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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 29, 2019 4:30am-5:00am GMT

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president trump has made an unannounced trip to afghanistan, claiming to american troops at bagram airbase that the taliban wants to agree a ceasefire. it's his first visit to the country since he took office. he also met the afghan president, and reaffirmed his intention to reduce the us military presence "substa ntially. " the first funerals have been held in vietnam for some of the 39 people found dead in a refrigerated lorry in south—east england last month. families of 16 victims have held services. the other bodies are expected to be returned to vietnam this weekend. the world health organisation is saying it's now lost access to a community badly hit by ebola in the east of the democratic republic of the congo — because 4 four health workers have been killed in an attack on a treatment centre. a police investigation is underway. now on bbc news,
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hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm shaun ley. sometimes a tv drama does more than entertain, it brings alive to an audience a world they've failed to see. for many, in the united states and beyond, the wire, which methodically dissected america's war with drugs, was an eye—opener. playing detective bunk moreland brought wendell pierce international attention. now he's on stage in london as willy loman, the protagonist in arthur miller's play, death of a salesman. wendell pierce describes the part he's playing as the american hamlet
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wendell pierce welcome to hardtalk, thank you very much for coming into the studio. thank you for having me, shaun. let's begin, if we may, 1a years ago, hurricane katrina, you were visiting your parents when the evacuation was mandated. it was your family home, the city you had grown up in, the city where all your friends were from, and where your family still live. how vivid now are the pictures in your mind, the memories of what you saw when you returned to what had been your home? those images in my mind are indelible. they will always mark a distinct period in my life. for all of our lives, really. there is always pre—katrina and post—katrina new orleans. it will be the defining moment in new orleans's history, the recent history. you know, my father was 80, my mother was in her late 70s. in their golden years. and to see everything that you have built to be destroyed
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at that time of your life — i'd lost my older brother, years before — and those are just two of the darkest days for my parents. and i vowed then to make sure to get them back into their home before their dying day so that they could actually have some sort of sense of redemption and recollection of what they had built their lives around. "redemption" is a powerful word and it is one that you return to, a concept that you return to a lot in what you have written and spoken about the times then and since. in your book, the wind in the reeds, you describe the impact
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of the levees failing and the destruction unleashed as water pounded the city. hundreds of people drowned as the 20—foot wall of water flattened everything in its path. it was biblical. in a single morning a historic african—american neighbourhood of 14,000 souls, among the city's poorest, ceased to exist. yes, and that was the lower ninth ward where one of the bridges were. . .and that neighbourhood is historic in the sense that in the most violent, segregated times of louisiana and new orleans, it was the neighbourhood through which all african—americans who were coming to the city, the way people come from the hinterlands to london, people came from all over louisiana, when they'd come to new orleans, it was through the lower ninth ward. it was home ownership, contrary to the belief that poor people don't own their homes, it was land owned for generations in a family where anyone who had taken that track to go
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to new orleans, would go through, and to see that neighbourhood affected that way was devastating. it also has the legacy of knowing, in 1927 in that area, that they did blow the levees to protect the city, you know, a little further out but it was destroyed then. therefore, after katrina people, a lot of people were suspicious about why that neighbourhood was so heavily damaged. i believe it was a complete failure of the levee system, so around the city, that destroyed the city, in total, and not a malicious act, but there's still to this day a lot of people who feel as though it was a malicious act. particularly because when some people said let's do not rebuild, let's just leave it as it is. yeah, absolutely and we still have to fight that today. there were people who — there's been no effort on the part of city government or state government to actually rebuild the lower ninth ward, but there has
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been plans to build a cruise ship terminal down there so, if you kind of let it linger, once that cruise ship terminal comes on board, then all of a sudden that property is very, very valuable and so you see those efforts that are made by city planners that are not in the best interest of people who do not have the social, political and economic power that they should. there is a bigger point, isn't there, about the status of african americans to this day in their country and the sense for some people of whether or not the united states is their home and is their nation. you come from a very patriotic family, you are very proud of your father's war service, your father was very proud of his war service and proud of his love for his country and his flag. and yet, when the biggest crisis hit new orleans, it was as if the country did not answer the call. right and what happens is we do not believe our lying eyes. and what happened was,
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katrina lifted that veil and showed people that there is a disparity and two americas — for those who are white and those who are black, for those who are poor and those who are rich. class and race are always intertwined and even now, when you see videos of unarmed black men being, you know, killed by police officers overreacting, because they have a pre—judgement in their head about the black man being a criminal, even with those pieces of evidence, people still want to dispel this idea that there is two americans. and the lesson that they have to learn which is, until we reconcile that, we are cannibalising ourselves. you are destroying the very thing that makes america great, which is its people. and african—american people — the reason my family is patriotic is because we realise that the african—american community built america. first enslaved and then afterwards. i mean, if there is one group
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of people that should not believe in the viability of constitution and liberty and justice for all, is a people that have been denied it for generation after generation after generation, but we still believe in that idea of equality, so much so that we are willing to continually, vigila ntly fight for those constitutional ideas. i wanted to ask you about life in new orleans after katrina, because one of the motivations that you had was seeing the absence of help, the absence of an outside force. reagan satirised it as, "i'm from the government and i'm here to help" — to him that was a bad thing, but that was what people needed at that stage and it wasn't there, despite the fact that it was promised... that immediate week. and in terms of what you then drew from that was a belief in self help which you have maintained to this day. in what ways? first of all, it was not born out of katrina, it was something that has always been a part of the african—american culture and experience. that is what the whole
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civil rights movement was about, it was exercising your right of self—determination, going all the way back to our entire experience in america, starting in 1690. it is those who do not have our best interests at heart that will tell you that we are always self—reliant on others, always self—reliant on government, and dependent, in a way that is not true at all. if you just look at the sense of improvisation, which i believe is just a unique contribution to the human diaspora from the african—american culture, of being malleable, changeable and being able to have a sense of individualism in the midst of constriction. you see it in the improvisational nature of jazz, you see it in the improvisational nature of our political movements, like the civil rights movement and all. i mean, ifeel as though we have to do that. and you see it in a bad way when it comes to the economic system because what happens is, what we depicted on the wire, was an underground economy.
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which is, if you do not have access to the mainstream economy, you will create an underground economy to try to survive and people will do that. that is the hard part of human nature. that is what happened with the numbers. you know, people ran numbers back in the day and the government all of a sudden said, mmm, i kind of like that underground economy, let's bring it above board and we will call it the lottery. and tax it. and we'll be able to tax it. i think what's happening now with the legalisation of marijuana around the world — cannabis as we should probably now say. right? to give it a posher sense. but it is a part of exercising your right to self—determination that i realised in the face of government failure, was we are going to have to call on the best part of ourselves to do that and that is when i organise my neighbourhood
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to kind of do our own redevelopment. it was a not—for—profit, which has built houses... we have built about a0 houses. and we just sold it to a group that is now continuing that reconstruction. starting a supermarket to provide food... i saw a need for a commercial district and we saw a need in food deserts, which is areas that were designated as not having access to a decent grocery store. i found out quickly, as any actor will, that my business acumen, there are ups and downs. so the store lasted about 1.5 years, the grocery store. we still have the smaller convenience store, yes. did eight years of barack obama
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as president move the dial much, do you think, in terms of attitudes to race? attitudes to race? that is going to be an ebb a nd flow co nsta ntly. i think one of the greatest misconceptions was this idea that we are post—racial because barack obama became president. the ugly part of human nature is the fact that it will always be there, we have to be vigilant and we see in this age, the veil being lifted and show you how racist america still is... do you mean because president trump is now in office? yeah, and we have stephen miller and he is literally feeding the media the manifestos of white supremacists or white nationalists. you have stephen bannon going around the world, trying to unify white nationalism. he doesn't realise that the operative word is "nationalism" so the hungarian white nationalists aren't going
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to get together with the kosovo white nationalists, because they are nationalists — and thankfully so. but that ignorance of policy and idea, they rationalise it and it is just hatred of someone else and, until america starts to realise that they are cannibalising themselves and realise that there can't afford to be to americas, we will suffer a dysfunction of self—inflicted wounds until we come to that realisation. i raised the question of the impact of obama because i think i'm right in saying the turn—out among african—american voters fell between 2012 and 2016, in his first election and his re—election, by something like seven percentage points and i wonder if... because we make the mistake of taking those voters for granted... right. in the democratic primary debate, kamala harris mentioned it herself. black women in the recent election of a democratic senator in alabama, the move — i think stacey adams would have been governor,
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in georgia a red state, a black woman would've been in there, if it was not for voter suppression, and in florida also, we almost had a governor. black women are a major constituency in the democratic party that is being taken for granted. i mean, just the way that she is treated in the debate as if — she is only asked questions about race, she's only asked questions... that is the unconscious bias. that is the unconscious bias and that's what happens on the democratic side, and on the republican side, they know theyjust need to peel away a certain amount of the black vote which will automatically cause turnout to go down, and suppress votes in different areas. i think 6% of african americans voted for donald trump, last time. i wonder if some of that is kind of legitimate, from your point of view as a democrats supporter and you're backing kamala harris, i understand, is a legitimate frustration with the pace of change under democrat presidents over
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the last quarter century? no, that's... some of it may be, um, what happens is... i actually met a young man, african—american in new orleans who voted for trump. that is when i knew he was going to win. i actually met him on halloween night, october 30th, 2016... so a week or so before polling... yeah, and he said, "i'm voting for him." and he was a contractor and he's like, "man, i'm just looking for another way." he is looking for another way out. i've tried this way and i want to try another way. usually, for black americans, it comes out of economics. they're looking for some sort of way where we can stop the economic suppression, or the red line that keeps us out,
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with the lease landed to, we're red lined all the time, and a lot of time, they carry the carrot on the stick for a lot of american politicians, if you vote for me, you might become a member of the rich guy club and that works, especially on the largest voting bloc that they have, is the poor white folks. if you can have a right—wing populist win the presidency, a man who not many months before people had written off, why can't you have a democrat populist win the presidency? why not have a radical left—wing voice? i think that's possible. because that might energise. i think that's possible. you've seen that reflected in the primary right now, with some of the completely left, a lot more radical... bernie sanders. sanders, warren, the voice of alexandria... i prefer to say aoc, because i always butcher her name, ms cortez, congresswoman cortez. they have given voice and platform to that. someone said in the press last
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election, win some elections. you have the voice, you have the populace, you have to move the needle by actually getting the groundwork of getting people into the polls. because four years ago, you were backing hillary clinton, rather than bernie sanders. yeah. and now, looking where you sit now, does bernie sanders look quite as unelectable as he looked four years ago? for me, i mean, hillary clinton — i was supporting hillary clinton because i felt as though her cv was one of the greatest that could ever have been presented by any presidential candidate. but she didn't connect. ifeel that she... there was death by 1,000 cuts, you know? there was death by 1,000 cuts. you know, we've litigated that all these three years. everyone comes to the table and says it was this, it was that, and i say all of the above. and joe biden — could he win the general election,
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if he were a candidate? i think any democrat and every democrat could win. you think trump is beatable? i absolutely think trump is beatable. and the thing we have to do is get away from the partisanship and speak to his supporters. we have millions of people that support donald trump against their own best interests, and you have to point that out. you are playing, as i said at the start of the programme, willy loman in death of a salesman at the moment. you have described the part as the american hamlet. yes, it is. that's why i sit before you completely fatigued, physically, emotionally, psychologically. it is a challenge, the greatest challenge i have ever had in my life — and notjust in my career, in my life. i seem to be unable to find a way, every evening, to climb mount everest.
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and that's before the lights go up. i'm looking up at this peak saying, i have to summit by the end of the evening. and when i have guests come back, they're always surprised by how festive i am, and happy. like, you just did willy loman. i'm like, man, ijust climbed mount everest. and usually i'm filled with energy, and i'm up all night, and then spend the entire day preparing for it. he's a character whose dreams are shattered by his experience... yes. ..who kind of faces the daily grind, and the daily grind ultimately wins, in the most terrible way possible for him and for his family. it's not a hopeful play. it's a cautionary tale, you know, because the hope is in the fact that you see all the mistakes he makes. if he would only see... if he would only listen to his son,
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if he would only listen to his wife, if he would only see what was ahead, if he only realised that his best days were ahead of him and not behind him, and if he only realised that all that he'd put his faith into was a false dream, and the real dream, the real american dream, was the family and the love that he had around him, he would not, you know, fall victim to his hubris. and he's investigating... during the play, i'm investigating just a deep self—reflection on, are my best days behind me? what are my inadequacies? where have i failed ? where have i put my false hope? and it's a come—to—jesus moment, as we call it, for me and for him.
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and what it is is, and the broader message is, a condemnation of capitalism and democracy, and how it can destroy the individual, if we allow the larger idea to be bastardised and to become, instead of capitalism being something that can find a common good, just become about greed. democracy is not equal for all. if every man and woman don't have access to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, then the whole idea of democracy fails. we know everyone, by the nature of our humanity and existence, everyone will not be successful, but have an idea of how we can lend a helping hand to our fellow man. but it's a condemnation of all of the bad parts of democracy and capitalism, and it's
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a cautionary tale. are you hopeful or pessimistic about the prospects of reuniting americans? let's leave the kind of politics aside, butjust the kind of common values that can bring americans together. if... yes, because what happens is there is always an epiphany for people when they start to realise how much we have in common, and it happens for different people at different times. and i think, if we take the time to go into each other‘s communities, if we take the time to actually reach out to someone who disagrees with you, then that's — that's where the possibility is. it's — it's strange, because as i sit here in a studio, and i'm buying a radio station in new orleans. we have to look at our contribution to the dynamic. for media outlets to become
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partisan, with the power that they have of influence, has really, really thrown fuel on the fire. and, whenever someone says that they don't fall into line with their partisanship, you seem like an alien. i virulently oppose all of the politics ofjon voight, but i did ray donovan with him, and we were constantly sharing ideas, really exposed to all kinds of different things. and he is getting the national arts award from president trump. and i agree with all of those who say he is probably getting it because he supports trump. so trump looks around and says, who can i give this to? and who's to say that those weren't
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the reasons that obama gave it to toni morrison, you know? but i know him as an actor and a friend. we have even had our political arguments. and i congratulated him on social media the other day, and i was attacked, you know, and i was just like, i don't want to allow politics to come between a friendship. it shouldn't be like that. my thing is, if someone is my friend, i am willing to take those lumps. but, if we could get past that and try to look into each other‘s humanity, then i don't understand why politics became the forefront of our existence. i mean, now it is the forefront
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of our existence, and it shouldn't be. it's important, but there are other parts. it is not the master. yes, it's the servant, it's not the master. and if we can find other parts of our humanity to put up into the forefront, i think that's more important. wendell pierce, thank you very much for being with us on hardtalk. thank you. a real pleasure to have you, thank you. hello there. yesterday we had much brighter weather push into northern areas of the uk, so through the afternoon in scotland, we had skies like these — a bit of sunshine coming through. that was one of our weather watch pictures from around about the fort william area in the highlands. the sunnier skies were associated with the colder air, and that colder air is pushing southwards. and so it is going to bring a change in our weather,
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a change to drier weather, with more sunshine to go around, but cold by day and by night, with some sharp overnight frosts just around the corner. indeed, for those of you getting up early on friday, we're looking at a cold start to the day. a risk of a few icy stretches as rain clears and temperatures drop away. showers continue to affect northern and eastern scotland, and some of our eastern coastal counties of england. but across inland areas, particularly for the northern half of the uk, it's a cold start to the day, with a touch of frost outside. now, through friday morning, there will be plenty of sunshine for the vast majority of the country. but again, some patchy cloud coming and going across northern scotland, and running down these eastern coastal areas of scotland and england as well, bringing plenty of showers to these coastal areas. inland, though, plenty of sunshine. but through the afternoon, temperatures struggling — just 3—7 degrees celsius, something like that. and then, as we head through friday
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evening and overnight, we keep those clear skies. could be a few mist and fog patches forming, but it's going to be a cold night, with a widespread and sharp frost developing for most areas of the country. well, that takes us into the weekend, and high pressure‘s still with us for the most part, bringing a continuation of the dry, settled, sunny story. but this low pressure gets close enough to the south—west to threaten a bit of rain into south—west england. certainly there'll be more cloud across these south—western areas, and a cold wind will develop as well. elsewhere, a few mist and fog patches to start the day, slow to clear, but for most of us, more in the way of sunshine again. there will be a few showers coming and going for northern areas of scotland. now, through saturday evening, that rain could extend a little bit further eastwards, to threaten dorset, perhaps into the isle of wight for a time, before pulling back southwards as the low pressure moves south into france. high pressure then takes over. could have this little weather front across northern scotland bringing some slightly thicker cloud here on sunday, and a greater number of showers moving in across the far north. a change in the wind direction brings showers into the thames estuary,
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so it'll likely be quite wet at times into the north—east of kent. but, away from these areas, plenty of sunshine again. after a cold and frosty start, temperatures 4—7 degrees celsius, and we keep the cold weather for the first part of the new week. it gets milder towards the end of next week. that's your weather.
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this is the briefing. i'm samantha simmonds. our top story: sydney kick starts a global strike for the climate. thousands are set to join rallies across asia and europe, demanding urgent action. a new name in charge at the european council, but will the appointment of charles michel signal a shift in tone for the eu? shame and suicide in south korea — claims the law is failing victims of spy camera crime. the footage from this can be uploaded onto your phone in seconds and within minutes is on the internet. in business: black friday — or green friday?


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