tv PBS News Hour PBS November 24, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: hundreds are killed and more injured after militants attacked a mosque in egypt, making it one of the country's deadliest attacks in modern history. and, it's friday. mark shields and david brooks are here. we talk former national security advisor michael flynn's split from president trump amid the russia investigation, and where the republican's tax bill stands. plus, lin-manuel miranda sings out for puerto rico. the "hamilton" creator takes on a new role as political activist after hurricane maria. >> many of the needs of the 3.5 million american citizens on the island are still not being met. i'm here because we need to be
>> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: a mosque in egypt's sinai peninsula was the scene of mayhem and carnage today. at least 235 people were killed, and more than 100 injured, as militants attacked a crowded
house of worship during friday prayers in the town of bir al- abd. the attackers detonated explosives and shot worshippers as they tried to escape. egypt's government declared three days of mourning. president trump condemned the attack, and spoke this afternoon with egyptian president abdel fattah al-sisi. earlier, sisi declared that the attack "will not go unpunished." for more, i spoke a short time ago with "new york times" cairo bureau chief declan walsh. declan walsh, thank you for joining us. this seems to have been an unusually ruthless attack. they kept on shooting as the ambulances arrived? >> absolutely, that's right. there were -- the gunmen arrived in several vehicles. they split up into teams. some of the gunmen went inside the mosque. they started shooting the worshipers immediately after a bomb had gone off. other gunmen waited outside and shot people as they tried to
flee. >> woodruff: and it was unusual that, in the past, they have been going typically after christians. this time, it was at a mosque. >> that's right. this is extremely unusual. this attack the extremely unusual both by the size of the attack, the number of people who have been killed. this is the largest attack in modern egyptian history, and it's also, as you say, the target. over the last year the islamic state have carried out attacks on coptic christian churches in egypt but not a muslim mosque. we do not have a claim of responsibility for this attack but it's important to note the local affiliate of islamic state is the most significant, powerful group operating in that area, and they had previously made threats against sufi
muslims. so these are muslims who have a particular practice which extremists find to be he reticle. they killed a year a sunni crieric, beheaded him, and said there will be more violence to come and have made good on the threat. >> woodruff: why isn't there more security in these places? >> that's an excellent question. the egyptian state has been battling the islamic state in sinai for the last three or four years, poured huge resources into the fight in that part of the country, and we as the foreign press and most of the egyptian press have relatively little visibility on what goes on over there because it's a closed area to foreigners and indeed to many egyptians, but we know there are ambushes against the egyptian military and that the egyptian military has responded with some force. so this again is going to raise
questions particularly for president sisi as to why his military has been unable to push back the islamic state, to stop them from carrying out attacks like this with such impunity. these gunmen who possibly numbered in the dozens were able to carry out the attack with no hindrance. they even waited at the site of the attack while the first responders and am balances turned up and opened fire on some of the ambulances. >> woodruff: as you point out, president el-sisi said he's going to do something about it. he made a statement today this will not go unpunished. but as you've pointed out, there have been these other attacks. do people believe he will do something about this? >> i think there's going to be a particular type of pressure on president sisi because a mosque has been attacked this time on
the other hand, this is an attack that's taken place in sinai and, often, the rest of egypt is referred to here as mainland egypt, the cities like cairo and alexandria, where the attacks against christians took place last year and they certainly ramped up the pressure on president sisi not just from the christian community but egyptians across the board who were worried at the site of these islamic state attacks coming into their capitol and other major cities. >> woodruff: declan walsh with the "new york times" joining us from cairo. thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the government of turkey says president trump agreed to stop arming kurdish fighters in syria. the foreign minister says mr. trump made the pledge in a phone call to president recep tayyip erdogan. later, the white house did not confirm it. the syrian kurds have scored major victories against islamic
state forces, but turkey considers them a terrorist organization. in zimbabwe, the new president, emmerson mnangagwa, was sworn in today. tens of thousands turned out to see the ceremony, but robert mugabe, who stepped down this week under pressure, did not join them. john ray of independent television news reports from the capital, harare. >> reporter: the trace of a smile on the crocodile, a nickname earned through fear not affection. today, acclaimed president of zimbabwe, his own and his nation's reputation in need of transformation. a huge crowd danced and sang many of the same songs they sang once for robert mugabe. while a military who removed him from power paraded for their new commander in chief. this is the first time zimbabwe has sworn in a new leader in almost 40 years. he took the oath of office...
>> so help me god. >> reporter: ...assumed the mantel of head of state and promised his people a fresh start. >> i solemnly promise that i shall, to the best of my abilities, serve everyone, everyone who calls and considers zimbabwe their home. >> reporter: more muted was his tribute to mugabe, the spectre at the feast. >> to me personally, he remains a father, mentor, comrade-in- arms and my leader. >> reporter: the zimbabwe mugabe left behind needs jobs and foreign investment. even mnangawa is subject to us sanctions. this former spy chief accused in the past of helping rig elections now promises free and fair elections next year. so after ten days that have changed everything we knew about
zimbabwe, the country has a new president. but he's here as much because of a palace coup, as popular uprising, so how deep will the change really be? from mnanagawa's hometown, we met one family who traveled 200 miles from 2:00 in the morning to see history unfolding. expectations are high. >> our town is one that has been forgotten. it's one which was just dying. now we are hoping there is going to be life. >> reporter: the new president will need time to deliver his promises, but he has already given his people hope. >> woodruff: that report from john ray of independent television news. interpol has announced 40 arrests in a bid to break up a human trafficking ring in africa. the international police organization says the operation was carried out in chad, mali, mauritania, niger and senegal, earlier this month. nearly 500 people were rescued,
including 236 children. a top pakistani militant wanted by the u.s. was freed today, on the orders of a pakistani court. hafiz saeed allegedly founded an outlawed group that linked to a 2008 attack in mumbai, india. the attack killed nearly 170 people. this morning in lahore, saeed greeted supporters at friday prayers. his lawyer accused the u.s. and others of trying to block saeed's release. >> the government officials produced many fake and frivolous reports with regards to the hafiz saeed, but the honorable court disagreed and we have produced that he has no concern with any proscribed organization or activities. >> woodruff: the united states has offered a $10 million bounty for saeed, but he's repeatedly been detained and then released. an appeals court in south africa today more than doubled the prison sentence of oscar pistorius, the first amputee to run in the olympics.
the court ordered him to serve another 13 years and five months for the murder of his girlfriend in 2013. that is on top of more than a year and a half he already served. prosecutors had appealed the initial six-year sentence. back in this country, senator al franken has issued a new apology, after new allegations of sexual harassment. he said in a statement last night, "i feel terribly that i've made some women feel badly, and for that, i am so sorry." four women have now accused the minnesota democrat of groping them. he faces a senate ethics committee investigation. black friday shoppers hit the stores with abandon today. macy's and other big retailers reported a healthy business boost. meanwhile, online giant amazon said thanksgiving day orders on its mobile app jumped 50% from a year ago. and on wall street, stocks made
a modest advance in a shortened trading day. the dow jones industrial average gained 31 points to close at 23,558. the nasdaq rose 21, and the s&p 500 added five. still to come on the newshour: how a school in rwanda is empowering women to become business leaders. a look at the n.f.l.'s controversy-packed year. mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news and, much more. >> woodruff: now to rwanda, where a college is trying to break a cycle of violence and discrimination by empowering women through education. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro reports. it's part of his series, "agents for change." >> reporter: during the work- week, 30-year old nadia kubwimana is a catering manager
at the marriott hotel, one of the newer entries into a glitzy skyline of rwanda's capital, kigali. on the weekends, she steps into a very different world, helping mentor 250 women in her hometown just outside kigali. together, they have started 42 different small businesses, ranging from vegetable markets, to handmade baskets, to a cooperative that sells coal for cooking stoves. these women meet in a tiny storage shed located in a less trafficked area on the outskirts of the city. >> they wish to grow their business. the problem they have, you see where we are, it's far from the main road. >> reporter: kubwimana is a recent graduate of the akilah institute, a two-year college which trains women to be leaders in the world of business. >> from akilah, i learn about leadership. i learn to be confident. be responsible. i learn how to manage a small business.
>> reporter: the school is part of an effort by rwanda to leave behind its image of a violent country wracked by genocide. rwanda's president, paul kagame, has been criticized for human rights violations and stifling dissent. he recently won reelection by a lopsided 99% after changing the constitution to extend his reign. still, the country has made considerable strides in reducing poverty. in the 23 years since the genocide, rwanda has been a world leader in bringing down infant mortality, maternal mortality. life expectancy has gone from 48 to 58. but perhaps the most unique statistic may reflect the role of women in all of this. one half of the supreme court justices in this country are female, and so are two thirds of its members of parliament. in spite of the impressive statistics, many women have not participated in those gains. the akilah institute, the first all-women's college in the
country, wants to change that. it was founded seven years ago by elizabeth dearborn hughes, a vanderbilt graduate who had come to volunteer in rwanda in 2008 and found that only 7% of women entered college and nearly 85% of women made less than $2 a day, if they found work at all. at akilah, the emphasis is on preparing women for well-paying jobs and financial independence. aline kabanda is the school's director. >> the akilah founders went to the private sector and asked, "where do you see the country's fastest growing sectors of the economy? where are the skills gaps? what do you need?" and really make sure that the choice of the programs and the curriculum itself really mirrors the expectations of the private sector. >> when you do something rude to the customer, you're ruining the company's image. >> reporter: the school focuses on three areas of study: entrepreneurship, the hospitality industry and
internet technology. it recruits half of its students from rural areas, the other half from kigali, and offers generous financial aid to attract and encourage students who otherwise would have no chance of receiving a college education. but before teaching any specific skills for a career path, the school works to develop the women's self confidence, says instructor jackie semakula. >> first we build in them the spirit of believing in themselves. taking them through growth mindset classes, where the ability to excel and grow is not fixed, so they can start believing "oh, i can do this." and if they try it today, try it again tomorrow, you're building self-belief, and hence, no limit to what you can do. >> reporter: for many of the young students, akilah is the first place they've heard about gender equality. sandrine sangwa now studies internet technology, but she says back at her high school,
girls were not encouraged to develop computer skills. >> we were supposed to sit three children on one computer, and they allowed a boy to stand in front of the keyboard so he can be the one on the keyboard. they didn't see the potential that we had as girls. >> reporter: allen ingabire, who is studying hospitality management, realizes that many young women don't see their potential either. >> some girls will not come to akilah because they still feel they can't do that, because here at akilah, we've been given this opportunity to be exposed to leaders, to learn leadership. so it is our time to go out and tell our young sisters, tell our friends, that you can do this, even though your friend is telling you, you can't. >> we're looking at the next generation of female leaders, and we're telling them, you have a role to play as a leader of yourself, as a leader of your family, as a leader of your
community. and that will trickle down to the whole country. >> reporter: jacky mutama is a good example of the shift that is starting to taking place in rwanda. in 2010, she was a 35-year-old housewife with two small children, but she was restless. >> i was not interested in staying home as a housewife. >> reporter: she became part of the first class of students at akila, graduating in 2012, and then pursued a dream of owning a farm. mutama bought 17 acres of land outside kigali and now manages four full-time and several seasonal workers, growing nuts, bananas, sorghum and yucca. and she's looking to expand her business, and knows that her success will help provide jobs for others in her community. and she's also become a role model for her two daughters, who say they dream of going to harvard and oxford when they grow up. she gives much of the credit to akilah. >> i think akilah makes you into a new creature. >> reporter: makes you into a new creature?
>> yeah. how to manage things. how to become a leader. >> reporter: the akilah institute is also hoping to expand in the coming years, building colleges in seven other african countries. for the pbs newshour, i'm fred de sam lazaro from kigali, rwanda. >> woodruff: fred's reporting is part of the under-told stories project at university of st. thomas in minnesota. >> woodruff: now, for many americans, the traditions of thanksgiving week include food, family and very often, football. but this year, the sport is, at least for the moment, struggling to find its footing. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: the national football league finds itself mired in a number of controversies this
season. most prominent, player protests over police mistreatment of african americans and the reaction from president trump and other critics about taking a knee. there are also continuing concerns over player safety and the status of a concussion settlement with retired players. and topping it off a recent civil war of sorts between two of the most powerful people in the league: commissioner roger goodell and dallas cowboys owner jerry jones. in the meantime, the games do go on, but ratings have fallen. seth wickersham covers the n.f.l. for espn and joins us now. thanks for joining us, seth. so let's start with the player protests. how are players and teams dealing with it now and is it still boiling or do you see things calming down at all? >> it's largely faded. i think that the number of players that are kneeling as a protest are down to two now. and you know, i think that it's been an interesting moment to look at the n.f.l., as this has happened because, a lot of the owners of teams and a lot of
league executives want a mandate that would force the players to stand. and roger goodell, who has been accused by the players of often serving as a puppet for the billionaire, ruthless owners, has backed them in their right to protest and has not backed a mandate. and so it's been a really interesting issue to watch unfold, especially going back to a story that i wrote a month ago with don van natta where we quoted bob mcnair, the owner of the houston texans, in an owner's meeting, saying "we can't have the inmates running the prison." and that has all kinds of trouble, caused a lot of stress between players. but i think that largely right now the anthem has faded as an issue. and fortunately for people like me there are plenty of other things to write about. >> brown: well, one of them of course, is this question of the violence and the concussion. so it's interesting because there's what happens on the
field, where there seems to be more attention to concussions there's that long term settlement with former players. and then there's this question of how much it's affecting fans, you know, how much people are maybe turned off to the game because of it. >> where you're seeing the biggest effects from head injuries-- more than concussions, i think is just generally it's head injuries-- is on the youth levels and that is a real problem. i think in the n.f.l. its ratings drop. i don't think has a lot to do with the violence of the game. and i think that there is a war right now within the n.f.l. that's kind of playing out where there are owners who think that fans come to the n.f.l. for violence, and they don't actually want the game to get to much safer because it would sort of end up in this weird middle ground that would end up entertaining and pleasing nobody. >> brown: where are things with that settlement? because that's been that's been going on a few years now. >> yeah it's going on a few years and it is not going to end anytime soon. i think that like, right now the settlement is mired in litigation and even the players
who won settlements are being targeted by certain kinds of attorneys that, you know, can promise more and aren't this entire thing has been it's been a mess. >> brown: you think about people wanting perhaps fans who want to come and see the action and including the violence. but we also have seen a number of big stars injured, right. i mean this is a-- it always happens every year but this year especially, of aaron rodgers and others and that really affects the quality of the games, i would think. >> there is no question that you know so many of these big stars going down has had a huge impact on the game. and i think that in a weird way it's what's elevated this battle going on right now between jerry jones and roger goodell and a few other owners over who is going to serve as commissioner next, and whether that will be roger goodell. because the games themselves have been kind of flat and not as many people are watching them. and yet this stuff that's going on in the executive suites is really fascinating.
>> brown: explain that a little bit, especially for those who don't follow especially the internal side of this. jerry jones, a very sort of familiar figure to football fans and a very powerful owner, in a, in a very unusually public spat with the commissioner. >> yeah, jerry jones during roger goodell's 11-year tenure has been one of his most ardent supporters. i mean, he supported roger goodell as they've gone from crisis to crisis to crisis, from head injuries to the ray rice domestic violence dispute a couple of years ago, to all of the gates. you know, spygate, bountygate, deflate gate. and now we're seeing this huge public civil war breaking out with jerry jones leading the charge, with not many people behind him. and what he wants out of this is unclear. it's clear that he does not want roger goodell to continue being commissioner of the n.f.l. under the current terms, and he doesn't want him to get much more money to do it. and that raises the question, does he want someone else to do it? >> brown: so come back finally to this question of the impact on the game and in particularly
the ratings being down. you said earlier you don't think it's because people are being turned off by the concussions and the violence. does anyone know what is going on? >> it's a problem and even people within the n.f.l. aren't able to get clear answers on it. clearly, a lot of it has to do with viewer habits changing. i think a lot of it has to do with people being turned off by the n.f.l. maybe not totally because of head injuries, but because of the way that they've handled things. a small percentage of them maybe these anthem protests, but college football ratings are up. so america is not losing its appetite for football as much as people seem as people seem to think. but there is a problem with the n.f.l. and it's a perception problem, and i think that that's what jerry jones, on top of everything else, is worried about, is that there are these systemic forces that are coming at the n.f.l. right now and he's asking, has roger goodell shown the ability to navigate the league through these things enough to the point that we trust him to navigate the league
going forward and end up in a stronger place? >> brown: you know it's still worth saying though that the n.f.l. is still america's biggest and most lucrative sport, right? that hasn't changed. >> it hasn't changed a bit. you know, baseball sets their records in world series ratings and the n.b.a. has said n.b.a. finals ratings lately, and you know, look, the super bowl still draws well over 100 million people a year. that's multiple, multiple times the amount that those other sports draw at their peak. >> brown: all right, seth wickersham of espn, thanks very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: a guide to the best books of the year. and, "hamilton" creater lin-manuel miranda speaks out for puerto rico's recovery. but first, another week of
sexual misconduct allegations plague the political and media worlds. and with congress returning next week, we look ahead to republican efforts on taxes and more. and for all that, we turn to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields, and "new york times" columnist david brooks. welcome, gentlemen. so let's start, mark, with the sexual allegations cascading across new names this week. it's crossing party lines. al franken, among the democrats, congressman joe bardon, not sexual harassment, but a personal relationship, pictures have emerged. we know that politicians and people in the media aren't perfect, never have been, but what are we learning now from all this? >> well, i think we're learning, judy, the dimensions of it. i mean, this isn't the pass at the office christmas party after two drinks, would you like a ride home, sally.
i mean, this is abusive stuff, and it's male directed, male dominated, male power. i'm embarrassed for my gender to read this stuff. i'm appalled. quite frankly, i've not led a cloistered life, but men exposing themselves, it's a form of human de. ty and abuse -- human de. debravety and abuse. generationally, younger men find the harassment, they agree more with women about the prevalence and unacceptability of it. for that's correct i'm cheered and encouraged, but i have to say, it's not a party thing. obviously, it's not an
ideological thing. it's a power thing and a male thing overwhelmingly. >> woodruff: david, do you think we may be see ago turn, a change in people's willingness to put up with this? >> certainly the willingness of people to come out, the encouragement of people to come out, the instinctive siding with the people who come out, which i think is the right posture. i think we are seeing a change. what interests me is i was wondering, harvey weinstein, that probably would have happened, but if donald trump were not president, would have had a massive ripple effects so it becomes a big national change. i think the reaction trump is part of the deal here. we've talked about trump maybe polluting our natural culture, but it could be the reaction to trump is making us hyper sensitive and making us want to correct is national culture. so you could see a reaction to the trump wave has lowered norms the and standards but a lot of people would say, no, we're not happy with this, we're going to raise norms and standards. so i hope this is part of the
larger reestablishment of what is decent. >> just a minor point, but we find out this week there have been $17 million in settlement payments to members of the staffs on capitol hill who have been se sexually abused, harass. >> woodruff: taxpayer money. taxpayer money, 256 or so settlements. the idea, you want to protect the victim, the identity of the victim and the pain of the victim, but the idea this is private and not public -- i mean, this ought to be bipartisan, nancy pelosi and paul ryan walking into the house administration committee and house clerk's office and saying these records are going brick and every member who is involved in the settlement has to be known and the amount paid and the charges. as i said, protect the innocent, but don't protect the guilty especially when there is taxpayer mon anyvolved. >> woodruff: the part of nondisclosure is one part of the
convo late, complicated process that people who have been victims as working in the congress or working for a member of congress have had to go through in order to file even a commaintain. >> yeah. when you think about it, every summer, so many hundreds of thousands of college students are going into these offices as interns, and you don't know where these kids are going, you don't know who their boss is, and there has been, on capitol hill, this backchannel gossip of who is a good boss, who is a bad boss, who is abusive. but the idea of the taxpayer money is going to cover this stuff up is -- whoever set that up, it's mind boggling, frankly. >> woodruff: i have to say, when it comes to the young people, when they're coming out of college or whatever, mark, people accused in the news media, whether charlie rose, mark halperin or others, so often these are just interns, young women starting out in their careers and lives and they
become the main victims. >> they become the victims and the number of stories of young women who have gone into gormism and that this experience, whether it was at npr or charlie rose or mark halperin, and it soured them on the career and led to a career change. you know, it's a loss. the pain, they carry it with them every day of their life. >> one of the things that's striking to me about the charlie rose show which i have been on many, many times is the narcissism of it. the people perpetrating it can't see the human beings on the other side of what's happening. there is a saying obscenity is covering up the soul of another human being, and it's as if the other person is not even just another human being and they demonize the person and that's how it feels it was it's incredibly disturbing and i'm one of many who think we have to report point and continue to talk about it as long as it's going on. mark, so much else to talk about
this week but one is the russia investigation reported in the "new york times" yesterday that the lawyers representing michael flynn, the president's former national security advisor, are no longer communicating with the president's legal team, which could mean some kind of negotiation cooperation is underway with a special counsel. we don't know that for sure, but this could mean something is happening. >> in all likelihood, it means nothing good for the white house. it's always been a matter of fascination and curiosity to those of us who cover politics and care about politics to watch donald trump, a man not known for self-sacrifice or self-concern with others, react to michael flynn. michael flynn was the one person who worked for him who actually went to james comey, the f.b.i. director, and said can't you
make this go away for michael flynn? he asked dan coates, the director of national intelligence, to intervene with james comey to see if they couldn't drop it with michael flynn, the idea that michael flynn has some information, and michael flynn is vulnerable, we know, for a couple of reasons. one as a former army general, he went to give the speech in russia without the appropriate and legal clearance he needed, and the unreported half a million dollars in earnings to represent interests identical to or very close to the turkish government. so i think he's vulnerable. he has a son who is an admitted zealot who was a conspiracy buff and all the rest of it, the conspiracy of child molestation, totally fabricated and bogus. so i think there is a lot of pressure points and vulnerabilities with michael flynn.
>> woodruff: and this is something the white house is worried about, david? >> yeah, and we don't know if he's cooperating. there may be part of a cooperation to cooperate. it signals they're going after somebody higher, to me. they wouldn't strike a deal with flynn or attempt to if they didn't have their eyes on somebody else, doesn't mean it's trump, but could be somebody higher. the second thing, flynn, during the campaign and transition very early in the administration flynn was in the center, grand central station for the russian contracts, flynn could fit it all together. i have been pooh-poohing the scandal in part because i haven't seen how trump is personally involved and we would need that for a major scandal. it could be flynn says trump offered to get rid of the sanctions if they offered the election and that could turn this into a major story. >> woodruff: and we think of the other players in the white house and don't know their role whether jared kushner,
son-in-law, whether his son donald trump, jr. in an effort to reach the russians. something we're keeping an eye on. finally, david, the republican tax plan, tax cuts, normally this is a popular idea but there have been surprising pushbacks from nonpartisan think tanks saying the middle class won't benefit necessarily much if at all over this and the deficit will boom. >> the chicago business school came out with a study, 48 economists, very bipartisan, and tax reform in principle is super popular among economists. but they designed a bill where it wouldn't help. you take a popular concept and write the bill in such a way it becomes extremely unpopular to people who know most about it on both parties, that's a trick to be that incompetent.
the republicans feel huge pressure to pass this thing but i have to feel there are least tree to six senators who care about the deficits and do not want to destroy the federal budget and will somehow stand in the way. it will take major courage to do so but a lot really do care about debt. >> i want to believe what david wants the to believe. (laughter) no, i think we found out the republican party does not believe it about deficit. i can recall seven years ago when the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff admiral mike mullin made a very serious public statement that the national debt was the greatest threat to national security. and barack obama was president, and national debt doubling in the interroom, of course. but, you know, republican after republican said this is absolutely right, this is a matter of national security. so now we're narrowing it down to five republicans. bob corker, jeff flake, jim la
langford, john mccain and -- who am i missing. >> susan collins. is there on other philosophical grounds, but certainly that. but today, to add to the problems, the economists, the catholic bishops came out and called it fundamentally flawed, this tax bill, and said it will raise income taxes on the working poor to give a tax cut to millionaires and billionaires. now, you know, that really does something one day to pick up the group of the university of chicago crowd and the catholic bishops are united unlikely allies. >> woodruff: but there is huge pressure on the republicans and coming from the white house to get this tax bill done. >> a lot of donors say if you don't pass something -- they're not just thinking what's in the bill, just pass it, and i'll never give you another cent. republicans are feeling that a lot.
they feel the pressure. it's another vote they will have to hate. >> another mark on the wall. david brooks, mark shields, happy thanksgiving weekend to both of you. >> thanks, judy. >> woodruff: now, a look at some of the best reads of 2017. jeffrey brown is back. he recently sat down with ann patchett, author of "commonwealth" and co-owner of the parnassus bookstore in nashville; and daniel pink, author of "when: the scientific secrets of perfect timing" to be published in january. they met up at the newest politics and prose bookstore here in d.c. >> brown: all right, so you want to start us off, ann? what do you want to start with? >> okay. so many things. i'm going to start off with david sedaris' "theft by
hiding." this book just broke my heart. smashed me open. it's david sedaris' very, very best book. it's his diaries from 1977 to 2002. his partner hugh described it as david copperfield sedaris, and that's exactly what it's like. >> brown: sort of, the making of david sedaris. >> so true, and he had a really tough start. he says in the introduction that this book should be dipped in and out of, and read over a long period of time. absolutely not true. i picked it up, i could not stand up until i finished it. it's riveting. it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it's everything you'd want in a book. >> brown: all right, and for david sedaris' fans, you sort of see where he came from and where the stories came from. >> yeah, but also for people who have never read him before or who aren't david sedaris fans, this is just a fantastic piece of writing. >> brown: okay. dan? >> so, this one will make you laugh, will make you cry, though i think for different reasons. it's a book called "everybody lies" by seth steven dawidowitz. he is a data scientist, and the premise of the book is indeed that everybody lies. that when we talk to our
friends, or when we talk on social media, we actually are not truthful about who we really are, what our preferences are. but there is one place where we are incredibly honest, there is one place in our lives that operates as a confessional, and that is the google search box. and if you look at aggregated google searches, you find some incredible truths about who human beings are, what their preferences are, and sometimes in disturbing ways. incredible amount of racism. so, searches for racial slurs and racist jokes surge on martin luther king day, for instance, surged after president obama was elected. they end up being predictive of which counties certain candidates were going to perform well in. and also, as someone who's been married for 22 years, if you look at what wives say on social media, if you look at the actual words, they say "my husband is the best," "my husband is my best friend," "my husband is cute." you look at their search data, their search data say "my husband is annoying," my husband is gay," "my husband is cheating
on me." >> brown: so does it offer any hope for the human condition, or at least understanding of the human condition? >> you know what, i think it does. what it offers is that we should trust our instincts less and trust the data more. that there are some ways to reveal what people's preferences are, what people are really thinking and that a lot of times our intuitions about people are dead wrong. >> brown: okay. ann, moving us to fiction. >> "lincoln in the bardo," george saunders. it came out february. it's a big winner. just won the man booker prize. it's the story of the death of willie lincoln, who goes to the cemetery, and lincoln comes to visit his son in the cemetery, and all the different ghosts are there talking to willie lincoln. it's a little bit like "spoon river anthology"-- >> brown: multiple voices. >> yeah, multiple voices, and also a lot about tibetan buddhism. a lot about american history. it's really innovative. it's smart. and it's a book that pushes you,
it stretches you in a lot of different ways. but believe me, you're never going to read anything else like it. >> brown: you know, i interviewed him, and i read the book, and i told him, it's one where i started and wasn't quite sure what i was reading. i couldn't decide for a little bit. and then when i picked it up a second time, i just breezed through it. loving it. >> yeah. it is a profound book. i would say the best book of the year, for my money. >> wow. >> brown: ah-ha. okay. what do you got? >> so, what i've got is a runner-up for the man booker prize, which is "exit west" by mohsin hamid. this is a really peculiar and intriguing book. it's a love story, at some level, about these two characters named saeed and nadia. it's also a political novel, because it's set in a place that's torn by civil war, and these two end up becoming refugees. but it also has this really interesting amount of magical realism because the way that people emigrate is, they go through these doors, narnia-
like, and they end up in greece, they end up in london. the thing about this book, and the reason i chose it, and it goes to your first question jeff, it is that for me, this book was sort of like those moments when you sit around a campfire, and you put your jacket back in the closet when you come home. and then, a couple months later, you come back to the jacket and you can... "oh, it sort of smells like a fire." and this book, for me, stays with me all the time. i keep thinking about it. and what i also love is, as a writer, is that this is not a long book, and it is an incredibly efficient, well constructed book. and so it does all these things at once, in a way that is really, for me, has lingered months and months and months after reading it. >> brown: it's very up to the moment in its concerns, right? refugees-- >> right, it's about refugees. >> brown: about immigrants, but in an extremely creative telling. >> right. >> brown: okay, ann, what do you have? >> "less" by andrew sean greer. this has been a depressing year for a lot of people, and i really wanted a book that was going to make me laugh. and the number one thing that people come into my bookstore and ask for is a book that is
smart and funny and has an uplifting ending. and those books are few and far between. >> brown: really? they're coming to you for uplift? >> that is what people want. and a really fun and smart book that pulls you up instead of down is tough to find. this is about a character whose last name is less. arthur less is just about to turn 50. his long-time partner is about to marry another man. and he is, less is embarrassed because he can't go to the wedding, but he can't just sit around. so he decides to take a trip around the world and accept all the invitations he's been offered. so this is really just a story of a guy on the eve of his 50th birthday, trying to make peace with his life, his past, who he is. and it's hysterical and the writing is fantastic and i think not enough people are reading this book, so read "less." >> brown: some of those others you've picked have gotten more attention than that one. >> exactly. >> in that spirit, my next
choice is a book called-- >> brown: in the "unsung" spirit? >> well, i have one that is really unsung. this one is quietly sung. this is a hummed book. this is "the best we could do," and it's a graphic novel. i happen to love graphic memoirs, books like" persepolis," books like "arab of the future," because they take you into this world that you might not see. but again, they do it in this brisk powerful way. this is the story about a woman who was born in vietnam, whose family fled vietnam and made their way into the united states. and so, what seems like a classic immigration story-- and it is-- what this writer does is that when she has her first kid, she starts wondering about her own parents. and so she goes back and researches her own parents' lives and turns out her parents-- one born in vietnam, one born in cambodia-- have lived these extraordinary lives as kids that she did not realize. so what seems to be superficially a novel about the immigration experience is really a graphic memoir about parents and children. what do parents understand about
their kids? what do kids understand about their parents? so i found this is a really beautiful and powerful memoir, and it gives you some great insight into the history of vietnam, without watching a 37-part pbs series. >> brown: ooh. ( laughter ) >> a great 37-part pbs series. this could be a two-part pbs series. >> brown: ann patchett, dan pink, thanks very much. >> woodruff: on our website, you can find the titles of five additional books recommended by ann patchett and daniel pink. that's at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: next, one of the shining lights of broadway brings his star power to washington, and the cause of the people of hurricane-ravaged puerto rico.
john yang has this report. >> yang: in washington this weekend, tony award and pulitzer prize-winning playwright, composer and actor lin-manuel miranda was on a different kind of stage... ...leading a march calling on congress to help puerto rico recover. for the creator and star of" hamilton" and "in the heights," it's a new, emerging role: political activist. >> oh, i'm so uncomfortable in the space. i can't tell you how much i'd rather be writing a new musical right now. but this is where we are. and we're two months after hurricane maria. many of the needs of the 3.5 million american citizens on the island are still not being met. basic needs like water and electricity. i'm here because we need to be
here and we need to continue to amplify the needs of the island. >> yang: miranda's connection to puerto rico is strong. his parents were born there and, as a child, he spent a month every year there, visiting his grandparents. when the hurricane hit, how did it affect you? >> i will always remember the terrible silence that followed. that's what puerto ricans who weren't in puerto rico experienced, was days and days of silence from the island. my social media feeds and my phone became this roll call of towns. "has anyone heard from lares?" "my grandmother lives in vega alta." "my son works in ponce." ♪ ♪ >> yang: that roll call inspired a song to raise money for hurricane relief. called "almost like praying," its lyrics call out all 78 cities and towns on the island,
including vega alta, his grandparents' home. >> i get a sense of pride when i hear those words in a song, and that's what i was hoping i would do for all puerto ricans. the notion that these are 21 artists of our brightest lights in the latino community-- everyone from marc anthony to gloria estafan to fat joe to jennifer lopez, and everyone in between-- and the notion that no town goes unsung, and the notion that, "oh, my god, luis fonsi sang my town's name." and the feeling of pride that comes with that. >> yang: the song was also inspired by "west side story's" maria. ♪ ♪ ♪ maria
>> that's like my favorite song from "west side story." and so, i knew it would have a different connotation forever. >> yang: the idea that you're calling out "maria," in a way, and it was maria that delivered the final blow to puerto rico. >> for puerto ricans now, there is the time before hurricane maria and the time after. it was a way of taking a couple of lines from that song and flipping it. and i isolated the phrase "almost like praying," because that's what we always send in the wake of a tragedy, right? thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers. but thoughts and prayers are really not enough to get the job done. >> yang: miranda visited puerto rico earlier this month, helping distribute aid, meeting the u.s. coast guard-- which alexander hamilton created-- and visiting what's left of his grandparents house. what was it like to see the island after the storms, and what was it like to go back to vega alta? >> it's very surreal. there's so many sections still without power. the gas situation has eased, but the electricity situation is still touch and go, and we are at the two-month anniversary of the hurricane right now, so that's maddening.
that's maddening. >> yang: puerto rico is very much on miranda's mind these days, as last week when he received the latin grammy's president's merit award last >> puerto rico. puerto rico. puerto rico. puerto rico. >> yang: the son of a democratic consultant, miranda has largely avoided politics. >> i grew up with my dad running political campaigns. i know what goes into it. i have seen how the sausage gets made. that's not interesting to me. >> yang: but in the days after hurricane maria, he seemed to find his voice, in a big way. when president trump criticized the san juan mayor, he fired back, "you're going straight to hell." >> i'm pretty good with words. those were the only ones i had left at my disposal. i'm accustomed to presidents on either side of the political spectrum uniting us in the face of natural disasters. i've never seen a president say that the victims of a natural disaster weren't doing enough for themselves, or attack an
elected official on the front line of such a disaster. >> yang: miranda will also try to help puerto rico in a more familiar way. he's taking "hamilton" to san juan in early 2019, and returning to the role of alexander hamilton for the first time since originating it on broadway. >> in the wake of the tragedy of hurricane maria and everything after, it felt all the more important to say, "listen, we've planted this flag in the sand." it's a year and three months from now, but we have faith and we have to work to make sure puerto rico is ready. >> yang: and doing everything he can to make it happen. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang in washington. >> woodruff: tune in later tonight for "washington week." how donald trump's presidency has rocked american politics, and the impact his "disrupter in
chief" role has had on the republican party, the white house and on popular culture. on pbs newshour weekend saturday, one year since the death of fidel castro, a look at a new film that chronicles the lives of three cuban families over 45 years during castro's rule. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives.
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>> narrator: tonight on frontlinthe conclusion of the epic story of football's concussion crisis. >> these players come down with dementia and then alzheimer's, and then they're gone. >> narrator: a major frontline investigation of what the nfl knew and when it knew it. >> the level of denial was just profound. >> we strongly deny those allegations that we withheld any information or misled the players. >> we don't know who is at risk for it. we don't know if concussion in and of itself is what causes the abnormalities. >> narrator: a decades-long battle between scientists, players, and the nation's most