tv PBS News Hour PBS May 13, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: too fast for the track. a deadly derailment is said to be caused by an amtrak train going twice the speed limit. we get the latest from philadelphia mayor michael nutter, and a lead investigator into the crash. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. also ahead this wednesday: negotiating terms for a major trade agreement with asia. we talk about what's next ... with two key players on opposite sides of the trade wars: senators orrin hatch and elizabeth warren. >> woodruff: plus... >> i was pretty much allowed to wear what i wanted except on school pictures i had to wear a dress and i hated it. >> woodruff: transgender at an early age.
scientists trace biology's influence over gender identity for children. >> this isn't just a thing a kid is saying or pretending to be this is really truly how the child seems to identify themselves at this age. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer.
>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: seven dead, more than 200 injured, at least ten in critical condition. the catalog of casualties grew today in the amtrak disaster in philadelphia. at the same time, potentially crucial evidence began to emerge. >> woodruff: daylight brought the derailment clearly into focus: a scene of mangled metal
with all seven cars of the "northeast regional" off the tracks. search teams were already busy, and the national transportation safety board said they'd recovered the data recorders. the train derailed shortly after 9:00 p.m., on its way from washington to new york with 238 passengers and five crew members on board. they were passing through the port richmond section of philadelphia when the train hit a curve and careened out of control. >> suddenly, the train went dark and then it seemed like someone had slammed the brakes, and everything started shaking. people were just kind of panicking, and i could smell the smell of smoke. >> i could see the blood on people's faces. they can't move, their knees were out, so i just tried to do my best to help people get out of that car because it was smoking. >> woodruff: the n.t.s.b. said this afternoon the train was moving at more than 100 miles- an-hour, on a curve where the speed limit drops to 70, then 50.
>> just moments before the derailment the train was placed into engineer-induced braking and this means that the engineer applied full emergency-- full emergency brake application. when the engineer-induced brake application was applied, the train was traveling at approximately 106 miles per hour hour. three seconds later, when the data to the recorders terminated, the train speed was 102 miles per >> woodruff: in addition, the federal railway administration said inspectors had checked the tracks hours earlier, and found no defects. in the wreck's immediate aftermath, passengers worked in the chaos and darkness to aid others. former pennsylvania congressman patrick murphy was among them. >> military training just kicked
in and the guy next to me was unconscious, so i just picked him, slapped in the face a little bit and said get up and he came to and we were ok, there was just a lot of blood and lot of people. >> woodruff: in a statement, president obama called it a tragedy that touched everyone in a part of the country, where "amtrak is a way of life for many." the shut-down of rail service between new york and philadelphia affected amtrak's northeast corridor, serving more than 11 million people a day. that meant thousands of would-be rail-riders were stranded in boston, new york, washington and points in between, and searching for ways out. >> at 7:00 in the morning, they woke us up and told us about everything and they say whenever you get off in washington d.c. they are going to bus you to new york. now they are saying they don't have anything to do with buses. >> woodruff: and as rail passengers hunted for alternative transportation, investigators hunted for answers.
not only what happened but why it happened so that we can prevent it from happening again. >> woodruff: philadelphia police and the train's engineer declined to talk to thrktz but amtrak's chairman pledged full cooperation philadelphia police said the train's engineer declined to talk to authorities. but, amtrak's chairman pledged full cooperation with the investigation. >> woodruff: we turn now to philadelphia mayor michael nutter. i spoke to him a short time ago. mayor nutter, thank you for talking with us. tell us what it's like dealing with this. i know you've had other accidents crisis in city of philadelphia. how does this compare? >> i don't think we've had anything that is comparable. i mean, we've never had a derailment like this in recent times, but the level of devastation, the loss of life again tragically, we have-- i have to confirm seven passengers deceased on that train. but the miracle of a few
hundred pretty much walking off of that train last night. i was out here last night and saw many of the people who came off of that train. the cars themselves, it is beyond anything that you would see in a disaster movie. the cars are mangled turned upside down, turned sideways. the engine separated and it just must have been a horrific scene and experience for those passengers. but we have an incredible level of coordination on the ground here. the philadelphia fire department is in command of the scene. the police department is supporting. the department of homeland security as a part of the philadelphia police department. amtrak, state police n.t.s.b. now on the ground conducting their investigation. so it's a full-blown investigation. we're still searching for some of the passengers from the manifest that amtrak provided to us. so everybody is doing what they're suppose to be doing, and we're praying for all these passengers. >> woodruff: and that's what i wanted to ask you about. how is the rescue effort going
at this point? i mean, how many is are still unaccounted for in. >> well, we don't have a hard count on that and the reason is because the manifest, of course, that's the number of people who actually bought a ticket. that doesn't necessarily mean all of those individuals actually were on the train. obviously sometimes people miss trains. some of the amtrak personnel could have gotten on the train you know without-- obviously they don't have tickets necessarily for their own personnel. so we're comparing the manifest to all the individuals that we transported last night or people who checked in at the hospitals, either on their own or that we took them, and so that is the step-by-step process that we're going through. and again unfortunately seven confirmed dead and we're going through the notification process with their families. >> woodruff: mayor nutter we just learned the n.t.s.b. confirming that the train was going 106 miles an hour on this stretch of track before this
happened. what's your reaction to that? i mean, this is a-- this is your city. >> well, there are, obviously, regulations from an amtrak standpoint chirk believe is governed by the federal railway administration. so, i mean, it's not like the city of philadelphia government is in charge of amtrak. but the tragedy took place here. it's my understanding that that stretch of the track and that curve has a 50-mile-per-hour speed limit on it. so obviously, something went completely wrong, in that particular case. i'll leave it, obviously, to n.t.s.b. to determine why that happened, how did that happen? i think they're still gathering that information. i mean, that would certainly explain-- that level of speed at that part of the track would certainly explain why there was so much devastation to this particular train and how it separated from the engine and all the other things that we've seen down at the crash site or the derailment site rather.
so that's n.t.s.b.'s jurisdiction. i'll take them at their word. >> woodruff: what sort of other concerns have you had before this accident about amtrak about the tracks, about the infrastructure associated with this rail line in your city? >> well, i mean, look, i'm a huge amtrak supporter of this entire corridor and of amtrak as an organization. i've been on that 7:10 train out of washington d.c. i'm on amtrak all the time, going to new york or washington or have gone from philadelphia to new york tow d.c. and back to philadelphia. today, of course, is a day where we're really trying to be respectful of the families. i'd love to talk. infrastructure and public policy and all those kinds of issues but for the moment we're going to hold our respect for these families and those who are injured and leave the policy and the politics to another day. >> woodruff: mayor michael nutter, we thank you for joining us, and i know our hearts go out
to those who are affected. thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: we'll hear from a top federal safety investigator after the news summary. in the day's other news president obama welcomed saudi arabian leaders to the white house today, amid a dispute over a potential nuclear deal with iran. saudi king salman declined to make the trip to attend a six- nation gulf arab summit. instead, the crown prince and deputy crown prince met with the president. and, he praised the saudis, while indirectly acknowledging the tensions. >> the united states and saudi arabia have an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to franklin roosevelt and king faisal. and we are continuing to build that relationship during a very challenging time. >> woodruff: in addition to iran the summit will also focus on yemen, where the saudis and their sunni allies are trying to beat back shiite rebels.
a cease-fire began today, but there were violations almost immediately. meanwhile, iran warned the saudis against intercepting an aid ship heading to a rebel port in yemen. a top general in tehran said: "if they cause trouble with regard to sending humanitarian aid, it will spark a fire..." attackers struck a hotel this evening in kabul, afghanistan during a party for foreigners. the u.s. embassy said one american was killed. there was word several dozen people were being held hostage. the attack triggered a gun battle with police that continued into the night. in pakistan, gunmen stormed a bus in karachi, ordered shiite muslim passengers to bow their heads, then opened fire. at least 45 were killed. the bus was headed to a community center when six attackers forced their way on. a witness said at least one gunman wore a police uniform. a taliban splinter group and a faction allied with the islamic
state made competing claims of responsibility. the political unrest in burundi took a new turn today, when an army general announced a coup. he made his move as the president was at a summit in tanzania, on the rising turmoil in his east african nation. >> ( translated ): president pierre nkurunziza has been relieved of his duties, the government has been dissolved. we demand that all regional commanders, regional commissioners and all governors work hand in hand with us to reinforce the security for the citizens of burundi and for all foreigners, residents, and all visitors. >> woodruff: later, the president tweeted that he's still in power. his plans to seek a third term have sparked weeks of protests and violence, and news of the coup attempt sent thousands streaming into the streets of the capital city, dancing and cheering. the u.s. and the u.n. appealed for calm. the death toll from nepal's latest earthquake is now at least 76. 2,700 others were injured
yesterday in the himalayan nation's second major quake in three weeks. meanwhile, a search continued for a u.s. marine corps helicopter that disappeared while delivering aid. thailand's military rulers took a hard line today in a burgeoning crisis over migrants at sea. they insisted they'll keep pushing the boats back to sea and, a top official in malaysia said the same. migrant organizations say 6,000 or more people from bangladesh and myanmar may now be stranded at sea. the vatican has formally recognized the "state of palestine" in a new treaty. the holy see today joined several european countries in taking that step, despite israel's objections. pope francis will meet with palestinian president mahmoud abbas later this week. back in this country, the house passed a bill late today that bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. it makes an exception in cases
of rape or incest, but requires women to receive counseling first. the debate on the house floor split largely down party lines. >> how incredibly cruel it is that we want to take that decision from away the woman and her doctor, whomever she wants to consult but certainly scientific laws ought to apply to put it in the hands of legislators? >> this is incredible that we have to even come forward and debate this. this is just so intuitive, not as a republican or democrats but as human beings. we have to protect the unborn because they cannot protect themselves. >> woodruff: republican leaders dropped provisions that had angered a number of g.o.p. women. the bill now moves to the senate, but it's unlikely to pass there. there were peaceful protests in madison, wisconsin today after a prosecutor decided not to charge a white officer for killing an unarmed teenager.
demonstrators gathered near the apartment house where 19-year- old tony robinson was shot in march. from there they marched to the county courthouse to stage a mock trial. in economic news, new data underscored just how much china's economy is slowing down. the country's money supply grew in april at the lowest pace ever. and, investment growth was the worst in nearly 15 years. on wall street, the major indexes were little changed on the day. the dow jones industrial average lost seven points to close at 18,060. the nasdaq rose five points, and the s&p 500 slipped less than a point. and, honey bees disappeared at a staggering rate over the last 12 months. the department of agriculture reports beekeepers lost more than 40% of their colonies. the study authors blamed pesticides, loss of food and tiny mites that attack the bees. still to come on the newshour: searching for answers into the deadly amtrak accident.
lawmakers debate what's next for trade with asia. science explores the biological influences on gender identity at an early age. and a new book of poetry from one of the newshour's own. >> woodruff: let's get more on >> the subject of a fierce debate over a proposed pact with asia. president obama and supporters of such a deal ran into a roadblock yesterday when a test vote failed unexpectedly in the senate after opposition from democrats. it was just the opening bid of an effort to give the president authority to so-called fast track a deal that congress could approve. but not amend. today lawmakers announced a compromise to let that vote happen, but it signaled just how tough it could be to get a much bigger trade deal done. we talked to two leading players
on capitol hill who will influence the final outcome. first republican senator hatch of utah. he's a cosponsor of the fast track legislation. welcome, senator hatch. i guess my first question is has this compromised been reached today purely on procedural grounds or has either side given in on the substance? >> well, no, it's basically a procedural compromise but it's what we wanted to begin with, and that is to have the four bills brought up and voted upon individually. and so we're going to start with the preferences bill, and then we'll start with a-- alcohol include the african free trade agreement and others, and haiti as well, and then we're going to go to the-- to one of the-- to the customs bill and then we'll dispose of those. it's going to take 60 votes each topaz those. i think they both will pass. and then we go to trade promotion authority bill which, of course,-- and trade
adjustment assistance. the trade promotion authority bill is one of the most important bills in our country's history. it's been a decade since we have done a trade agreement such as this one. >> woodruff: let me ask you about some of the basic tenet of this one. as you know opponents said yes there may be some jobs created in the short term but in the longer run, if you look at what happened with nafta the north american free trade agreement over time many jobs were lost. they have done studies and said hound of jobs, maybe a million jobs were lost. how do you counter that argument? >> over time, the nafta bill created millions of jobs, too. the fact of the matter is, is that this bill will probably do even better than that because we have to be in the real world. this bill will enable the trade representative to negotiate agreements on what's called t.p.p., the trade promotion authority-- skews skews me, the
trans-pacific partnership, and that involves 11 nation plus our own. and the t-tip of 28 nations plus their own putting us on an equal footing in many respects to everything in those countries and opening the door to free trade from our country to theirs. it could amount to trillions of dollars over the years and free trade benefits to the united states and i think it will create a tremendous number of jobs. >> woodruff: senator, i think as you know, many americans have come over time to associate a trade deal with a drank of jobs out of the united states. how do you turn that impression around? >> well, first of all, the impression is false. there were some jobs lost under nafta, like some textile jobs and so forth, but there were a lot of jobs that were created under nafta, too. and anybody who says otherwise is just not telling the truth. in this particular case, we're talking about trillions of dollars of free today over the years, and united states, you know, we're talking about up to
40% to 60% of the world trade. un 95% of trade people live outside of the united states of america. and we've got to be in the real world where we can trade with all these other countries and receive all the benefits of those free frayed agreements. the president happens to be right on this. elizabeth warren she's a nice person and we're friends, but in all honesty, the president is right on this and he deserves support, and i'm supporting him, and hopefully we'll get these bills through. >> woodruff: you mentioned senator warren and we are going to be talking to her right after we talk with you. but one of her main objections is the secrecy that has surrounded this, the fact that the american people can't look at the terms of this deal, that members of congress have to go into a closed room, can't take any notes out, but mainly that it's not in the public eye and that once congress passes this so-called fast track authority for the president whatever is done can't be amended. >> well, wait a minute. what this bill does is it
provides a procedural mechanism where congress can get into all of those issues once we pass this bill. in other words it's the way we can have total transparency. plus, the reason that they're-- you can-- members of congress and their staffs can go see these matters reet now but the reason they're so tightly controlled is because they haven't entered into them yet. they've got to complete them. i don't want people tearing them down before they actually get them done. when they're done we'll be able to look at them and know every aspect of them. it will be t.p.p. that provides the mechanism fur us to look at those. i think sometimes people get nixed up on, you know the trade agreements-- the trans-pacific partnership for an example, they get mixed up on that when that is currently being negotiated and forget that the-- that the trade bill that we're talking about provides the
mechanism whereby we can enter into these agreements and get them to correspond with what america really need and what america really deserves. >> woodruff: well as you know, the argument that she's making though is that at this point the american people are shut out of this very important debate. let me finally ask you this -- >> let me just answer that because that's not a good point. the fact of the matter is, is that all of this-- this-- this trade agreement will require transparency and will give the congress the ability to really look into any matter that-- any treaty they entered into. and this is the way we get there. and for people to fight this, this is the one way that those who are concerned about what goes on and all of us should be, will be able to really look at these matters and come to some really informative and good conclusions. >> woodruff: do you think this ultimately will pass? >> oh, yeah i really do. i think we have the vote to pass it. it's going to beue know it's
going to be hard fought. there's no question some people just hate the concept of free trade authority, and frankly at least two of them are going to fight it with everything they've got. and they have that right. i have no problem with that. but then again we have to also act in the best interest of the country, and really this bill is one of the most important bills in this president's most tenure. he happens to be right to, and i support him in this it, and i think the vast majority of republicans will wind up supporting the president on trade promotion authority. >> woodruff: senator orrin hatch, we thank you. >> you bet. >> woodruff: let's hear now from one of the more vocal opponents in this fight, senator elizabeth warren of massachusetts. she is a democrat who has clashed over this issue with the president. she is one of the leading voices of the left. senator war know we welcome you to the program. now that they cleared the procedural hurdles today, is it your concern that the appropriates of this trade
legislation are now going to be able to move ahead and pass it all? >> well, of course i am concerned about that. because i am very concerned that we are going to pass a trade promotion authority that dpreeses the skid for a deal that is really good for some of the biggest multinational corporations in the world but not so good for the american worker. >> woodruff: well, let me just quote-- there are many i could quote but we just heard senator hatch say in a couple of answers that he believes strongly what this is going to do is it's gog, yes, corporations are going to make money but they're also going to be creating jobs and the idea that the trade agreements of the past took jobs away is just not true. >> well, now there's a lot of data about what's happened in the trade agreements of the past, and the american worker has not done well. what worries me here is about the whole process around this trade agreement. you know it has been negotiated
in secret, but there have been 28 working groups that have worked on specific parts of it. but those 28 working groups they have all together more than 500 people who are involved in them. 85% of those people are either senior executives in the industries that will be affected or they're lobbyists for those industries. in other words, the people who've been whispering in the ear of our negotiators who have been helping shape it who have read every draft and helped mark it up, all represent big, multinational corporations, not the american worker. and my view on this is when you have a tilted process, you end up with a tilted outcome. >> woodruff: well, as you know, senator when president obama has been asked about this, and he's working pretty hard to get this legislation passed, he's made the opposite argument that in no way is he out there defending the big corporations that he's looking out after ordinary americans and about
creating jobs for generations to come. >> you know, if the president is confident that this is a great trade deal for american families, then the president should let that trade deal be public. let the american people see it before we vote this week, next week, the week after, to grease the skid to make it much easier to pass this deal with no amendments, make it much harder to be able to slow down this deal or block this deal. >> woodruff: well, i upon you heard-- perhaps you department-- but what senator hatch was just pointing out is that there's some confusion. some people may not understand what's going on. the trade promotion authority will give the congress the ability an even greater ability, to look at what's in this legislation. and that once the trans-pacific partnership language is available, that it will be out in the public for debate. >> well that's like saying once we make it public we'll make it public. the point is, the first vote is
going to be to grease skids so that it will pass whow only 51 vote. and it can't be any amendments to it. the trade agreement that we're talking about the first one up, the trans-pacific partnership, is largely already negotiated. and the president could make it public. in fact, i want to make clear-- president bush, when he negotiated a trade agreement he posted it months in advance of asking congress to give him even partial trade promotion authority to move this thing through quickly. but i want to make one other point because i think it's really important. and that is this trade promotion authority about a whole lot more than just the first deal that's lined up, the one for the pacific side. it is a six-year greasing of the skids. in other words the next president and potentially the one after that will have the
same ability to ram through trade deals, and so when president p presidentpresident obama says, for example, he refused to work on a trade deal that would weaken financial regulations, he can't bind the next president. and right now, there's a lot of pressure on the next deal that's coming up with the europeans. we've heard european officials, we've heard the republicans we've heard big financial institutions on both sides of the atlantic who have all pushed to try to weaken financial regulations. if trade authority passes it will make it a lot easier to do that in the next trade deal. >> woodruff: my understanding is the administration pushed back on that, that those battles have to be fought as they come along. >> but you have to remember what the difference is in the vote. if the republicans want to do a direct attack on dodd-frank
they gotta get 60 votes to do it. but if they want to be abe to do it through trade, then they can do it if this fast track passes, they can do it with 51 votes. and anyone who's look around washington over the past few years, understands there is a big difference between having to get to 51 votes and having to get to 60 votes. >> woodruff: very quickly, senator warren a lot being written lately about whether there's some personal animosity between you and president obama over this. he's been pretty vocal. you've been pretty vocal. he made the comment the other day to the effect you're a politician, too, like everybody else, and you're just wrong on this. is there something personal going on? >> there's nothing personal for me. this. un, this is my life's work. i have spent really all my adult life working on what's happening to america's middle class. and i am deeply deeply worried that another trade agreement will be another punch in the gut to hardworking families.
>> woodruff: senator elizabeth warren, we thank you so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: let's get more on the investigation into the deadly amtrak derailment, and its potential cause. hari sreenivasan picks up that part of the story. >> sreenivasan: as we heard earlier, investigators announced a stunning finding: before the engineer tired braking the train, it was going more than 100 miles an hour. that's more than twice the speed limit for that part of the rail. robert sumwalt is leading the investigation for the national transportation safety board. he joins me from the scene of the accident. so first, i want to ask you kind of your reaction to that fact. most people in the the tv audience are going to say that's yet train derailed. it was going too fast. >> well certainly, we want to find out why the train was going over twice the speed limit. we want to fiend that out. and then another factor is why did the train derail?
and you're right, it probably has something to do with the speed. so we want to understand the crash dynamics. we want to understand why the train was going that fast. >> sreenivasan: you and your agency have investigated several different types of accidents before. what are some of the rans that make a train get to that speed especially heading into a curve? >> well, i think one thing that will be key to the investigation is being able to interview the engineer. we want to find out what his thoughts were, what was going through his mind. we want to check the-- very carefully, we want to check the mechanical condition of the train. we want to check the train's signal system to see what it might have been indicating. so we're taking a holistic approach. we want to look at everything and try to understand just the very question you asked-- why was the train going that speed? >> sreenivasan: one of the things you mentioned earlier this your press conference this afternoon was something called "positive train control." most people in our viewing audience don't know what that is. what is it? how does it work? and why wasn't it in this
specific section of track? >> well, positive train control is a device that will basically knows what the speed limit is for the track through g.p.s. and it-- if the train is exceeding that speed, it will actually bring the train to a stop. it will also protect against trains run thriewg red signals and things like that. we-- amtrak has a system that they call asis, which is basically a positive train control system. they've got it aceis installed throughout much of the northeast corridor. however, unfortunately, it was not installed in this particular section of the track. we want to find out why was it not here? >> sreenivasan: so amtrak has other systems in place as well. what are you going to be able to learn from those? i'm sorry, there was a truck going by right when you asked that. >> sreenivasan: i said amtrak has other systems in place as well for safety. what are you going to be able to learn from those when you keep
digging? >> what are we going to be able to learn from amtrak's other systems? >> sreenivasan: yes. >> i'm sorry, i'm having trouble hearing and understanding. maybe you could rephrase the question. >> sreenivasan: if this particular set of traction didn't have the positive train control. you said amtrak has other systems in place on its trains. is there any indication any of those systems failed as well? >> well, when i talk about positive train control for amtrak, that is a system called asis. so we want to find out why their sthe asis system, was not installed in this particular section of the track. >> sreenivasan: you said-- you basically got here after the emergency responders got out of their way at about 2:00 in the afternoon. you just got here today. if we have this conversation again tomorrow, what are you going to be able to tell us that you don't know today? >> i think will be a big day for us. i mean, today, you're right we had investigators arriving on the scene between 4:00 and 5:00 this morning. the rest of our team pretty much
got here by 9:00 or 9:30. but we have not been able to get up and really do extremely detailed measurements of the track, the cars, the train cars. we've not been able to do that because the recovery effort's been going on. but we-- we will begin getting in there doing a very detailed survey of the site. we'll be looking at the mechanical condition of the locomotive, of the rest of the train. we will start collecting records or continue collecting records. we've got a lot to do for the next few days. i think, though, for the first day, we've gotten a lot done, but i think tomorrow we'll have a lot more disploor so what's that event record ethe black box of the train, be able to tell you? you've taken it to washington now. you're going to get all of the information over the next 24-36 hours. what is that going to be able to tell you? also you're probably going to have video pictures of the camera that was pointing out in front of the train, right? >> yes, we do, as you mentioned
the forward-facing video. we'll take that to washington and begin examining that conducting analysis of that. the event data recorders can tell us a lot and it's not just a matter of pressing a button and saying "tell us everything." they have to to go through a complex algorithms algorithms to decipher these data. that's why we don't have ever piece of information we'd like to tell you. we were very concerned about the speed and that's why we were able to get the speed so early. this investigation gl on for quite some time. it will be very complex. but i'm very confident at the end of the investigation we will be able to determine not only what happened but why it happened so we can keep it from happening again. >> sreenivasan: all right, robert sumwalt, from the national transportation safety board, thanks so much. >> woodruff: now another installment in our series, "transgender in america." children as young as three are
beginning to understand their gender identity as something different from what they were assumed to be at birth. newshour special correspondent jackie judd has our story of doctors and families living through these discoveries. >> reporter: eight-year-old skyler kelly is hoping for a career in the major leagues and enjoys the privileges of being big brother to four-year-old luke. it is not how life started for skyler. >> i can totally see sitting on the hospital bed and days of a long labor and someone saying "oh, what a sweet little girl." >> reporter: at a remarkably early age, skyler, who lives in seattle, began to let his parents know what he looked like on the outside-- a girl-- is not how he felt on the inside. >> when people tried to brush my hair i would try to push the brush away and i'd cry and scream and it was hard in the
mornings to even get ready. >> reporter: did you also have a fight over clothing, what to wear, what kind of clothes to wear? >> well, i was pretty much allowed to wear what i wanted except on school pictures i had to wear a dress and i hated it. >> reporter: so did you ever smile in those school pictures? >> i smiled but -but inside? i did not like it inside. >> reporter: the "why" of skyler's gender identity isn't fully understood. the long-held and now controversial medical view links being transgender to a mental disorder or emotional distress. however, new science is emerging pointing to a complex set of factors. at the university of washington, psychology professor dr kristina olson investigates the origins of being transgender. >> your biology determines a lot of your psychology, and i think that's kind of where the feeling is right now, that there are probably biological contributors
that make a big contribution towards our sense of gender identity, which is psychologically how we feel. are we male or female or something else in between? neither? >> reporter: endocrinologist joshua safer at boston university treats hundreds of adult transgender patients and is a leader in the field. he firmly believes gender identity is hard-wired in all of us. >> in most people, chromosomes body parts, gender identity align, so somebody with a male chromosome, somebody with male body parts is going to have male gender identity. that is the usual circumstance. all of these are independently controlled biologically, and therefore it is no surprise that in a given subset of the population, one part is not aligned, that whatever genes are controlling that happen to be
different for that individual and that's what's happening with transgender individuals. >> reporter: dr. safer conducted the most extensive review to date of existing studies tying gender identity to biological factors. the most persuasive evidence he found was in experiments done over the past half century on people born with the male xy chromosomes but with the rare condition of ambiguous genitalia. soon after birth, they were surgically given female genitalia, then raised as girls. >> these kids were dressed in pink and given dresses and dolls and given estrogen when they hit puberty so they had appropriate breast development and such. and so we're talking about a pretty extreme approach that, if any approach was going to work, it should have worked. but what happened instead is the majority of these kids, if you query, say that they have male
gender identity despite that very, very extreme program. >> reporter: the conclusion according to dr. safer, is that gender identity cannot be manipulated or taught. a second set of data he reviewed involved the anatomy of the brain. post-mortem testing of women, and males-at-birth who transitioned to females, found certain regions to be strikingly similar; though dr. safer says more research is needed to determine if those regions are linked to gender identity. at this lab at the university of washington in seattle, a unique long term study is underway of transgender children-- children as young as the age of three. with the support of their families, they have transitioned from the gender of their birth to what is called their "expressed" gender. skyler, along with several dozen other kids-- both transgender and not-- went through a battery
of tests in the first phase of the study to pinpoint how they see themselves. this very quick picture and word association-called i.a.t., or implicit association test, is intended to take a true measure of the strength of a child's identity. >> if there is a kid who at birth the doctor said this kid is a girl but later came to identify as a boy and that kid is living as a boy today, that kid will show the same results on the i.a.t. as any other boy and looks nothing like say his sister or another random girl that we just pulled off the street. >> reporter: dr olson leads the research team. >> so, this suggests that this isn't just a thing a kid is saying or pretending to be, this doesn't seem to be a kid being playful or being ornery, this is really truly how the child seems to identify themselves at this age.
>> reporter: dr. olson's research cuts to the core of the dilemma parents of transgender children face; how to know if this is real. >> i guess my concerns as it evolved and we were not at this stage of him being an affirmed male, my concerns were are we jumping the gun. i just wasn't comfortable with that whole thing. >> reporter: many people struggle with the same thing and believe transgender children are just going through a phase. dr. olson says in two years of following the same group of youngsters, none has "reverted" to their gender at birth. still, she encounters deep skepticism. >> we see a lot of people saying things like, you know, my child thought that they were a dinosaur when they were four, but i didn't let them live as a dinosaur, and they didn't really think they were a dinosaur.
these kids are saying this is who i am: i am a girl, or i am a boy. >> reporter: the kelly's came to certainty one night when skyler was about six and there was no denying what their child was trying to tell them. >> and i remember, god, this one awful night, i can still picture us upstairs and skyler was just having like a meltdown over nothing, but just a heartbreaking meltdown, like the kind you can tell the difference between a tantrum and an i am just so emotionally unhappy, and josh and i both just finally saying, like what is it, is there something that you're not telling us, and i said do you want to whisper it to us, and he whispered and said i want to start wearing boy's underwear. >> reporter: and that is when skyler transitioned, entering first grade as the person he knew himself to be. dr. olson now has close to a hundred transgender children in the study and hopes to follow them into adolescence and adulthood. and that by learning more, the
too-common trajectory of a transgender person's life can be changed. >> we all look at the news and we see those terrible statistics about what life is like for transgender adults. 41% of transgender adults attempt suicide, they have extremely high rates of unemployment and discrimination, violence, and what i want to know is how do we change that? is there a decision that could be made in a child's life, and instead put them on a path that's more like the other kids that they go to school with and are in their families where they have just as a good a chance as anyone else. >> reporter: of all these words which words would you choose to describe yourself? happy, angry, proud, sad? which words? >> happy, proud. >> reporter: why happy, proud? >> because i'm happy now that i get to live how i want and i'm-- well, i'm proud because my
parents understood it and they're great. >> he's super well adjusted. he's very happy. >> he's braver than i've ever felt and i hope he can keep that and the world doesn't break him of that. >> reporter: the kelly's say the emerging science of gender identity is less important to them than their child finding acceptance and support. they know it may not be an easy life for skyler, but it will be an authentic one. for the pbs newshour, this is jackie judd in seattle. >> woodruff: finally tonight, a new and unconventional work of poetry, from one of our own. gwen has our latest conversation for the "newshour bookshelf." >> ifill:
>> ifill: it turns out jefg writes poetry and his first collection is out. aptlies is called "the news: poetry" and jeffrey joins me now. >> oddly enough sitting on this side of the table. >> ifill: people think of you as a hard-bitten newsman, not a person who sees the world this way. why did you decide to do it? >> announcer: i am a hard-bitten news guy. but there's a side of me that loves literature poetry, loves music-- it comes out on the program as well. i started writing a long time ago. i wrote at different times during my life. i would pick up snippets from along the way. i started realizing that i wanted to go back and look at stories they had done and sort of rethink them, reimagine them, tell them in a different voice with different words. and it was just-- it was-- it
was fun for me. it was interesting to do. >> ifill: were you thinking of these stories through a poet's eye at the time or was it looking back at it? >> announcer: it was looking back. when i'm doing it, i'm doing it the way you and-- we're newspeople, right. i would sometimes hear things and one of the things that was most interesting for me writing the poems was a memory of something that had happened, that hit me at the time, sore that stayed with me, you know that stayed there. i might have written down the phrase. in some casesy went back and looked at the transcripts. i went online and looked at the transcriptes of old stories i had done because it was partly there, and i wanted to find that voice again. >> ifill: when you did that, did you discover richard avadon was right when he told you the camera that it lies. i used that quote, and quotes that richard avadon said to me-- >> ifill: the photographer. >> we did an interview in the
metropolitan museum surrounded by his grand portraits, and we were talking. this subject fascinates him. what does the camera tell you? is itt tells you a truth but not the truth. >> ifill: i want i am going to ask you to read some of your writings. one is from haiti. you went to there after the earthquake. >> i went to a small village where people were dying in the central plateau. this is called "haiti." and it gips and ends with actual quotes from that trip. epidemiologically, this area is terrifying. las saline on a sun-soaked, trash-soaked morning as the children fill their buckets from a makeshift well. the pigs scavenged while a rat watched all. why bother to hide. las saline somewhere nearby the
salted assaulted sea. days later, the last light high in the central plateau, so far so bone crushed by the road, i'd argued against going. they filled the benches and told us of death upon death. a man who'd lost his son said, "i am a bird left without a branch to land on." >> ifill: that's beautiful. >> announcer: i remember that. it was one of the saddest thins i'd ever heard in my life when he said that. >> ifill: there's a poem you wrote that takes us you behind the curtain of what we do. it gives it a little away. especially when things don't go as planned. >> announcer: a lot on my meend was about what we do here every night. it's an interesting transaction. there's somebody in our ear director talking and there's the communication, and we know there are people out there watching so there's a lot going on. this is a little bit of the poem called, "the art of the interview." it begins "engaged, open,
ciewrks firm, prepared by all that's come before no surprises but ready to be surprised again." it goes on from there about what happens in an interview. but then there's this thing that's happened to both of us, right? "once a man froze unable to speak. i asked and answered every question myself then said "you agree?" we could have gone on that way forever. another night the lights went out. we understood we were still, again, always in the dark." you're laughing because it's happened to you. >> ifill: it has happened to me. >> announcer: somebody freezes. and what happens this that moment? and the the nights the lights went out i was sitting over there with mark and david doing the fridays politics, power went out. >> ifill: that's right, and you had to keep talking. >> announcer: keep talking. >> ifill: okay, one more. this is kind of personal because it this also takes us a little bit inside your life. and you wrote a book about what
happened-- a pope about what happened after the passing of your father. >> brown: some of the poems in here are more personal, and this is one that, you know, everybody deals with death of a loved one. and a lot of strange things happen at a moment like that strange thoughts. this is on the day of my father's funeral which was a year ago. it's called, "succession." one morning state police escort us to your dpraif. the next, my flights flightis canceled. maintenance issues breaking out all over. you would speak of a grand theory something tying all this together. but you had none yourself, none that reached me then or now as i drive your car slowly into the tranquil streets of my youth. here is where i learned to ride a bike, on this high hill that is no hill at all, and still i fell. and now you descend and still i fall. and here is where i learned to
doubt, in the chapel where we donned black skullcaps that meant nothing, i tell you. if god speaks, it is elsewhere. and here our my own children rooted and uncertain, watching me speak to you. you watched the news every night, worried if i did not make air, traveling, sick useless, lost. now that you are gone traffic parted by the state police, can, i, too disappear?" it's a hard one to read even sitting here because my father would have watched us every night, and if i wasn't there for a few days, he'd wonder what happened, you know. where are you? and i'd have to explain. >> ifill: and the loss of a parent is a universal experience eventually. i want to ask you one more question. as you put this book together and as you just go through your life as a writer a poet a television personality, do you feel that you're constantly looking at the world through
multiple lenses? >> brown: i do, i do, and i like that. i like that so much. i think that's what the world is about. i love what we do. you know, looking at the world through facts and we are so careful every night to try to get it right. but i think the world is filled with all kind of other things, art and music, and i want that in my life. i want that to be part of our program. that's why i care about it so much. i think that's what's happening in our world. when we tell people every night here's what happened today i want it to be what they expect but also i want to bring some of this-- i want it in my life. >> ifill: well, we all want it and that's why we're so glad you've written this book "the news: poems." thank you very much. >> brown: thank you gwen. >> we have a news update before we go. this >> woodruff: we have a news update before we go. this evening, the u.s. house of representatives passed legislation to end the national
security agency's bulk collection of american's phone records, and replace it with a system that would search data on a case-by-case basis. it sets up a showdown with the senate where there is a bill to keep the program as it is. tune in later this evening, on charlie rose: senator marco rubio. the republican presidential hopeful discusses his vision for america's foreign policy. and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at. what's driving big companies to raise the wages of their lowest paid workers. i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the worlds most pressing problems--
skollfoundation.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
this is "nightly business " with tyler mathisen and sue herera. >> where is the consumer? they didn't spend in april and didn't splurge at the mall. what that means for economic growth and the federal reserve. big win. the long drawn out and public battle between an american company and an activist investor comes to an end. funding cut. hours after a crash, a committee votes to trim and track budget. all of that tonight for "nightly business for wednesday, may 13th. >> good evening sand welcome. there was a hope that the retail sales would show a rebound from the government chill it. didn't.