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PBS NewsHour for December 11, 2018 - Part 2

December 12, 2018



<Date: December 11, 2018>

<Time: 18:00:00>

<Tran: 121101cb.112>

<Type: SHOW>

<Head: PBS NewsHour for December 11, 2018 - Part 2>

<Sect: News; International>

<Byline: Jeffrey Brown, William Brangham, John Yang, James Mates, Lisa

Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, Judy Woodruff>

<Guest: Cory Turner, Coral Davenport, Steny Hoyer, Doug Collins>

<High: An extraordinary exchange occurs in the Oval Office, as President

Trump spars with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over a government shutdown

and funding the border wall. The Trump administration proposes to roll

back clean water rules designed to protect streams and wetlands. A new

Broadway play offers a unique look at the daunting realities of raising a

biracial child. The CEO of Google faces congressional questions about

privacy and its relations with China. The Department of Education aims to

correct paperwork errors that left teachers with thousands in debt.>

<Spec: Department of Education; China; Google; Art; Broadway; Doug Collins;

Race Relations; White House; Chuck Schumer; Nancy Pelosi; Immigration;

Budget; Environment; Health and Medicine; Safety; Politics; Donald Trump;


The mother of Heather Heyer, the protester who was killed, spoke outside the courtroom today.

SUSAN BRO, Mother of Heather Heyer: I`m kind of running through about 50 different emotions all at once. Bottom line is, justice has him where he needs to be, and my daughter is still not here and the other survivors still have their wounds to deal with. So we have all been damaged permanently, but we do survive, we do move forward.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A judge will issue the final sentence at a hearing in March.

Britain`s Prime Minister Theresa May began a mission today to rescue her Brexit deal in Parliament. It faces strong opposition over a so-called backstop provision that could leave Britain subject to European Union customs rules indefinitely. May sought reassurances on that point today from Dutch, German and E.U. leaders.

James Mates of Independent Television News reports.

JAMES MATES: Stop three on a frantic, some might even say desperate, diplomatic dash across Europe.

In a parallel universe this evening, she would have been celebrating victory in Parliament and a triumphant and orderly Brexit. Instead, she is now pleading with leaders in Brussels for something, anything they can give her to stave off humiliation.

THERESA MAY, British Prime Minister: Whatever outcome you want, whatever relationship you want with Europe in the future, there`s no deal available that doesn`t have a backstop in it. But we don`t want the backstop to be used. As it is, we want to be certain that it is only temporary.

JAMES MATES: At crack of dawn this morning, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had jumped on his bike and peddled over to meet her. It`s fair to say no one had quite been expecting to be dealing with Brexit again today.

The greeting from perhaps Britain`s most sympathetic ally on the continent was warm, but little was on offer. “Well, you can`t refuse someone a cup of coffee,” said the country`s foreign minister, rather pointedly.

By lunchtime, it was Berlin and a red carpet hastily rolled out by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The message from the Germans, as relayed through their Europe minister: “It`s good to talk, but there definitely won`t be any reopening of negotiations.”

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, almost word for word the same from the commission president.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, President, European Commission: There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation. But, of course, there is room -- if used intelligently, there is room to give further clarification.

JAMES MATES: If the British strategy is once again to try to win concessions in other European capitals that they have failed to win in Brussels, it`s likely to meet with the same failure as it`s done throughout this two-year Brexit process.

When they all meet together in a single room at the summit on Thursday, Mrs. May seems certain to face once more an E.U.-27 speaking with a single voice.

JUDY WOODRUFF: That report from James Mates of Independent Television News.

In France, a gunman killed at least four people and wounded 11 near a world-renowned Christmas market in Strasbourg. Ambulances rushed to the scene and police spread out looking for the gunman. They identified him as a possible extremist with a criminal record.

The United States today returned three revered bells to the Philippines 117 years after they were seized during the Philippine-American War. They were taken from a church in Balangiga. That`s in 1901, when villagers killed 48 American soldiers. The U.S. Army killed thousands of Filipinos in retaliation.

Today, a U.S. military cargo plane unloaded the bronze bells at a base in Manila. The U.S. ambassador there said it closes a painful chapter.

SUNG KIM, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines: The bells of Balangiga are now home in the Philippines, where they belong. Secretary Lorenzana, please take them to the people of Balangiga, to the Church of San Lorenzo. May they ring in peace and bear testament to the ties and values which bind our two great nations for generations to come.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. captured the Philippines in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, but Filipinos fought for independence for several more years. The country gained independence finally in 1946.

A Canadian judge has granted bail today to Meng Wanzhou. That is the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei. She now faces possible extradition to the U.S. for allegedly violating sanctions on Iran. The judge set bail at $7.5 million and ordered Meng to surrender her passport and agree to electronic monitoring.

Meanwhile, Canadian officials confirmed that a former Canadian diplomat has been detained in Beijing, apparently in retaliation.

And back in this country, Wall Street had another seesaw day. In the end, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 53 points to close at 24370. The Nasdaq rose 11 points, and the S&P 500 slipped one point.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: the CEO of Google faces congressional questions about privacy and its relations with China; the EPA moves to drastically roll back water pollution regulations; how the Department of Education aims to correct paperwork errors that left teachers with thousands in debt; and a look behind the scenes of a new play about the challenges of raising a biracial child in America.

For the better part of a year, lawmakers have been waiting for a chance to question the head of Google, much like they have done with Facebook and other tech giants.

But Google`s CEO has eluded that moment, until today, when, as John Yang reports, he faced a grilling on Capitol Hill.

JOHN YANG: When the House Judiciary Committee finally had a chance to question Google CEO Sundar Pichai, lawmakers from both parties quickly hit him with a wave of criticism, from the right, allegations of anti- conservative bias affecting Google`s search results.

MAN: What actions are you going to take to try to counter the political bias in some of those examples that I just gave?

JOHN YANG: And from the left, questions about the tech giant`s commitment to stopping foreign misinformation and hate speech.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), New York: What is Google doing to combat the spread of white supremacy and right-wing extremism across YouTube?

JOHN YANG: In his opening statement, Pichai quickly fought back against accusations of bias.

SUNDAR PICHAI, CEO, Google: I lead this company without political bias, and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would be against our core principles and our business interests.

JOHN YANG: Republicans weren`t buying it.

Steve Chabot of Ohio described searching for articles on a Republican health care bill.

REP. STEVE CHABOT (R), Ohio: I Googled American Health Care Act. And virtually every article was an attack on our bill.

But it wasn`t until you got to the third or fourth page of search results before you found anything remotely positive about our bill. How do you explain this apparent bias on Google`s part against conservative points of view, against conservative policies?

SUNDAR PICHAI: What is important here is, we use a robust methodology to reflect what is being said about any given topic at any particular time.

JOHN YANG: Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte pushed Pichai about the way Google handles political ads. Television and radio stations must give political candidates their lowest ad rates, but Internet advertising is not subject to those rules.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), Virginia: Should a competing political candidates be charged the same effective ad rates to reach prospective voters?

SUNDAR PICHAI: Our advertising products are built without any bias, and the rates are comparative, set by a live auction process.

JOHN YANG: Pichai seemed to struggle at times to persuade lawmakers.

For their part, Democrats had their own line of questioning. Eric Swalwell of California focused on efforts to stop misinformation.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), California: Mr. Pichai, as part of Russia`s attack our democracy in 2016, it used ads on your platform, on Facebook`s platform, on Twitter`s platform. And money was provided in rubles and from Russian addresses.

What has Google done to make sure this doesn`t happen again?

SUNDAR PICHAI: We did see limited improper activity, and, obviously, we learned from that. We have been very transparent with our findings.

JOHN YANG: Pichai downplayed bipartisan concerns that Google is exploring ways to reenter the Chinese market. The company is working on a search engine that would reportedly allow for Chinese censorship of the Web.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), Rhode Island: Are any employees having product meetings on this Chinese project?

SUNDAR PICHAI: We have undertaken an internal effort, but, right now, there are no plans to launch a search service in China.

JOHN YANG: Privacy concerns were also very much on the minds of lawmakers, especially apps that allow location tracking.

Ted Poe is a Republican from Texas.

REP. TED POE (R), Texas: So Google knows that I am moving over there. It`s not a trick question. You know, you make $100 million a year. You ought to be able to answer that question. Does Google know, through this phone, that I am moving over there and sitting next to Mr. Johnson?

SUNDAR PICHAI: I wouldn`t be able to answer without looking at the iPhone.

REP. TED POE: You can`t say yes or no?

SUNDAR PICHAI: Not without knowing more details, sir.

JOHN YANG: The hearing ends a year in which lawmakers have scrutinized several of the big tech giants, and indications are that that will continue next year.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I`m John Yang.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Trump administration proposed the biggest rollback today in water protection since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.

The move would reduce safeguards to millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams as well. This follows an expansion of water regulations under President Obama that was hugely controversial.

Under the prior administration, the government expanded the type of waterways that fall under federal protection to include smaller streams and tributaries that feed into larger bodies of water. Farmers, ranchers and developers say that resulted in essentially a federal land grab.

The new rules will limit oversight substantially, so that it will protect large bodies of water, the rivers that drain into them and nearby wetlands.

Environmentalists are responding that this is a big blow against clean water.

Coral Davenport has been following the latest developments for The New York Times, and she joins me now.

Welcome back to the “NewsHour.”

So, Coral, remind us, what were the expanded regulations under President Obama?

CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times: So, the Obama regulation, it was called Waters of the U.S., would have extended federal protections beyond just these large bodies of water to pretty much every wetland, to small streams, to streams that didn`t run year-round.

And it would have required the users of land around that water to -- it would have put a lot of restrictions on what they could do with that land. It would have created new restrictions on using chemical fertilizers and pesticides for farmers and for land developers, because those things, of course, can run off into the water bodies.

It would have created limitations on certain kinds of plowing that farmers could do, how deeply they could plow, what kind of crops they could plow. So, it would really have -- it would have required farmers to get permits from the EPA to use their land in certain ways.

So farmers, rural land owners, real estate developers, all of them kind of said, look, this is -- this puts a big, you know, burden of federal regulation on how we do business.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, environmentalists liked it, but there was a lot of pushback.

So what exactly is the Trump administration doing? How much of all that are they pulling back?

CORAL DAVENPORT: So, the new Trump -- the proposed Trump replacement water rule would keep in place federal protection for major bodies of water, like the Chesapeake Bay or the Mississippi River. That`s still covered.

So are the major rivers that drain into it and, as you mentioned before, large wetlands that are directly adjacent to these large bodies of water. So a wetland that is, you know, right next a beach on the Atlantic Ocean would still be protected.

Stripped away, removed from federal protection are millions and millions of acres of wetlands that don`t meet that criteria, and many of these smaller streams that don`t run year-round, that sort of fill up when there`s a rainfall, dry up. None of those are subject to federal protections anymore.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And so the folks who were critical of what happened under President Obama, they -- what are they saying right now?

CORAL DAVENPORT: They are overjoyed.

You know, farmers and rural land owners who also, of course, make up President Trump`s political base, this is exactly what they asked for. And they said, we feel like now we can do what we want with our land. We don`t have to go to the federal government and ask for permission. So they got exactly what they asked for, and they`re really happy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, environmentalists, coming from a different perspective, they are saying, not only is this a rollback of what President Obama did, but it`s taking it back to what both Presidents Bush had done under their administrations.

How do you explain that?

CORAL DAVENPORT: Yes, so something that the first President Bush in particular doesn`t always get a lot of credit for is that he did actually pass a lot of environmentalist initiatives.

And he campaigned -- he was an avid fisherman.


CORAL DAVENPORT: And he campaigned on protecting wetlands. And he put in place some policies that were designed to make sure that -- specifically that there was no loss of wetlands protection.

And that policy was sort of further strengthened by his son, President George W. Bush. This strips away all of those protections.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, including what happened under President George H.W. Bush and his son, George.

CORAL DAVENPORT: Yes, and Obama.

So it`s a very significant rollback that lifts federal protections, particularly on wetlands, you know, back to what it was more than 20 years ago.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what happens now after -- this is a proposal. What happens next?


So this is a proposal. It`s open for public comment for 60 days. The Trump administration will then take that public comment under consideration. It could revise or make changes to the rule. And at some point next year, they are expected to then issue a final rule.

And then it`s done. And then I would expect the moment that it`s completed, probably in the first half of 2019, we will start to see major lawsuits on behalf of environmental groups, states, you know, groups saying, this is going to lead to major pollution of wetlands and waterways.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were telling us the Trump administration expects that to happen. Do they expect they can win in court?

CORAL DAVENPORT: They absolutely do.

But the timing of this rule is not accidental. The expectation is that they want to, you know, put out the final rule in 2019. Lawsuits get filed then. First, it will go to a federal court. And the expectation is that it will go before the Supreme Court sometime in 2020, and this administration very much wants that to happen during the first term of President Trump.

They want to be able to -- this administration wants to be able to be the ones to defend this in front of the Supreme Court. But there is an expectation that this current Supreme Court, now with justices selected by President Trump and a conservative leaning, you know, there is a confidence that they will uphold this rollback and a lot of other similar environmental rollbacks that we have seen.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting that they`re thinking it through...


JUDY WOODRUFF: ... to 2020.

CORAL DAVENPORT: The timing, the timing is absolutely a part of the thinking.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Coral Davenport with The New York Times, thank you so much.

CORAL DAVENPORT: Great to be here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Across the country, teachers have been protesting for better working conditions and better pay.

Teaching still ranks among the lowest paid professions in America. Back in 2007, the Department of Education launched a program to help offset the cost of college or graduate school for teachers.

But, as William Brangham reports, the program instead turned into an economic trap.

It`s part of our weekly education series, Making the Grade.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The program is called the TEACH Grant program. And the idea was simple. Teachers get a grant to pay for college or graduate school, and, in exchange, they agree to teach for four years in places where they`re needed.

But according to an investigation by National Public Radio earlier this year, some inflexible rules turned those free grants into very costly loans. Thousands of teachers suddenly found themselves facing potentially ruinous debt.

One of the NPR reporters on that series, Cory Turner, joins me now with an update to their reporting.

Cory, thank you so much for being here.

Before we get to the update, explain a little bit more. What was the idea behind the TEACH Grant program?


I mean, when Congress passed and created this program, the intentions were good. The point was to try to get more young talented teachers into schools that need the most, low-income schools.

And so what the program did was to offer federal grants to aspiring teachers to help pay for college or a master`s degree. And, in return, these teachers promised to do a couple of things: to teach a high-needs subject like math or science in a school that serves lots of low-income families, and they`d have to do it for four years.

The trick is, there was one requirement that has really caused a lot of the trouble, and that was that teachers also had to prove they were doing this every year by submitting paperwork.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, roughly, how big were these grants?

CORY TURNER: So, we`re talking about generally, for a year, roughly $4,000. We talked to a lot of teachers. Some got $1,000 or $2,000. We talked to several teachers who got $4,000. So we`re talking $16,000.

But once they`re converted then from grants to loans, interest is added on. So, oftentimes, teachers would find themselves suddenly -- instead of grants, they would be in debt to the Education Department $20,000.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you featured one teacher in Tennessee, Kaitlyn McCollum, who had this, where she took out these grants that then, unbeknownst to her, converted into loans.

Tell us about her. And tell us what happened with her.


So, Kaitlyn lives in Columbia, Tennessee, and she had a problem that thousands of teachers had, which is, as I said, with this paperwork, it had to be sent in on time. Often it was due, though, in the middle of summer, when principals who have to sign it are away on vacation.

The paperwork was really fairly complicated. We even found an internal memo from the Ed Department where they called it complicated and confusing. Sometimes, reminders to fill it out were sent to the wrong address.

So, Kaitlyn, when she did the paperwork, she faxed it from her school with her principal. The loan servicing company said they never got it. She mailed it in, but the mailed-in copy arrived several days late. She appealed. She even got her principal to write her a letter saying, we faxed this paperwork in on time.

But these rules are really inflexible. They always have been. This program has been in place for a decade. And so her appeal was denied, and suddenly she found herself indebted more than $20,000. And she`s been in forbearance, because she and her husband who are -- you know, they`re rule followers.

He used to be a teacher, too. They`re doing their best. They just couldn`t afford to pay this back. So they went into forbearance. We said in our story, they even sold their house, because they did the math and they couldn`t afford it. They downsized, even though they have a 19-month- old, because they wanted to be able to pay this back.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let`s listen to a little bit of how she described the feeling of this debt.

KAITLYN MCCOLLUM, Teacher: And then it all just hit me like a ton of bricks, like, oh, my God, I owe all of that money. And it`s like a knee- buckling moment of panic all over again.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Your reporting showed that this was -- really opened the floodgates of teachers all over the country complaining about this happening to them.

And the Department of Ed promised that they were going to fix it. What did they do?

CORY TURNER: Yes, so the Department of Ed has offered a number of different fixes here.

For teachers like Kaitlyn, again, she had to serve four years. They all do. She made it three years filing her paperwork. She got converted in her last year.

Teachers like Kaitlyn, as long as they can prove retroactively that they met the teaching requirements of the program, regardless of what happened with the paperwork, they will be made whole.

If they paid interest, the Ed Department assures us the interest will also be refunded. We should also say teachers who can maybe only prove retroactively one, two, or three years of service, as long as there is still time for them, they can get back on track and potentially be made whole as well.

So, a couple of days ago, as we learned this news, my reporting partner, Chris Arnold, and I, we actually called Kaitlyn McCollum up because we wanted to share the news. She was the first teacher we called.



KAITLYN MCCOLLUM: Oh, goodness, that is such good news. That`s such good news.

We get to go back to living life like we did prior. Thank you.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That really is a wonderful, wonderful outcome to all of your good, hard journalism.

For teachers who are curious how they might proceed, where do they go? What do they do?

CORY TURNER: First, they need to be patient. The Education Department is still ironing out the details of this fix. They have assured us they will post them on their Web site by January -- by the end of January.

I think the best thing to do would be to go to our Web site NPR.org/TeachGRANT. In our latest story, we actually have a link to the Ed Department page where they`re going to post all of this information.

We also encourage teachers, if you want to go through this reconsideration process, share your story with us. There is a link in our story for you to do that as well. We`d love to hear from you and to follow you as you go through this process.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Cory Turner of National Public Radio, thank you so much.

CORY TURNER: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A new play on Broadway is drawing lots of attention this winter, and not just because of its famous leading star.

It`s a new drama that explores big issues about race, class, criminal justice, and what it`s like to raise a black son in America.

Jeffrey Brown has a look at the intense story of “American Son.”

JEFFREY BROWN: Four a.m., the waiting room of a Miami police station, a storm raging outside.

KERRY WASHINGTON, Actress: Jamal, damn it, where are you? I have sent you four texts, now five. You can`t text me back? Call me.

JEFFREY BROWN: As the play “American Son” opens, Kendra Ellis-Connor is desperately seeking news of her missing 18-year-old son, Jamal.

KERRY WASHINGTON: There`s almost like a cage element. It`s this room that we`re trapped in, the bit of the nightmare of the play.

JEFFREY BROWN: Kerry Washington plays Kendra, a psychology professor and a mother who`s long lived with the fear of the dangers facing young black men in America today.

KERRY WASHINGTON: Grow the hell up, because that is how it is!

JEFFREY BROWN: Washington is best-known for her role as the political fixer Olivia Pope in the long-running TV series “Scandal.”

She`s also known for her off-camera activism, speaking out on violence against women and other issues.

Talking with her recently at the famed Sardi`s Restaurant on Broadway, Washington said she felt a need to take on the role after reading the script by playwright Christopher Demos-Brown.

KERRY WASHINGTON: I know Kendras. I have been a version of Kendra. But I have never seen her, you know, in our canon. I never -- there was so much about the play that I had never seen or heard before, that I thought that, yes, this has to be part of our country`s theatrical tradition.

JEFFREY BROWN: Co-star Steven Pasquale, who plays Kendra`s estranged husband, Scott, an FBI agent, also sees higher-than-usual stakes in this play.

STEVEN PASQUALE, Actor: In America, I want to be doing work that sparks a conversation politically, you know, because I think we`re on the wrong track. And I think this play asks all the right and hard questions of everyone who sees it.

JEFFREY BROWN: “American Son” unfolds all in one sparse room in the police station. It`s a story of anger and pain now all-too-familiar.

There`s been a confrontation between a young black man and police. Something bad, very bad, may have happened.

And, as in this early scene between Kendra and a young officer, the racial divide is ever-present.

ACTOR: I am doing the best I can.

KERRY WASHINGTON: Do you have a black son?

ACTOR: Wow, we`re really going to go there, huh?

KERRY WASHINGTON: Oh, we have been there for a while.

We have been there a while.

JEFFREY BROWN: We have been there.


JEFFREY BROWN: That`s what you`re saying. It`s always there. We don`t often talk about it.

KERRY WASHINGTON: That`s right. And I think the play is such a great opportunity to be able to talk about it.

It`s always J. this, J. that.

STEVEN PASQUALE: Oh, come on. I got a nickname for my son. That`s just a male bonding thing.

KERRY WASHINGTON: This thing happens with the audience where you can really hear kind of the white audience, and you can hear the African- American or other-identifying audience at times.

STEVEN PASQUALE: On a scale from Eric Holder to Darnell Jackson, Jamal is brushing right up against Darnell.

Update hourly