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PBS NewsHour full episode August 29, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: the winds over
the water. The U.S. mainland rushes to prepare as Hurricane
Dorian picks up speed over the Atlantic. Then: on the ground in El Salvador. The U.S. homeland security chief takes the
fight over immigration to Central America, while the Trump administration attempts to
rewrite the rules of citizenship. And jump-starting America — how investing
in scientific research can revive struggling cities all over the country. SIMON JOHNSON, Co-Author, “Jump-Starting America”:
The existing hubs on the West Coast and East Coast have become rather crowded, extremely
expensive, actually quite difficult places to do business. What we really need is growth that, as in
the past, is much more widely spread across the country. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Millions of people along Florida’s
Atlantic Coast are watching and waiting tonight, as Hurricane Dorian grows into a major menace. Forecasters now say that the storm could be
a Category 4 with winds of 130 miles an hour when it hits on Monday. Today, lines of shoppers waited outside supply
stores, preparing for a tense Labor Day weekend. Governor Ron DeSantis said, it’s the smart
move. GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You saw long lines for
gas, people going into the grocery store to get water. We don’t like necessarily seeing people wait
in line. But people are heeding the call to just be
prepared. We can’t tell you exactly where this thing
is going to go right now. It’s been kind of here and there, and it’s
not been a very, I guess, consistent path in some respects. But, nevertheless, be prepared. JUDY WOODRUFF: DeSantis also declared an emergency
for the entire state. And President Trump said he is canceling a
planned trip to Poland to keep an eye on the storm. We will hear from the National Hurricane Center
after the news summary. The U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general
says that former FBI Director James Comey mishandled memos of conversations with President
Trump. Today’s report concluded that he broke FBI
rules by arranging for a journalist to see one memo. The report states that — quote — “Comey
set a dangerous example by using sensitive information to build public pressure.” It also found that none of the information
was classified. The Justice Department has already declined
to prosecute. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called
today for revoking Obama era rules on methane leaks at oil and gas drilling sites. The proposal would exempt some companies from
monitoring leaks of the gas that contributes to climate change. We will look at the details later in the program. In Britain, resistance is mounting to Prime
Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament before the Brexit deadline of October 31. Today, protests, legal challenges and petition
drives gathered steam. The opposition Labor Party leader, Jeremy
Corbyn, vowed to fight the move when Parliament returns from its summer recess. JEREMY CORBYN, Leader, Labor Party: We will
be back in Parliament on Tuesday to challenge Boris Johnson on what I think is a smash-and-grab
raid against our democracy, where he’s trying to suspend Parliament in order to prevent
a serious discussion and a serious debate to prevent a no-deal Brexit. JUDY WOODRUFF: By suspending Parliament, Johnson
gives opponents little time to prevent Britain from leaving the European Union without a
formal agreement. China sent fresh troops into Hong Kong today,
calling it a routine rotation. State television showed dozens of soldiers
arriving in Hong Kong overnight, and tanks rolling through otherwise empty streets. The deployment also raised fears about a possible
crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Hard-liners in Colombia’s main rebel group,
the FARC, issued a new call to arms today. It was a blow to a 3-year-old accord that
ended decades of fighting. In an online video, the rebels accused the
government of failing to live up to the peace agreement. IVAN MARQUEZ, Former FARC Chief Negotiator
(through translator): When we signed the agreement, we did it with the conviction that it was
possible to change the lives of the humble and the dispossessed, but the state has not
fulfilled even the most important of the obligations. That is to guarantee the life of its citizens
and particularly to prevent their murder for political reasons. JUDY WOODRUFF: Colombia’s president offered
a reward of nearly $1 million for the leader of the hard-liners. Back in this country, there’s word that the
mumps virus has swept through crowded migrant detention facilities in the last 12 months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
says mumps appeared in 57 facilities across 19 states. Nearly 900 migrants and more than 30 staffers
came down with the illness. Top federal health officials issued a national
warning today about marijuana use by teenagers and pregnant women and the risk to developing
brains. More and more states and cities have legalized
marijuana for medical or recreational use. But Surgeon General Jerome Adams, along with
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, said the drug is dangerous. DR. JEROME ADAMS, Surgeon General of the United
States: Not enough people know that today’s marijuana is far more potent than in day’s
past. The amount of THC, the component responsible
for euphoria and intoxication, but for also most of marijuana’s documented harms, has
increased three- to five-fold in the last few decades. Or, as I like to say, this ain’t your mother’s
marijuana. JUDY WOODRUFF: The federal government still
classifies marijuana as a controlled substance. A major study in the U.S. and Britain has
found five new genetic variants that may be linked to same-sex sexual behavior. But the researchers say there may be thousands
more, and they also reaffirm that genes alone do not determine whether someone’s orientation
will be gay or lesbian. The study involved half-a-million people,
in the largest project of its kind. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey apologized today
for wearing blackface during a college skit 50 years ago. Her then fiance had described the episode
in a college radio interview. Ivey said today that she doesn’t remember
the skit, but doesn’t deny it either. And the first-term Republican said — quote
— “That is not who I am today.” And on Wall Street, stocks rose on hopes for
progress in upcoming U.S.-China trade talks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 326
points to close at 26362. The Nasdaq rose 116 points, and the S&P 500
added 36. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: preparing
for landfall as Hurricane Dorian churns across the Atlantic; on the ground in El Salvador,
while the White House hardens its stance on citizenship; the Trump administration moves
to roll back key regulations for monitoring natural gas; and much more. Hurricane Dorian is threatening to bear down
on Florida by Monday, prompting residents there to start stocking up on bottled water,
gas and other supplies. But the Category 1 hurricane’s precise path
is hard to predict. Dorian veered towards the Virgin Islands,
drenching them with heavy rain and whipping winds, but then largely missed Puerto Rico. Ken Graham is the director of the National
Hurricane Center in Miami, and he joins us now for an update. Ken Graham, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” First of all, tell us what you know right
now about Dorian. KEN GRAHAM, Director, National Hurricane Center:
Every indication is continuing to get stronger. We’re looking at this structure very closely,
getting aircraft out there, studying this 24 hours a day. And getting stronger is exactly what we’re
forecasting, continuing to get stronger with time, just a lot of warm water, not a lot
of shear, and then not a lot of interaction with terrain as well. So it’s going to keep getting stronger. And we’re forecasting to become a major hurricane,
even a Category 4-strength, 130 miles an hour, as we approach the Florida coast, so a big
event, a lot of uncertainty in the forecast. That center could be anywhere in that cone. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Ken, you say a lot of
uncertainty. What is going to determine the exact path
and the strength of this storm? KEN GRAHAM: Yes, so many factors going on
here. In this case, we have — this ridge of high
pressure. It’s out here. It almost acts like a bubble. So, when the storm moves forward, it hits
that bubble. So the stronger that high pressure is, then
we’re going to have a quicker turn. If it’s a little weaker, it’s going to be
wait a little bit longer. And that will be the northern track. So we’re really trying to understand how strong
that is. And that’s why we’re seeing the models change
a little bit. And that’s why we have a comb, because, with
that uncertainty, it could be anywhere in there. So the message is anyone along the — in Florida,
along the coast, and also inland has to be ready. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have a sense of when
we’re going to know better where it’s hitting? KEN GRAHAM: You know, I think really when
we start seeing that turn. I think this is one of those situations that,
as we move towards the northwest, we start seeing that turn more towards the west. I think, if you think about, with time after
that happens, you can extrapolate from there, and that — we’re going to have a better idea. So, in the next few days, I think we will
have a better handle on it. But either way, no matter where that track
goes, no matter where the center is, Florida will be impacted by rain, storm surge, the
winds, just a big impact event. JUDY WOODRUFF: So the advice then to people
who live anywhere in that bubble area you have at the end is to do what? KEN GRAHAM: It is to be ready, because, if
you think about it, it’s interesting. We have plotted the arrival of the tropical-storm-force
winds. So, no matter the exact track, no matter where
the center is, you will start seeing tropical-storm-force winds reach the coastline — here’s Florida
— probably late on Sunday, by 8:00 p.m. or so moving onshore. So the winds are coming. The rain is coming. The storm surge is coming. So it’s time to be prepared and listen for
the latest information, and especially listen to those local officials. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we will certainly do
everything we can to get the word out. Ken Graham with the National Hurricane Center,
thank you. KEN GRAHAM: You bet. JUDY WOODRUFF: The acting secretary of homeland
security, Kevin McAleenan, is on a three-day trip to Central America to talk about migration
and border security with leaders in El Salvador. Our Amna Nawaz is along with McAleenan on
this visit. And she joins me now from San Salvador, the
capital. Amna, hello. So, this is McAleenan’s, what, second trip
to El Salvador in this role. What are they looking to accomplish? AMNA NAWAZ: Well, Judy, basically, Secretary
McAleenan is trying the formalize some of those past negotiations and conversations
he’s been having with leaders here in the area. It’s not just El Salvador. He’s been meeting with leaders in Guatemala
and Honduras, again, these Northern Triangle countries, where we know the vast majority
of people crossing the U.S. southern border come from. What was signed yesterday is basically called
a letter of intent. It’s important because it’s not binding. It’s not a formal deal or agreement in any
way. But what it does do is broadly lay out four
areas the U.S. says are common areas both El Salvador and the U.S. can move forward
to try to reduce some of those migration numbers. The U.S. officials laid them out to us in
these four categories. It’s border security, information-sharing,
asylum capacity, and economic investment. But, obviously, the overall goal here is to
reduce the number of people looking to cross the U.S. southern border. So I asked Secretary McAleenan, when you’re
working towards that goal, what does success look like? What is the threshold you’re working towards? Here’s what he had to say to me in response. KEVIN MCALEENAN, Acting Secretary of Homeland
Security: The desire is to have a secure and well-managed border. We want to return to historic lows, so that
really we’re not seeing a flow of vulnerable families and children that are responding
to weaknesses in the legal framework in the United States or to the types of policy objectives
that the president here is trying to counter, forced migration, where it’s either due to
security concerns or lack of economic opportunity. AMNA NAWAZ: Secretary McAleenan actually went
on to say the primary driver that they have seen specifically among people coming from
El Salvador is economic. So, Judy, I can tell you what we have heard
from folks here on the ground when it comes to where they’re putting their energy and
their effort right now, economic investment seems to be one of the main areas of U.S.
focus — Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there any indication that
these deals will work? AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, officials here were really
keen to tell us about some of the numbers they have already seen from here in El Salvador. Here’s what they told us yesterday. The number of Salvadorans crossing the U.S.
border in May was 16,000. In August, they say they got that number down
to 6,000. That’s something they hold up as a sign of
success that a lot of these efforts and a lot of these conversations are working. It’s also worth pointing out, though, that,
overall, when it comes to southern U.S. border crossings, those numbers have gone down. In July, in fact, those total numbers were
below 100,000 for the first time in about five months. We know that detention numbers have actually
gone down. Custody times in detention have also gone
down. So, overall, because of weather, because of
historical trends, but also largely because of a number of the steps the Trump administration
has been taking to try to add deterrents, to try to limit the number of people crossing
the U.S. southern border, those numbers have been going down. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Amna, we know that El
Salvador does have problems, major problems with violence, especially with regard to gangs. What did the president of El Salvador have
to say about that? AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, Judy. Obviously, addressing those homicide rates
and the violence levels here, it’s been a priority, not just for this president, President
Bukele, who just came into power a few months ago, but for previous administrations as well. It’s worth noting they have seen those numbers
going down. He’s implemented much more heavy-handed law
enforcement tactics when it comes to addressing some of that gang violence. But, look, there are also things that President
Bukele wants to see from the U.S., in addition to security help, things that weren’t necessarily
mentioned by U.S. officials. I asked President Bukele directly, when you’re
in these conversations with the U.S., what is it you’re asking for, when the U.S. is
asking for your cooperation to help stem the flow of people coming from El Salvador? He listed a few things, including some kind
of permanent status for Salvadorans in the U.S., many of whom have DACA protection or
TPS protection. He also mentioned asking the U.S. to lower
the State Department travel warning level from a 3 to a 2 for El Salvador, which he
thinks would help to encourage tourism. And he also said that he would much rather
have economic investment in some form, rather than any kind of economic aid — Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Amna Nawaz, reporting for us
from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, thanks. It is a shift in the process of determining
who can be a U.S. citizen. The latest move on immigration by the Trump
administration at first sparked confusion and outrage yesterday. The rule is smaller in scope than initially
thought, but still says that some children born to Americans living abroad working for
the U.S. military or as diplomats will no longer automatically be U.S. citizens. We want to take time now to clarify this move
and look at the administration’s broader strategy on immigration with Ken Cuccinelli. He is the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services. And he joins me now. And thank you for being here at the “NewsHour.” KEN CUCCINELLI, Acting Director, U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services: Judy, good to be with you. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s — a lot of changes. They have been coming fast and furious in
the field of immigration, and as we have been listening to Amna, in citizenship and immigration. But what I want to ask you about this new
policy is just — we have just learned about it this week. It ends automatic citizenship for… KEN CUCCINELLI: No. No. JUDY WOODRUFF: OK. It ends automatic citizenship… KEN CUCCINELLI: No. (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: May I just state it? And then you can correct it if you disagree. But ends automatic citizenship for some children
born to U.S. citizens who are stationed abroad either working for the U.S. government as
diplomats or the military? KEN CUCCINELLI: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: Why this move? KEN CUCCINELLI: Well, first of all, the statement
about who becomes a citizen at birth is not correct. All the same people still become citizens
at birth. This is — and, for your viewers, this is
all about people outside the United States. Some people have said, oh, this is birthright
citizenship. It’s other things. It has nothing to do with being born in the
U.S. It is for people who are born outside the
United States who are not U.S. citizens when they are born. And, already, that was true before or after. JUDY WOODRUFF: But one of their parents is
a U.S. citizen. KEN CUCCINELLI: No, doesn’t — that — not
necessarily. Not necessarily. And the only thing that has changed here is
the forms they have to fill out, the process they have to go through to get that child
to be a U.S. citizen. That is it. We didn’t change a single person who would
be — or would or could become a U.S. citizen before or after. JUDY WOODRUFF: But why do this? Excuse me for interrupting. KEN CUCCINELLI: That’s an excellent question. JUDY WOODRUFF: Why do this? KEN CUCCINELLI: Because the Department of
State obviously also issues travel documents. We issue various visas and other documents. And USCIS, the agency I lead, wasn’t conforming
to the law. And there is a very specific thing that was
wrong. Let me finish, please. So somebody could go through the process we
have now and show up to get a passport to travel home for their child, and they wouldn’t
get a passport. The State Department wouldn’t recognize them
as a citizen, because what we were doing didn’t — didn’t comply with the law. So we have brought ourselves in compliance
with the law and all the same people can still become citizens. JUDY WOODRUFF: But the bottom line is that
it makes it somewhat more difficult to become a citizen. KEN CUCCINELLI: No. No. I checked this earlier today. It doesn’t even take longer. There’s still paperwork, but it’s different
paperwork. JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re saying this has all
been a lot of fuss over nothing? KEN CUCCINELLI: Yes. And we obviously could have communicated this
a lot better, but it is almost nothing. It affects, in paperwork only, about 20 to
25 people a year. And we came to that number by looking back
through how many people fell in these categories in previous years. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we appreciate having that clarification
directly from you. KEN CUCCINELLI: Well, I appreciate you letting
me clarify it. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I do want to ask you about
some other changes, though. KEN CUCCINELLI: Sure. JUDY WOODRUFF: Just in the last few days,
the administration has changed the policy, as we understand it, around how immigrants
with dire health conditions are treated. Previously, they were granted what’s called
medical deferred action, which is a special status that allows them to remain in the country
legally, receive Medicaid, if necessary, and work while they get medical treatment. But now we are told tens of thousands of people
who have serious health conditions, whether cancer, cystic fibrosis, are subject to being
— to losing their ability to stay. KEN CUCCINELLI: Right. And we have a B visa, a tourist visa, which
can also be used for medical treatment for people who are here. No one gets deferred action who is here legally. That is only for people who are not here legally. And it is — just as it says here, it… JUDY WOODRUFF: Correct. They’re here undocumented. KEN CUCCINELLI: Right. They’re illegally here. And so ICE is the enforcing agency some. And this isn’t just about medical. This is about USCIS, a non-enforcement agency
— we’re not a law enforcement agency — some years ago started issuing deferences, which
we don’t — which isn’t appropriate for us. That’s left for ICE to do. And it only happens once people are removable
from the country. JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re asking — let me
just point out, you’re asking people who are in this situation with a very sick family
member to turn to an enforcement agency to let them know that they are here in an undocumented
status. And let me just bring it to a personal level. We saw the story of a mother from Honduras. She has a 16-year-old son with cystic fibrosis. He is being treated in Boston. His older sister has already died of cystic
fibrosis. His mother says, if he can’t continue this
treatment, he will die. So what’s the reason for squeezing people
in these circumstances? KEN CUCCINELLI: Well, obviously, this family
is not targeted, Judy. What was going on before — and it started
sometime ago and has now raised expectations — it’s raised yours, it’s raised others — is
— wasn’t consistent with the law. It was a law that says, on a case-by-case
basis, this can be granted. It was granted across the board. So now it will be granted on a case-by-case
basis. And humanitarian basis is a basis to grant
this sorts of relief. So it can still be granted to that sort of
— the family in you example. But let’s remember, these people also can
get B visas and come here legally to do all of these things. JUDY WOODRUFF: But just quickly, again, it’s
making it harder for them to do that. I do want to ask you about another… KEN CUCCINELLI: Only in the sense that they
actually have to now go do something. JUDY WOODRUFF: Another new rule enacted under
your agency, the so-called public charge rule… KEN CUCCINELLI: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: … under which the government
will deny green cards to legal U.S. residents and visa holders currently using or expected
to use government benefits, like food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance. My question is, how does this comport with
America’s long history of welcoming — I mean, you go back to huddled masses yearning to
be free. Are you now saying America doesn’t want people
who need any help? KEN CUCCINELLI: You know, that’s an excellent
question, Judy. Under federal law, all the way back to 1882,
over almost 140 years, we have required people coming to this country to meet these sorts
of standards, to be self-sufficient. And the American people want immigrants who
are self-sufficient. And that means that won’t go on these sorts
of welfare programs. And it isn’t all welfare programs. And even Medicaid is only for adults. It isn’t for people under 21 and so forth. But that’s a longstanding requirement of American
law, and it’s a core value. So… JUDY WOODRUFF: But is it a core value that
goes back to the founding of this country? KEN CUCCINELLI: It is. It goes back to 1645 in Massachusetts. JUDY WOODRUFF: But people were welcomed into
this country who were, again, your huddled masses yearning to be free. KEN CUCCINELLI: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: People came to this country
with nothing at all and have turned and made something… KEN CUCCINELLI: And tens of thousands of them
— tens of thousands of them were turned back as expected to be public charges. And that is a — that has long been part of
the law. The law we passed this rule for was implemented
on a strong bipartisan basis in 1996 and signed by Bill Clinton. JUDY WOODRUFF: But the point of it appears
to be to squeeze the definition of who can be an American. Is that what you and the administration are
trying to do? My question is — you’re clearly trying to
make it harder to become a U.S. citizen. KEN CUCCINELLI: For people who can’t support
themselves in America, who would go on welfare in the future. JUDY WOODRUFF: And why are they not welcome? KEN CUCCINELLI: For the same reasons — you
referred to the American tradition. And this is straight out of the American tradition,
both legally and historically. We — this is the most generous and welcoming
nation in the history of the world when it comes to this immigration. JUDY WOODRUFF: Even with this new definition? KEN CUCCINELLI: And we have always expected
people to stand on their own two feet and to be self-sufficient and to — we are not
the welfare provider for the world. And this is just continuing that tradition. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, again — and forgive me
if I’m repeating myself — in the beginning, this was a country that welcomed people of
all circumstances. The poorest people on the planet were welcome
to come to this country and to make something of themselves. KEN CUCCINELLI: Poor people can still come
to this country. But they — and when you look — so, we have
focused on the welfare benefits in our short discussion here. It’s one factor among many. And it is always only one factor among many. So let’s take the truly impoverished folks
who might — who have used welfare benefits up to the time they’re considered for that
green card. Please let me just finish. But, during that time, they have also gotten
a plumbing certification. They have a job. They have — those are other factors. They have gotten education they didn’t have
before. All of those can offset the use of welfare
benefits. The point is that they can stand on their
own in the future as they live here long-term with us as fellow Americans. JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you saying the ideal portrait
of an American is different from what it was in the very beginning of this country? KEN CUCCINELLI: No. An excellent question. You know, it has been — well, we will take
— I’m from Virginia, the beginning in 1607. I assume we’re a little different from then,
but for 140 years, the American people have strongly supported and had in law — and we
do today — the requirement that the people we welcome here will stand on their own and
be self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is one of those core values
that makes America unique. And we expect it to continue. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I’m sure you know many
Americans see that differently. KEN CUCCINELLI: I understand that. I do understand. JUDY WOODRUFF: They still see this country
as a place with open arms, rather than closed ones. KEN CUCCINELLI: And I do too. And I do too. And this isn’t closing our arms, but it is
expecting people to carry their own weight and not expecting to come here and for us
to carry them, as fellow Americans or legal permanent residents, which is what a green
card is. JUDY WOODRUFF: Ken Cuccinelli, acting director
of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, thank you. KEN CUCCINELLI: Judy, good to be with you. JUDY WOODRUFF: It was widely reported that
the Trump administration may block $250 million in military assistance to Ukraine as part
of its overall efforts to curtail foreign aid. Mr. Trump began supplying weapons to Ukraine
two years ago in its fight against Russian-backed separatists. The war there is now in its sixth year, with
thousands dead and no signs of an end in sight. And with no U.S. troop presence anywhere near
the front lines, some American citizens have decided to go and fight anyway. From those front lines, special correspondent
Simon Ostrovsky reports. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Damien Rodriguez is an American
citizen from the Bronx with a habit of fighting in wars that many would say are not his own. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ, Ukrainian Naval Infantry
Corps: My passion is to volunteer for different militaries, militias, and help defend their
land. SIMON OSTROVSKY: In 2015, Damien traveled
to Syria. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: The ISIS videos that were
coming out decapitating people, burning people alive, selling women, I felt like I had to
do something, and our government wasn’t doing enough, and heard that people were out there
helping and decided to go and help. SIMON OSTROVSKY: He had no military experience. The only branch he’d served in was a bank
branch in Delaware. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: I dealt with all the automated
cash transactions, a lot of spreadsheets, Excel. Not for me, I guess. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Today, he’s a long way from
the spreadsheets, fighting an enemy even more formidable than ISIS or arithmetic, the Russian
military. Last year, Damien joined the Marine Corps
of Ukraine. We’re in a trench on a hill that’s overlooking
some of the Russian-backed forces’ positions. The reason Damien’s unit’s been sent here
is because they’re to provide covering fire for another Ukrainian unit that’s hunting
anti-tank crews that have been harassing Ukrainian vehicles lately. This machine gun nest overlooks the positions
of the Russian military and their local separatist allies, who want to wrest control of Eastern
Ukraine from the central government in Kiev. MAN: Go, go, go, go, go, go, go. SIMON OSTROVSKY: It’s a war that’s claimed
the lives of some 13,000 people since 2014. And aside from the occasional foreign volunteer,
Ukraine, which has regularly committed its troops to America’s wars around the world,
has had to wage this fight on its own — well, almost. Damien came here, not just without the blessing
of his government, but also without his family’s. He left his girlfriend and two sons behind
in the United States. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: That didn’t go over too
well. She was extremely upset, couldn’t understand
why I would give up my family. She’s seeing it as giving up my family, because,
of course, there’s a possibility of death. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Extremely upset is putting
it lightly. In the months leading up to his departure
to Syria, Damien’s ex sued him for withdrawing money from a joint account. And when he returned in 2017, he was arrested
for missing thousands of dollars in child support payments. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: She kind of basically told
me they want me out of their life. And at that time, I wasn’t in a good state
of mind. I had just came back from Syria. And… SIMON OSTROVSKY: Are you saying that you lost
custody of your son? PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: Yes. SIMON OSTROVSKY: So, the United States — the
United States has sent $1.5 billion of military aid to Ukraine, but there are no boots on
the ground. That $1.5 billion goes to weapons, equipment
and training. The only American servicemen here are in a
facility near the Polish border, over 800 miles west of the front lines. Like the Canadian and British soldiers who
are also in Ukraine, they’re providing training at a safe distance from the violence. There’s hundreds of other Americans far away
from the front lines in a much safer environment. What does it feel like to be one of the only
ones actually on the front line in the only active war in Europe? PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: Last thing we need is another
war. If you have more boots here, then that means
Russia’s going to have more boots over there. And, you know, do you really want this to
be a huge, you know, possibly world war, you know? SIMON OSTROVSKY: One of his commanding officers
tells us he’s grateful for the fighters from the U.S., Great Britain and Estonia that have
joined this unit. How did you feel when the foreigners first
joined your battalion? LT. ANDRIY PIDLISNY, Ukrainian Naval Infantry
Corps: We know the reason why we are here, Ukrainians, because it’s our land. We defend it. But why foreign guys come here? We didn’t — these guys, very good guys, they’re
very patriotic. One of them want to take Ukrainian citizenship
now, because our allows to do that. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Following in the footsteps
of the U.S., Ukraine changed its laws to make it possible for foreigners serving in the
military to receive citizenship. Not everyone plans on taking it, but the Defense
Ministry says there are currently about 130 foreigners serving, including several Americans. ARCHIL TSINTSADZE, Ukrainian Defense Ministry:
Someone who proves that he wants to be Ukrainian citizen, and he also has the good record of
fighting for this country, well, he also has the privilege to be granted Ukrainian citizenship. SIMON OSTROVSKY: The reforms are seen as part
of an effort to redirect internationals away from volunteer battalions that were not fully
under the Defense Ministry’s control, groups like the Azov Battalion, which has recruited
many of its fighters from the ranks of the far right and has ties to organizations that
participated in the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. ARCHIL TSINTSADZE: That’s why you need somehow
to regulate these volunteers or foreign fighters or whoever is fighting on your side. It was impossible to plan some military operations
because volunteers never accepted your orders, and they did their own military operations. SIMON OSTROVSKY: So, what about the equipment
provided with U.S. tax dollars? Some of it has apparently filtered down to
the troops. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: We were issued night vision. And I actually just used it last night. SIMON OSTROVSKY: But there is a desperate
shortage of one thing on these front lines: safe armored vehicles. In this sector, we saw none of the Humvees
America handed over with much pomp at this ceremony in 2015. We were told there weren’t enough to go around. Drones are another area where the Ukrainian
military improvises. And Damien is his unit’s pilot. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: So, this video actually
shows me actually using the drone as a weapon. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Whoa. There it goes. And he runs back into the dugout. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: We were targeting the vehicle. We had no clue who was in the vehicle. It just so happened to be one of the big commanders
of that battalion. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Anyone can order this quadcopter
from Amazon for around $1,500, but it has one deadly handmade modification. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: It just has an attachment
here to drop bombs. Stuff this — plastic explosives into the
tube, set a detonator inside, and once it hits the detonator, explodes. Get a bunch of nice little screws inside there. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Should an American like you
really be here fighting another country’s war? PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: Our government actually
supports Ukraine, very much so. I would never go against my country’s wishes. Syria was a bit on the line. When I got back, guys from, like, Homeland
Security and even FBI guys, they were like, oh, thank you very much, you know? I share a room with another guy. This is my bed. Sorry for the mess. (LAUGHTER) SIMON OSTROVSKY: For Damien, being out here
on the front lines, despite the constant dangers, things somehow seem easier and more straightforward
than the life he abandoned in the U.S. PTE. DAMIEN RODRIGUEZ: Don’t get me wrong. I love America, I love my home and my family. But Ukraine is growing on me, and I really
respect the people, especially the people here in the military. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Few Americans have dared
openly fight against Russia in its war in Ukraine, but if Kiev continues welcoming foreign
fighters, America and other Western countries may get more boots on the ground than they
ever bargained for. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Simon Ostrovsky
on the front lines in Eastern Ukraine. JUDY WOODRUFF: In an effort to boost oil and
natural gas production, the Trump administration is planning to roll back rules regarding the
release of the highly potent greenhouse gas methane. As William Brangham reports, this is the latest
move to dial back environmental rules put in place by the Obama administration. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s right, Judy. These rules were first put in place because
methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, many times more potent than carbon
dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. When oil and gas is produced and shipped and
stored, a lot of methane leaks out, which then makes climate change worse. The Environmental Protection Agency now argues
those rules about limiting methane leaks are illegal, too costly and that they don’t do
very much to protect the climate. Timothy Puko Of The Wall Street Journal first
broke the story of this proposed change. And he joins me now. Welcome to the “NewsHour.” TIMOTHY PUKO, The Wall Street Journal: Thank
you for having me. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, environmental groups,
a lot of leading Democrats are quite furious about this proposed change. What are they arguing? TIMOTHY PUKO: They’re arguing that, because
of climate change, that we really need these rules. Methane, as you mentioned, is incredibly potent. The oil and gas industry is the leading industrial
source of it. And they were intended to be part of a three-pronged
attack from the Obama administration: Take care of emissions from cars. Take care of emissions from power plants,
or at least limit them, and then the oil and gas sector was next. That was seen as the other big emitter that
could use some tightening up. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And the rules, as they were
written by the Obama administration, required the industry to do what about methane leaks? TIMOTHY PUKO: More inspections, adding newer
technology to — primarily, the issue was, contain these leaks. Make sure you know when leaks happen, so monitoring
systems, and then have better technology there to make sure that gas doesn’t escape. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I touched on the sort of
litany of rationales the Trump administration has put forward as to why they want to get
rid of these rules. What is their position on this? TIMOTHY PUKO: Well, climate, one, not a priority
for this administration. Certainly, President Trump has made his feelings
on that very clear. And that has empowered a lot of people within
the administration, not just at EPA, but other departments, too, who feel that the prior
administration had gone too far, had used the Clean Air Act to address climate in ways
that it was never intended to be used. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is there evidence that these
rules actually did what they were intended to do, meaning, if we know that methane is
a problem, we don’t want to let it leak out, did these rules stop those leaks? TIMOTHY PUKO: Technology would certainly help. Increased inspections would certainly help. I think the big question is, what’s reasonable? And the oil and gas industry felt that, in
many cases, these rules were not reasonable, that they asked too much, that they might
be restrictive. They might prevent the industry from innovating
and creating more effective technology. Ultimately, we don’t even know the answer
to your question, because, like many climate policies from the Obama administration, this
was in limbo. It wasn’t something that had taken effect. They didn’t finalize it until 2016. There were court challenges. And, then, ultimately, the Trump administration
takes over, and they have their own ideas. So that — basically, there was a transitioning
happening before those rules could ever really make an impact. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the most interesting
things in your reporting was that this wasn’t a unanimous industry opposition to these rules. Big companies wanted to keep them in place. Smaller didn’t. Explain why that occurred. TIMOTHY PUKO: The industry is really divided. And the larger companies that have more capital
to address these things have, quite frankly, in many cases an advantage if there are more
regulations governing the industry. But even beyond that, they’re realizing, they
have realized, they have made giant investments that are climate-related into natural gas
in particular. It’s a cleaner fuel. As long as you are not leaking it, as long
as you are not putting raw methane into the atmosphere, natural gas burns cleaner than
— certainly than coal and oil. It produces many fewer emissions. And so, you know, they have been able to market
natural gas to governments and utilities all over the world. It’s a huge thing. It’s a huge business for them. The fear is that, if there are not strong
government relations to regulate that, that bad actors can take over. Or when times get tough and prices are lower,
there isn’t as much of a profit motive for the industry to spend, to invest on the technology
they need to capture this stuff. So, Exxon, Shell, BP, they’re looking at it
and saying, we’re trying sell this natural gas around the world. We want governments to believe that they can
transition to it as a cleaner fuel. And we don’t want the run the risk that that
gets undermined. We have to have a cop come in from the outside
to make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules and keeping natural gas clean. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Such an interesting dichotomy
in the industry there. TIMOTHY PUKO: And you see — if I could say,
you see that a lot. There are big divides right now on all sorts
of issues between the large companies, the global majors, and then the midsized and smaller
companies. Those companies have less capital to spend. They want to produce and produce and produce. They, in many cases, have been the ones that
have been most successful in the Permian and other shale plays. They also have the ear of this administration. And so, in many cases, they’re there. They’re saying, no, our friends in the White
House, make sure that the government is not in our way, that we’re not overburdened by
costs and by rules that we have to follow. And they’re promising that they will police
themselves and keep the drilling boom going full-tilt. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Lastly, what are next steps
here? I know these don’t go into effect right away. And legal challenges? What do you see? TIMOTHY PUKO: Absolutely. Even before we get to legal challenges, 60
days of public comment. It will have to come back for administrative
review. They’re aiming to get that finished and to
get this finalized by 2020. It’s been very difficult for the administration
to meet timelines like that. And even if they were to get this finished
while President Trump is still in office, as you allude to, there are going to be lawsuits. The environmental community wants tight regulations
related to climate. They want climate issues to be addressed. And they have launched — they have launched
legal attacks on every rollback like this that the administration has done. Those are all still in the courts. And this one is likely to play out in the
courts, if we get there. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Timothy Puko of The Wall
Street Journal, great reporting. Thank you. TIMOTHY PUKO: Great. Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the major concerns about
the American economy is whether there’s enough real growth compared to the past, and whether
that growth can be spread out more evenly to areas that need it. Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman,
has a look at a new call to spur that growth through major government investments in science
and technology. The idea? Spread that investment, capital and potential
jobs to cities in real need. It’s the focus of tonight’s Making Sense report. COLIN ANGLE, iRobot: So, these are Roombas. This is the first Roomba. PAUL SOLMAN: At iRobot outside Boston, the
flagship product is on prominent display. COLIN ANGLE: This is the s9. This is like a monster. The eyes look left and right. PAUL SOLMAN: Nearby, products that flopped. COLIN ANGLE: If that doesn’t creep out your
child, then nothing will. We were working on robots that go down into
oil wells. We were working on robot toys. We were working on robots that would clean
industrial buildings. PAUL SOLMAN: And who’s buying these things? COLIN ANGLE: No one was buying them. PAUL SOLMAN: iRobot now boasts 1,000-plus
employees in the U.S., but for years after its founding in 1990… COLIN ANGLE: iRobot, I say nobly, we didn’t
take investment until year eight. What I’m really saying is, we couldn’t get
investment from a third party until year eight of our existence. PAUL SOLMAN: What kept them alive? COLIN ANGLE: iRobot wouldn’t exist without
government contracts. PAUL SOLMAN: Starting with small contracts
in the mid-’90s to research and develop military robots, culminating in a contract to build
thousands of so-called PackBots, at $120,000 each, to search out weapons in Afghanistan
and Iraq. COLIN ANGLE: This used to be a robot. PAUL SOLMAN: And this is debris? COLIN ANGLE: Yes, that’s PackBot 129, or what’s
left of him. These guys literally have saved thousands
of lives over in Afghanistan and Iraq. PAUL SOLMAN: And with the money and technology
it earned on PackBot, iRobot launched a consumer business. Seventeen years later… COLIN ANGLE: Twenty-five million robots sold. About a quarter of all money spent on vacuum
cleaners are now spent on robot vacuum cleaners. PAUL SOLMAN: Due to government research and
development spending. SIMON JOHNSON, Co-Author, “Jump-Starting America”:
When those big breakthroughs occur, you create a lot of good new jobs. PAUL SOLMAN: And if only we spent like we
used to, say MIT economists Simon Johnson and Jonathan Gruber, the U.S. economy would
be bigger, fairer, better braced for the future. JONATHAN GRUBER, Co-Author, “Jump-Starting
America”: By the mid-1960s, we were spending 2 percent out of our entire economy, one in
every $50, on public R&D investments. And that paid off in creating enormous new
sectors of the economy. Remember, what was the first microwave called? NARRATOR: These Amana Radarange microwave
ovens have Cookmatic power shift. JONATHAN GRUBER: The radar range, because
it came with the technology that was used to develop the radar. NARRATOR: Speed, for informed decisions. SIMON JOHNSON: Digital electronic computers
come entirely out of this big postwar R&D government-led effort, modern pharmaceuticals,
jet engines, civil aviation. MAN: Liftoff. We have a liftoff! SIMON JOHNSON: And, of course, we had the
space program, big, positive, lasting effects across the entire economy. PAUL SOLMAN: This was the norm for half-a-century. But, nowadays, says Gruber: JONATHAN GRUBER: We have gone from 2 percent
of GDP to 0.7 percent of GDP and, importantly, from by far the highest in the world to 10th
in the world. PAUL SOLMAN: The top five, Austria, Denmark,
Finland, Korea and Switzerland. Thus, Gruber and Johnson’s mission, “Jump-Starting
America,” the name of their new book, restoring government R&D spending. SIMON JOHNSON: We want more growth. We want more good jobs. PAUL SOLMAN: And they’re on the stump making
the case across the country, but not for spending just anywhere. JONATHAN GRUBER: Hello, Rochester. It’s great to be back. PAUL SOLMAN: They want to jump-start R&D hubs
in areas that don’t have them. JONATHAN GRUBER: People talk about a rural-urban
issue in America. It’s not really that. It’s sort of a superstar city-rest of America
phenomenon. SIMON JOHNSON: The existing hubs on the West
Coast and East Coast have become rather crowded, extremely expensive, actually quite difficult
places to do business. What we really need is growth that, as in
the past, is much more widely spread across the country. PAUL SOLMAN: And that’s why they and we were
in Rochester, New York, which popped out number one on their list of 102 potential new R&D
hubs. MAN: We didn’t know of Rochester. I’m pleasantly surprised as to how good a
fit it is for us. PAUL SOLMAN: Their criteria? JONATHAN GRUBER: Is it a big place? Because this won’t work unless it’s in a big
enough population center. Is it well-educated? Is there a good science education system? Is it affordable? Is there a low crime rate? How’s the commute time? PAUL SOLMAN: How did Rochester come out on
top? JENNIFER LEONARD, Rochester Area Community
Foundation: Right now, you can get anywhere in 20 minutes. PAUL SOLMAN: How many universities? JENNIFER LEONARD: Eighteen. PAUL SOLMAN: What’s it cost to buy a house
around here? JENNIFER LEONARD: The average price is less
than $200,000. PAUL SOLMAN: Of course, admits Jennifer Leonard,
who heads the Rochester Area Community Foundation, there’s a reason for those low housing prices. JENNIFER LEONARD: We are still the third poorest
city in the top 75 metro areas, third highest in the top 100 cities for concentration of
poverty. We need help. PAUL SOLMAN: But that’s what jump-start means. And like so many cities, Rochester’s deindustrialized
past could be a key to its future. NARRATOR: Industries have developed here that
have made the name Rochester synonymous with quality and precision manufacturing. PAUL SOLMAN: Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox
once employed over 100,000 locals — today, a few thousand total. NARRATOR: If you don’t change, change will
change you. LOVELY WARREN, Mayor of Rochester, New York:
My mother worked for Kodak, and my dad worked for Xerox. PAUL SOLMAN: Lovely Warren is Rochester’s
mayor. LOVELY WARREN: I don’t think anyone ever imagined
that the industry would change as rapidly as it did and that we would experience the
economic decline that we did. PAUL SOLMAN: Jobs fled, but people stayed,
with know-how, says the mayor. LOVELY WARREN: Building on a legacy that was
once here, that was large in Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb. PAUL SOLMAN: In an old Kodak factory and a
former downtown department store, New York state grants have seeded high-tech incubators. WOMAN: This is our spindle imaging system,
and we enable you to see now with 10 times improved precision in three dimensions. MAN: We use the front camera of these small
devices and detect the subtle changes in the color of your skin that occurs each time your
heart beats. YASAMAN SOUDAGAR, Neurescence: We have this
innovative fluorescent microscope with small implants that go into multiple regions of
the brain. PAUL SOLMAN: These things actually go into
your brain? YASAMAN SOUDAGAR: Yes. And these tiny blobs that turn on and off
are individual neurons. PAUL SOLMAN: Every one of the dozens of firms
at this recent conference focused on optics and photonics, the science of light. TERRY CLAS, AIM Photonics Institute: How much
data can be transferred over what distance, at what power, using what cost? And it just so happens that photons beat electrons
every day of the week. PAUL SOLMAN: Terry Clas, a longtime Kodak
executive, chaired the conference. TERRY CLAS: Do I believe that Rochester, New
York, or the Finger Lakes region could be the Photon Valley of the future? Absolutely. PAUL SOLMAN: And there’s a huge opportunity,
say Gruber and Johnson: The private sector doesn’t invest in basic R&D. Consider Yasaman Soudagar’s brain implants. YASAMAN SOUDAGAR: So, if you understand exactly
how the memory circuitry in the brain works, then when Alzheimer’s is happening, we can
understand what is going wrong in the brain that is causing the disease. PAUL SOLMAN: So, if this is technology which
maybe reverse Alzheimer’s in humans someday, then investors are throwing money at you? (LAUGHTER) YASAMAN SOUDAGAR: No. No, they are not. Investors want to get 10 times return in three
to five years on their investment. PAUL SOLMAN: And you know this because you
have pitched investors? YASAMAN SOUDAGAR: And they have told us that
we are just not advanced enough for them. They want us to talk to them when the device
is ready to be used in humans. PAUL SOLMAN: We have all this investment capital
in this country. We have all these venture capitalists whose
job is to deploy that capital most efficiently. What’s wrong? SIMON JOHNSON: If you want more growth, higher
productivity, and you want that to be spread across the entire geography of the United
States, the only entity that has deep enough pockets and the potential to deploy enough
resources to make a difference is the federal government. PAUL SOLMAN: But hold on. Government picking winners? How about the failed solar panel firm Solyndra,
which got half-a-billion dollars in federal loan guarantees? Government invests in a company, company goes
kaput, it’s as if we burned the dollars. JONATHAN GRUBER: That was less than 2 percent
of the money we spent on this clean energy program, and all the rest of the portfolio
was paid back. Indeed, all of the solar production in the
U.S. — and, obviously, solar production is a key industry for the future — all of it
grew out of that program. PAUL SOLMAN: And look at the Human Genome
Project, says Simon Johnson, into which the federal government pumped some $3 billion. SIMON JOHNSON: That industry has created 270,000
jobs today. It pays about $6 billion in taxes per year. It’s a win-win. It’s a symbiotic relationship. PAUL SOLMAN: As it has been for iRobot and
Boston’s Route 128 science hub. COLIN ANGLE: There are 25 companies founded
by ex-iRobot employees in this 128 area. And those companies have made the Boston area
the center of the universe for the robot industry. PAUL SOLMAN: As anyone who’s watched Boston
Dynamics videos on YouTube will understand. iRobot itself perfecting more modest cyborgs
these days, a mop, a lawn mower. Look, mom and dad, no hands. For the “PBS NewsHour,” business and economics
correspondent Paul Solman. JUDY WOODRUFF: Very cool. And you can see if your own city makes the
list of potential new technology hubs on the Web site, jump-startingamerica.com. And tonight on the “NewsHour” online: New
criteria for the September presidential debate means only 10 Democratic hopefuls will be
on stage. What happens to the others? You can read about how the candidates who
will not get on prime time are changing their campaign strategies. That’s online now at PBS.org/NewsHour. And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening
with Mark Shields and David Brooks on a Republican challenging the president in 2020, as that
next debate narrows the Democratic field. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.

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