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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  June 19, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, rising tensions in the middle east-- the u.s. shoots down a syrian warplane, evoking immediate condemnation from the country's main ally, russia. then, i interview one of president trump's attorneys, who says reports that the president is under investigation for obstruction of justice are false. >> it really is a witch hunt. this investigation from congress has been going on for nine months into this russian probe. >> woodruff: plus, it's politics monday. the most expensive congressional race in u.s. history heats up in georgia. republican karen handel faces democrat jon ossoff in what is expected to be a nail-biter finish to the special election. all that and more on tonight's
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pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives.
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> 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: the american college student imprisoned by north korea for over a year has died, just days after being returned to the u.s. in a coma. otto warmbier went to north korea as part of a tour group in 2015. he was jailed for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster. his parents announced his death
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in statement today, blaming the "awful tortuous mistreatment" their son received at the hands of the north korean regime. warmbier was 22 years old. in a statement late today, president trump said "the u.s. condemns the brutality of the north korean regime as we mourn its latest victim." tensions are rising once again between the u.s. and russia, over the conflict in syria. the u.s. downing of a syrian warplane prompted a warning from moscow: some aircraft from the u.s. led coalition will be now tracked as potential threats. we'll take a closer look at the downing of the plane, and what it means for the situation in syria, after the news summary. the u.s. supreme court is taking up partisan gerrymandering, in a wisconsin case that could have far-reaching consequences. the justices agreed today to hear whether republicans drew electoral districts that violated the rights of democrats. also today: the high court struck down part of a law that
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bans offensive trademarks. an asian-american rock band called "the slants" had been denied a trademark. the decision could help the washington redskins organization in its own legal fight. the court also struck down a north carolina law banning convicted sex offenders from social media sites. the cuban government today rejected president trump's new policy toward the island nation. on friday, the president announced a roll-back of re- engagement with havana. he ordered restrictions on americans traveling to cuba, and dealings with its military. today, cuba's foreign minister delivered a sharp rebuke of the policy changes, on a trip to vienna. >> president trump's policy constitutes a setback in bilateral relations. as it occurred in the past, the announced measures will not serve their intended purposes. quite on the contrary, they will impose restrictions on citizens'
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freedoms, they will cost taxpayers more money, they will >> woodruff: rodriguez also said the u.s. has no "legal or moral basis" to demand the return of political refugees who've received asylum in cuba. there's been yet another terrorist attack in london. at least nine people were wounded, after a van plowed into worshippers outside a mosque. british media named the suspect as 47-year-old darren osborne, who was living in wales. fatima manji from independent television news reports. >> reporter: pulled out of a van and pinned down, moments after he appeared to drive it into a crowd, injuring muslim worshippers who just left mosque in finsbury park. amid commotion, he's bundled into police custody, some in this reaction as he sits down, a wave for the cameras.
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events began as elderly man collapsed, a group was giving him first aid. the van plowed through them, then hit others on street. the victims are thought to be different ages and races, but all muslim. >> him, and there were also people trying to rip him apart, there were people saying no, wait for the police to arrive. he'd been held on instigation of terrorism including murder and d attempted murder. by early afternoon the prime minister arrived. by early afternoon the prime minister had arrived, conscience of criticism she received in she sought to quickly reassure. >> the terrible terrorist attack that took place last night was an evil act, born out of hatred, that devastated a community. i'm pleased to have been here today to see strength of
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community, coming together, all >> reporter: as she left she was heckled with chants of may must go. extra police patrols have now been promised to protect muslim communities, particularly ramadan. >> this attack, the attack on london bridge, westminster bridge, all attacks are an attack on shared values of freedom, respect. we will not allow these terrorists to succeed. >> reporter: meanwhile, candles lit, flowers laid, another terror attack, another tribute. london mourns again. >> woodruff: one man did die on the scene, but it wasn't clear whether it was a direct result of the attack. also today: a man in paris was killed after ramming a car carrying explosives into a police vehicle on the champs- elysees. no one else was hurt. the death toll from last week's high-rise apartment building fire in london has risen to 79.
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police say the number includes both confirmed dead and those missing and presumed dead. across west london, a moment of silence was held today for the victims. emergency service workers bowed their heads to pay tribute. the u.s. navy has identified the seven sailors who died in a collision between their destroyer and a container ship off japan. searchers recovered the bodies in flooded compartments of the u.s.s. "fitzgerald." the ship has returned to its home port of yokosuka. the cause of saturday's pre-dawn collision is being investigated. the number of displaced people worldwide reached a record 65.6 million last year. the u.n. refugee agency reports the figure was up slightly from the previous year, mostly due to the civil war in south sudan. meanwhile, in the mediterranean, u.n. officials say nearly 130 migrants drowned last week, when their dinghy foundered off the coast of libya.
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the talks to lead britain out of the european union are off to a constructive start. so says the u.k. negotiator, david davis, who formally began negotiations with his e.u. counterpart in brussels today. it's been nearly a year since british voters opted to quit the e.u. and on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 144 points to close at 21,528. the nasdaq rose 87 points to close at 6,239, and the s&p 500 added 20. still to come on the newshour: tensions rise in the middle east after the u.s. shoots down a syrian jet. my conversation with president trump's lawyer. rescuing and empowering victims of human trafficking, and much more. >> woodruff: the downing of a
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syrian air force fighter jet by an american strike aircraft is just the latest flashpoint that perhaps signals a deepening american involvement in syria's many-sided civil war. john yang begins our coverage. >> yang: america's top military commander, marine general joseph dunford, made no apology today for sunday's downing of a syrian warplane. >> we made every effort to warn those individuals not to come any closer and the commander made a judgement there was a threat to the forces we're supporting and took action. the only actions we've taken against pro-regime forces in syria, and there have been two specific incidents, have been in self defense. >> yang: earlier this month, the u.s. struck pro-assad forces approaching an important american-british special forces base in at tanf, in southeastern syria. in response to sunday's shoot- down, russia, which backs syrian president bashar al-assad, said it now considers all u.s.
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aircraft in the region a threat. in a statement, the defense ministry said: "all flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the euphrates, will be followed by russian air defense systems as targets." russia also said it suspended a military hotline with the u.s. designed to coordinate air missions in the region. russian foreign minster sergey lavrov called for dialogue. >> ( translated ): we call on everybody to avoid unilateral actions, to respect, i stress once again, syria's sovereignty >> yang: the pentagon said it's re-positioning jets over syria to ensure the safety of american air crews. all this further complicates the already messy picture in syria. in recent weeks, u.s. forces have ramped up airstrikes to back the so-called syrian democratic forces or s.d.f., a rebel coalition battling isis
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around its stronghold raqqa. at the same time, syrian president assad, backed by russia, has used jets to support pro-regime groups in the same space. said to be battling isis, those fighters have also clashed with the s.d.f. futher complicating matters: iran's supports for assad. but yesterday, its military launched its own missile strike on isis positions, in retaliation for the group's attack in tehran two weeks ago. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: for more on yesterday's shoot-down, and the wider picture of a very complex battlefield, i'm joined now by andrew exum. he was deputy assistant secretary of defense for middle east policy from 2015 to 2016, and is now a contributing editor at the "atlantic." and faysal itani. he's a senior fellow in the rafik hariri center for the middle east at the atlantic council, a washington think tank. and, gentlemen, thank you both for joining us. this is a complicated
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battlefield we're talking about. faysal itani, given that, was this inevitable that this was going to happen or should the u.s. been able to avoid it? >> i think it's very difficult to get the syrian regime to behave in accordance with any external powers, understand and come to an agreement over. this was clearly a case of the regime behaving in a manner that may have upset the russians, may or may not the iranians, certainly the united states didn't like it. i think the regime will continue to behave in that manner and we will continue to have to either react or back down. i>> woodruff: we'll talk about that in a moment. andrew exum, sit your idea this is going to happen just because to have the kind of war that is? >> i thinoften they have not cad out what russia or iran would like them to be so i think that was very wise. i would also say that where we
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are in the military campaign against the islamic state means that u.s. and other coalition forces are going to be this closer proximity to syrian regime forces. now, you know, the legal and policy assumptions that underpin the u.s. and coalition war against the islamic state was that the syrian regime couldn't exert any type of sovereignty east where the islamic state has been. that's beginning to change, and the coalition is starting to spread out as well. unfortunately, you're seeing the forces in greater proximity and i expect you will see more of these incidents in the future. >> woodruff: is that your expectation that this is just getting more complicated by the day, practically? >> i think we're getting closer to our primary objectives towards i.s.i.s. is to take a certain amount of core territory in eastern syria and the raqqa province. so, yes, physically brings us in greater proximity but also pose as threat to the regime that we may end up handing over strategic territory to our own allies, whether arabs or most
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likely the kurdish sdf including water and oil resources. now that the regime stabilize ttd west enough to be able to have forces elsewhere, and iran as well, then we're coming in our direction and don't have a long-term plan for that. >> woodruff: i want to ask you both about that. andrew exum, i was struck today the russians came right out of the box, they were saying they're now going to target any u.s. plane -- i'm sorry -- any plane by the u.s. coalition that goes into a certain area. is this just rupe for either another strike or miscalculation? >> yes, and no. yes, of course, this is worrying. i think it's going to be a real concern to our coalition partners. it's a robust interdefense air system over most syria and that the not a good thing the to fly around and through. the air defenses are not as strong in h the east.
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russia cut off the deconfliction hotline, which is in the interest of russia as much as the united states and coalition partners. i suspect once the temperatures cool, the deconfliction channels will be up and running again. obviously it's worrying and the russians will use this as an opportunity to convince the americans that we need to be working closer together in syria which is something that we have been for obvious reasons quite reexhibit to do. >> woodruff: this pulls the u.s. closer in, doesn't it? >> i think what we've tried to do so far in the war is tiptoe around the western part of the country, the war in the west, what we call the civil war usually in our discourse, and focus on the war we wish to fight which is the war against i.s.i.s. i think this is a sign as far as the players with the most at stake here, iran and the syrian regime, are concerned, these are
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not separate wars. this is all territory and resources and influence. we are having to come to a conclusion we're stumbling into it but we'll get there. >> woodruff: is it only andrew exum to separate the two? >> well, i think faysal is right. on the one hand the regime has consolidation to do in western syria, but i think faysal is correct in that the regime yearns after the oil and gas resources in the eastern of syria, and quite frankly, the regime's iranian backers want some sort of land bridge into iraq, which is why the euphrates river valley is so important to perhaps not as much as the regime but its iranian supporters, certainly, and hezbollah as well, to faysal is tryinright. the strategic geography extends to the east as well. >> woodruff: i want to ask both of you, if it's clear to you, faysal itani, to you first,
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is it clear to you what the goal of the u.s. mission right now is in syria? >> well, the official goal is clear enough, which is to defeat i.s.i.s., to displace it from raqqa and other territories. what exactly the territorial scope that have that is not clear. what we're actually doing as the conflict evolves and more dimensions are added to it, it's not clear to me. i don't know if it's clear to us to be honest. i don't know how important we think it is to compete with the iranians and the syrian regime over this territory in post-i.s.i.s. syria. >> woodruff: how do you answer that question andrew exum? >> well, i think largely the same. i'll say that the united states first off had a legal basis and has had policy agreement on defeating the islamic state. so that's been where the u.s. military and its coalition partners have been focused. there has not been consensus or even a legal basis to carry that
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fight to the assad regime, and, so, i think the united states and its coalition partners have hard choices going forward. when i say coalition partners, i don't just mean the international community but i mean the partners on the ground as well. for example, when they defeat the islamic state, and the islamic state is going to be defeated, or is the united states fine with the territory that's been won back from the islamic state falling into the hands of the assad regime? is that an appropriate or acceptable policy outcome? if it's not, then i think some decisions are going to have to be made quite quickly, otherwise we'll end upñr stumbling into a broader conflict without a clear strategy to win that conflict. >> woodruff: and wrapping up, faysal itani, how urgent is it the u.s. make these decisions? >> very urgent because these things that you saw today and have been happening over the actually past few weeks and not just airstrike incidents, there was actually a ground attack on our partners in northern syria.
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i'm a bit scared it doesn't appear to have actually been wrapped up yet as a strategic discussion by the united states government. >> woodruff: just quickly, andrew exum, how do you see the pressure on the administration to make this decision? >> well, i think there are competing voices within the administration. i think the military has done almost m myopically focused on defeating the united states because that's the mission they have been given. there are strong voices within the administration that would like to broaden this conflict to focus on iran and iran's proxies in syria. that's quite dangerous, obviously. that could be especially dangerous to get in that type of escalation without having the forces object ground and there is no consensus with the united states international partners regarding that goal. signing unfortunately the administration has yet to make up its mind. >> woodruff: nothing simple about this one.
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andrew exum, faysal itani, thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: president trump continues to be nagged by possible links between russia and his associates and whether mr. trump has tried to shut down that investigation. last week, the russia story took another turn when reports surfaced that special counsel robert mueller is investigating the president himself. i spoke a short while ago to jay sekulow, a member of president trump's legal team and chief counsel for the american center for law and justice. no, he has not. there is been no information give bin the special counsel informing the president he is' under investigation. it's been consistent. again, we've received nothing about an investigation of the
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president of the united states. >> woodruff: but as you acknowledged yesterday, it is possible that the president could be under investigation and just simply not have been informed by it -- about it? >> well, i mean, but here's the reality. this is not something that's happened in a vacuum. there's been discussions about the russia probe and committees of the congress looking at this for nine months producing no evidence about russian collusion. so while it's true, i can't read the mind of a special counsel, we've received no notification of an investigation or a pending investigation or preliminary investigation or anything else. so what i can say is what we know is the president right now is not, has not and is not under investigation. >> woodruff: are you saying the stories that have been printed in the "the washington post" and other news organizations are false? >> well, "the washington post" story was based on five anonymous sources where they didn't even identify the agency. so you have that report coming out from "the washington post" which i believe is false.
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then the abc reported they had received from their sources information that in fact the special counsel had not opened an investigation of the president. so, again, i don't know where these sources are coming from, but we have not had any information from the special counsel or anyone else, for that matter, that the president is under investigation. >> woodruff: so setting that aside, when the president told lester holt a few weeks ago at that interview that he had what he called the russia thing on his mind when he fired then f.b.i. director james comey and when he said to russian diplomats around the same time that it relieved pressure on him to fire james comey, what was he referring to? >> well, the president engaged in a deliberative process that went on for a number of weeks evaluating the performance of james comey as the f.b.i. director, and that culminated in a number of discussions that took place within the white house. ultimately the attorney general of the united states and the deputy attorney general
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recommended to the president the reoval of james comey, and james comey was removed. now that's just fact. what other thoughts the president had going into that, how long he'd been considering, i wasn't privy to that, but normal deliberative process and they look at a variety of issues. but regarding the russia situation, i'm going to say something, judy, here, look, this is a bit of a witch hunt. it really is a witch hunt. this investigation from the congress has been going on nine months into this russia probe and members of the house said no evidence of collusion. when intelligence officers were asked evidence of collusion? no evidence of collusion. we didn't include evidence because we haven't seen evidence. so this is a situation that's basically like a factual scenario that's almost being made up and the president is responding the way presidents respond in that this is not consuming his day, it's not consuming an hour. he's trying to successfully governing and i think we have to
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look at there is now a special counsel, the special counsel will evaluate whatever the special counsel evaluates, but the american people are being penalized in this well and it continues to drag on. >> woodruff: let me just step in here. the president's called it a witch hunt, you've said it's a witch hunt and now you've said it should go forward. if the president believes it's a witch hunt, does he believe the whole thing should stop that the special counsel robert mueller should step aside and either let somebody else take this over or just say i'm not going to do this? >> well, now, the president hasn't said that the special counsel can't do his job. what the president has said son assistantly is -- in fact, in that lester holt interview, if you remember, if you look at the full transcript, he acknowledged that by firing james comey and removing him as director of the f.b.i. it would extend this investigation. he said that. he knew the consequence of his action, he took the action because he thought it was in the best interest of the united
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states as did the attorney general, deputy attorney general and others. so i think when i say the phrase "witch hunt, when the president is talking about witch hunt, this whole frenzy that developed and, again, with everybody coming forward, what all these committees have said so, far they've seen nothing an an investigation going on nine months soft the special counsel has been appointed and the special counsel will ultimately do their job and at the end of that special counsel's job, we will see there is nothing against the president as i suspected the entire time and the legal team without question is confident of that. but judy the wish hunt aspect of this is just the nature of what's going on with multiple committees simultaneously and now a special counsel. what else are you going to add to the mix? by the way, whenup when you have a special counsel and the committees going simultaneously, it raise as whole host of issues of conflicts that will have to be looked at. >> woodruff: two quick questions. if the president believe this is a witch hunt, if you and his
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other attorneys believe that, yet, at the same time, you're saying the probe should go forward, there is a contradiction there. are you saying it should go forward unfettered, that there will be cooperation from the president? or are you saying there is going to be resistant because you think it's an illegitimate investigation? >> well, look, the president has said -- has given no indication he's not going to cooperate if there's anything to cooperate on. let me be clear on that because you raise a really important point, and that is there is multiple aspects to this russian probe as has been described. the president is not saying stop the russian probe. the witch hunt aspect of this is this media-created frenzy of unnamed sources saying it's targeting the president and then, of course, you had the contradictory source from abc saying it wasn't. so this is the witch hunt aspect of this leaking information. i mean, how does it make the american people feel that supposed investigators involved in this russian probe are
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leaking information anonymously without defining what agency they're from to "the washington post." that should not be okay. shouldn't be any more okay with james comey doing the same thing. >> woodruff: you've acknowledged the fact james comey fired james comey, the f.b.i. director overseeing this investigation at the time, the fact comments were made by the president to lester holt and the diplomats about relieving pressure, the case is that the president would do anything to get this off his back. >> i don't think that's the case at all. the president removed james comey for many reasons. many left of center were calling for his removal. >> woodruff: the president said, what he told lester holt, was the russia thing was on his mind when he fired james comey. >> well, but when you say the russia thing was on his mind, look at the way the probe was handled on hillary clinton. this was an individual, james
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comey, who did not handle an important investigation properly and left right and center acknowledged it, and when the president was talking about the russia probe, as it moves forward it be handled properly not the way it was under james comey. >> woodruff: jay sekulow representing president trump. thank you very much. >> thanks, judy. >> woodruff: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: georgia's special election. a look ahead to the most expensive house election in u.s. history. but first, more than three million migrant workers, most of them women, leave their countries to work as domestic laborers, often in conditions some say border on slavery. human trafficking is especially grave in the persian gulf and middle east. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro begins his report from the west african nation of cameroon. it's part of his series agents for change.
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>> i buy you, $4,000 dollars. >> reporter: they're able to laugh at it now, at a survivors' workshop setting, but the skit these women are watching depicts experiences that are all too real. >> why you crying? >> reporter: these women are all survivors from time spent in persian gulf and middle east countries where they were domestic workers-- victims of an industry the u.n. and rights groups say is rife with human trafficking and abuse. three years ago francisca awah was working as a secretary in cameroon and helping her mother sell vegetables. she had a new baby and with her fiance wanted to build a nest egg. so awah, who has a college degree, jumped at what she thought was a teaching job offer in kuwait, for 10 times her salary in cameroon. she paid the sponsoring agency $500 plus airfare. but almost as soon as she landed in kuwait, she knew something
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was wrong-- an experience familiar to many in this audience and acted out in the skit. >> you no like, you give me $6,000, you go back to your country! >> reporter: the bait and switch-- an agent, or trafficker demanding large sums if they weren't satisfied with their job or pay-- in francisca's case not teaching but cleaning. >> he started telling me "you're going to work as a maid. you'll take care of my two children and the house chores." >> reporter: awah says she complained and asked for her passport back so she could return home. although it's illegal, workers' passports are routinely confiscated by employers. the employer's wife refused saying she had paid the agency $2,000 for her services. >> the lady was so angry that she pointed at the television and told me that, francisca, you know something? you are like that television. you are a commodity. i bought you. you need to pay back my money before you leave." >> reporter: she had bought you >> yes. >> reporter: then one day awah
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saw a news report about an organization freedom for all headed by an american woman named katie ford. >> she said "please help me. there are many in much worse situations. please help us all." >> reporter: indeed, awah's story is far from unique. each year, more than three million women worldwide are forced into servitude as domestic workers. ford was shocked when she learned the extent of the problem. >> why aren't we calling this slavery? it's people being forced to work without pay, without an ability to escape. >> reporter: katie ford is the former c.e.o. of the renowned ford modeling agency. her parents started the business in 1946, and represented such high profile models as elle macpherson and naomi campbell, bringing standards to an industry notorious for taking advantage of young women. ford was the first agency to insist that models be paid a fair wage. >> they made sure the client
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paid and they made sure the models were protected. this is the first picture of her i ever saw. >> reporter: just as her parents did for their models, katie ford says she wanted to advocate for domestic workers. her goal was to form partnerships with governments, employers and human rights organizations. one of the first places she started was kuwait, an oil-rich state of nearly four million people where foreigners outnumber native kuwaitis by two-to-one. it is unique in the persian gulf region to even acknowledge there's a problem with domestic workers. kuwait became the first country in the gulf region to pass a law that attempts to protect the rights of domestic workers. requiring at least one day off a week, for example. and setting the maximum number of hours worked per week. it's not much. that maximum is 72 hours. and the law doesn't specify that the worker be allowed out of the home on that day off.
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many, in fact, are forced to remain in their employers home on their day off. the kuwait government has established a shelter, with a capacity for 500, where foreign domestic workers can escape abusive employers. we were given a rare tour of the facility by its director, falah al mutairi. >> ( translated ): the services that are provided include legal services, social, cultural and emotional help if needed. when it comes to deciding what the next step is, it's up to the individual herself. does she want to stay in the country? that's when we discuss options. 90% of the women want to go back to their home countries. >> reporter: since the shelter opened two and a half years ago, nearly 8,000 women have passed through, waiting for passports to be returned, trying to find the means to buy return tickets, sorting out various legal problems. we spoke with five women from countries as diverse as madagascar, sierra leone, sri lanka, nepal and the philippines. all said they were either unpaid
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or severely underpaid. many were lured here under false pretenses. 19-year-old hassanatu bangura said her parents thought they were sending her to college. >> i think i'm going to start school. so we go to the office and she said that i'm going to work. >> we have a domestic labor law but we don't have clear punishments. or punishments that are enough to make an employer stop the abuse. >> reporter: bibi al sabah is a member of kuwait's ruling family. 12 years ago she founded an organization designed to get workers legal help. also, she says, to change the culture, and attitudes toward domestic workers. >> we're rich people, and we can afford to have people working for us. with this idea, a lot of people eventually just lost track of how humans should behave. it became part of the culture
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now to have workers everywhere, and so people forget that they're humans and forget that these people have lives and have children and have their dignity. >> reporter: falah al mutairi acknowledges that more reforms need to happen, but he's convinced that kuwait has turned a corner. and he says that to truly eradicate the problem, traffickers must be held accountable in the workers' countries. >> ( translated ): because of sovereignty issues, kuwait cannot track down criminals in other countries. it can't do anything about people outside its jurisdiction. >> reporter: francisca awah isn't sure she can stop the traffickers either. but she is trying to help the desperate economic plight of women in low income countries like cameroon. after being rescued by katie ford 18 months ago, the two women have teamed up to form a career training program for women in this west african country >> i wish that the girls should be empowered personally. they should learn to do something within their country.
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>> you need to start your own business. >> reporter: last fall, awah led a workshop with 34 young women who fled abusive work situations in the middle east. they were learning how to finance and start their own businesses. it included field trips to restaurants and markets to learn from other entrepreneurs, and team building exercises. >> you wake up at 4:00 a.m., you cook, you clean, you care for baby. >> reporter: gatherings like these have helped women overcome, even laugh at their traumatic experiences, and maybe, they say, spread the word to other would-be trafficking victims. for the pbs newshour, this is fred de sam lazaro in kumba, cameroon. >> woodruff: fred's reporting is a partnership with the undertold stories project at the university of st. thomas, in minnesota.
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>> woodruff: it's the most expensive race in history to fill a seat in the u.s. house of representatives. and it's in a district consistently republican for decades. newt gingrich was congressman for georgia's sixth district for 20 years. it was most recently vacated by tom price, when he became secretary of health and human services. democrats are pinning their hopes and lots of their money on a young candidate. lisa desjardins brings us up to speed. >> desjardins: more than $50 million, that's how much has been spent. the special election between democrat jon ossoff and republican karen handel in suburban atlanta has drawn outsized national attention because in some ways it hinges on a name not on the ballot. divisions over president trump have democrats thinking they have a chance. we break it down now with: andra gillespie-- she's a political science professor at emory university in atlanta. and greg bluestein, a reporter with the "atlanta journal- constitution" and native of georgia's sixth congressional
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district. thank you both for joining us. i want to start this by looking at the extraordinary numbers involved in this race, the dollar figures. from what we know, as of the reports at the end of may, the democrat jon ossoff brought in $23 million, republican karen handel 4.5 million but outside groups $24 million. how close is this race and why so much spending? >> this race is neck and neck. most polls show ossoff within a 1 to 3 point lead in margin of error. it could be either way tomorrow when we have the final vote. $42 million plus have now been spent on ads alone, many negative. district residents have been pummeled and metro areas have been pummeled with ads about this race which means there is a slim number of undecided voters. >> reporter: what is happening
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politically? is this extent of spending everywhere or is there somethingn't this race? >> unlike a mid-term election when you have hundreds of races going on simultaneously, both parties focused on each individual race at a time. sings this was the most competitive of the special elections held this spring, it garnered the most attention. campaign raising and fundraising are a signal of how competitive a race is. in that respect, it's not surprising this race broke records. >> unbelievable race. we've had another turn of events in the last week with the congressional shooting that happened outside washington. the ad war brought about a new wad. pleats play a clip of it. >> what's left is endorsing and applauding shooting republicans. when will it stop? it won't, if jon ossoff wins tuesday. >> reporter: i don't want to
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necessarily talk about the ad itself but the idea of whether that shooting could affect this race. we've heard republicans in georgia think it might and the people who made the ad think it could. >> yeah, we've also had both candidates and their campaigns condemn the ad and call for it to be taken down. it's being talked about in the district but i don't know how much it will actually influence votes. there are so few indecided voters and this ad is targeting i think karen handel supporters who go to the polls for her and many are locked in. early voting exceeded 140,000 so a majority of the voters who end up casting ballots have already cast their ballots. so i'm not sure how much it will change the race but we're talking about it down here. >> reporter: do you think it will affect it at all, the shooting? >> i think the ad, the independent expenditure like this, is a reflection of how parties don't control certain types of politics anymore and this shows one of the negative consequences of allowing outside
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groups to spend money on these types of races. sometimes they go off script and do things that campaigns would find more harmful. >> reporter: president trump likes to go offscript and tweeted today in support of republican karen handel. that's been the subtext of this race. how much do you think president trump is a factor? is this a test of president trump's approval how? >> he sun doubtedly a factor and i've are you time some local candidates are trying to say he's not, we just point to the fact that not only has he sent tweets out but he's recorded robo calls, he's come down and stumped with karen handel, so has vice president mike pence, so he is without a doubt a major factor in this race. the only reason whytimes think they can win is because of the narrow margin that he won the district by in november. >> reporter: let's talk about that. we'll show more numbers about that. it's amazing to me.
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look at this. mitt romney won this district by 23 points and, as you say, president trump just by one. andra, we have two candidates that represent somewhat a conservative and liberal view but lately moved toward the middle. who are they trying to appeal to and who will decide this race? >> both campaigns tried to reach out to suburban women voters, particularly college-educated white women. we've seen super pacs in support of karen handel mentioned she would be the only woman in georgia's congressional delegation. we've seen jon ossoff play the planned parenthood card noting when karen handel was an executive at the susan g. komen foundation she allegedly help get planned parenthood defunded to fit a political agenda. so if there is moderate leaning even republican women who might be uncomfortable with playing abortion politics with sai breast cancer that may be a way to demobilize constituency and help his cause. >> reporter: it is one heck of a race.
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andreandra gillespie, greg blue, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: the political stakes are high this week, a perfect time for politics monday with tamera keith of npr and amy walter of the "cook political report." welcome. a lot to talk about. amy, the sixth district race in georgia, a lot of people are saying it is a referendum of a sort on the president. how do you see it? >> yeah, we're going to read a lot into one race -- overinterpret one race obviously because of the amount of money that's been spent on it and the fact the national media has descended on it, we don't really have a choice. i think a couple of narratives will come out of this. if democrats are able to win tuesday, the message being sent is not just one about trump but saying that in republican districts, even districts that went republican slightly for trump are now in danger for
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republicans. so this probably expands the playing field for democrats. they're going to now try to get and try to involve themselves in many more districts that are traditionally republican. if a republican wins, it says, you know what? this anger among democrats, the enthusiasm among democrats, while it is playing a national role, it is not translating into districts that still have a slight republican lean, it means that republican voters haven't abandoned -- not that they just didn't abandon the president, but they're not abandoning congressional republicans at this point. the only other place this is a referendum on is nancy pelosi. there have been more districts run against nancy pelosi, republican karen handel as well as other groups trying to make this referendum from a liberal member to jon ossoff. he's running a as moderate. >> woodruff: she pops up in a lot of races. tamara, what do you see are the
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factors at play? >> the president tweeted in support of karen handel and did it again this afternoon with a series of tweets also going after jon ossoff for not living in the district which is a true thing, jon ossoff does not live in the district. karen handel is not running away from president trump. he held a fundraiser with her. her campaign tweeted out a fundraising emall today, the headline on it was did you see what trump just tweeted, question mark. so he's not separating herself from the president. she is running with president trump, and, so, we will see what voters think of it. it's a very narrow victory that president trump had in 2016 in that district, even though it was designed to be a safe republican seat. >> woodruff: a lot of interpreting going to be going on tomorrow night, into wednesday and maybe later. >> we love narratives, come on! we have to keep doing this! >> woodruff: speaking of narratives, what was your take
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on what jay sekulow had to say, the president's attorney we talked to a few minutes ago? >> yeah, what we heard in his interview with you that seemed to be a little different than what we heard over the weekend was the acknowledgment that jay sekulow said over the weekend the president's not being investigated, what he acknowledged with you because we don't know for sure he's not being -- to the best of our knowledge, i think is the term he used, the president is not being investigated. but i think as an overall take on where we're going on russia, i don't think we're moving very far. feels like we're kind of running in place constantly. we know that the special counsel is doing an investigation, the senate is doing an investigation. it's unlikely even the senate itself will be done by the end of the year, nonetheless, but robert mueller's by then. >> woodruff: how do you read this in your reporting at the white house?
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>> i have been reporting ton legal team the president assembled including jay sekulow who is real will you the face and the voice of the legal team, but he is not necessarily is person who will be representing the president. he is the public face because what he is specialized in is religious freedom cases before the supreme court. marc kasowitz is another attorney who is sort of the lead attorney. he does not have a criminal law background, he's basically donald trump's attorney and has been for years, but he's someone hat the president listens to, and that is why he's a key part of the team. then they just brought on another lawyer who has washington experience and has some white collar type experience. so the team is preparing for the president to be under investigation by the special counsel even if they aren't saying that he is under
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investigation by the special counsel. >> woodruff: there is so much to talk about but i want to turn you, amy, to what's going on in the senate and congress over healthcare reform. we know the house passed a reform bill to basically undo the obamacare. it's been sitting in the senate week after week. republicans are working behind closed doors to try to come up with a version that will be more acceptable to them. democrats are now in revolt as much as they can be in the minority. where is that going? >> sounds like what they want to do is he's a parliamentary procedure to slow business in the senate to a crawl. not that they can make much change to the bill itself but they want a spotlight on the way the bill is handled, written behind doshes that democrats aren't part of the process, that a bunch of republicans senators have no idea what's in the bill. they want the spotlight on this
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because the house passed one is so unpopular even amo mong republicans voters. so the more athings democrats can put on that as well as the way the bill is handled they think politically is a winner and, finally, are saying to their own constituents, witwe ae trying to do something about healthcare but this is the only thing we can do because we're not in the majority, we can just summer procedural maneuvering. >> woodruff: what do you want to know about what's happening? >> in the senate the votes that were actually supposed to happen were pushed off because of weather. however, chuck schumer went to the floor of the senate and sort of began the process, tried to get union count -- get unanimoud thaw went round and round. democrats can't make an argument
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on substance and policy so they're making an argument on procedure, which is harder to make. >> woodruff: the majority leader in the senate mitch mcconnell has said he wants to get a vote on this by -- >> that's right. theyreally, really want to get this behind them, move through this process. remember, they can't move ahead on the things they also want to move ahead on like tax reform until this is done. >> woodruff: and this has been held up, as we say, for a long time. >> they wanted to get it done easter is the first deadline. nothing unusual about that. took democrats a long time to get obamacare through. they wanted to get it through in 2009 and took till 2010 to pass it. the big question what does the bill look like and if implemented how does it affect americans. >> because this is one-sixth of the economy. this is not small stuff. >> woodruff: there will be a lot of reaction as the republican senate version emergences which it hasn't done yet. tamera keith, amy walter, "politics monday," thank you
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both. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: and now to a newshour shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you. there's a growing movement to fix items instead of throwing them out and buying new ones. at m.i.t., a graduate started "fix it clinics" eight years ago, and now they're held all across the country to teach people how to do repairs themselves. from pbs station wgbh in boston, tina martin reports. >> reporter: a toaster, a tripod and kettle, all in broken and need of t.l.c. and they're in the right place. >> this is number 207. we've had a bunch of "fix it clinics" all across the united states. >> brad started the clinics in 2009 to help people learn to help themselves and the environment in the process.
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>> 52 tons of waste diverted from the land phil. not just diverted, not recycled or upcycled but actually returned to service for their originally intended use. there is a sense they don't have a choice when it breaks, there is no repair people left anymore to do this stuff. >> the clinics are free and held three to four times a month and libraries and community centers across the country. peter and team of volunteer coaches train people like abby whose cet is out of commission. >> under normal conditions, it does this, then turns blue and boils water. >> she and i pud on goggles to learn about how to get it running. part of getting the kettle back together is pulling it awe part and testing electricity. >> we understand anything we do could make it worse. >> the warning aside the process is time consuming a chance nothing could be done but the fix it team prized itself in resurrecting even the toughest
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electronics like this classing radio that belonged to genie's father. >> this is on the back to have the part that we took off and he just passed away but it had been sitting on myself in my home for the longest time. >> the music is playing again. (music playing) it took about an hour for genie and her fix it coach to make it happen. >> do you think you can fix something in your house now? >> i think i'm more confident to troubleshoot. >> abby's kettle was a different story. the repair took all day but in the end it was another fix it clinic success story. for the pbz "newshour", i'm -- the prbs "newshour", i'm tina martin in boston. >> woodruff: i have a lot of things that need fixing. on the newshour online right now, in traditional beer brewing, only two species of yeast have been used over the last 600 years.
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a lab in north carolina may have found a third in the strangest place: on wasps and bees. get the whole story of bumble- beer on our web site, and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> 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
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