeached in February of 1868. The trial started very soon after that. And, by May, you have the Republican National
Convention starting to nominate a candidate. So that was a consideration, a very important
consideration, determining how some of the members of Congress voted. And as you probably know, Johnson was acquitted
by only one vote. So there are a lot of politics that come into
play, in addition to the constitutional issues. The interesting thing, finally, though, is
that Johnson was impeached. He wasn’t removed. He wasn’t convicted, but he goes down in history
as one of the few presidents, one of the two, one of the only two, to be impeached. And that’s a stain that will stay on his record
forever. AMNA NAWAZ: Just a brief look at three important
moments in our American history. Brenda Wineapple, Timothy Naftali, and Peter
Baker, thank you so much for being with us. BRENDA WINEAPPLE: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: On a day when families across
the country gather for a Thanksgiving meal, it’s worth noting that, over the next 12 months,
the average American household of four will spend roughly $1,800 on food they never eat. Special correspondent Allison Aubrey of NPR
talks to scientist and cookbook author Dana Gunders about why Americans waste so much
in the kitchen. And she gets some lessons on how to cut those
losses. It’s the latest in our special series on food
waste. ALLISON AUBREY: Celebrity chefs share tricks
of the trade, how to waste less in the kitchen. It’s part of a 20-city tour under way the
James Beard Foundation kicked off here in New York City. WOMAN: One of our key priorities is the reduction
of food waste. ALLISON AUBREY: Esther Choi is chef and owner
of Mokbar, a Korean restaurant in Brooklyn. Tonight, she serves up a traditional Korean
rice dish she calls Buddha Bibimbap. ESTHER CHOI, Owner, Mokbar: So all the vegetables
are dehydrated. They will last like a year. So it’s a great way to not waste, like, extra
vegetables. ALLISON AUBREY: And what’s the easiest way
to do that? ESTHER CHOI: If you just turn on your oven
at like 150 to 200 degrees and leave the vegetables overnight, then they will dry up. ALLISON AUBREY: Teaching people how to do
this at home is the goal. MAN: So what I have here are some herbs that
would normally be wasted. ALLISON AUBREY: The foundation has launched
a social media blitz, with chefs online and Instagram cooking up waste-free recipes. And the Beard Foundation is not alone in its
effort. DANA GUNDERS, Next Course: We waste 50 percent
more food today than we did in the 1970s. ALLISON AUBREY: Dana Gunders, who authored
a report in 2012 quantifying just how much food goes to waste, says there’s a reason
why consumers need to be part of the conversation. DANA GUNDERS: We, in our homes, actually make
up the biggest source of all the food that is going to waste. ALLISON AUBREY: Forty-three percent of the
food that Americans waste each year comes from what we toss at home. That’s double the 18 percent that restaurants
waste and the 16 percent grocery stores throw out. All told, America’s food waste bill adds up
to $218 billion. According to the USDA, this would be akin
to filling the Willis Tower in Chicago about 44 times. When food rots, it releases methane gas. And climate change experts estimate that food
waste is responsible for up to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So, according to many scientists, reducing
it is one of the most effective things each of us can do. Changing the way we shop and cook can make
a difference. DANA GUNDERS: Beets, if you buy them in a
bunch, you can actually use those beet greens, cut them up, and saute them. ALLISON AUBREY: Here’s Gunders at Google’s
headquarters sharing some hacks with employees at lunchtime. She advises corporations and grocery chains
on strategies to manage food waste. And she’s also written the “Waste Free Kitchen
Handbook.” It’s full of ways to repurpose food you might
have thrown out. She joined us in the kitchen to show us one
of her favorite food waste kitchen hacks. DANA GUNDERS: One of the things I hate wasting
the most are avocados. ALLISON AUBREY: Ah, look at that. It’s really gooey and dark. You’re not going to eat that, are you? DANA GUNDERS: It’s totally fine to eat. The browning is just from enzymes in the fruit. So, what I like to do is use it in a chocolate
mousse. ALLISON AUBREY: Ooh, that sounds good. DANA GUNDERS: The cocoa really covers that
up. Take your avocados. Stick them in a food processor. ALLISON AUBREY: Then we added five other simple
ingredients, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup. So, it is going to taste like dessert? DANA GUNDERS: It will, I promise. ALLISON AUBREY: Gunders says a large part
of the food waste problem here in the U.S. is cultural. DANA GUNDERS: If I walk down the street today
and throw some food on the ground, people would think I’m crazy. But if I throw that same food in the garbage
can, people wouldn’t think much of it. And I think that signals the cultural acceptability
we have right now for food going to waste. ALLISON AUBREY: She points to Great Britain
as an example of a country that’s put a dent in the cultural acceptance of food waste. WOMAN: Fifty percent of the waste comes from
the house. So we have a huge responsibility to sort of
curb the waste culture. ALLISON AUBREY: The British are spending millions
on a decades-long national campaign called Love Food, Hate Waste. Events to raise awareness showcase chefs that
cook up leftovers at public events throughout the U.K. And the result? Consumer food waste fell by 18 percent in
Great Britain between 2007 and 2015. DANA GUNDERS: It’s created a culture where
the cool thing to do, the right thing to do, the expected thing to do for businesses is
to reduce their own waste and help their consumers reduce waste as well. ALLISON AUBREY: Here in the U.S., three federal
agencies have set strategies to help tackle food waste, including new efforts to measure
and track the problem. And at the end of 2018, Congress allocated
almost $30 million for grants to states to bolster composting and food waste recovery
programs. Gunders says all this is good, and given how
much we waste in our own homes, a cultural shift in our attitudes and in our habits is
important too. DANA GUNDERS: It is really difficult to change
policy and have that change a culture. But when you look at campaigns like seat belts… NARRATOR: Safety belts for dummies or people. DANA GUNDERS: … or littering or Smokey the
Bear… ACTOR: Having a campfire means we have to
be responsible. DANA GUNDERS: … there is a way for the federal
government to support a cultural shift through large campaigns around the country. And we have not seen them support a campaign
around reducing food waste yet. And voila. ALLISON AUBREY: All right. Looks like chocolate mousse. DANA GUNDERS: Ready to try some? ALLISON AUBREY: Absolutely. It does not taste avocado at all. It almost tastes like buttery or creamy. DANA GUNDERS: What’s amazing is, the avocado
actually takes the place of the butter and cream, and so it’s much healthier for you. ALLISON AUBREY: I’m Allison Aubrey of NPR
News, cooking for the “PBS NewsHour” in San Francisco. AMNA NAWAZ: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: the American
trucking industry at a crossroads; and a thank you to Flossie — students reflect on one
teacher’s impact. For the past two weeks, Iranians have taken
to the streets by thousands in what began as protests denouncing a hike in gasoline
prices. But the uprising quickly turned political,
with demands that top officials step down. The Iranian government responded with a five-day
Internet shutdown, so the user-generated video and accounts that raised awareness of past
demonstrations were blacked out. We still know little about what’s happened. Yesterday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei, said the protests were a U.S.-led plot to destroy the country. AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Supreme Leader of
Iran (through translator): It was a deep, extensive, and very dangerous conspiracy that
cost the United States so much money and effort. They wanted to use an opportunity to carry
out this move, which was an act of destruction, arson, murder, and vandalism, under the pretext
of a gasoline price increase. AMNA NAWAZ: The Internet has been partially
restored. And special correspondent Reza Sayah joins
us from Tehran, where he’s been following the latest on the ground. Reza, it’s good to see you. We know connectivity, being able to get any
word out, has been an issue. So, fill us in. What is the latest on the ground? REZA SAYAH: Amna, giving you an update on
the latest here in Iran is still a bit of a challenge, because many Iranians are just
now getting back online, just now getting their Internet service back. The big news today here in Iran Thursday is
that cell phone users are back online, after being offline for the better part of two weeks. And it was a lack of Internet connections
for cell phone users that perhaps played the biggest part in this information blackout
that we saw last week, an information blackout that made it very difficult, nearly impossible,
for many people to conclusively report on the magnitude and the scale and the intensity
of the protests. That said, indications are that the protests
have died down, and when you drive around Tehran today, nowhere near the security presence
that we saw last week. AMNA NAWAZ: Reza, let’s talk about why these
protests are happening now. We mentioned that hike in gasoline prices. Do we have any idea why that decision was
made in the first place? REZA SAYAH: It’s impossible for us to say
why authorities decided that this was the best time to raise gas prices at a time when
many working-class Iranians are suffering so much and under so much pressure. But we can tell you that many Iranian officials
and Iranian analysts have long said that raising gas prices is the right thing to do for Iran’s
economy. Remember, Iran’s gas prices have long been
heavily subsidized. They’re some of the cheapest in the world,
running about 50 cents per gallon. And officials here say that has led to high
consumption and heavy smuggling, and something had to be done. But the fact that they decided to do it now
is perhaps an indication of how much the economy is struggling, to a point where authorities
had to take a desperate measure, where there was a backlash. Then came the Trump administration, who pulled
out of the nuclear deal, reimposed new sanctions. There was never any foreign investment that
came into Iran. Oil sales went down significantly. There was inflation, a devaluation of currency,
unemployment. And that, many say, led to the government
perhaps making that drastic measure of raising fuel prices. So, again, many people argue that the U.S.
sanctions that had a huge role in what happened last week, but, also, many people argue that
it’s these U.S. sanctions that are hurting average Iranians, and not impacting the government. And we can also tell you that, when the protests
happened, many groups both inside and outside Iran tried to take over the narrative. The hard-liners here blamed the moderates
on the rising fuel prices. The moderates blamed the hard-liners. And, in D.C., the Trump administration and
the Iran hawks said the protest and the rising fuel prices were evidence that the U.S. sanctions
were working. And on the other hand, the moderate observers
of Iran said that the protests and the rising gas prices were an indication that the sanctions
were only impacting average Iranians, and the fact that the government is still in power
was proof that the sanctions were not working. AMNA NAWAZ: At one point, it was reported
there were protests in more than 100 cities across the country. Tell us a little bit about the overall government
response. Has the scale of these protests shaken them
at all? REZA SAYAH: All indications are that the government
reacted swiftly, they reacted brutally, and they reacted with deadly force, perhaps more
deadly force than they have ever used. Over the past several days, we have heard
a growing number of reports naming individuals who were allegedly killed by security forces
during the protests. A lot of names are being posted online, reports
that we can’t independently confirm. We can tell you that Amnesty International
made headlines when they put out a report that more than 100 people were killed. This time, of course, they made the seemingly
effective move of shutting down Internet and, again, using deadly force very quickly. AMNA NAWAZ: Reza, these are easily among the
largest demonstrations against the Islamic Republic since the resolution four decades
ago, not as large as the Green Revolution in 2009, though. But tell us, what happens now? REZA SAYAH: What’s interesting is that, this
week, there were demonstrations in Tehran other and cities sanctioned and approved by
the government, where there were some people who were protesting against the rising fuel
prices and a struggling economy. They were peaceful protests. And there was no violence. There was no crackdown. Also this week, there was a national newspaper
with a headline criticizing Iranian state media of not hearing out the people’s concerns. And you also have the supreme leader, the
government leaders here continuing to say that the people’s concerns must be met, something
must improve with the economy, that the government must address the people’s concern. So you’re hearing some rhetoric, but it still
remains rhetoric. At this point, there’s no indication that
there’s going to be a turnaround for the economy, that the economy is going to improve, and
certainly no indication that the government is going to tolerate protests that evolve
into something that the government sees as a threat. AMNA NAWAZ: That is special correspondent
Reza Sayah reporting from Tehran. Thanks, Reza. The American trucking industry today employs
more than two million people, the vast majority of them men, many of them older, with no college
education. The race to put driverless trucks on the road
has been under way for several years now, leading many to wonder if those driver jobs
are doomed. And yet the industry is facing a driver shortage,
and has been for years. In this encore presentation of our weekly
Making Sense series, economics correspondent Paul Solman asks: Who’s right? How long before driverless trucks are the
kings of the road? And what will it the mean for the job now
done by truckers? FINN MURPHY, Truck Driver: I’m wondering if
I missed my turn. What the hell am I going to do here? PAUL SOLMAN: Longtime trucker Finn Murphy
inadvertently showing me how tough a job a trucker’s can be. FINN MURPHY: So, what I need to do is turn
around before I get on a low bridge or some other nightmare that I don’t want to get involved
in. PAUL SOLMAN: Despite such subtleties, though,
says Murphy, the future of work on the road is just around the corner: the driverless
truck. FINN MURPHY: I think it’s imminent, yes. I think it’s going to happen within the next
three years or so, where you have a level-four autonomous vehicle, which means it doesn’t
need a human operator. PAUL SOLMAN: Finn Murphy is a long-haul human
operator, has been since he dropped out of college in the early ’80s. He’s now at the top of the trucking hierarchy,
driver and mover of pricey cargo like art. FINN MURPHY: And then we all have nicknames,
right? So movers were called bed buggers. PAUL SOLMAN: Bed buggers? FINN MURPHY: Yes. And our trucks are called roach coaches, because
it has people’s stuff in it. And then, flatbed haulers, they’re called
skateboarders. PAUL SOLMAN: Bed buggers like Murphy driving
roach coaches, which haul high-end merchandise, can gross $200,000 a year. Skateboarders, on the other hand and other
non-specialists in this increasingly deregulated, de-unionized industry, are paid $30,000 to
$50,000. MAN: Companies are struggling to find qualified
commercial truckers, who deliver 70 percent of all goods in this country. MAN: The American trucking association predicts
a major shortage of drivers. PAUL SOLMAN: Along with the many hazards — something
like a quarter of all work-related fatalities are truckers — and endless hours away from
home, paltry pay explains what’s become a chronic trucker shortage. But we’re still talking some two million trucking
jobs in America, to be outcompeted completely by automation? FINN MURPHY: They have got their eyes on the
prize. Get rid of drivers. PAUL SOLMAN: But can programmers teach trucks
to hook up the trailer, as a human can learn to do? Just about any human? Got to go all the way up? FINN MURPHY: All the way. Then we put on the red one. PAUL SOLMAN: So this is lubrication? FINN MURPHY: That’s — this is very high-tech
lubrication. PAUL SOLMAN: Connect the hoses and check the
oil. FINN MURPHY: This truck right now, it’s got
about 800,000 miles on it. PAUL SOLMAN: And you have got enough oil. Not to mention navigate rain, wind, sleet
or snow, and pedestrians. That’s why Finn Murphy’s boss, Will Joyce,
thinks humans are still in the driver’s seat. WILL JOYCE, Joyce Van Lines: Even if a truck
had the capabilities for braking and guidance, which is fantastic — the more the better
for safety — but you’re always — you’re still going to need an operator, like a train
needs a conductor. PAUL SOLMAN: But Murphy remains adamant. FINN MURPHY: I think they’re in denial, because
it’s already here. You know, we have already logged 23 million
miles. There are autonomous trucks on the road right
now. PAUL SOLMAN: There’s Volvo’s Vera, the truck
by start-up Embark, with no one in sight, Google, Waymo, Daimler, the Inspiration. All seem to validate the trucker’s lament,
written and sung by econo-crooner Merle Hazard: no one even asleep at the wheel. MERLE HAZARD, Musician (singing): Chips and
software call the shots now. Roads will be for driving bots now. Old-school highway cowboys lost the fight. PAUL SOLMAN: And yet such visions may be a
bit premature. From Bristol, Connecticut, we flew to Portland,
Oregon, home of Daimler Trucks North America, one of the world’s leading producers of semis,
now at work on automating them. Three years ago in Nevada, Daimler showed
off its Inspiration, the world’s first road-licensed self-driving truck. Steve Nadig, Daimler’s head engineer for mechatronics,
showed us the newest freightliner model. It has all the latest sensors and doodads,
but can it operate without a driver yet? STEVE NADIG, Daimler: Absolutely not, not
at this point. PAUL SOLMAN: All right, so, when is that point
going to be? STEVE NADIG: At this point, I cannot tell
you. I can tell you what we’re going to do, and
we, Daimler Trucks, are going to take it step by step, safety by safety, use case by use
case, to make sure that we’re putting the safest truck on the road possible. PAUL SOLMAN: What we’re likely to see, Nadig
says, at least in the short and medium term, is more automated features to make trucks
safer and more fuel-efficient, automated transmission, of course, automated braking, autopilot for
staying in the lane. But, look, they’re also still working in wind
tunnels like this on old-school stuff like aerodynamic styling to save fuel. And many of the newfangled features are already
available on cars. For 80,000-pound, 53-foot-long 18-wheelers,
there’s still a long way to go. In the next three years, says Steve Nadig,
the most we’re likely to see is platooning, where, to decrease wind drag, while increasing
safety, multiple trucks can be electronically linked together. And when might you or I actually pull up alongside
an autonomous truck? Five years? STEVE NADIG: When we get to the point, I will
tell you right before we get there. PAUL SOLMAN: All right, 10 years? STEVE NADIG: Ten years? Yes, maybe, maybe not. I still think, when we look at that, we will
still have a driver in the seat. PAUL SOLMAN: But, as an engineer, I just assume
that you believe that, ultimately, systems will be safer than people. STEVE NADIG: To be honest with you — I don’t
know if we can put this on PBS — I have had a lot of beer discussions over that, of, can
a human being can ever be safer than a vehicle, or can a vehicle be safer than a human being? PAUL SOLMAN: Where are you before you have
too much beer? STEVE NADIG: Before I have had too much beer. So, we — I would tell you, at this point
in my career, I haven’t seen the evidence to take the driver out of the seat. PAUL SOLMAN: And that seems to be the engineering
consensus, autonomous trucks in 10, 20, maybe 30 years, but, even then, likely driving only
the long stretches of open highway, where conditions are the easiest and demand for
drivers is greatest, before handing off to human drivers for the last mile into cities,
with their turns and twists, traffic lights and us. So, whew, right? Truckers can keep on trucking? STEVE VISCELLI, University of Pennsylvania:
The biggest threat to the truck drivers is not job loss in the near term. PAUL SOLMAN: Sociologist Steve Viscelli wrote
the book on trucking — a book, anyway — after driving a rig for six months himself. The biggest threat to truckers? STEVE VISCELLI: The loss of job quality. In particular, as automated features come
online, it’s going to allow the industry to use less-skilled drivers, which will extend
a long-term trend in trucking wages where drivers are earning less, working longer hours,
staying out on the road for long periods of time. And automation could feed right into that,
allowing the industry to use less skilled drivers. PAUL SOLMAN: That doesn’t leave Finn Murphy,
our long-haul driver and student of history, with a lot of hope. FINN MURPHY: I mean, we have had this problem
in civilization for millennia. The issue is, is, what does a society decide,
if they have a role in helping these folks out? And if the average age is 55, these guys are
going to be computer programmers, when they didn’t finish high school? I doubt it. Whoa, look at these three pedestrians. Ladies, are you really doing this? (LAUGHTER) PAUL SOLMAN: Yes, that’s kind of amazing. FINN MURPHY: Now, how is a machine going to
deal — going to view that? PAUL SOLMAN: Yes. FINN MURPHY: That’s the big question. (LAUGHTER) PAUL SOLMAN: From Bristol, Connecticut, to
Portland, Oregon, this is economics correspondent Paul Solman for the “PBS NewsHour.” AMNA NAWAZ: Next, we turn to a special encore
presentation from our Brief But Spectacular series, featuring one of our most popular
profiles. That’s Flossie Lewis. It includes series creator Steve Goldbloom,
as he accompanies Flossie back to the classroom, where she re-encounters former students who
were grateful to have her in their lives. FLOSSIE LEWIS, Teacher: Getting old is a state
of mind. Now, I’m 91. I’m badly crippled. But I still think I’m 15. Will this go viral? STEVE GOLDBLOOM: This? We hope so. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Accepting the fact that the
body is going to go, but the personality doesn’t have to go, and that thing which is the hardest
to admit is that character doesn’t have to go. I’m Flossie Lewis. This is my Brief But Spectacular take on growing
old. STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Welcome to this special episode
of Brief But Spectacular. I’m Steve Goldbloom. The clip you just saw of Flossie Lewis first
aired on “PBS NewsHour” in 2016. And, as she predicted, it did indeed go viral. More than seven million viewers watched her
take on growing old and living well, and Flossie was a little overwhelmed by all the attention. She called me and asked if she was expected
to respond personally to each of the thousands of comments on Facebook. I assured her that she wasn’t. Flossie’s video struck a chord with millions,
but one of the responses really caught our attention. It came from author Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony
Snicket, who wondered how we managed to track down his high school English teacher. We soon heard from other Bay Area residents
who passed through Flossie’s classroom, and not just passed through, but who described
the experience as having a profound effect on their education and their appreciation
of poetry. EMIL GUILLERMO, Former Student of Flossie
Lewis: She was the best English teacher. EMILY MURASE, Former Student of Flossie Lewis:
She demanded excellence. MATT HOLLIS, Former Student of Flossie Lewis:
She had this gravitas about her. DANIEL HANDLER, AKA Lemony Snicket: I think
she has the ability to startle. She has no time for your bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). STEVE GOLDBLOOM: So, based on popular demand
we took a deeper dive with Flossie. We spent some time with her in her retirement
home in Oakland. And we even organized a reunion to take place
inside her old classroom. We invited many of her former students, some
of whom she hadn’t seen in 40 years. Flossie got right to work. She prepared a lecture for the occasion on
whether or not Bob Dylan was worthy of the Nobel Prize for Literature. That’s really all the context you need for
what you’re about to see. Let’s start with an introduction. Tell us where you were born. FLOSSIE LEWIS: I think I was born in Bensonhurst,
which is a section of Brooklyn. I received my B.A. from Brooklyn College 1945. In the Jewish community of Brooklyn in the
’40s, a girl was expected to be married, and the worst thing that could happen to her would
be spinsterhood. And what was my fate? To be a spinster. So, I got on a Greyhound bus. I went with a friend, and it took us five
days and constipation to get to Berkeley. Teaching was the one thing that a woman could
do. I could command the attention of a class. I had a voice. I had that kind of personality that didn’t
seem teacherly, but was provocative. Well, you couldn’t be in charge of the weather. We should have done this yesterday. STEVE GOLDBLOOM: I think this works well. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Well, my philosophy is that
everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Let’s hope for the best. STEVE GOLDBLOOM: OK. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Now, Steve, are we on Ocean
Avenue? I think we are. Are we on Ocean Avenue, driver? MAN: Not yet. Not yet. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Because we used to go down
Ocean Avenue, and we’d be there by this time. So, when you go back, go back by Ocean Avenue,
please. MAN: OK. MATT HOLLIS: I think I was intimidated by
her name. Flossie is a very unusual name. SUSAN FREIWALD, Former Student of Flossie
Lewis: Petite woman who always wore very funky clothes. DANIEL HANDLER: She called me once when I
was in college. I was very ill. I had just come out of the hospital. And she read to me from Kafka’s diary. She said, “This will cheer you up.” I said, “But it didn’t go well for Kafka,
though, did it?” And she said: “No. No, it didn’t.” EMIL GUILLERMO: She changed the direction
of my life. Because of Flossie, I became a writer. All throughout my life, Flossie has been there
for me. Everyone else said no to me, and she said
yes. FLOSSIE LEWIS: My wheelchair is in place? STEVE GOLDBLOOM: It’s in place. FLOSSIE LEWIS: This is the absolute (EXPLETIVE
DELETED). That’s all I can say. It ain’t no fun, but I’m delighted to be here. And thank you for coming. Oh. Oh, Jesus, how lovely. How lovely. OK, ready? The trivial task before us is to decide whether
Bobby Dylan is worth the laureate for literature. Defend his work, or open my eyes to something
that I haven’t seen. And we don’t have to go up and down the row,
but speak. EMIL GUILLERMO: What is wrong with Dylan,
Flossie? I mean, he’s just putting out the questions. FLOSSIE LEWIS: So he makes us search? EMIL GUILLERMO: For some people. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Rena, dear. You’re on, baby. WOMAN: How many roads must a man walk down
before you call him a man is a rhetorical question. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Yes, I see what you’re saying. I will not dispute anything that I have heard. I know you love him. I happen not to love him, but that’s not the
point. He speaks for your generation. How do we decide who represents poetry? Honey, speak. MAN: Whether he’s a poet laureate, the question
for me is, compared to what? FLOSSIE LEWIS: Put him next to someone that
also merits this kind of consideration, and show me how he wins. MAN: We used to fuss when the landlord dissed
us. No heat. Wonder why Christmas missed us. Birthdays was the worst days. Now we sip champagne when we thirsty. I like that so much more for what it does
for the English language. I personally am unequivocally opposed to Dylan
being chosen as the Nobel laureate, but that doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to the views
that I have heard here. That’s what was wonderful about your classroom,
Flossie, was, it wasn’t just your voice. You would bring us all in. WOMAN: I remember when you read us a sonnet
from Shakespeare… FLOSSIE LEWIS: Yes. WOMAN: … and said, it’s no good. (LAUGHTER) WOMAN: And — and that was amazing. That was amazing. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Thank you for remembering. WOMAN: I remember so clearly. MAN: I remember my first composition that
I wrote for you. And you — your comment was, I’m concerned
by how drab your verb are. (LAUGHTER) WOMAN: When I was here in high school and
coming out, I was depressed. I was kind of lost. I was maybe suicidal. I tell people I have this English teacher
who I think saved my life. And I think you did. So, thank you, and I love you. MATT HOLLIS: You really introduced me to poetry. I have gone on to become an architect. And I have a really strong affinity for classical
Greek architecture. You have made those buildings come to life
for me and shown me that architecture can have poetry. Thank you very much. FLOSSIE LEWIS: OK, guys, the class is over,
but I hope it will never be over. And I hope, even if the answers are blowing
in the wind, that maybe having an answer that is too certain can destroy us also. (APPLAUSE) FLOSSIE LEWIS: Bye-bye, honey. Thank you. Thank you. WOMAN: Bye-bye. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Oh, the cab is here. STEVE GOLDBLOOM: The cabbie is here. It’s the same man. FLOSSIE LEWIS: Tell him to go on Ocean Avenue. STEVE GOLDBLOOM: Oh, boy. You touched a lot of people, Flossie. FLOSSIE LEWIS: A lot of people touched me. It’s a two-way street. Imagine teaching those kids. He’s going to go the way he wants to go. It ain’t going to be Ocean Avenue. What the hell? AMNA NAWAZ: And that was Flossie Lewis. We are grateful to her. And we are grateful to you for spending some
of your Thanksgiving with us. That is the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Amna Nawaz. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” have
a great Thanksgiving. We’ll see you soon.

Maurice Vega

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment