PBS NewsHour full episode September 9, 2019

PBS NewsHour full episode September 9, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I’m Judy Woodruff.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: the meeting that
wasn’t.
After President Trump cancels a secret summit
with Taliban and Afghan leaders, where does
the United States stand in the effort to end
its longest war?
Then: Brexit on the brink.
Chaos envelops the British government, as
its options for leaving the European Union
grow murkier.
Plus, Amy Walter and Tamara Keith are here
to examine the closely watched special election
in North Carolina and President Trump’s latest
Republican challenger.
And Margaret Atwood, author of the acclaimed
novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” returns to her
infamous dystopia in the new sequel, “The
Testaments.”
MARGARET ATWOOD, Author, “The Testaments”:
If I had thought, let’s write a sequel to
“The Handmaid’s Tale” this kind in 1999, I
would have said, why bother?
We’re not going there.
Surely, people are moving away from that.
But in the moment in which we know exist,
that’s not true anymore.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.”
(BREAK)
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump now says that
peace talks with the Taliban are dead.
His pronouncement today came after he disclosed
that he was canceling a secret weekend meeting
with Taliban and Afghan leaders at Camp David.
He blamed a Taliban bombing that killed a
U.S. service member last Thursday.
We will get some analysis after the news summary.
North Korea’s government offered today to
restart nuclear talks with the United States
this month.
The talks stalled after President Trump and
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un held a failed summit
in Hanoi last February.
Mr. Trump reacted this afternoon outside the
White House.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I have a very good relationship with Chairman
Kim, Kim Jong-un, and it just came out.
I just saw it as I’m coming out here.
It just came out that they would like to meet.
We will see what happens, but I always say
having meetings is a good thing, not a bad
thing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Kim Jong-un is widely believed
to be seeking security guarantees and relief
from U.S. sanctions.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
claimed today that Iran had a secret nuclear
weapons site.
He said it had been in Abadeh in Central Iran,
but was destroyed by the Iranians after being
discovered.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed
the Israeli claim.
He said — quote — “The possessor of real
nukes cries wolf.”
The deadly storm Dorian is no longer a hurricane,
but thousands are still struggling in its
wake.
The storm lashed at Nova Scotia and Newfoundland
yesterday, before moving into the North Atlantic.
Meanwhile, search teams in the Bahamas recovered
more bodies, as the death toll there reached
at least 45.
We will hear more about the Bahamas, later
in the program.
In Russia, voters have handed a victory to
opponents of President Vladimir Putin’s party.
Results from Sunday’s voting show the opposition
won nearly half of the Moscow City Council’s
seats.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny had urged
support for the anti-Kremlin candidates with
the best chance of winning.
ALEXEI NAVALNY, Russian Opposition Leader
(through translator): In general, we can say
that the tactical vote worked in the country
and for the first time.
It worked much better than we had expected.
This was an experiment, and in those cities
and regions where it was implemented for the
first time, it worked very, very well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Putin’s party won several governorships,
but also suffered defeats in several other
city elections.
Thousands of high school and college students
in Hong Kong formed human chains today to
support democratic reforms.
They held hands outside their schools.
It was a show of solidarity after violent
weekend clashes between protesters and police.
On Sunday, marchers urged the U.S. to impose
sanctions on Hong Kong and on mainland China.
Back in this country, the U.S. Coast Guard
rescued three of four crew members trapped
inside a South Korean cargo ship off the coast
of Georgia.
The massive vessel was carrying more than
4,000 new vehicles when it overturned and
burned early Sunday, closing the Port of Brunswick.
Today, a Coast Guard helicopter landed on
the ship’s side, and rescuers rappelled down
and drilled a hole into the hull.
They found the crew members alive and safe.
Twenty other crew members were rescued yesterday.
Fifty states and U.S. territories have opened
an antitrust investigation into Google.
The bipartisan group announced today that
they are looking into alleged monopolistic
behavior.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was among
those speaking outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
KEN PAXTON, Texas Attorney General: This is
a company that dominates all aspects of advertising
on the Internet and searching on the Internet,
as they dominate the buyer’s side, the seller’s
side, the auction side, and even the video
side with YouTube.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Facebook is facing a similar
investigation by a separate group of states.
Three committees in the U.S. House of Representatives,
Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs,
are all investigating whether President Trump
and top aides pressed Ukraine for reelection
help.
At issue is whether they pushed Kiev to probe
Hunter Biden’s connections to a Ukrainian
gas company.
His father is former Vice President Joe Biden,
who is now, of course, a Democratic presidential
candidate.
A federal judge in California has reissued
a nationwide injunction against barring most
migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico
border.
The Trump administration rule applies to those
who pass through a third country.
An appeals court restricted the judge’s previous
injunction.
But, today, he reinstated his initial ruling.
The White House called it — quote — “a gift
to human smugglers and traffickers.”
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial
average gained 38 points to close at 26835.
The Nasdaq fell 15 points, and the S&P 500
slipped a fraction.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: nearly 18
years after the invasion, how close is the
U.S. to ending its military involvement in
Afghanistan?; dealing with the magnitude of
suffering in the Bahamas, as the scope of
Hurricane Dorian’s destruction becomes clear;
the Brexit breakdown — U.K. leaders scramble
to figure out just how they will be leaving
the European Union; and much more.
The fallout continued today from the collapse
of the White House plan to invite the leaders
of the Taliban and president of Afghanistan
to Camp David.
President Trump’s twin surprise, that he had
invited the Taliban to the U.S., but then
was canceling the talks, echoed in Washington
and in Kabul.
And that’s where special correspondent Jane
Ferguson is tonight.
JANE FERGUSON: Leaving the White House today,
President Trump had ominous words about the
Taliban peace talks.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
They’re dead.
They’re dead.
As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead.
JANE FERGUSON: He spoke after canceling separate
meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
and Taliban leaders planned for this weekend
at the Camp David presidential retreat.
Lawmakers of both parties blasted the president
for even inviting the Taliban to Camp David
days before the 18th anniversary of the September
11 terror attacks.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New
Jersey:
SEN.
ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): I think it was ill-conceived
in the first place.
It’s another example of the Trump administration’s
foreign policy, which is a high-wire act.
JANE FERGUSON: Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the
third-ranking Republican in the House tweeted;
“No member of the Taliban should set foot
there ever.”
The meeting would have come after nearly a
year of talks.
U.S. officials, led by Afghan native and former
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban
had closed in on a peace deal to end the 18-year
American war in Afghanistan.
As part of that tentative deal, the U.S. would
remove 5,000 troops in return for a Taliban
pledge to reduce violence and prevent the
terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaida from
operating in the country.
There would also be follow-on talks between
the Taliban and Afghan government.
Then, in three tweets Saturday night, President
Trump announced the Camp David talks with
the Taliban, and said he had canceled the
meeting and called off peace negotiations.
He blamed a Taliban attack last Thursday that
killed a U.S. soldier, an attack he said proved
the Taliban were negotiating in bad faith.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended
the president.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. Secretary of State: When
the Taliban tried to gain negotiating advantage
by conducting terror attacks inside of the
country, President Trump made the right decision
to say, that’s not going to work.
JANE FERGUSON: In Kabul, Afghan presidential
spokesman Sediq Seddiqi welcomed the breakdown
of the deal.
The Afghan government says it has been shut
out of the talks completely, and their criticism
of the proposed deal had strained relations
with the Trump administration.
SEDIQ SEDDIQI, Afghan Presidential Spokesman:
We strongly believe that that shift in policy
is a reflection of the concerns that we have
raised towards that peace deal, and there
is a true and genuine understanding in the
White House of any consequences of any bad
peace deal or peace process.
JANE FERGUSON: Mr. Trump announced from the
start of negotiations that he was determined
to pull the troops out entirely.
DR.
HAMDULLAH MOHIB, Afghan Presidential National
Security Adviser: I would have done the negotiations
differently.
JANE FERGUSON: Dr. Hamdullah Mohib is President
Ashraf Ghani’s national security adviser.
DR.
HAMDULLAH MOHIB: Showing your card right at
the outset doesn’t make for good negotiations.
And I think perhaps that’s why their position
has hardened over the last nine months, since
these negotiations have been going on.
JANE FERGUSON: The violence across Afghanistan
in recent weeks has been staggering, as both
sides have pressured each other in the negotiations.
The Taliban has killed dozens of Afghan civilians
here in Kabul in suicide attacks and launched
offensives on provincial capitals, as well
as killing four U.S. soldiers in the last
two weeks.
In turn, Afghan and American forces have been
pounding the Taliban with special forces raids
and airstrikes.
If there is no deal, and the Taliban continue
to refuse to talk to the Kabul government,
then the bloodshed in Afghanistan will continue.
But the Taliban have still said that they
won’t recognize your government.
If they won’t sit down with you, is there
a plan, other than more war?
SEDIQ SEDDIQI: If they do not accept that,
and they are still a major threat to the security
of us and partners, so they will face the
consequences.
And we have the will.
JANE FERGUSON: The Taliban have reacted angrily,
releasing a statement saying: “This will harm
America more than anyone else.”
It’s not clear if this deal is completely
off the table or the current collapse of the
talks can be repaired.
No deal at all comes with one certainty: that
the U.S.’ longest war will get longer.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jane Ferguson
in Kabul, Afghanistan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We look further now into why
the talks collapsed and where this goes from
here with Laurel Miller.
She was President Obama’s special representative
for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
She’s now at the International Crisis Group.
It is a global nonprofit.
Laurel Miller, welcome back to the “NewsHour.”
So, we heard President Trump say today that
the peace talks are dead.
Do we believe, do you believe that’s the case?
LAUREL MILLER, Former State Department Official:
They don’t have to be dead.
It’s a question of whether the U.S. has the
will to restart the talks.
Some of the statements that have been made
by Secretary Pompeo, in particular, have indicated
some openness to restarting the talks, and
the Taliban has likewise.
It’s hard to know how to interpret President
Trump’s latest statements that sound more
definitive, given that he has changed his
mind on similar issues in the past.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And given that it’s just a
couple of days after we thought these — the
meetings were on.
LAUREL MILLER: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What’s your understanding of
exactly what caused this thing to go off the
rails?
The president is blaming, as you know, Taliban
attacks that include killing an American service
member in Afghanistan.
But Americans have been killed regularly over
many months.
And many people we have talked to say they
think there’s there’s much more here.
LAUREL MILLER: Yes.
I mean, there’s no logic, you can say, to
that explanation.
The attacks, the ramping up of violence that
was described in the earlier piece has been
going on throughout these negotiations, almost
a year now.
Last year, Afghanistan was the deadliest conflict
in the world.
This has been a trajectory over a long period
of time.
And many Americans have been killed before
now.
So the idea that one particular attack, tragic
as it may be, was the unique reason for canceling
these last-minute, thrown-together events
in Camp David doesn’t sound very credible.
What’s more likely is that the Taliban didn’t
want to show up, because it was their understanding
that the deal had been concluded, that it
had been negotiated with Ambassador Khalilzad.
Why would they want to come to Camp David
to reopen the deal?
JUDY WOODRUFF: In other words, they had been
in these discussions with Ambassador Khalilzad,
and they thought that that was what was going
to — they were going to be discussing, whereas
the word they got from the White House was
that this was going to be something that was
open.
LAUREL MILLER: Right.
At a minimum, there was a lot of ambiguity
about what this meeting would be.
Also, the invitation to President Ghani raised
questions as to what was the intention of
this meeting, given that the negotiations
that have taken place so far have only been
on a narrow set of issues just between the
U.S. and the Taliban?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about what
was in the agreement.
We just heard Jane Ferguson refer to — and
we have heard this before — 5,000 some U.S.
troops out of the total 14,000 in the coalition,
a follow-up of Taliban talks with the Afghan
government.
What more do we know about what was in this
deal?
LAUREL MILLER: Not a lot more.
I mean, the administration and others, the
very, very few people who’ve actually seen
the text of the agreement, have been extraordinarily
tight-lipped about it.
So we know about the first phase of drawdown,
the 5,000, over 135 days that you referred
to, very little detail about what the rest
of a drawdown of American forces would look
like.
We know there would be a commitment to starting
Afghan talks, and that there would be some
kind of assurances from the Taliban that they
would break with al-Qaida and prevent Afghanistan
from ever again being used as a launching
pad for terrorism.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, at this point, how much
trust is there among these parties involved?
LAUREL MILLER: Very little, but you never
negotiate peace on the basis of trust.
You negotiate on the basis of interests and
of trying to identify common interests.
And the reasons that gave birth to these negotiations
nearly a year ago still exist.
The Afghan war is a bloody stalemate.
The U.S. is not going to defeat the Taliban.
The Afghan government is not showing signs
of being able to defeat the Taliban.
And the U.S. was looking for a way out, with
as much grace and potential stability left
behind as possible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it your understanding that
the key figures in the Trump administration
believed that if the Taliban signed on to
any agreement, that they were going to abide
by it?
My question is, were they — did they truly
believe that the Taliban was ready to split
from al-Qaida, to stop attacking the Afghan
government and so on?
LAUREL MILLER: You don’t have to believe that
they’re ready in order to enter into an agreement
like this.
You have to have mechanisms for verifying,
for implementing the agreement, and then provisions
that enable you to pull out of the agreement
if they don’t abide by it.
But you can never know whether that intention
is real in advance of actually testing it
through a negotiation and implementation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there one party on whom
we can say the responsibility for this thing
falling apart lies?
LAUREL MILLER: I think the United States.
I mean, I — that’s not to say that there
haven’t been difficulties in the negotiations
or that the Taliban hasn’t been stubbornly
insistent on its positions.
But there’s no evidence so far there was any
last-minute change of position their part.
There’s only evidence that there was this
last-minute initiative to hold the Camp David
meeting.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right, because they had — as
you said earlier, they had agreed or thought
they had an agreement, a tentative agreement,
with Ambassador Khalilzad.
LAUREL MILLER: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do we go from here, Laurel
Miller?
LAUREL MILLER: Yes.
I mean, it’s — there’s no good alternative
to trying to negotiate a peace agreement in
Afghanistan.
That remains true today as it was a few days
before this.
It’s obviously going to be hard to restart
the talks, if the parties want to, because
credibility has been damaged.
And, already, minimal trust has been further
lost.
(COUGHING)
JUDY WOODRUFF: And at this point — excuse
me.
Go ahead.
Have a sip of water.
(COUGHING)
JUDY WOODRUFF: At this point, President Ghani,
who — sorry — go ahead and — sorry about
your cough.
But President Ghani of Afghanistan was reluctant
to accept these talks, but then he agreed
to come.
And then, I guess on Friday, he changed his
mind about coming.
So, there is a factor there.
LAUREL MILLER: Yes, it’s not clear whether…
JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sorry about that.
(COUGHING)
LAUREL MILLER: It’s not clear whether his
not coming was a refusal to enter into talks,
as much as just the cancellation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sorry about that, Laurel Miller.
It happens to all of us.
It’s happened to me.
Thank you very much, and we will have you
on again to talk about this.
LAUREL MILLER: Thank you very much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
Rescue workers searched for bodies in the
Bahamas today, and thousands of residents
evacuated to shelters.
The Abaco Islands were devastated by Hurricane
Dorian.
Relief operations are under way, but it’s
been a slow and difficult process.
Amna Nawaz gets a report from the islands.
AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, it’s been a week since Dorian
struck the Abaco Islands and part of the Grand
Bahama.
It’s been slow going to get enough food, water
and supplies to these places.
As much as 90 percent of all the buildings
and structures on the Abaco Islands appear
to have been destroyed.
Areas like Marsh Harbour, where there were
many Haitian immigrants, may not be habitable
for any real length of time.
There’s also been difficulties in getting
supplies to people in need, and there’s been
talk of possible strains between the local
government and some relief groups.
Today, government officials were asked about
why some flights aren’t getting to the hard-hit
islands.
MAN: The priority is given to those entities
that made contact with NEMA.
That is one of the functions of NEMA.
It is to coordinate.
And so we are not preventing persons from
getting in, but it has to be done in an orderly
fashion.
We don’t want a disaster upon a disaster.
AMNA NAWAZ: UNICEF began delivering water
supplies this weekend, after a plane landed
with 1.5 tons of supplies.
Naqib Safi is an emergency specialist for
UNICEF.
He was in Marsh Harbour yesterday.
And he joins me from Nassau by Skype.
Naqib Safi, welcome to the “NewsHour.”
You were just in Marsh Harbour.
Some of the hardest-hit areas are there.
Tell me what it was that you saw and heard
on the ground.
NAQIB SAFI, UNICEF: Devastation.
Almost all infrastructure, houses were affected.
At the airport, when we arrived, we saw a
long queue of children, women and of rest
of the families who were evacuating in a flight
towards Nassau.
We drove almost for five to seven hours in
different locations.
We talked to people.
We saw destruction, we saw desperation.
And when we talked to individuals and different
groups who were taking shelter in churches,
school and, in one case, within a government
complex, they were all stressed and they were
desperate for help.
AMNA NAWAZ: Naqib, I have to ask.
There have been dozens of accounts of people
fleeing, people evacuating, people leaving.
When it comes to basic needs, water and food,
on the most basic level, are those getting
through to the people who need them?
And if they aren’t, why not?
NAQIB SAFI: What we have observed in all these
areas, at least in nine specific centers that
I can refer to, food and water was provided
through either private donation, government,
and whoever was working and providing assistance.
What I have seen, there were food available.
Of course, it’s the matter for how long, but,
at the moment, it’s not been an issue of serious
concern in a given moment.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, we heard earlier from one
of the Bahamian emergency management officials.
And this has been a criticism we have heard
again and again now, that there have been
difficulties with some relief organizations
working with the Bahamian authorities on the
ground.
Can you tell me a little bit?
Have you seen those kinds of tensions?
Is it any more difficult to work with this
— with this government than others?
NAQIB SAFI: There are realistic challenges
on the ground, especially in a crisis of this
scale and magnitude, which was unexpected
and it was much more bigger than initially
thought.
The stress — those who are dealing with it,
they are part of the affected population,
so, if there are occasion that we see some
level of destruction, that’s actually a normal
nature of this crisis.
I have been to many crises around the world,
and I don’t see anything different.
In addition, actually, here, the government
is allocating resources.
And they are showing quite extensive level
of commitment and determination to provide
support and facilitate other partners’ access
to the people in need.
AMNA NAWAZ: Naqib, very briefly, it’s been
one week since the hurricane struck.
Do you see that the people on the islands,
the people of the Bahamas, will get the aid
that they need, or will leaving be the best
option for many of them right now?
NAQIB SAFI: In Abaco, which mostly has been
affected, I think 90, 95 percent of the population
has already left.
Remember, this percentage should be taken
into the context, because we are still figuring
out — and when I say we, the government and
the partners — to see, what are the exact
number of people staying?
The return of these people will need significant
level of investment, of rehabilitation of
water system, power supplies, infrastructure,
et cetera, and, most importantly from our
perspective, a sense of normal and education
for children, so — which I don’t think it
will happen, at least in the very near future,
because it will require quite significant
level of investment and reconstruction effort.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Naqib Safi of UNICEF joining
us tonight from Nassau.
Thank you very much for your time.
NAQIB SAFI: You’re welcome.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stay with us.
Coming up on the “NewsHour”: Amy Walter and
Tamara Keith break down what Congress is up
to now that it’s back in session; a conversation
with Margaret Atwood the sequel to her acclaimed
and controversial bestseller “The Handmaid’s
Tale”; plus, remembering the life and legacy
of pioneering disabilities rights activist
Marca Bristo.
The British Parliament was as blur of activity
today, as lawmakers rushed to get work done
before they are forced to disband until mid-October.
They approved a bill that requires Prime Minister
Boris Johnson to delay Brexit, now just over
six weeks away, if he doesn’t have a deal.
They were also voting on his effort to force
a snap election next month.
Johnson is dismissing Parliament until mid-October.
His critics say it’s a ploy to prevent further
anti-Brexit machinations.
Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has
this update.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Boris Johnson began his day
in Dublin with his Irish counterpart, Leo
Varadkar.
He was addressing one of the key Brexit issues,
the border between Northern Ireland, which
is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic
of Ireland in the south, which is part of
the E.U.
BORIS JOHNSON, British Prime Minister: I want
to get a deal.
Like you, I have looked carefully at no deal.
I have assessed its consequences both for
our country and yours.
And, yes, of course, we could do it.
The U.K. could certainly get through it, but
be in no doubt that outcome would be a failure
of statecraft for which we would all be responsible.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Johnson wants an alternative
to what’s known as the Irish backstop, a mechanism
designed to prevent a hard border between
the republic and the north.
The government in London opposes it because
it claims it could keep the U.K. tied indefinitely
to the E.U.
LEO VARADKAR, Irish Prime Minister: In the
absence of agreed alternative arrangements,
no backstop is no deal.
MALCOLM BRABANT: As he returned to Westminster,
Johnson’s hands were officially tied by the
final approval of a law designed to stop the
government leaving the E.U. without a deal.
Cabinet members have suggested the prime minister
may try to circumvent that new law.
The bill’s author, Hilary Benn, has threatened
a legal challenge if that happens.
HILARY BENN, British Parliament Member: If
the government tries not to do what the bill,
which will become an act on Monday, says very
clearly they have to do, then it provides
time to go into court.
Lawmaker Tommy Sheppard’s Scottish National
Party is fighting to thwart Johnson.
TOMMY SHEPPARD, British Parliament Member:
There really is a case of the lunatics having
taken over the asylum here.
I mean, the people that seem to be running
the strategy in No. 10 Downing Street are
not playing by the normal rules.
MALCOLM BRABANT: At the Institute for Government,
historian Catherine Haddon said the current
state of British politics is the most chaotic
in centuries.
CATHERINE HADDON, Institute for Government:
Parliament is the creator of law, so for them
to even be talking about the idea of, you
know, not obeying the law or trying to find
ways to disrupt the intention of that law
is an incredible situation that we are finding
ourselves in.
MALCOLM BRABANT: One of the loudest voices
of the Brexit campaign will soon be silent.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow promised
to step down on October the 31st, the date
Britain is scheduled to leave the E.U.
The reality is, he jumped before he was pushed.
His departure follows that of Pensions Secretary
Amber Rudd over the weekend.
She accused the prime minister of an assault
on decency and democracy.
Meanwhile, more and more E.U. member states
are warning that a no-deal Brexit is looking
more likely.
HEIKO MAAS, German Foreign Minister (through
translator): The British Parliament has decided
that it wants to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
And we remain ready for discussion in principle.
We must also make an orderly exit possible,
which is preferable, but for this to happen,
we finally need a decision and proposals from
London.
MALCOLM BRABANT: As Parliament began its last
debates before being closed down by the prime
minister, rival factions outside tried to
make their voices heard.
LISETTE STUX, London; I am very afraid.
This smacks of 1930s Germany.
Hitler closed down the Parliament.
This is what Boris is doing.
MAN: In God’s name, will the traitor M.P.s
go?
WOMAN: This is it, do or die.
We’re leaving on the 31st of October.
MALCOLM BRABANT: With Parliament shuttered
for the next five weeks, Boris Johnson is
not going to be distracted by bruising fights
in the chamber.
Although he’s lost his majority, he’s still
in charge of the country.
And now he can concentrate on trying to persuade
the E.U. to give him a Brexit deal.
At the same time, his government is stepping
up preparations just in case the country does
crash out of the E.U. without a deal.
The uncertainty that’s hobbling Britain is
no closer to being resolved.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant
in London.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Labor Day is behind us, schools
have started and the political calendar is
ramping up.
Lisa Desjardins fills in the picture.
LISA DESJARDINS: North Carolina is the first
hot spot, hosting President Trump tonight
for a campaign rally tonight ahead of a special
congressional election.
And Congress is also back, with Democrats
in the House shedding the spotlight on gun
violence and impeachment.
That’s plenty for our weekly Politics Monday
roundup with Amy Walter of The Cook Political
Report and host of public radio’s “Politics
With Amy Walter” and Tamara Keith of NPR and
co-host of the “NPR Politics Podcast.”
Ladies, it’s Election Day tomorrow, just one
special election, the North Carolina Ninth
Congressional District.
Let’s look at — there’s two candidates running,
Republican Dan Bishop.
He’s a state senator, also fiscal conservative,
running against Dan McCready.
He’s a Marine veteran and also a former money
manager.
He’s running as more of a moderate.
Amy, why are people paying such attention
to this race?
What does it tell you?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: And
people, the parties and the outside groups,
are also spending a whole lot of money here.
It’s over $10 million that outside groups
have spent in this race, you’re right, for
one congressional seat.
It’s because it’s symbolic.
This is a district that the Democrat, Democrat,
Dan McCready, lost very narrowly, but there
was vote fraud allegations.
The election was thrown out.
This is the do-over election with a different
Republican.
But, really, it’s about, is Donald Trump still
as strong of a force for Republicans in Republican-leaning
districts as he was, let’s say, in 2016?
The president there trying to urge Republicans
to turn out in a district that gave him 54
percent.
But recent polls from that district show that
the president’s approval rating there is now
down to 47 percent.
The race is within single digits.
If the Democrat were to win here, if Dan McCready
were to win here, it would — it would send
a pretty big shockwave, that not only is a
district that the president pretty handily
carried in danger, but it would also say to
Democrats, you better put North Carolina in
play, and, Trump, you can’t count on winning
North Carolina again.
That would be a very big upset.
LISA DESJARDINS: And this is a partially suburban
district too around Charlotte.
TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Right.
It’s partially suburban.
It actually — it has — it has a mix of rural
and suburban.
And it is a decent test case of a Trump district
and what happens there.
In a lot of ways, even though this is the
last vote of 2018, it is the first vote of
2020.
And a lot of people are treating it that way,
including the president, who, as you said,
is there holding a rally tonight.
And although he doesn’t want to put too much
of his political sway on the line, or he doesn’t
want to admit that he’s putting a lot into
this, he is putting a lot into this.
The most valuable thing that a candidate and
a president have is the president’s time.
And he is dedicating his time by going down
there, holding this rally, and hoping that
he can declare victory in less than 48 hours.
AMY WALTER: The other interesting thing about
this district, if a Democrat should win, it
would be one of the most Republican districts
held by Democrats.
We know that Democrats won a lot of seats
in 2018.
They netted 40 seats, but they were mostly
in districts that Trump narrowly won or narrowly
lost.
There aren’t many districts that he won by
54 percent or even 53 percent that Democrats
hold.
So this would be one of the most Republicans.
LISA DESJARDINS: To move the line.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
LISA DESJARDINS: Someone else trying to move
the line, former Congressman and former South
Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who announced
he is also a candidate for president.
Let’s take a listen to what he said, why he’s
doing this.
MARK SANFORD (R), Presidential Candidate:
Those people were core to the Republican Party
and what it used to stand for.
They haven’t been talked to here lately.
And the president said those concerns you
have with regard to spending, they’re out
the window, we’re not going to worry about
them, the economy is great.
But I believe that they’re still there.
LISA DESJARDINS: He’s talking about Republicans
who are unhappy with the direction of the
party, think this is not the party they recognize.
He’s a complicated figure.
He’s got a complicated party.
But, Amy, is there a possibility of Republicans
who don’t like Trump actually breaking from
him, going with someone like Mark Sanford?
AMY WALTER: It doesn’t look like there’s any
opportunity — or possibility of Trump losing
this nomination, or even any of the three
candidates who are running right now getting
much of the vote.
This is especially true in South Carolina,
where they actually — the Republican Party
canceled the primary there.
And there are four other states where the
primary has been canceled on the Republican
side.
LISA DESJARDINS: Just in the past few days.
AMY WALTER: Just in the past few days.
Now, in 2004, when George W. Bush was running
— running for reelection, about 10 states
canceled their Republican primary.
So this isn’t all that new.
The interesting — really interesting thing,
though, about Sanford is, he’s running on
this fiscal conservatism, right?
The debt is too big, the deficit is too high.
This is something Republicans, right, we heard
them talk about all the time during the Obama
administration.
And, in fact, if you look at what priority
Republicans put on the issue of debt and deficit,
it peaked at 82 percent in the middle of the
Trump — I’m sorry — the Obama administration.
(CROSSTALK)
AMY WALTER: The Obama administration.
And since then, it’s been going back down.
So if you look at like the arc of it, of Republicans’
concern, voter concern with debt and deficit,
really high when the Democrat is in office,
pretty low when George W. Bush’s in office,
pretty low when Donald Trump’s in office.
LISA DESJARDINS: Tam?
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
And Bill Weld, and Joe Walsh, and Mark Sanford,
they’re all entering this knowing that they
basically have no chance of winning the nomination
and even less of a chance of becoming president
of the United States.
But that’s not their only goal.
Sanford is clearly saying, like, I want to
have a conversation.
He doesn’t feel like the Republican Party
has really had an internal debate about who
they are since President Trump became president.
Mark Sanford tried to have that debate when
he was in Congress, and he started criticizing
President Trump.
President Trump endorsed his primary opponent,
and then that person won, and then went on
to lose in the general election to a Democrat,
which was a pretty big surprise in that district.
So all of these candidate in part are either
hoping to have a conversation or they are
hoping to damage the incumbent.
And incumbent presidents who have had primary
challenges in the past, there is a history
there of them going on to — and being denied
a second term.
But it is hard to say that these three are
at the same level as a Ted Kennedy or a Ronald
Reagan or a Pat Buchanan in 1992.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
LISA DESJARDINS: So Congress is also back.
I feel like we need to take a deep breath.
I think things are going to start moving very
quickly.
It started today, with House Democrats holding
a news conference on guns.
This is issue number one for them.
And they invited to that news conference the
mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley.
There she is right there at the U.S. Capitol
today.
Last week, you all did a great job of helping
us understand we don’t know where the president
is on guns.
But let’s talk about Congress a little bit.
It seems like there are many members on both
sides trying to coalesce around maybe expanding
background checks, perhaps helping states
with red flag laws that give law enforcement
more power in emergency and crisis situations.
Do either of these stand a chance?
They’re very popular in polls with the American
people.
TAMARA KEITH: Well, they stand a great chance
in the House of Representatives, where Democrats
are in power, and, in fact, well, they have
already passed bills that do these things,
essentially.
But on the Senate side, it’s much more difficult.
And Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said
that he is not going to put up something for
a vote that the president won’t sign.
And they don’t yet know what the president
will sign.
LISA DESJARDINS: Briefly, Amy?
AMY WALTER: Yes.
I mean, this is one of those issues that,
again, if you’re looking at this, if you’re
President Trump, you know suburban women are
going to be very important in this election.
This would be an issue to take and support
to win those voters back.
But this is a president who’s always been
about his base and keeping them happy.
LISA DESJARDINS: We still have a lot to watch.
AMY WALTER: That’s right.
LISA DESJARDINS: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith,
thank you.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A dark, dystopian vision that
is capturing the public’s attention.
Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is
now a cultural touchstone for readers and
viewers.
Her much anticipated sequel, “The Testaments,”
is out tomorrow, and is already on the short
list for this year’s Booker Prize and green-lit
for a series on Hulu.
Jeffrey Brown sat down with Atwood recently
in Toronto for a preview.
It is part of our ongoing series on arts and
culture, Canvas.
ACTRESS: Whose fault was it?
JEFFREY BROWN: In a harrowing scene early
in the TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” young
women are being forcibly reeducated for their
subservient roles in the United States that
has become a fundamentalist theocracy.
One of them, played by actress Elisabeth Moss,
is suddenly struck.
The perpetrator, in a surprise cameo appearance,
none other than celebrated author Margaret
Atwood.
MARGARET ATWOOD, Author, “The Testaments”:
And we had to shoot it four times because
she kept saying: “Hit me harder.”
No.
(LAUGHTER)
MARGARET ATWOOD: No, I don’t want to injure
the leading lady.
“Come on.
Give me a whack.”
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
Yes.
It was Atwood who started all this back in
1984, when she wrote her classic novel of
a near future takeover of the U.S. by religious
zealots, who forced fertile women into sexual
servitude as childbearers.
ACTRESS: You will bear children for them.
JEFFREY BROWN: The new nation is called Gilead.
What did you think you were doing then at
that time?
MARGARET ATWOOD: I thought I was getting in
trouble.
JEFFREY BROWN: You thought it was going to
get you in trouble because of the story?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Well, it answered the question,
if the United States were to become a totalitarianism,
what kind of totalitarianism would it become?
JEFFREY BROWN: Atwood, now 79 and author of
more than 60 books, is Canadian, but traces
part of her ancestry to early American Puritans.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” struck a deep and lasting
chord for millions of readers the world over.
We talked this summer in her Toronto neighborhood.
You have got to be amazed by what “The Handmaid’s
Tale” has grown into as a phenomenon.
MARGARET ATWOOD: It’s out of control.
JEFFREY BROWN: Out of control?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Yes.
Well, I can’t do anything about it.
(LAUGHTER)
JEFFREY BROWN: Well…
MARGARET ATWOOD: Come back.
(LAUGHTER)
JEFFREY BROWN: Not a chance.
The story has been made into a 1990 film,
an opera and ballet, a graphic novel, and,
reaching millions more, the Emmy Award-winning
hit Hulu series, which has completed its third
season.
Atwood served as a consultant and, with her
blessing, the series move well beyond her
original ending.
Now Atwood has written her own sequel, “The
Testaments,” in part a response to her readers’
continued interest.
MARGARET ATWOOD: It was a lot of unanswered
questions that either they kept asking or
they kept making up answers to.
There’s a lot of things left hanging at the
end of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
JEFFREY BROWN: So you decided to address that?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Investigate it.
JEFFREY BROWN: The new book, set some 15 years
after the previous ending, is told through
three testimonies, two young women and an
older one, Aunt Lydia, familiar to viewers
of the series as the most powerful woman in
Gilead.
Played by Ann Dowd, she’s gone along with
evil, and, for the young handmaids, become
their principal enforcer, but Atwood had her
own questions.
MARGARET ATWOOD: Is she really evil?
Is she totally evil?
The question is, how do people end up in those
positions?
And I remember, when I was born, which was
1939, I was a war child.
So I have always been pretty interested in
those totalitarianisms, how people born into
them, how people rose in them, how they became
members of the hierarchy.
JEFFREY BROWN: So you’re always looking to
these historical analogies, huh?
MARGARET ATWOOD: The series, as well as the
book, and as well as “The Testaments,” follow
one axiom, and that is, you can’t put anything
in that doesn’t have a precedent in human
history.
So, yes, I’m always looking.
JEFFREY BROWN: It has to have happen somehow
at some time?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Well, in these books, yes,
because I didn’t want anybody saying, you’re
just weird.
Somebody asked me on Twitter recently, how
do you come up with this (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?
The answer is, it’s not me who comes up with
it.
It’s the human race over the past 4,000 years.
JEFFREY BROWN: And that leads to the other
reason for the sequel, the times we’re living
in today, where Atwood and others again see
women’s rights under threat.
MARGARET ATWOOD: If I had thought, let’s write
a sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” this kind
in 1999, I would have said, why bother?
We’re not going there.
Surely, people are moving away from that.
But in the moment in which means now exist,
that’s not true anymore.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, in 1999, you would have
said, why bother?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: But, in 2016-’17?
MARGARET ATWOOD: I’m going to bother.
I’m going to bother.
It’s time to bother.
You can ignore the fact that there are a number
of regimes that have come into power than
have these kinds of ideas in mind.
The thing they have in common is, they all
want to roll back women’s rights.
JEFFREY BROWN: Atwood is no fan of Donald
Trump, but doesn’t see him in the world she’s
created.
MARGARET ATWOOD: Trump is not Gileadean leader
figure.
There’s some other people kicking around on
the U.S. political scene that would be much
more like one of those figures, but he is
not that kind of figure.
JEFFREY BROWN: Gilead is a theocracy.
MARGARET ATWOOD: We are probably pretty close
to it in some states.
JEFFREY BROWN: You wrote that readers bombarded
you over the years with questions, right?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Is it a feminist novel?
Is it a warning?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Yes.
Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: You’re going to be asked the
same thing of this new — of this sequel.
MARGARET ATWOOD: Yes.
Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: In what sense would you say
it is a feminist novel?
MARGARET ATWOOD: It makes women front and
center and puts it reproductive rights front
and center.
But it doesn’t say all women are angelic beings
who would never, ever do anything wrong, because,
as we know from having been in grade four,
that’s not true.
JEFFREY BROWN: And in what sense is it a warning?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Don’t go there.
Don’t make those choices.
Don’t go there.
JEFFREY BROWN: Atwood’s handmaids have become
part of the political culture, popping up
in protests.
And the frenzy around the new book is intense,
unusual for any novelist this side of J.K.
Rowling and another “Harry Potter” book.
MARGARET ATWOOD: See you in September.
JEFFREY BROWN: It includes a live event Tuesday
in which Atwood and various guests will take
part, which will be telecast in more than
1,000 theaters around the world.
And Atwood has been glammed up for features
like this one in The Sunday Times of London
“Style” magazine.
You are in rare air for a novelist, for a
writer.
MARGARET ATWOOD: I’m in rare air for an old
bitty writer.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, you are.
I mean, it’s sort of international celebrity
air.
MARGARET ATWOOD: Well, yes.
And good thing that I’m old, because if this
happened to younger people, it would probably
ruin their life.
Where do you go from here, except down?
JEFFREY BROWN: Are you enjoying it?
MARGARET ATWOOD: Of course I’m enjoying it.
I would be lying to say otherwise.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MARGARET ATWOOD: You saw the pictures of me
with hair extensions.
Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
(LAUGHTER)
JEFFREY BROWN: Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments”
is out tomorrow.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jeffrey Brown
in Toronto.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we remember
a woman who helped changed the law and the
lives of tens of millions of people with disabilities.
Marca Bristo may not have been a household
name, but her work seeped into many U.S. households.
Paralyzed from the waist down after a diving
accident when she was 23, Bristo became a
longtime disability rights activist from her
home base in Chicago.
She worked on improving access and rights,
no matter how small or how large the issue.
Bristo fought against discrimination, helped
create a better model for independent living,
and led strikes and helped file lawsuits that
led to the creation of bus lifts in Chicago.
She was a pivotal voice in the shaping and
passage of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities
Act.
Bristo died yesterday of cancer at the age
of 66.
Former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa knew
her well and worked with her when he helped
to write the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Senator Harkin, thank you so much for being
here.
And we’re sorry for your loss.
We know how close you were to Marca Bristo.
You have worked for decades in the disabilities
movement.
TOM HARKIN (D), Former U.S. Senator: Mm-hmm.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How did — how should we see
Marca Bristo in that movement?
TOM HARKIN: I think she will enshrined in
the future as one of the great leaders of
a global disability — civil rights movement
for persons with disabilities.
When you think of the civil rights movement
for African-Americans, you of course think
of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and John
Lewis.
I think, when people in the future look back
at the disability rights civil rights movement,
they will think of, of course, Justin Dart
and George H.W. Bush that signed the law,
but they will also think of Marca Bristo,
who really made it happen.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As I mentioned, you were pivotal
in writing and putting together the Americans
With Disabilities Act.
You worked on it.
A lot of people were involved in that.
It was the late 1980s into 1990, when President
George Bush, H.W. Bush, signed it into law.
What did Marca Bristo do that others weren’t
doing at that time?
TOM HARKIN: She was Justin Dart’s protege.
Justin Dart…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And he, of course, was one
of the real leaders.
TOM HARKIN: One of the real advocates of the
Americans With Disabilities Act.
He, in his wheelchair, went to all 50 states.
But then he got ahold of this young woman
from Chicago, Marca Bristo, and sort of got
her to move all over the country getting young
people involved, young people who may have
been born with a disability or, like herself,
had been injured in an accident.
And she got them stimulated to think about
themselves not in terms of someone that just
had to take what was given to them, but to
start getting young people to demand better
access to all forms of living in America.
She was a foot soldier in that effort.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I met her at an Access Living
event in Chicago.
That was an organization that she helped to
found all around, pushing for independent
living for people with disabilities.
What do you think drove her?
What pushed her to do what she did?
TOM HARKIN: She wrote about this once and
spoke about it often, and I have often talked
about the fact, after she had her diving accident
when she was 23, as you mentioned, she thought:
How am I going to cope?
How do I have to change my life?
Well, she ran into Judy Heumann, another advocate
for disability rights, and a few other people,
Ed Roberts, others, in the movement, who said,
no, you don’t have to change.
They have got to change.
Society needs to change.
They need to change the way they buildings,
the way they make doorways, the way they have
bus lifts.
You’re still the same person.
They have got to change how they’re doing
it.
And so that sort of got her thinking that,
yes, society has built in all these barriers
to people with disabilities.
If we break down the barriers, people with
disabilities can do anything.
JUDY WOODRUFF: She wouldn’t accept the idea
that anything was closed to someone with a
disability.
TOM HARKIN: Marca Bristo didn’t want to be
paternalized.
She didn’t want to have people patting her
on the head and say, now you go off and we
will help you.
She said: Take the barriers down.
I can help myself.
JUDY WOODRUFF: She was tough.
TOM HARKIN: Oh, she was tough.
She was very tough, but had a heart of gold.
She was just one of the most unique persons
I have ever known in my lifetime.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, she certainly left a
mark on the lives, as we said, of millions
and millions of Americans.
TOM HARKIN: Oh, just — she was a mentor to
so many young women.
She was also a feminist, so she got young
women with disabilities to think of themselves
in a different light.
She was just a wonderful mentor to so many
young people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Senator Tom Harkin,
who worked with Marca Bristo, thank you for
helping us remember her.
TOM HARKIN: Thanks for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.
Thank you.
We close with our ongoing honor roll of American
service personnel killed in combat during
U.S. military operations overseas.
We add them as their deaths are made official
and photographs become available.
Here now, 16 more.
We honor each and every one of them.
And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight.
I’m Judy Woodruff.
Join us online and again here tomorrow evening.
For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.

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