tv PBS News Hour PBS July 13, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: senate republicans make public a revised plan to take the place of obamacare. what's inside the bill, and can it win enough votes to become law? then: >> from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. >> woodruff: president trump in france defends his son's meeting with a russian government lawyer, in the hopes of getting opposition research on hillary clinton. and our series, "inside putin's russia" continues with a look at enemies of the state and how russia's leaders responds to dissent. >> i felt, just, life slowly going out of the whole body. and i remember that distinct feeling: that this is it. this is the end.
>> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> 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: it is the senate republican health care bill, version 2.0. party leaders made it public today, but the path to passage remained anything but clear. lisa desjardins begins our coverage. >> so it's time to rise to the occasion. >> reporter: a critical moment for health care and congress: majority leader mitch mcconnell unveiled senate republicans' second draft bill, hoping it can win the minimum 50 votes he needs. >> the revised draft improves on the previous version in a number of ways, all while retaining the fundamental goals of providing stability and improving affordability.
>> reporter: what has changed? first: it keeps two obamacare taxes on the wealthy. second: it uses that money, in part, to add more than over $100 billion in new spending. $70 billion would go to insurers, to stabilize markets and bring down out-of-pocket costs, and $45 billion would fight the opioid epidemic. on medicaid, the bill still cuts future spending significantly, but does give states more leeway to expand who is eligible for the program. but perhaps the biggest change is the addition of a proposal by texas senator ted cruz. the so-called "cruz amendment" would let insurers mostly opt out of all affordable care act requirements, and potentially offer more cheaper, bare-bones plans, as long as they offer a few plans that do meet obamacare standards. at the same time, other republicans are crafting their own ideas. >> well, you know. we're going to support mitch's effort with his new plan, but we
want an alternative, and we're going to see which one can get 50 votes. we're not undercutting mitch. he's not undercutting us. >> reporter: senators lindsey graham of south carolina and bill cassidy of louisiana say their amendment would send more money directly to states. it's not clear how much support that has. as for democrats: >> it appears that little has changed at the core of the bill. >> reporter: minority leader chuck schumer says republicans will still have a problem getting key members of their own party on board. >> moderate republicans looking at this bill should be able to see that the incredibly modest change to the tax provisions, change to the tax provisions, the small pot of funding for opioiod abuse treatment-- these other tweaks around the edges, are like a drop in the bucket, compared to what the bill does to medicaid, to seniors, to americans with pre-existing conditions. >> reporter: all sides are now waiting for a pivotal report-- the analysis of the bill by the nonpartisan congressional budget office.
lypecially waiting, wisconsin senator ron johnson, a key vote. >> show me your math. show me what the baseline was. show me what the policy results, in terms of spending. >> reporter: republicans have not yet announced when they will hold a vote. leaders had hoped for next week. and of the 52 senate republicans, we already know two are no-votes on this latest draft, that's susan collins of maine and rand paul of kentucky. judy, that means mitch mcconnell cannot lose any more republicans, and there are many on the fence. >> woodruff: wow. so, lisa, thank you. and, of course, stay here. we'll bring you julie rovner chief washington correspondent for kaiser health news joins, too. i'll start with you, julie. there have been changes, as lisa reported, to medicaid, few, but not enough to satisfy the moderates. what did they do? >> the moderates have been unhappy with the medicaid cuts.
senator susan collins who's already a no came out and said the changes they would make to medicaid go bond repealing the affordable care act. medicaid was expanded in the affordable care act but these changes would actually cap the program, something the republicans have been trying to tr since the 1980s. it's for the conservatives. moderates are unhappy. there is a little more to deal with opioid abuse and get out of d e caps if there's a medical -- public health emergency, but those are pretty much all the changes. >> woodruff: how is this going over. there are a lot of big question marks on capitol hill. ñhe same on the right and the left. they tried to bring in the moderates and giving them the ability to -- the states could increase who could be under medicaid but there's not as much money to do it, so you would have to make a choice between the number of people you could cover under medicaid and how much you would give them in benefits. it doesn't really address questions of the overall need for healthcare some of these foderates have. >> julie, we heard in lisa's
report the reference to wha senator ted cruz has wanted, has to do with giving states more options, describe what that involves. >> senator cruz and a number of conservatives in the house complained one of the biggest problems with the affordable care act is that people who buy their own insurance pay more in premiums and out of pocket spending and he wants to help people, but basically he would say, for healthy people, to buy fewer benefits, you could do that and you would get less coverage and that is what they would do in this bill. the problem according to the insurance industry and others who oppose it is it would make coverage for sick people pretty gech unaffordable. it would leave only sick people in the plans that offer all the benefits. for the people lucky enough to get tax credits and have lowered the threshold, those people would be mostly protected from those increases, but people who are buying their own insurance and make too much money to get the tax credits would bear the brunt of those very much higher premiums, so that's a big worry
about how this might play out. >> woodruff: lisa, the leadership was making this gesture in senator cruz's direction. how is it going over? >> these were intense negotiations to put this in the bill today, but if you read the bill online the entire cruz amendment is in brackets and republican leadership confirm that means it's not final. it could still be take upout and revised. one tricky piece of choreography, multiple sources said they would get a score not just from c.b.o. but the department of health and human ñervices. which is a very unusual step on this. they will see what the department of health and human services think the cruz amendment will mean and this adds new questions to the possess as well. >> woodruff: presumably not knowing what the department is going to say, is that right in or do they assume the department will say this is a good thing? >> we don't know. there have been conversations for weeks with c.b.o. c.b.o. has nobody the general outlines of these bills.
have they had the conversations with h.h.s. as well? i don't know. >> woodruff: lisa, you have been following this day after day since the senate went home from recess. they've now come back. what is the political calculus on the part of the republican leadership in the senate? >> i think it comes down to the fact that they feel they have campaigned on this and they have to at least give it their greatest try or have to show themselves trying as hard as possible. right now it looks like it will be very difficult to get the votes for this to pass but also looks like they will hold the vote even if it fails to show their voters we tried and this is as far as we could get. i think there is pressure from both conservatives an moderates to go both directions and making i e goal of reforming and replacing obamacare impossible. >> woodruff: julie, you've done your share of reporting on this for a long time. where are you seeing this goes? >> i see exactly what lisa says. they're caught between the promise to repeal and replace the affordable care act and the
ability to do it which is difficult to find consensus within themselves. they're going to run out the string as much as they can. the bigger problem, even if they get something through the senate, it will have to go to the house. so whether you could get something through both chambers in any timely which remains a big question. >> woodruff: we heard the president saying he would be angry if the senate doesn't get this done. right, and to be honest, republicans i talk to aren't sure the president helped because when he's behind the scenes and encouraged them, when he's criticized the house bill later on as being mean, they're worried if they join forces with him that later he might say something different. it's important to remember the broad contours of this bill. a lot of details and changes, but as much as it deals with the affordable care act, this bill in its heart is also a medicaid reform bill. that is something they did not have to add to this but they did and, in doing that, they lost a lot of moderate votes. they're keeping with that because republicans feel it's important, but that was a big gamble they took in actually putting two bills together here.
>> woodruff: my producer is trying to tell me something about senators. maybe there is new information? senators to watch, particularly. >> we need to watch a lot of key senators. ron johnson of wisconsin, mike lee of utah, not happy with the cruz amendment. even though he's one of the authors. shirley of west virginia. dean heller of nevada. he's interesting. his governor today says he has great concerns about the bill. lisa murkowski of alaska said she didn't like where this is going. we're waiting to hear ther -- hear from all five of those. they can't lose any one of those. that's just the beginning. >> woodruff: you two will monitor every minute until we know what the answer is. lisa desjardins, julie rovner, thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, president trump held talks in paris with the president of france, but he faced questions
about his son's meeting with a russian lawyer, last summer, aimed at getting information harmful to hillary clinton. at a joint news conference, mr. trump dismissed criticism of the meeting, and said, "it's called cposition research." we will have a full report, after the news summary. in china, political dissident and nobel peace prize winner liu xiaobo died today, of liver cancer. he had been released from a state prison last month, and rrspitalized, but was barred from going abroad for treatment. liu was one of the chinese government's most vocal opponents, and spent decades campaigning for greater human rights. he was imprisoned in 2009 for n.bversion. his death drew widespread criticism of beijing. >> i think it's outrageous. the chinese government weaved the fiction that liu xiaobo was a criminal. millions of people, not just in china but across the world, have been inspired to stand up for
freedom and justice in the face of oppression. >> woodruff: u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson offered condolences, and urged china to release liu's wife, who is under house arrest. liu xiaobo was 61 years old. former president jimmy carter was hospitalized for dehydration today, in canada. mr. carter is 92. "habitat for humanity" said he had been working in the sun, building homes for the needy in winnipeg, manitoba. the organization said the former president told them he is okay, and urged the crew to "keep building." the number-three republican in the u.s. house, steve scalise, has had another round of surgery, after being shot last month. the louisiana republican was seriously wounded when a gunman attacked a congressional baseball practice. hospital officials in washington say the latest surgery was to treat infection. the u.s. justice department today charged more than 400 people with opioid scams and
health care fraud. the alleged schemes, outlined today, totaled $1.3 billion in false billing. attorney general jeff sessions called it the "largest healthcare fraud takedown operation in american history." six teenage girls from afghanistan will be allowed into the u.s. after all, to take part in a robotics competition. the team had twice been denied visas, but the white house says president trump intervened to reverse that decision. today, the girls flew to kabul from western afghanistan to get their travel documents. they said they are excited to finally be on the way. >> ( translated ): we were disappointed when the americans made a difference between afghanistan and other countries on not issuing visas to us. at that time, we lost hope and we were feeling sad. but now we are very happy that they have given us a chance to go there. >> woodruff: u.s. officials have not said why the team was previously denied entry.
afghanistan is not one of the countries on the president's travel ban list. in washington, the congressional budget office says the president's budget and spending plan for the coming year falls far short of what the white house promised. instead of creating a small surplus, the c.b.o. reports there would still be a deficit of some $720 billion at the end of ten years. it says the budget proposal relies on economic growth projections that are far too optimistic. democrats and republicans in congress have reached initial agreement on expanding college aid for veterans. it aims to fill coverage gaps in benefits that were enacted after 9/11. the new proposal would lift a 15-year time limit for vets to tap into education benefits. it also adds more money for thousands of members of the national guard and reserve. trustees of the u.s. government trust fund that pays medicare bills say it will go broke in 2029. that is one year later than last
year's forecast. they also estimated social security will be depleted by 2034. that is the same as last year's prediction. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 21 points to close at 21,553. the nasdaq rose 13, and the s&p 500 added four. and, american tennis player venus williams is now the oldest player to reach a wimbledon final in more than 20 years. in the semi-finals today, williams, at the age of 37, made quick work today of britain's johanna konta, who's 26. on saturday, williams goes for her sixth wimbledon championship. still to come on the newshour: trump abroad-- questions about his son's meeting with a russian lawyer follow the president to paris. "inside putin's russia"-- a look at the fate of those who stand up to vladimir putin.
the wisdom of finance-- what hollywood and jane austen can teach us about economic risk. and, much more. >> woodruff: president trump arrived in paris today for talks with french president emmanuel macron, in hopes of strengthening the alliance between the two countries. but the visit was at least partly overshadowed by an issue that continues to dog the american leader: whether his presidential campaign coordinated with the russian government. john yang has our report. >> reporter: even amid the splendor of paris, president trump could not escape the firestorm over his son's meeting with a russian lawyer. at a news conference with french president emmanuel macron, mr. trump defended donald trump jr. as "a wonderful young man" who did nothing wrong. >> i think, from a practical
standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. it's called opposition research, or even research into your opponent. i've had many people-- i have only been in politics for two years, but i've had many people call up, "oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person." or frankly, hillary. that's very standard in politics. >> reporter: the president said the russian lawyer, natalia veselnitskaya, had visited congress and he suggested her u.s. visa had been approved by obama attorney general loretta lynch-- not the state department. late today, lynch said she had nothing to do with it. on air force one on the way to paris, mr. trump told reporters that the russia investigation was only helping him. "it's making trump stronger. because my people and the people that support me, who are incredible people, those people are angry because they feel it's being unfair and a witch hunt." at the news conference, a french reporter asked the president
about his often-repeated campaign anecdote about a friend who had told mr. trump that the threat of islamic terrorism had ruined paris. >> i see him like a month ago, how was paris? "i don't go to paris, are you kidding me? it's no longer paris." >> reporter: today, he turned it around to flatter his host. >> you know what, it's gonna be just fine, because you have a great president. you have somebody who's gonna run this country right. i have a feeling that you're gonna have a very, very peaceful and beautiful paris, and i'm coming back. you better do a good job, please, or you're gonna make me look very bad. >> reporter: the two leaders said they discussed syria and the fight againt terrorism. mr. macron said mr. trump's decision to withdraw from the paris climate accord would not affect their relationship. bloomberg news white house correspondent toluse olorunippa is covering the trip. >> they see the world in very different ways but they have come to realize that they can benefit from having a positive
relationship with one another and that's what we saw on display today. >> reporter: indeed, the body language today was a marked difference from their first awkward encounter in may, and was capped tonight with dinner at the eiffel tower tonight. after watching bastille day celebrations in paris tomorrow, mr. trump heads back to the united states, and more repercussions from his son's russia meeting. senate judiciary committee chairman chuck grassley said he wants donald trump jr. to testify in open session as soon as next week. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: as we just heard, hie president defended his son's meeting with a russian lawyer last year, saying it was standard opposition research. but some have questioned that premise. to discuss all this we are joined by two campaign veterans. tim miller is the former communications director for jeb bush's presidential campaign. he is also co-founder of the republican opposition research
group, america rising. and, christina reynolds, the deputy communications director for hillary clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and the former director of research for the democratic congressional campaign committee. and we welcome both of you to the "newshour". christina, i'm going to start with you. tell our always yens, what is opposition research? >> when i started we used to call it quotes, votes and anecdotes. it is gathering public information to tell a story about your opponent. so we look at public sources, we look at everything from votes to tax records to personal stories that you can find out about someone. >> woodruff: tim miller, what would you add to that? >> i think that's right. i call it full information awareness. you want to know everything you can about your opponent, everything they've ever said, y y way they've ever made money, any way they've ever spent money so that you can use it to your advantage in the campaign and so voters know their entire record. >> woodruff: christina
reynolds, anything goes? anything about their medical records, their personal life? >> no. i mean, first and foremost -- we used to have a rule that said if you can cite it, you can write it. uru need a publicly available source for something to be credible in the news or ads. second of all, if you go into things like medical records and things like that, then you start getting into worrying about blowback for your own candidate. so it's not anything goes. >> woodruff: what do you mean blowback? >> i mean, at some point there's a risk that the actual dwat gathering of the information may be considered worse then the information that's found. if it's considered dirty tricks, so to speak. >> woodruff: are there lines drawn around what's considered acceptable research? >> of course there are. we started america rising which bes been successful and we're sure to stay inside the lines, both legal and ethical lines and boundaries, and i think both of those are in play here with
regards to the president's son's meeting. like christina said, you saw this with the ted cruz campaign in iowa, they had blowback when they were spreading information ben carson was going to drop out of the race when that wasn't true. you have to be careful your opposition research is correct, but also within legal and ethical bounds. >> woodruff: that's what i want to pursue with both of you. what sin side and outside the atunds of what you can do? of course, we're asking you all this because of what happened with regard to donald trump, jr., the meeting he took with a russian -- representative of the russian government. >> well, i can tell you in my experience and research what he did is not normal. i think that what's inside the bounds is things that are publicly available. .ou do a lot of freedom of information act, records requests. you certainly talk to people, but you do so with people that you know and trust are giving you solid information and information that you can then go
and prove, and you certainly don't do something with a hostile government, you know, being on your side. you know, the best example of this is when al gore's campaign got a debate book fed exed to them, a george bush debate book. the first thing they tid was call the f.b.i. you wonder, are you being set up? you wonder, is this something that's valid, real? you don't take every meeting. people call with tips. you make sure that you trust the veracity of the information and the source. >> woodruff: tim miller, had you ever, before this instance, heard of a time when someone was offered information by a foreign hostile government? l, well, i'll say almost to the question i, like president trump, have been called by anonymous people, friends of friends with information about him, frankly, and about hillary clinton when he was working for jeb bush, and you have to make a decision about whether this is a credible
person. you have to talk to lawyers to make sure you have the conversation, if you have it, is within legal bounds. those conversations, while some considered to be sketchy, pale in comparison to the idea of getting a call from somebody who explicitly says they're here from the russian government. this is not switzerland that called donald trump, jr., it is a country out there to undermine our interest on the world stage, it's so far beyond the pale that it's kind of almost silly to compare it to the other grey opposition research efforts because there is nothing grey about it. >> woodruff: christina, are you aware of being offered or hear or anybody in a campaign being offered something from a foreign government? >> that's an easy answer, no. >> woodruff: when a question arises about what you're being offered or what someone's trying to tell you, if there is any question about it, what do you do? >> i think, as tim mentioned, sometimes you talk to lawyers. iou think about will i be able
a reporter and a reporter and know that it's true? would i have my candidate say it out loud and feel confident in that? you think through those things, and i think you set a really high bar. if we learn anything from the past campaign and trump's election, it's no one story can kill a campaign. but you don't want to be the one iat is -- you know, that is laen as playing dirty tricks. >> woodruff: i know every campaign is different, tim miller, and the way it's organized and the hierarchy and so forth, but are there rules that are shared that are known by people in modern american politics about what's okay and what isn't? you just count on the lawyers you hire? and i know every campaign has lawyers to tell you that? or how does that work? >> yeah, look, i think there are norms within opposition research. we also run a candidate tracking organization. it's the guys and tbals that
follow around candidates with a video camera to get whatever they say on the record. and there are rules. we work with the democratic opposition research firm, you , ow, and we would have an off the record conversation to kind of set boundaries, you know, that we weren't going to go videotape their family dinner, right? you're not going to go dumpster diving in the trash can outside their house. like i said, there are going to be areas where there are grey areas. opposition research is not all just fun and games, it's serious business, especially running for high office. but there are legal lines and also just decency boundaries, you know,reich the example i mentioned about the family. >> woodruff: right, but even if -- christina, even if the campaign says we're not going to do this, there are other tabloids and others out there who may be engaging in this kind of research. >> sure, and i think one thing, tim will probably back me up on
this, one thing that is true of all researchers, we all see black helicopters a bit. we are all just a little bit paranoid. you worry about a setup. you worry that the giving of inat information may be more interesting news than the information itself. so you use your best judgment, as tim mentioned. you know, you use your lawyers and your best judgment and you make sure you don't do anything that's going to damage the campaign. >> going back campaign with hillary clinton and obama, hillary clinton's op-ed research on obama backfired more than it represented because people didn't want there to be within a family interparty squabbles that were that personal. so you have to be careful about that. there are electoral implications to consider in additional to the legal and ethical ones. >> woodruff: it's a subject that doesn't get a lot of attention but right now everybody is asking questions. tim miller, christina reynolds,
thank you both. >> thank you. s, judy. >> woodruff: we return to our series, "inside putin's russia." tonight, the fate of some of the >> woodruff: we return to our series, "inside putin's russia." tonight, the fate of some of the kremlin's opponents. according to one study, in the last three years, 38 prominent russians have been murdered, or died suspiciously. uspiciously. the high mortality rate among some russian critics has a long history. but critics say it is emblematic of how president vladimir putin runs today's russia. special correspondent nick schifrin and producer zach fannin report from moscow. >> reporter: in today's russia, there are consequences to criticizing the state. police tell protesters their rally isn't sanctioned. they are asking president vladimir putin not to run for re-election.
the demonstration is sponsored by the opposition group open russia. in saint petersburg, and across the country, police arrested more than 100 protesters. >> it is democratic opposition activists who are being arrested and given lengthy prison sentences, for no other reason than expressing their political views. it is members of the democratic opposition who are being forced into exile, or harassed, or attacked, or murdered. >> reporter: 35-year-old vladimir kara-murza is open russia's vice chairman. he is an outspoken activist, demonstrating against putin and organizing protests. we first sat down with him late last year. >> we believe in the rule of law, we believe in human rights. we believe that russia should enjoy the same democratic institutions that the rest of europe enjoys. >> reporter: to try and create those democratic institutions, he teamed up with the man he calls his mentor. boris nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who became the country's leading dissident. the two traveled to washington to highlight the mysterious death of sergei magnitski, a lawyer who exposed corruption among senior officials. nemtsov and kara-murza convinced the u.s. congress to freeze the assets of russians believed connected to magnitski's death.
>> these people in the current russian regime who rule, keep their money and assets in the west. they want to vacation in the west. they want to send their kids to schools to the west. and this personal accountability may well be the only thing that will make them think twice. >> reporter: a little more than two years later, nemtsov was assassinated, a few hundred feet from the kremlin's walls. his death was brazen and shocking. this is the spot where boris nemtsov was killed. and you can see the corner of the kremlin, right there, just a few hundreds yards away, and you can see the memorial for him that's on this bridge. today in moscow, a court sentenced five people in nemtsov's murder. whether or not they're the masterminds, they permanently silenced nemtsov's outspoken criticism. kara-murza believes someone used poison to try and silence him too. >> i started suddenly feeling really, really sick, and within a space of 15 to 20 minutes, i went from feeling completely normal, like i am now, to having a really rapid heart rate, sweating, palpitation, started vomiting, and then i just lost
consciousness. kidneys, i think went first, then it was the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the liver, everything. everything just shut down. so i have no doubt that this was deliberate attempt to murder based on my political activities, motivated by my activities in the russian opposition. >> reporter: there are people who are working as opposition in russia who are not targeted. what is the line that you apparently crossed? >> there's the clear line between just saying things that are against the regime, and it's a totally different thing to go after their own personal interest, after their pockets. >> reporter: the history of assassination goes back decades. in 1940, leon trotsky was killed with an ice axe. in 2006, crusading russian journalist anna politkovskaya was murdered. and in 2014, alexander litvinenko, a former k.g.b. agent who accused putin of ordering politkovskaya's death, was killed by radioactive tea. and denis voronenkov was a pro-putin lawmaker, who defected to ukraine and became a putin
critic. in march, he was walking down the street in kiev when a gunman shot him three times. his body bled out on the sidewalk in the middle of the day. maria maksakova is his widow. >> reporter: maksakova lives in kiev, where she is raising their son. in moscow, she and voronenkov were both lawmakers allied with putin, and they enjoyed the spoils that come from power. but he'd also been an investigator, who uncovered corruption in the russian intelligence agency, the f.s.b. who do you think killed your husband?
>> reporter: russia calls her claim a fabrication. but his death fits a pattern: a once-loyal family member becomes an outspoken opponent and ends up dead. >> a mafia family, you can be born into, you can be adopted into it. you can't leave it voluntarily. people who have tried to leave the putin family voluntarily have not fared very well. >> reporter: masha gessen is a russian journalist, author, and prolific anti-putin activist. you've been dubbed by some an enemy of the state. are you an enemy of the state? >> i am certainly an enemy of the mafia state. absolutely, yeah. i'm not an enemy of the russian state. >> reporter: gessen was the first journalist blacklisted by putin's kremlin. she's also been targeted because she's a lesbian who's raising adopted children. >> reporter: in 2013 she helped lead a video campaign criticizing an anti-gay propaganda law. it helped condone homophobia and attacks on gay russians, and gessen argues the law explains how putin rules.
>> the autocrat needs everybody out in the street with flags aloft. and everybody chanting their support for the leader, and so a society of mobilization. to have mobilization you need to have enemies. you can have l.g.b.t. people as enemies today, and then you can have americans tomorrow. >> reporter: and gessen says above it all is a boss served by loyal lieutenants, who don't need explicit instructions to launch attacks. >> the patriarch of the family will say, "do i always have to tell you what to do? like, don't you know what the right thing to do is?" >> reporter: does the kremlin kill its political enemies? >> 100% sure not. >> reporter: the kremlin declined our interview request. but sergey markov, a member of putin's party and russia's national strategic council, reflects the kremlin's defense: counter-punch and embrace conspiracy theories, starting with the assassinated opposition leader boris nemtsov.
>> reporter: ukraine killed boris nemtsov? >> reporter: but it's more than nemtsov. vladimir kara-murza has been poisoned twice. anna politkovskaya was killed. there are a lot of people who have criticized the kremlin who end up dead. >> reporter: for the people putin targets, that argument is an attempt to distract. >> reporter: mikhael kasyanov was putin's first prime minister. in the early 2000s, the two worked together to pass much needed economic reforms.
in 2004, putin fired him, and kasyanov became an outspoken opposition politician, appearing alongside boris nemtsov, and vladimir kara murza. last year, a prominent putin ally posted a video of him and kara-murza in crosshairs. but not all of the kremlin's enemies end up dead. some end up humiliated. how did they target you before the last election? >> reporter: five months before 2015 elections, state television broadcast kasyanov having sex with his assistant. the video helped fracture his party. >> reporter: and is there anything you can do to stop them? >> we have no free and fair elections. we have censorship in the media. we have political prisoners. more than 100 political prisoners in russia, today. >> reporter: one year after he nearly died from poisoning, kara-murza got better, and
restarted his work. in february, he was a few hours away from boarding a plane to washington, where his family lives for their safety, when he says he was poisoned a second time. we sat down with him and his wife yevgenia in march. >> above all, i could feel that i couldn't breathe. and at this stage, when you are lying there, trying to gasp for air, you know, i felt, just, life slowly going out of the whole body. and i remember that distinct feeling: that this is it. this is the end. now i'm gonna die. i only had a few minutes where i was still able to do something, so the only thing i was able to do, i called my wife, yevgenia, who was here in the united states. >> i asked them to take him to the hospital, to the same medical team that treated him in 2015. had he been on the plane, had he been alone in his apartment, had he been somewhere with, i don't know, in the streets of moscow-- oh my god, what are you doing to us?
>> reporter: kara-murza had noticed that almost every night, moscow city workers removed boris nemtsov's memorial. so he made a film to protect his mentor's career and life. nemtsov now became a leader of >> this film is about the portrait of a man who could, if not for a quirk of fate, very well have become the president of russia. >> reporter: do you miss him? >> there are no words to describe how much i miss him. sorry. >> the risks have become more palpable. they do hit close to home, closer and closer every time. >> reporter: have you ever asked him not to go? >> it is terrifying, i'm not going to lie to you. but i could never ask him to betray what he believes in. i want him to continue to do what he thinks is important, what he thinks is right.
>> reporter: and her faith allows kara-murza to keep his faith, that he can change the system. he says after recovering, he'll go back to russia to finish the work that he and nemtsov started. for the pbs newshour, i'm nick schifrin in moscow. >> woodruff: and our week-long series, "inside putin's russia," wraps up tomorrow with a look at the relationship between russia and the united states. >> woodruff: but first, when it comes to wall street, many people think of money and greed. but a professor at harvard business school argues there's a lot more to the world of finance, and he uses books and movies to make his case. our economics correspondent paul solman has the story. it's part of our series, "making sense," which airs every thursday.
>> one, two, three! >> reporter: the field of finance. you might say it has an "image problem." consider "the wolf of wall street," based on a real-life character. >> if anybody here thinks i'm superficial or materialistic, go get a job at mcdonald's, because that's where you ( bleep ) belong! >> reporter: investment banker patrick bateman in "american psycho" is fictional, but not entirely implausible. >> i have all the characteristics of a human being: flesh, blood, skin, hair. but not a single clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. >> reporter: hey, finance has had an "image problem" since buyout bro gordon gecko graced the silver screen 30 years ago. >> the point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack
of a better word, is good. >> big bank, small bank, i like to make money. all right? >> reporter: and the real events of the 2008 financial crisis only made matters worse. >> that's america's housing market. >> reporter: but harvard business school's mihir desai says there are two faces to finance, though he readily acknowledges the dark one to his students. >> many people demonize what you do, and it's hard to live that way. >> reporter: and he told me he gets why that perception is so pervasive. >> when you have real life figures like martin shkreli, who was both a hedge fund trader and then took over a pharmaceutical company, jacked up prices by 5000%, subsequently engaged in a variety of nefarious behavior and very proudly so... so it almost makes you feel like real life is outpacing fiction. >> reporter: desai has written a book to try to balance the picture: "the wisdom of finance." >> the goal in the book is to try to demystify finance so that the people who currently demonize it will come to
understand it, as opposed to simply oppose it. and then for the people who are in finance, we have to get back to the ideas. the ideas matter. >> reporter: to desai, the big idea of finance is illustrated by the quincunx machine in boston's museum of science: the ability to find order in a seemingly random, and therefore risk-forsaken, world. >> this was a real revolution in probability, which is random things happening results in predictable patterns. >> reporter: balls drop, bounce randomly left or right as they encounter the pins, and eventually, hit bottom to form a bell-shaped curve. >> things that seem random actually end up resulting in a very orderly pattern, in fact, this bell-shaped distribution, or normal distribution. and that of course is the foundation of finance. because you observe a lot of random things, but it ends up behaving in predictable ways. >> reporter: randomness and its risks are everywhere. finance's job: to try to manage them.
case in point? the income plight of women throughout most of history. >> you should consider that it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made to you! >> mr. collins, who delivers the worst proposal ever to lizzy bennet in "pride and prejudice..." >> i am well aware that 1,000 pounds is all you may ever be entitled to, but rest assured i shall never reproach on that score when we are married! >> ...you're not that wealthy, you're not that pretty, you have an offer on the table today, from me. you'd better take it. >> reporter: it's the great economic risk faced by all jane austen's bennett girls. but, says desai: >> lizzy turns down mr. collins, and the advice of her mother, because she wants to roll the dice again. of course, that ends up very nicely, ultimately, with mr. darcy, but at the time, she didn't know. >> reporter: no, lizzy was lucky, in love and money. she accepted the risk. but most others did not. >> the next day, he gives the same proposal to charlotte, her friend, and she takes it.
>> cousin elizabeth, you can see before you the happiest of men! >> reporter: charlotte lucas' lot was not the "happiest." but better than penury, one imagines. >> she said, i'm just going to take the solution. >> reporter: in anthony trollope's phineas finn: >> how nice to find you and to find you alone. >> reporter: violet effingham had a very different problem: too many suitors. >> you look very piratical tonight, lord chiltern. >> that is because you see me by the side of all these smug, glossy parliament men. >> she doesn't know who to choose, and she says, you know, if only i could marry all ten. you know, she's the essence of diversification. >> reporter: because then you wouldn't have all your eggs in one basket. you would have ten different guys, ten different fortunes. >> the intuition that you can lower risk by dividing resources is extremely old. that diversification idea goes back to shipping, when you split up your cargo across routes. it goes back to agriculture, when people would split up their land. in ecclesiastes, we see the
advice to invest in seven ventures-- no, eight ventures, because you never know what disaster will happen. >> reporter: so this is the benign face of finance: it allows you to protect against risk by diversifying your investments. but then there's the dark face again. when you invest, you're still stuck with the risk of giving your money to someone else. >> i gave my money to tim cook, who runs apple, and i own one share. here's the problem-- i can't watch tim cook. so the underlying problem of finance becomes "wait a second, how do i monitor that guy? how do i watch that guy? how do i make sure he's doing the right thing for me?" >> reporter: this is the "principal-agent problem." the principal is the shareholder, who has the wealth. the agent is the manager entrusted with it. ( kisses cash ) >> reporter: and they can have conflicting interests. in the case of "the producers," extremely conflicting. >> it's absolutely amazing that
under the right circumstances, a producer could make more with a flop than he could with a hit. >> the essence of "the producers" is that these two folks, bialystock and bloom, want to rip off a bunch of investors, and by creating a flop, the investors won't want their money back. they raised 25,000% of what they actually need. they create this what they think is going to be a flop, "springtime for hitler..." ♪ springtime for hitler and germany ♪ >> ...and of course it becomes a hit, and they go to jail. these investors trusted bialystock and bloom. they couldn't actually monitor them. they turned out to be bad eggs. that is the problem with capital markets. that is the problem with me giving money to people and not knowing what they end up doing. >> reporter: but of course, for every bialystock, there's a buffett; for every bernie madoff, a thousand honest brokers. because there have always been two faces of finance. >> this is actually my favorite book about finance. it's from 1688.
>> reporter: ah, yeah, it was a good year for finance. >> it was confusion de confusiones, he basically describes finance as the most noble profession, as well as the most notorious profession. i think we've lost sense of the nobility part that he describes, and we tend to focus on the negative. >> reporter: desai, wanting to accentuate the positive, uses an exemplar of finance from willa cather's 19th century novel, "oh pioneers!" >> alexandra bergson is this wonderful character who is a farmer, who starts by basically doing a leveraged buyout of farms near where she lives. >> reporter: she borrows money in order to buy. >> she borrows a bunch of money to buy all of these farms. >> now, i've figured it out. we sell most of the cattle and the corn we have left over. we buy the linstrom place. then we take out two loans on our half section and buy peter crow's place. >> she ends up engaging in transactions that would be in any finance textbook. but she never loses sight of who she is. she never behaves in ways that
would suggest that she thinks everything is due to her skill, as opposed to luck. she's very conscious of and very humble of her outcome. >> you've done wonders with this land, alexandra. >> we hadn't any of us much to do with it, carl. the land did it. >> we really need good stories about finance. because good stories will guide good behavior. >> reporter: it's a lesson desai tries to teach his students. >> pick your stories carefully, because you'll live your life by these stories. some of you might pick gordon gecko. i don't recommend it. alexandra bergson is a fantastic model. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, this is economics correspondent paul solman, reporting from boston. >> woodruff: while writing his book, professor desai says he was surprised to discover how many great writers, painters and musicians also held jobs in finance. you can test your own knowledge of these entrepreneurial artists with our online quiz at www.pbs.org/newshour.
>> woodruff: now, to another in our "brief but spectacular" series, where we ask people to describe their passions. tonight, we hear from british activist and attorney, alexander mclean. he is the founder of the ugandan-based "african prisons project," which seeks to improve the lives of people imprisoned in africa. >> i think that of any of us, if the world knew the thing we are most ashamed of, and that's all they knew, and that's all that they were interested in, society would lose out. because each of us has much more to offer than the worst thing we've done. i've been working in prisons in uganda since i was 18, spending a lot of time on death row, growing up with many of the death row inmates. they've become like family to me. i spent time in about a 130
prisons all over the world. i've seen that they're filled with people who are poor and not educated, and not connected. when i was 19, i first visited the women's prison in kampala, uganda's capital, that's where many women were on death row. often they were there for killing a husband. uganda has some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world, and sometimes when a woman fights back, she'll find herself on death row. that time i met susan, she was sentenced to death for killing her husband when she was 21. she shared her cell, designed for one person, with three other women. she started a school on death row. she established a choir. she was a lead in the prison church. i saw that susan was transforming her community from the inside out. the african prisons project got her admitted into the university of london in 2011 to study for a law degree by correspondence, as nelson mandela had done from prison in south africa. susan was one of the university of london's best students in human rights law.
she established a legal aid clinic in her prison, helping scores of her fellow inmates to be released from prison. she led a case, susan tigula and 417 others, where all of the death row inmates in uganda challenged the mandatory death sentence for murder and armed robbery. as a result of this case, susan and hundreds of others were released from death row. she's now completed her law degree. uganda's most senior judge invited her to apply to join the judiciary. she said, "i won't, and now i'm going to train women in prison in the law, so they can use the law to protect their families and their communities." we're in the process of establishing the world's first prison-based law college. we're then going to establish a prison-based law firm, through which they provide services to their peers. we've seen about 3,000 people released from prison in uganda and kenya, having accessed legal services from prisoners and prison staff we've trained. the law is seen as a profession for the privileged, for the elite. we want to change that thinking.
we recognize that actually, the law is here to serve all of us. we want to see people getting out of prison, become lawyers and judges, and politicians, and legal academics, and business leaders. going from the margins of society to the center of it. my name is alexander mclean and this is my "brief but spectacular" take on the power of the law in the hands of the poor. >> woodruff: you can watch more "brief but spectacular" videos on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and now to a "newshour shares:" something that caught our eye, that might be of interest to you, too. navy teams around the globe are often called in to assist in rescue efforts. but this week, one maritime mission in the indian ocean helped a unique creature in need. the newshour's julia griffin
explains. >> reporter: it was a routine patrol for a sri lankan naval team tuesday morning, when they spotted something unusual bobbing among the ocean waves. not a bird or a boat, but rather a fully grown, asian elephant, struggling to stay afloat nearly ten miles offshore. elephants are some of the best swimmers of land mammals, thanks to buoyant bodies and trunks that can be used as snorkels, but this pachyderm appeared fatigued and distressed. officials believe the animal had been trying to cross the kokkilai lagoon off the country's north-east coast when it was swept out to sea. deciding to intervene, the navy and department of wildlife dispatched additional teams to the area, initiating a mammoth- sized rescue effort. divers plunged into the salty water to soothe the elephant and loop a tow rope around its body. over the next 12 hours, they gently towed "jumbo," as it was affectionately dubbed, back to the sri lankan coast. and as day turned to night, rescue teams reached their destination, releasing jumbo, exhausted but alive, into the shallow water.
for the pbs newshour, i'm julia griffin. >> woodruff: what a happy ending. on the newshour online right now: newshour producer david coles was working as a bartender in greenwich village on july 13, 1977, when a massive blackout struck new york city and lasted 25 hours. on the 40th anniversary, he shares his memories of those two days. you can read that and more on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, the final episode of our "inside russia" series, and my review of the week with mark shields and david brooks. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway.
>> 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 access.wgbh.org >> you're watching pbs.
this season of "martha stewawars cooking school" explores treasured recipes from an extraordinary part of the world -- the arabian gulf. join me in my kitchen as i celebrate its regional ingredients. we'll make rustic breads, mouthwatering desserts, and hearty stews with spices made famous by historic trade routes, learn new culinary techniques and creative tips for serving arabian gulf classics, from preparing small bites to showstopping dishes fit for any festive occasion. with its bold flavors and strong traditions, i've been inspired to get into the kitchen and add what i like to call a good thing to an already delicious cuisine. enjoy. "martha stewart's cooking school" is made possible by... ♪ announcer: al jazeera.