PBS NewsHour full episode Jan. 8, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: President Trump
plans to make his case to the nation for a border wall, as the effects of the shutdown
ripple across the country. Then: Mr. Trump refers to the situation at
the border as a crisis, but is it? We break down what constitutes a crisis and
what powers the president has to address them. Plus, getting to graduation — how using mentors
and scholarships can help college students succeed. PRECIOUS DREW, Wallin Scholar: No matter how
much I had done, they would always say, OK, what’s next? We’re proud of you. That’s great. I know you’re going to do more awesome things. What are you doing next? JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The partial government shutdown
is now 18 days old, with no sign of ending soon. Tonight, President Trump addresses the nation
on his key demand for ending the closure. Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins
begins our coverage. LISA DESJARDINS: In Washington, several federal
buildings remained shuttered and silent today, as the shutdown claimed a new casualty. Officials say paychecks for 800,000 federal
workers will not go out Friday. It was supposed to be their payday. But at the White House, aides signaled that
President Trump’s focus tonight will be less on the shutdown and more on his push for a
border wall. MERCEDES SCHLAPP, White House Director of
Strategic Communications: He’s going to make his case to the American people, talking about
how this is a humanitarian crisis and a national security crisis. And the goal here is to work with Congress
to reopen the government and also secure our border. LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats have decided to
respond jointly, with remarks from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi. Meanwhile, nine Cabinet agencies were closed
for an 18th day, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Treasury and Justice. House Democrats say they will begin passing
individual spending bills to reopen those agencies, except for Homeland Security, this
week. Senate Democrats, including New Jersey’s Bob
Menendez, are pressing Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the bills
to the Senate floor, something McConnell says he won’t do until the president agrees. SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), New Jersey: I hope my
Republican colleagues put both our federal work force and the Americans who depend on
their services ahead of the egomania that exists in the White House. LISA DESJARDINS: McConnell says Democrats
are the problem, that they need to agree to more border security. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader: I
would urge our Democratic colleagues to get past these harmful political games and get
serious about negotiating with the president. LISA DESJARDINS: Leaders of the National Governors
Association, meanwhile, are also urging an end to the shutdown. In a letter Monday to the president and congressional
leaders, they wrote: “A federal government shutdown shouldn’t be a negotiating tactic
as disagreements are resolved.” Amid the back and forth, Vice President Pence
said again today that declaring a national emergency to get funding for the wall is an
option. The president plans to visit the border in
Texas on Thursday. JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa joins me now, along
with Yamiche Alcindor at the White House. Yamiche, let me start with you. We know what arguments the president has been
making. Do we expect to hear more of the same or a
different emphasis tonight? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: We expect more of the same. The president is expected to give an eight-minute
speech, where he’s going to lay out what he sees as a humanitarian and a national security
crisis. Now, that is in some ways misleading, and
the evidence isn’t always behind what he’s saying, but the president is saying that,
on the border, this is his number one priority, that he needs to stop illegal immigration. He’s going to be talking about drug enforcement. He’s going to be talking about terrorism. The president is probably also going to be
making the case that Democrats agree with him on some of these issues. He says that Democrats want to see more immigration
judges, that they want to see more detention beds, for humanitarian reasons, including
families and unaccompanied minors going across the border. The president might also talk about a national
emergency. The president has floated the idea that he
might declare a national emergency, but, as of right now, my sources tell me that isn’t
clear whether or not he’s made that decision. But that’s going to be what we’re going to
hear tonight. JUDY WOODRUFF: And meantime, Lisa, you’re
telling us that there is growing pushback in the president’s own party among Republicans. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. It’s growing. It’s still scattered. There are increasingly, privately, Republicans
and top staffers who say they think the pressure to end the shutdown will mount, especially
once workers miss their first paycheck on Friday. At the same time, Judy, asking these Republicans
especially, do you think the president has the power to declare a national emergency
and should he declare a national emergency to build a wall, they are not sure. Lindsey Graham, who is one of the most ardent
supporters of the president’s wall plan, said he thinks that should only be a last resort. Other Republicans who are well-studied on
judiciary and border security matters told me today that they aren’t sure what the president’s
argument is, and that they will be watching tonight to try to determine exactly what his
argument is. But for all sides, Judy, at the Capitol, the
president has a very big, important moment tonight to make his case or not. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Yamiche, what are they
saying at the White House, though, about that when you ask them, I mean, when you ask them
about maybe some of their Republican support may be slipping away? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The White House and President
Trump is making the case that his base, as well as Republicans, are sticking with him
through this shutdown, that they understand that border security is worth shutting down
the government over and that the wall is a central strategy in trying to get what he
sees as a crisis on the southern border in check. Now, the president is also saying that this
is something that he needs to do and that he feels people’s pain and understands federal
workers are going through a lot right now. But he says, at the end of the day, I need
to figure out if we can be safe, and that is central to the border. The other thing I want to add is that the
president has been talking about this idea of who’s to blame. The polls show that 55 percent of Americans
blame Republicans or President Trump for the shutdown and about 35 percent blame congressional
Democrats. So that is, numbers-wise, what the president
is facing in terms of pressure. JUDY WOODRUFF: And speaking of the Democrats,
Lisa, you were telling us the Democrats have a strategy now for how they’re dealing with
what’s going on the Hill. LISA DESJARDINS: Right. I just came from Democratic leadership’s meeting
in Senator Schumer’s office, and actually just 100 feet away, Republican leaders were
meeting in Senator McConnell’s office. Democrats now are planning to, at least for
now, block most Senate action or delay most Senate action until, they say, there is a
vote on these appropriations bills that we expect to start coming out of the House. There is no indication that Senator McConnell
will bring up those bills until the president agrees. But Democrats are sort of ratcheting up the
hardball tactics here in the Senate. One other thing, tomorrow could be a very
big day, Judy. We expect — we — in fact, I know from sources
that there will be another meeting at the White House. The big eight — those are the top eight leaders
in the House and Senate, the Republicans and Democrats, including Speaker Pelosi — will
again meet at the White House on this topic. Historically, Judy, looking at the last big
shutdown — I have been studying this all day — it lasted exactly a week after the
first paycheck was missed. That first paycheck, again, would be missed
on Friday. So it feels like here there’s still not as
much sympathy for federal workers as I think you see on, say, social media, but perhaps
that will change on Friday. We will see in the next few days. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Yamiche, we have only
got a few seconds left. The White House thinks time is on their side
right now? How are they thinking about that? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The White House is feeling
like time is on their side. As Lisa mentioned, there are going to be congressional
leaders coming to the White House tomorrow, but also President Trump and Vice President
Pence are going to be going over to the Hill. So we’re going to see multiple meetings tomorrow. So that sense is that at least people are
talking and trying to negotiate. But they’re still not agreeing on the facts. The president is saying that a wall is the
way to stop illegal immigration, and the facts just don’t bear it out. Most of the people that are here undocumented
or the drugs that are coming through come through legal ports of entry. Most of the suspected terrorists come through
airports. So the president is still using numbers and
facts that Democrats do not agree with. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Yamiche and Lisa
watching it all very closely. And, of course, we will be hearing from the
president in about a little over two-and-a-half-hours. Thank you both. YAMICHE ALCINDOR:Thanks. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the days other news: A new
court filing in the Russia probe said that prosecutors believe former Trump campaign
chair Paul Manafort gave campaign polling data to a Russian associate. He allegedly had ties to Russian intelligence. The disclosure suggests that Russia could
have used the information in its election-meddling effort. The Trump administration’s shifting statements
on withdrawing from Syria struck sparks with NATO ally Turkey. National Security Adviser John Bolton had
insisted that Turkey promise not to attack U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria if U.S.
troops pull out of the country. Bolton was in Ankara today, but Turkey’s President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan declined to meet with him. Instead, Erdogan used a speech to charge that
Bolton had made a very serious mistake. RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through
translator): Despite reaching a clear understanding with Mr. Trump, different voices have started
emerging from different segments of the administration. We are determined to take steps against terrorist
organizations such as the Kurdish fighters along with the Islamic State. We will mobilize to neutralize these terrorist
organizations in Syrian lands very soon. JUDY WOODRUFF: The Turks say that the Syrian
Kurds are allied with Kurdish separatists inside Turkey. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
trained his focus on Iran, as he began a Middle East trip. Pompeo arrived in Jordan and met with the
foreign minister. He said the U.S. will be redoubling pressure
on Iran. The secretary is also trying to reassure allies
in the region about U.S. plans to leave Syria. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un arrived in
Beijing today, and met with China’s President Xi Jinping. Kim traveled by special train from Pyongyang,
and then went by motorcade to his meeting with Xi. He’s expected to stay until Thursday. There’ve been reports that a second summit
between Kim and President Trump is also in the works. A severe winter storm blasted much of Europe
again today, dumping snow from the Alps to Athens, Greece. At least 13 have died in the past week, mostly
due to avalanches. In Athens, beach umbrellas were topped with
snow today. And in Southern Germany, snowfall closed roads
and trains and trapped hundreds in their homes. HEINZ SCHILLER, Germany (through translator):
It is nice when you can sit at home and look out of the window, but I work a lot on the
road. And now, for instance, I can’t even get out
of my driveway, and my snow remover has broken, and I have to shovel. JUDY WOODRUFF: High winds have also caused
flight delays and cancellations across parts of Europe. Back in this country, there’s word that carbon
dioxide emissions surged last year despite a decline in coal use. The research firm Rhodium Group reports that
emissions rose 3.4 percent. That is the most in eight years. Much of it was fueled by economic growth. In the state of Florida, up to 1.4 million
convicted felons regained their right to vote today. Voters approved the move in November. Newly inaugurated Republican Governor Ron
DeSantis, however, wants enabling legislation before the change would take effect. Civil rights groups say that that’s a needless
delay. On Wall Street, the market rallied again on
rising tech stocks and oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 256
points to close at 23787. The Nasdaq rose 73, and the S&P 500 added
24. And Clemson college is football’s national
champion again for the second time in three years. The Tigers routed Alabama 44-16 last night
in Santa Clara, California. Back in South Carolina, Clemson students and
fans celebrated into the night. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: the effects
of the ongoing government shutdown; whether the situation at the border counts as a crisis;
how mentoring can improve the lives of college students; and much more. Tonight, as we have been hearing, the president
is expected to reiterate his demand for a border wall. It is at the center of the political divide
driving the ongoing government shutdown. But there are growing calls to get the government
back open, including from the president’s own party. I’m joined now by Republican Representative
Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. He served on the House Homeland Security Committee
in the most recent Congress. Congressman Fitzpatrick, thank you very much
for joining us. What’s your take on how this shutdown has
been going? What do you think it has accomplished? REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R), Pennsylvania: No shutdown
is good, and it hasn’t accomplished anything, which is why we need to reopen the government,
which is why I have and will continue to vote to keep our — to reopen our government and
to keep it open. These are very, very important debates on
issues like immigration and border security and DACA, but we can’t hold our federal employees
hostage, Judy. And, right now, we have a scenario where the
TSA screeners at airports, the air traffic control workers are being furloughed. That makes our airways very unsafe. You have the CBP, the Border Patrol and the
Coast Guard, the three entities responsible for border security, who are not being funded
and are furloughing people. That doesn’t help us with border security. You have the FBI, my old — my former colleagues
and my old employer, who are furloughing people, having to make decisions of essential vs.
nonessential employees, which hurts their counterterrorism, counterintelligence, criminal
and cyber-security investigations. Government shutdowns are no way to run a country
and no way to govern. We need to get the government open. And then we need to have full transparent
hearings on border security, on DACA, and have a bipartisan solution. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as we were saying, you
are a Republican. The president of the United States, a member
of your own party, he’s arguing that border security is such a problem for this country. He’s calling it even a crisis, a security
crisis, humanitarian crisis. He’s saying that overrides right now the need
to keep the government running. REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Well, there’s two issues
there. The first is a legal question, specifically,
like a constitutional law question, Article 2 of the Constitution and also Title 50 of
the U.S. Code, as to whether it meets that definition. I think, if they were to go down that path,
it would get tied up in litigation. The second question is, is that the path we
should be going down? And I think what should happen is, Congress
ought to be making this decision. The reality is that the Democrats control
the House, Republicans control the Senate. This necessarily needs to be a bipartisan
solution, as it should be. And what needs to happen is, people need to
start acting like adults, they need to come to the center. Nobody’s going to get everything they want. But they got to be willing to sacrifice something
to come up with a solution on border security, but do it when the government is open. This is no way to make decisions, under circumstances
like this. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, again, that is not the
president’s view. Have you made your thoughts known to the White
House? REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Yes. I’m interviewing with every outlet that wants
to talk to me. And I have made public statements. And my votes speak for themselves. I voted — there were seven of us in the GOP
Caucus last week that voted to fund the government for the C.R. JUDY WOODRUFF: And so what do you think the
cost of this is? I mean, some of us have been talking to people
at the White House, talking to people very close to the president. I mean, they continue to say that, yes, we
know it’s an inconvenience, it’s not good the government’s closed down, but we believe
— and I’m speaking of the White House and the president — we believe that it’s more
important to hold that — hold the government closed, if necessary, in order to get what
we need to build a wall on the border. REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: I will tell you, we had
this opportunity, Judy, six months ago. We had a moderate package, an immigration
reform package which protected our DACA kids, which provided for very robust border security. And it didn’t make it out of the House. That’s — that was our chance to do it. And there are a lot of people that didn’t
support it. So that’s — but that’s where we have to have
that debate. You don’t hold the federal work force hostage,
particularly, Judy — and the irony of this whole situation is we’re defunding our border
security apparatus on the border, all functions of DHS, all in the name of border security. We need to fund them and make sure that they’re
doing their job down there and have the debate once a government is open. That’s what I believe. JUDY WOODRUFF: What the president is saying
is that his base, people who support him, are 100 percent behind him on this, that the
vast majority of Republicans are with him on this. What are you hearing from your constituents? REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: I think people want the
government to be open and to function, and they want bipartisan compromise. That’s what the overwhelming majority of people
in my district and the overwhelming majority of people in this country want. It’s just like any relationship in our lives. We never get everything we want 100 percent
of the time, whether it be personal relationships, business, financial. Government should be no different. Congress should be no different. And the unfortunate reality, Judy, is this
is being used. It’s being politicized. And certain words in the legislative process
become toxic. The term wall has become toxic in this debate,
because it conjures up images of a brick-and-mortar structure across all 1,900 miles of the border. That’s not sensible. What the sensible thing to do is, from a border
security standpoint, provide DHS with the funding, give them the discretion, give the
experts, Border Patrol, CBP and the Coast Guard, based on the sector, based on the terrain,
what’s appropriate. Along some sectors, physical barriers make
sense. Under some sectors, technology makes sense,
heat sensors, motion detectors, infrared. Aerial surveillance makes sense in different
sectors, but let them make the decision. Let the experts make that decision, rather
than a one-size-fits-all solution. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, just quickly, as you know,
the president continues to talk about a wall. He’s now talking about a steel wall, but he’s
still talking about a structure along the entire border. Just finally, what do you want to hear from
the president tonight? REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Well, I want to hear the
truth. I want to hear facts. I want to hear honesty. And I want to hear a willingness to compromise. That is the nature of government. That’s the nature of governing. That’s the nature of any relationship. We can’t just dictate to people our way of
thinking. You have got to learn and be willing to compromise
with other people who think differently. Border security is incredibly important, Judy. I’m the national chair of the Bipartisan Heroin
Task Force that deals with the opioid crisis. Border security is a big, big component to
dealing with that, but it’s got to be a bipartisan solution. Everybody in our Problem Solvers Caucus, centrist
Democrats, centrist Republicans — I’m a big believer in that caucus — we all want the
same thing. We have come up with a solution of our own. I would love for that solution to get offered
and put on the floor. But that’s the way forward. Myself, Jimmy Panetta, who is an amazing colleague
of mine from California, came up with a perfect answer to this problem. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, just very quickly, yes
or no, do you expect the president to offer a compromise tonight? REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: I hope so. We will see what he says. But that’s what I would like to see him do. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Representative Brian
Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, thank you very much. REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Thanks, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, even before President Trump’s
address tonight, his administration has been making a case that there is a crisis on the
southern border, a national security and a humanitarian crisis. Vice President Mike Pence spoke to reporters
yesterday alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. She said the crisis is getting worse. “NewsHour”‘s Amna Nawaz is here with a look
at the facts. Amna, you have been looking at this in-depth. First of all, how do we define crisis, and
is it our sense that there is a terrorist threat at the border, as the White House is
suggesting? AMNA NAWAZ: So, first of all, we’re following
the administration’s lead on this, right? They’re saying there is enough of a crisis,
that it necessitates some kind of physical barrier to stop it in its tracks. And there’s really two prongs. We have heard this already in the show, humanitarian
crisis and a national security crisis. That terrorist threat you mentioned, the administration
has been citing a few examples repeatedly, including one we heard from Vice President
Pence just this morning in an interview. Here’s what he had to say. “With regard to terrorists,” he said, “we
have seen more than 4,000 known or suspected terrorists attempt to come into our country
through various means.” Judy, that exact number is actually 3,755. It’s a rounding up. That group that we know of, those are people
with a direct link to terrorism. But to associate it with the southern border
is very, very misleading. We know the vast majority of those people
who’ve been apprehended come in through airports. And so that — it’s a misleading claim we
have heard the government say again and again. And, in fact, we have government’s own numbers
in this case that looked at the terrorist threat on the southern border. This is from a State Department report in
2017. They said: “There are no known international
terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no credible info that any member of a terrorist
group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the U.S.” So that was 2017. But, Judy, even in this year, it’s now been
reported, in the first half of 2018, there are believed to be six known or suspected
terrorists who entered the country, none of them from our southern… JUDY WOODRUFF: Six? AMNA NAWAZ: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: The number six? AMNA NAWAZ: That’s right. JUDY WOODRUFF: So — but, even apart from
this, you hear the administration making the argument there are dangerous people coming
across. Who are they, could they be referring to? AMNA NAWAZ: So, there’s two other numbers
we have heard repeated again and again. And we dug into them to figure out, who are
these groups they’re talking about? In a briefing yesterday, Homeland Security
Secretary Nielsen cited these numbers. She cited a group of special interest aliens,
3,000 of them, she said, who were encountered on the southern border last year, in addition,
17,000 convicted criminals who were stopped at the southern border last year. Let’s just take those piece by piece for a
second. The special interest aliens, all those are,
are a group of people who come from different countries that may require a second look,
either because of the nature of terrorism or threats in their home country or because
of their travel patterns. Those are not suspected terrorists. The libertarian Cato Institute actually looked
at the group in-depth. They did a huge comprehensive study. And they found, from 1975 to 2017, that those
groups from special interest aliens, there were seven of them in that — all of those
years who entered illegally who were convicted of planning a terrorist attack, and none of
them actually successfully carried out the attack. And none of them, Judy, actually entered on
the southern border. And most of them actually came in from our
northern border. The 17,000 criminal convictions, what we can
say about that is, I went to a DHS source and said, what are those convictions? They don’t have a breakdown. But they did say many of those convictions
were for previous illegal entries. JUDY WOODRUFF: Huh. But northern border, Canada? (CROSSTALK) AMNA NAWAZ: Northern border on those seven
ones over — from 1975 to 2017. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, setting that aside, setting
aside the national security threat, the other argument the administration is making is,
there’s a humanitarian crisis at the border. AMNA NAWAZ: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: What do we know about that? AMNA NAWAZ: There’s absolutely a humanitarian
crisis. OK, it starts all the way down in Central
America, makes its way all the way up to our border. Here’s what Secretary Nielsen had to say yesterday
about that in the briefing. She cited 60,000 children sent here unaccompanied
at the border, 30 percent of the women who are raped on the journey, seven out of 10
that are the victims of violence. We know these folks from these Central American
countries who are fleeing violence and instability. They have a dangerous journey along the way. None of those are things that we have direct
control over. The things that we have control over in our
government, kind of creating a crisis of our own. We know that volume is not the problem. Historically, border crossings are at an all-time
low. If you take a look at border apprehensions
over the years, over the last 20 years, that’s an 81 percent decline. Volume is not the issue. We have handled many, many more people, many
hundreds of thousands more people a month. The difference is demographics. We now have more families, meaning parents
and guardians, with children coming to our borders. Take a look at those numbers. Those have been going up over the last five
years. It’s a 400 percent increase. And that has taxed our system in ways it wasn’t
meant to handle. We were built as an immigration system to
handle single men. We’re not built to handle the families and
children. It’s creating a backlog through the whole
system. JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s one thing the administration
is acknowledging. One other thing, Amna. So, the president is going to speak to the
nation tonight, short remarks, we’re told seven or eight minutes. He is going to make again, we believe, a case
for a wall along the border, saying, if we build a physical wall, we will be able to
address these crises we have been discussing. AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, there’s a few other threats
the president has cited too, with validity, absolutely. He has said about the nature of drugs coming
across the border — just on Friday, he said drugs are pouring into this country. They don’t go through the ports of entry. When they do, they sometimes get caught. We know that there’s elicit narcotics trafficking
flowing back and forth. We know it’s a problem, and the violence that
comes with it too. Statistically, those illicit drugs come through
legal ports of entry. A wall wouldn’t really do much to stop it. And we have DEA data that actually debunks
that too. But, more importantly, Judy, they say the
wall could act as a deterrent, it’ll send a message that people cannot illegally enter. The problem is, historically, that hasn’t
worked. In previous administrations and this one,
anything we have done as a deterrent, whether it was pamphleting in Mexico, or putting families
and children in mass detention — and these were in previous administrations, by the way
— or family separation in this one, it hasn’t worked, because the conditions on the ground
these people are fleeing have not changed. JUDY WOODRUFF: Amna Nawaz following it all
very closely, and you will be joining us for our special coverage tonight. AMNA NAWAZ: Absolutely. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you. That brings us to our nightly look at the
impact of the government shutdown, now in its 18th day, and some of the ways it’s directly
affecting people. One you may not know: The shutdown is stopping
some folks in rural parts of the country from buying new homes and getting loans. That’s because the U.S. Department of Agriculture
backs some mortgages and provides favorable loan terms in rural communities and outer
suburbs. The program has backed about 100,000 mortgages
a year recently. But most of the USDA’s community offices are
closed. And for home buyers in that program, their
situation is in limbo. We have also been listening to the voices
of federal workers who aren’t getting paid. Tonight, let’s meet Sara, who asked us not
to use her full name because of potential repercussions. She’s a contract worker for a federal agency
and paid by the hour. She’s not working during the shutdown, and,
after the government reopens, she may not receive back pay. Her husband is a furloughed federal employee
at the same agency. SARA, Federal Contract Worker: So, since my
husband and I are both federal employees, and we’re not working right now, we have put
off dental work, we have put off car repairs for this month, because we want to make sure
that what money we have stretches when there are frightening headlines like that it could
go on for months or years. That’s scary stuff. But, honestly, I think the way that it really
affects you the most is, it gets in your head that your job isn’t important, that you’re
nonessential, that you only matter as a political pawn. And that doesn’t feel very good. JUDY WOODRUFF: A federal employee named Sara. And two other updates. Last week, we told you that farmers who qualified
for special aid because of the trade war with China could miss a key deadline to apply for
the money. The USDA said today that it will now extend
that deadline substantially to accommodate the length of the shutdown. And, in Southern California, the troubles
with trash and waste in Joshua Tree National Park have been well-documented. Today, the government announced that it will
close the park on Thursday in order to deal with those problems. JUDY WOODRUFF: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: why death rates
from cancer in the U.S. fell for the 25th straight year; promoting the literary canon
of black women; and the unorthodox country music of Margo Price. The success of students with college scholarships across
the country can vary widely. One program in Minnesota boasts a graduation
rate one-and-a-half times better than the national average and is especially helpful
for first-generation college students. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro looks
at what’s behind that success for our weekly education segment Making the Grade. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At 22, Precious Drew is
a recent college grad and budding entrepreneur. She was recently awarded a fellowship to work
on her business plan at a Minneapolis incubator. Her business is a sustainable beauty product. In college, she and a friend developed a face
and body scrub made out of used coffee grounds. For now, she makes it in her mother’s home. PRECIOUS DREW, Wallin Scholar: We’re considering
a manufacturer to scale up a bit. However, we also pride ourselves on small
batches, handmade with love. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The pride that her mother
feels is evident from the framed diploma and photos throughout the house. Her name is Precious. God knew it and I knew it, that she had a
gift. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Precious Priscilla (ph)
Drew was the second youngest of eight children and the first in her family to go to college. She chose the college of Saint Benedict, a
private predominantly white school in rural Minnesota, because it offered the most generous
financial aid. It was just over an hour, and a world away
from her Minneapolis public high school. PRECIOUS DREW: The transition was definitely
hard. It was very culture shock, being from the
inner city. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: College was a struggle
at first, but Drew says she was able to stick with it, thanks to a program called Wallin
Education Partners. Established 26 years ago, Wallin has helped
some 4,500 Minnesota students attend and complete college. Kelly and John Henry, parents of two young
children, are among 65 Wallin donor partners who give $4,000 a year to individual students. Although that’s just a fraction of what college
costs, Wallin helps students find additional aid, so that only 40 percent have any debt
when they graduate. KELLY HENRY, Wallin Donor: I had been volunteering
in different Minneapolis public schools helping lower-income, first-generation high school
students get into college, and realized, once they’re in college, there’s not a lot of support
for them. So we thought, well, we will give them a scholarship
and help with the financial part of that. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Donors are encouraged,
though not required, to give more than just money. They are also urged to develop a friendship
with the recipient. For the Henrys, that meant sending supportive
text messages, introducing Drew to business colleagues and inviting her over for home-cooked
meals. JOHN HENRY, Wallin Donor: I wasn’t expecting
to have this level of involvement, but, man, it brings a really special connection with
the young person. And we have been amazingly happy with the
results. PRECIOUS DREW: No matter how much I had done,
they would always say, OK, what’s next? We’re proud of you. That’s great. I know you’re going to do more awesome things. What are you doing next? FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Drew is not the exception,
but rather the norm. The Wallin organization was started by a former
CEO of medical device giant Medtronic, the first in his family to attend college, which
Win Wallin did through the G.I. Bill. Sixty percent of Wallin scholars are first-generation
college students, 70 percent are students of color, and the average annual income in
their households is about $25,000 a year, a challenging demographic, says Wallin CEO
Susan King. SUSAN BASIL KING, Executive Director, Wallin
Education Partners: If you are a student of color, first in your family, and you’re low-income,
the likelihood of completing a four-year degree is about 12 percent. Among all students that enter a four-year
program, about 62 percent will complete a degree. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But among Wallin students,
that graduation rate is one-and-a-half times higher, at 92 percent. The main reason? A high level of support all along the way,
from donors and mostly from eight staff advisers, providing assistance colleges don’t usually
offer, says Stephen Lewis, a retired college president who chairs the Wallin board. STEPHEN LEWIS, Chairman, Wallin Education
Partners: In my experience at Carleton and other places, you say, well, she’s an 18-year-old,
she’s a 20-year-old, she makes her own decisions. Not our advisers. Our advisers say, Fred, I understand you weren’t
in chemistry last week. What’s going on? Do we need to talk? So, very, very intrusive, if you like, but
very supportive. STEPHANIE AVELOS, Wallin Scholar: Yesterday,
I took a test. It was a struggle. I don’t know if I should reevaluate my finance
major now. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Stephanie Avelos is a
junior business major at the University of Minnesota. From the very beginning, she says adviser
Liz Karlen helped her navigate the academic and social challenges. STEPHANIE AVELOS: I remember, like, the first
day, I just had so much to talk about. I was like, oh, my gosh, these classes are
so different. The students are so smart. I feel so — at disadvantage of. LIZ KARLEN, Wallin Mentor: I’m listening to
where they are. And then when barriers pop up, I’m there to
kind of help mediate some of the damage that’s done or try to be encouraging. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Wallin group also
links its scholars with each other on campuses, an invaluable network, says Avelos, the daughter
of two Mexican immigrants who never finished grade school. STEPHANIE AVELOS: I feel like I’m not alone
in this. I feel like I have people I can rely on, who
can share similar experiences we have had. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Wallin works with 62 colleges
in a five-state region. And going all the way to graduation is critical,
says board chair Lewis. STEPHEN LEWIS: If you go graduate from high
school and you have one or two or three years of college, your income potential goes up
a little bit. It’s not until you get that degree that you
get that big payoff. So the degree is the prize. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Precious Drew hopes that
big payoff will come soon, as she continues to build her business. She hopes also to attend graduate school in
the years ahead. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Fred de Sam Lazaro
in Minneapolis. JUDY WOODRUFF: Fred’s reporting is a partnership
with the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. And now a medical milestone. The American Cancer Society said today the
death rate from cancer fell 27 percent between 1991 and 2016. The Cancer Society says that translates to
2.6 million deaths prevented during that time. But, as John Yang reports, not all the news
is good. JOHN YANG: Judy, the study says the steady
decline is largely due to fewer people smoking and advances in early detection and treatment. Death rates from lung, colorectal, prostate
and breast cancers have all dropped. But obesity-related cancer deaths are on the
rise, and the disparity between deaths in rich and poor communities is getting wider. Cancer remains the nation’s second leading
cause of death, behind heart disease, and experts project that more than 600,000 Americans
will die from it this year. Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld is here to walk
us through the report. He’s the American Cancer Society’s acting
chief medical officer. Dr. Lichtenfeld, thanks so much for being
with us. Let’s sort of unpack some of these numbers. You talk about — the study says lung cancer
rates going down, largely because smoking is going down, but it’s going down twice as
fast among men as among women. Why is that? DR. J. LEONARD LICHTENFELD, Acting Chief Medical
Officer, American Cancer Society: John, we need to understand that men have been smoking
for a much longer time, and women began to take up the habit in the late ’60s, 1970s. So it took a while, longer time for the women
to understand that smoking is not good for your health than it did for the men. And the death rate decline in men just started
more steeply and earlier than it did for women. Fortunately, we’re seeing decreases in smoking
and decreases in lung cancer death rates for both men and women as we provide this report. JOHN YANG: And the study also found that there
are higher lung cancer rates among women born in the 1960s compared to men of the same age. Any idea why that is? DR. J. LEONARD LICHTENFELD: Well, that’s correct. That was research that was actually recently
reported by my colleagues here at the American Cancer Society. And the reality is, we don’t really know why
that’s happening. It’s not due to differences in smoking behaviors. So there are other factors that are leading
to that increase in lung cancer. Having said that, I think it’s very, very
important for all of us to understand that lung cancer happens in non-smokers too. We have a tendency to sort of overemphasize
the smoking aspects, but non-smokers can get lung cancer, and it may be a somewhat different
disease. We don’t know. And it may respond differently to treatments. And we’re learning about that as well. But the bottom line is, we’re starting to
see that occur in younger people, particularly younger women, and we need to learn more about
why that is happening. JOHN YANG: And, as I said in the introduction,
there is also — and the study says that obesity-related cancer deaths are increasing. The rate of death is increasing. What types of cancers are we talking about
there? DR. J. LEONARD LICHTENFELD: Well, there are a
number of cancers that are linked to obesity, 13 in all, perhaps more. But we certainly know that breast cancer,
and particularly cancer of the uterus in women, are related to obesity, liver cancer, colon
cancer. There are a number of cancers that are impacted
by being overweight. And we also know that, in this country, we
have an obesity epidemic. And that has not yet completely played out. So, again, we know this is a problem. We don’t yet know how much of an impact it’s
going to have going forward. But it will have an impact. And it’s something that we need to — we need
to take into account. And we need to least alert people that this
is a very serious problem. JOHN YANG: The study also said that the racial
disparity is narrowing, the disparity between cancer deaths among African-Americans and
among white people is narrowing, but that it’s getting wider, the disparity between
bad outcomes in rich communities and poor communities. What do you think’s behind that? DR. J. LEONARD LICHTENFELD: Well, it’s not only
rich and poor communities. It’s also in rural communities and the cities. And there are a lot of explanations for it,
the most obvious of which is that some of the lifestyle behaviors are different among
those who are poor vs. those who are better educated. So, smoking behaviors, alcohol consumption,
other lifestyle issues, obesity, might be a factor as well. So that’s just one part of the explanation. But access to care is a very, very critical
matter. And if you don’t have funds, if you don’t
have insurance, then you don’t get the type of care that might be the best care for you
if you have cancer. And access to care in rural communities is
a very serious issue throughout our country. There are large parts of the United States
where adequate medical care, particularly adequate cancer care, requires people to travel
great distances, or even getting screened for cancer. So we need to really take a very careful look
at all of these issues. And I do think we need to make a national
commitment. We all need to make a commitment, personal
commitment, whether it be government, other organizations, the American Cancer Society
among them. We need to take a careful look at this and
figure out what we need to do to make the outcomes equal. We know we can do it. We have seen that happen, that equal care
can produce equal outcomes. We just need to make certain that everyone
has access to that equal care. JOHN YANG: Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld of the
American Cancer Society, thank you so very much. DR. J. LEONARD LICHTENFELD: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: A good book can be transformative. In an age of social media and a growing popularity
of book clubs, what we read can also help create communities. Jeffrey Brown explores all this with Glory
Edim, who has created a space to celebrate voices that might not otherwise be heard. GLORY EDIM, Author, “Well-Read Black Girl:
Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves”: The Well-Read Black Girl is an online community
and book club that focuses on black women writers. We really focus on building and amplifying
the voices of black women, especially debut writers. And so we have a festival, a book club and
an online presence. So you can participate in various ways. JEFFREY BROWN: Was it an obvious idea to you? GLORY EDIM: No. JEFFREY BROWN: No? GLORY EDIM: It was a very unexpected idea. It was actually a gift from my partner, Opiyo. He made me the shirt that said “Well-Read
Black Girl,” and I found myself in conversation with so many different women. And it sparked the idea that I should actually
start something with this. What does it mean to be a well-read black
girl? JEFFREY BROWN: You mean conversation because
they were seeing your T-shirt? GLORY EDIM: They were seeing the shirt on
the subway, in the grocery store, at the gym. First, they inquired, where do I get the shirt? (LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: Right. Cool shirt, good shirt. Right. Right. GLORY EDIM: Right. And then it was like, so who are your favorite
authors? And who are you reading? Naturally, we went to Toni Morrison, Gloria
Naylor, Maya Angelou. We talked about the literary greats that really
influenced the black canon. JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. GLORY EDIM: And then it started, so what are
you reading now? What are the new writers that are on your
bookshelves? It was really a curiosity thing. In the beginning, it was quite selfish. I wanted to make new friends. (LAUGHTER) GLORY EDIM: And, as I did that, it grew, and
I built the Instagram, and the presence on Instagram grew. And it just got larger and larger. JEFFREY BROWN: But it clearly tapped into
some need, hunger. What? GLORY EDIM: Oh, completely. It was a yearning. A lot of times, black women, we are invisible
in spaces. And when it comes to the publishing industry,
there’s not always an avenue for women to become writers or to understand what the dynamics
are. And it just became like a cheerleading squad
those who want to do the writing and want them — people to buy their books. It just happened really seamlessly. JEFFREY BROWN: So the anthology, you asked
all these writers that kind of question. GLORY EDIM: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: Sort of, when did you first
see yourself in literature? GLORY EDIM: Exactly. Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: Because that was the way into… GLORY EDIM: Well, that was the origin story
for me. I have always been a person to question and
to look for myself in books. My favorite book is Maya Angelou’s “I Know
Why the Caged Bird Sings.” And that was the first time I really saw myself
on the pages of a book. JEFFREY BROWN: Meaning what? GLORY EDIM: In terms of reflection, understanding
the dialogue, having someone that felt and looked like me on the page. I had read a lot of “Little Women.” I saw myself in Jo March. I read “Wuthering Heights.” But, before that, I don’t think I really saw
an accurate reflection of a young black girl coming of age, until I read Maya Angelou and
Toni Morrison. “The Bluest Eye” is such a classic for so
many young black women. It was a turning point for me to really understand
that the story of black womanhood is one of survival and true — and just excellence as
well. JEFFREY BROWN: It’s an interesting thing. And the one thing that books, we often say,
those of us who are readers, is, we find ourselves in others. GLORY EDIM: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: I mean, we learn about ourselves,
even if we’re not represented in that story. GLORY EDIM: Oh, completely. Just practicing this muscle of seeing yourselves
in someone else’s story and building a stronger perspective. And a lot of these stories, whether it’s Jesmyn
Ward, or Jacqueline Woodson, or Tayari Jones, they are really looking at their origin stories,
and what led them to become writers, and what that helped them really see their own stories
in the books that they read. And I think that’s really important. Like, you need that reflection for anyone. JEFFREY BROWN: So what surprised you when
you started getting the responses, or excited you? GLORY EDIM: Oh, well, the — all the tributes
to Toni Morrison. JEFFREY BROWN: Well, yes. GLORY EDIM: They were just so beautiful. JEFFREY BROWN: How could it not happen, right? GLORY EDIM: Yes. It’s Toni Morrison. JEFFREY BROWN: Right. Right. Right. GLORY EDIM: So, she was really a highlight
in the collection. And, also, not all the stories were dedicated
necessarily to black women. Barbara Smith writes about James Baldwin and
how his words really helped her become a writer. There’s one writer, Bsrat Mezghebe, she writes
about Roald Dahl and how reading the member “Boy” was fundamental to her experience. So it’s not necessarily just about seeing
an exact reflection, but to make sure that these symbols have meaning and they feel significant. And you can really just explore. Like, reading is — feels to me like an exploratory
practice. And you should be able to find characters
and stories where you can fall into. JEFFREY BROWN: These are all, of course, writers. These are women who became writers. GLORY EDIM: Yes. Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: How much did you see their
origin story connecting to the writers that they became? GLORY EDIM: Oh, yes, completely. I mean, I think of Jesmyn Ward. At the end of her story, she says she didn’t
— she read this one book, and it wasn’t until she wrote her own that she was able to really… JEFFREY BROWN: That’s right. GLORY EDIM: It was such a profound statement
and a powerful way to end, that it compelled her to want to write and tell her own story. And I think that is the takeaway from the
anthology, that we should be telling our own stories. And we need to be persistent with that, and
not — not give up. JEFFREY BROWN: We have been talking so much
about the writers, but this, as you said, started with readers right? GLORY EDIM: Yes. Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: Who are the readers? (CROSSTALK) GLORY EDIM: There are so many readers. In the anthology, I have lists of reading
recommendations. And I did that very intentionally, because
I was thinking about my younger self and the things that I wanted to read. I always — I didn’t always want to read “To
Kill a Mockingbird.” I wanted other alternatives. JEFFREY BROWN: Right. GLORY EDIM: And this book has a list about
black feminism, black playwrights, speculative fiction, black coming-of-age stories, poetry. It is a full listing of how to reimagine the
literary canon. And there’s no excuse to say, like, I don’t
know what person of color I can introduce to my syllabus or to my high school classroom. I think of it as hopefully a great tool for
young people and educators. JEFFREY BROWN: You still have an actual book
club, right? GLORY EDIM: Yes, I do. Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: For all that… GLORY EDIM: We do have a book club. JEFFREY BROWN: This old-fashioned book club
thing, right? GLORY EDIM: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: You get together, and… GLORY EDIM: It’s great. I think, for me, having the book club is a
great lesson in listening. I really love to listen to everyone tell their
own story and how they relate to the characters. So, my favorite part, I love doing social
media, but being able to sit next to a reader and look them in the eye and persuade them
to maybe like a character a little bit more, I love that back and forth. JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the Well-Read Black
Girl book club and now the “Well-Read Black Girl” anthology. GLORY EDIM: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: Glory Edim, thank you very
much. GLORY EDIM: Thank you so much. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, another in our
occasional series called My Music, where singers and musicians talk about their work, their
influences and the art of their craft. If you haven’t already heard of her, let’s
introduce Margo Price. She’s up for a Grammy for best new artist
next month. The 35-year-old country musician is making
waves with songs about the beauty and struggles of rural America and about her own issues
with alcohol, loss, and trying to make it in Nashville. She’s also been outspoken on issues of gender
equality and gun control. Price sat down with the “NewsHour” recently
show at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club. Here’s a listen. MARGO PRICE, Musician: When I first moved
to Nashville, I didn’t have a lot of life experiences. And the kind of country music that I like
has always been about the struggle and the darker sides of things, divorce and drinking
and the sad side of life. So, eventually, that’s what my life became,
for better or worse. My name is Margo Price, and I’m a singer-songwriter
living in Nashville, Tennessee. My first album, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,”
was kind of the honest glimpse of everything that had happened since I had moved to Nashville,
just struggling in the music business, and drinking too much, and running around with
the wrong type of people. I just was pretty unafraid to talk about my
struggles at that point, and wasn’t afraid to be self-deprecating and honest about my
hardships. And I think people love an underdog. We wrote the second album kind of when we
were on the road touring “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.” And we were seeing a lot of America. And I definitely had done a good amount of
introspective writing about myself. And so we thought it was a good idea to kind
of look at what was going on in our country. We just wanted to show working-class America. We just wanted to show the everyday people
who are really making this country run. And, many times, they’re struggling. Oddly enough, we wrote that song during the
Obama administration, and we recorded it prior to the election. And — but they were campaigning at that time. And I was already starting to see a lot of
division. I think, definitely, the song had new meaning
post-election. And I have changed some of the lyrics when
we do it live. I hope that we can preserve what we have here
and keep our country beautiful. (SINGING) JUDY WOODRUFF: Lovely. And that’s the “NewsHour” for now. We will be back here at 9:00 Eastern for both
the president’s address and the Democratic leaders’ response. I’m Judy Woodruff. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we will see you soon.

Leave a Reply

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