October, 10, 2018 – PBS NewsHour full episode
October, 10, 2018 – PBS NewsHour full episode
AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
Judy Woodruff is away.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: A monstrous storm makes landfall.
Hurricane Michael lashes the Gulf Coast with Category 4 winds and dangerous storm surge.
Then: President Trump demands answers from Saudi Arabia after a prominent Saudi writer
Plus: farm to table.
Miles O'Brien continues our look at the fight over regulating pesticides.
MIRIAM ROTKIN-ELLMAN, Natural Resources Defense Council: We need farming that doesn't poison
We need farming that doesn't result in toxic residues coming home in everybody's grocery
baskets and ending up on the plates of their children.
AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight "PBS NewsHour."
AMNA NAWAZ: It's the strongest storm ever recorded on the Florida Panhandle, with sustained
winds of 155 miles an hour and the strongest anywhere on the U.S. mainland in nearly 50
Hurricane Michael blasted its way onto the Florida coast today and rapidly moved inland.
The waves built all morning, and the wind grew stronger by the hour, bending trees and
blasting rain sideways.
Then, early this afternoon, the center of the storm came ashore east of Panama City,
near Mexico Beach, with sustained winds at 155 miles per hour.
Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm was just shy
of a Category 5 hurricane, the most powerful on the scale.
Still, some of the 375,000 residents order to evacuate chose instead to ride it out.
MAN: I love my little house, but I love to fish in my boat, so just going to try and
keep an eye on it.
Probably a stupid thing to do, but I have done dumber things.
AMNA NAWAZ: But federal, state and local officials alike warned it might be too late by then.
Brock Long is the director of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
BROCK LONG, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency: Those who stick around
to experience storm surge don't typically live to tell about it, unfortunately.
AMNA NAWAZ: Others did heed the warnings, and, by this morning, more than 5,000 evacuees
were seeking shelter in Tallahassee, the state capital.
WOMAN: Understanding that this storm may be a little bit more intense than the others,
so I think it's a good idea, if people are concerned, that they have an option from here
or some of the other shelters.
AMNA NAWAZ: As the hurricane roared through the day, both civilians and officials could
only hunker down.
But Florida Governor Rick Scott had already said the state was gearing up for what happens
after the worst of Michael has passed.
RICK SCOTT (R), Florida: We will work around the clock to make sure that roads and bridges
reopen as quickly as possible.
We have trucks loaded with tons of food, water and other critical supplies ready to move
AMNA NAWAZ: The storm is also on a path to plow across Georgia and then through South
and North Carolina, both still recovering from last month's Hurricane Florence.
ROY COOPER (D), North Carolina: Winds will be strong enough to bring down trees weakened
by Florence, especially with saturated ground.
Winds will be strong enough to rip tarps from roofs on homes damaged by Florence.
AMNA NAWAZ: FEMA, already coping with the aftermath of Florence, is morning that recovery
from Michael could be slow.
BROCK LONG: This is here again -- and I keep saying this word far off too much -- is unprecedented.
So it's going to be a major hit.
The power is going to be all for multiple weeks, and you need to get your mind-set set
on that, and do what you can to prepare to overcome that.
AMNA NAWAZ: From the Oval Office today, President Trump promised full federal aid to storm victims.
He said he will probably visit Florida to see the damage on Sunday or Monday.
And for the latest on Hurricane Michael and where it's headed over the next 24 hours,
we're joined again tonight by Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center.
He joins me from Miami, Florida.
Mr. Graham, thanks for making the time.
Tell us now.
We're talking to you a little after 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
What's the latest that we know about the strength and the intensity of this storm?
KEN GRAHAM, Director, National Hurricane Center: Yes, we got some brand-new information that
just came in.
We're looking at still winds of 125 miles an hour, which is incredible, since we're
So you still have some of those hurricane-force winds.
We're looking at a movement still about 16 miles an hour.
So expect some speeding up with time.
So, luckily, we're not getting some of those high rainfall totals.
But we are having some issues, of course, with the winds.
Being inland like that, we still expect hurricane-force winds to stretch into central portions of
Georgia, so not just a coastal event.
You're going to get some trees down and some power outages even stretching into Central
AMNA NAWAZ: Talk about those hurricane-force winds even further inland.
Before it made landfall, a lot of people were talking about this being a worst-case scenario
Is that still the case?
Where does most of the danger lie?
KEN GRAHAM: Yes.
A lot of it was, of course, the winds.
When you have a system this strong, you're going to have winds that just are absolutely
So I think once we start seeing some of the damage areas, you will see some of the structural
damage, collapsed buildings and rooftops and trees down, power outages for weeks.
But what always scares me in these events without a doubt is the storm surge, because
half of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the storm surge.
And if you look at water in general, including the inland flooding, you start getting 90
percent of the fatalities.
So we have had some reports of some very large storm surge.
And these are the updated values.
We just updated these a little bit ago.
And you push all that water in with all that force and the hurricane-force winds, and it
- - just every little channel, every little river fills up well inland, in some cases
10 to 15 miles.
It takes time.
It really takes a lot of time, now that the wind relaxes.
It takes time to drain all of that out there.
So the values are going to stay high.
The water is always the most dangerous part of these.
AMNA NAWAZ: And tell us about the path now.
Where does the storm head next?
KEN GRAHAM: Yes, next, we're looking at continuing to move to the northeast.
And if you think about this, it's interesting.
So at some point, it will continue to be a hurricane and eventually a tropical storm,
continuing to be a tropical storm through the Carolinas, and actually exiting back into
So I think there's an interesting case here.
When you think about the flow around Michael, you have some onshore flow.
We actually have tropical storm warnings even from Georgia and the Carolinas.
So this is becoming an Atlantic issue too.
AMNA NAWAZ: Ken Graham at the National Hurricane Center, thanks for your time.
KEN GRAHAM: You bet.
AMNA NAWAZ: Now a closer look at the impact of Hurricane Michael so far.
Panama City Beach is getting hit hard.
And I spoke with Mayor Mike Thomas by phone this afternoon as the storm was making landfall.
MIKE THOMAS, Mayor of Panama City Beach, Florida: We have had quite a bit of damage.
But we actually, I think, are going to get less than I was expecting with the strength
of this storm and all in Panama City Beach.
I think Panama City and Mexico Beach and St. Joe are going to get a little worse.
It jogged just a little bit to the east before it hit us.
And the winds are horrible right now, these squalls coming through.
The surf was up real high.
But, all in all, we're in pretty good shape.
AMNA NAWAZ: Tell me a bit more, if you can.
Many people have never been through a storm like this.
Can you describe what you're seeing?
MIKE THOMAS: Well, the makeup of a hurricane is just amazing.
When the bands come through, one minute, it will be blowing out of the front of you, and
the next it's blowing from behind you.
It is amazing the way the dynamics change.
On the other end of the hurricane, I was just looking, and over Apalachicola, it's running
in their city streets.
The sustained will just take your breath away sometimes.
AMNA NAWAZ: This is looking like a historic storm potentially.
What are you most concerned about in the coming days?
MIKE THOMAS: This thing happened so quick.
It came out of the Caribbean.
And one minute, they are talking about it a little bit.
And the next minute, it's a huge hurricane.
They did a good job.
They warned everybody ahead of time, the state and our local people.
They have offered everything they have got and warned everybody ahead of time.
Some people are just concerned about leaving.
And when you -- when you leave and everybody leaves, there's no hotels around, there's
no gas around.
And it's difficult to persuade somebody to leave and make them feel good about it.
AMNA NAWAZ: What about the people who chose to ride this out?
Are you concerned about them?
And are you getting the response that you need?
MIKE THOMAS: I worry about people trying to get back too quick, power lines being down.
There is still a lot of danger out here.
And these gusts are still pretty strong.
And I have been through a bunch of them.
I have lived here all my life.
And I'm getting very old.
MIKE THOMAS: But it's just something you have to use common sense about it.
And I hope everybody will.
AMNA NAWAZ: Mayor Mike Thomas, thank you.
A financial storm sent Wall Street to dramatic losses today, the worst in eight months.
The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 831 points, or 3 percent, to close at 25598.
The Nasdaq fell 316 points, or 4 percent.
And the S&P 500 gave up 94 points, also 3 percent.
For more, we turn to Hugh Johnson, a well-known stock market watcher who's the chief investment
officer at his own firm, Hugh Johnson Advisors.
Mr. Johnson, thanks for making the time.
I want to ask you about something the president just said moments ago.
He called what we're seeing here a correction we have been waiting for, for a long time.
Is that your read on what we saw today?
HUGH JOHNSON, Hugh Johnson Advisors: Yes, everybody's going to have -- Amna, everybody's
going to have a very different opinion on that.
The real question -- and, of course, it's being raised -- is, is this simply a correction
in an ongoing bull market, or a bull market that has further to go?
Or this has been a very long bull market.
So many are asking the question, is this the end of the bull market and the start of a
bear market that will be accompanied by an economic recession?
My answer to that question is essentially in agreement with the president, that, based
on everything that I'm looking at, this looks to me as a correction, and a severe correction,
in an ongoing bull market.
And, from that point of view, Amna, I guess you would have to say that's kind of the silver
lining behind the dark cloud of what happened today.
Stocks are getting to levels that are starting to make a lot more sense from a value point
AMNA NAWAZ: Help us understand some of the elements behind the drop today, though.
Tech companies were particularly hard-hit.
They're usually a hot sector in the economy.
What happened there?
HUGH JOHNSON: Yes.
Well, that's -- that's a real good example.
The stock market itself, of course, there has been such a long bull market, and everybody
sort of instinctively says it's been that long a bull market.
Maybe I should cash in or sell a few stocks to reduce my exposure to the equity markets.
And they say that in particular about technology, because technology, the technology stocks,
things like Facebook and Apple and Netflix and Google, they have had the big run to the
Their valuations were very rich.
So they're really not only talking about the broad market being a little bit pricier, having
had a long bull market, but we're talking in particular about technology stocks.
And the worry, of course, is that we're going to get a slowdown in the earnings there.
But, basically, they got to levels which everybody worries about, that they're too high, and,
therefore, that's a real target for reducing your equity exposure, or your stocks.
AMNA NAWAZ: We heard the president also mention the Federal Reserve tightening its monetary
What about rising interest rates?
Did those contribute to the decline we saw today?
HUGH JOHNSON: Good, good, good point.
The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates for a while.
Longer-term interest rates in response to that have also been going up.
But I think what's happened, Amna, is that what's really concerned everybody is, everything's
been pretty gradual.
But the rate picture got a little bit more severe in the last three or four days, where
we saw what might be called a spike up in interest rates.
And that alone was really sort of part of the catalyst, along with the concerns about
Those two things together got -- a lot of everybody that was sort of edgy about this
market, got them off the fence and got them selling.
And that started to feed on itself.
So, no question about it.
Interest rates, the high level of technology stocks, those combined to be the catalyst
to get people selling.
AMNA NAWAZ: Very briefly now, there's been a lot of talk about trade tensions, specifically
tariffs between the U.S. and China.
How did those play a role in today?
HUGH JOHNSON: They played a role because you have a lot of companies now that are starting
to feel or see the impact on their operating profits from those tariffs.
And they're telling us about it.
So the concern there is that companies are not going to post the kind of earnings we
were hoping or expecting.
And that's largely because of the impact of trade and tariffs on their earnings.
And we're starting to see lots and lots of reports to that effect.
AMNA NAWAZ: Hugh Johnson, thank you very much.
HUGH JOHNSON: You're welcome.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other news: Rescue crews in Indonesia spent a final day searching
for earthquake and tsunami victims before that effort officially ends on Thursday.
The confirmed death toll now stands at 2,045.
But authorities say thousands more could be buried under tons of mud.
Some 10,000 workers, with the help of excavators, have been digging through mounds of debris
And some say they will keep going up there.
RAHMAN AL-FARISI, Rescue Volunteer (through translator): We are hoping that we can find
more bodies that are buried underground.
There are many more victims that are buried.
But what can we do?
The rubble makes the job complicated even with the aid of heavy machinery.
We will try our best every day to find all the victims.
AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, the Indonesian government said it's turning attention to rebuilding
More than 82,000 people lost their homes in the quake and tsunami.
In Kenya, 55 people were killed early this morning when their bus plunged off a road
and down a slope.
Police officials said the bus wasn't licensed to operate at night and the driver lost control.
Nine children were among the dead.
Pope Francis condemned abortion today, comparing it to a hired killing.
He spoke during his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square and insisted there's no excuse
for taking a life.
POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through translator): A contradictory approach also
allows the suppression of human life in the mother's womb in the name of safeguarding
I ask you, is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem?
It is not right to kill a human being, regardless of how small it is, to solve a problem.
AMNA NAWAZ: When he first became pope, Francis argued that Roman Catholic teaching against
abortion was clear without him speaking about it.
But church conservatives have urged him to be more vocal.
Back in this country, the secretary of homeland security warned that China is waging an intensive
campaign to sway U.S. public opinion ahead of the midterm elections.
Kirstjen Nielsen testified at a Senate hearing today and echoed claims made by President
Trump last month.
But she also said there's no evidence yet that the Chinese have tried to compromise
registration rolls or voting machines.
At that same hearing, the director of the FBI confirmed that a supplemental background
check of Brett Kavanaugh was limited.
Its focus was on sexual assault allegations against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
Wray testified today that the White House set the limit, but he suggested that wasn't
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI Director: Our supplemental update to the previous background investigation
was limited in scope.
And that is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back quite a
And I have spoken with our background investigation specialists and they have assured me that
this was handled in the way that is consistent with their experience and the standard process.
AMNA NAWAZ: Wray declines to give specifics or say if the FBI had investigated whether
Kavanaugh lied under oath.
The Supreme Court heard arguments today over detaining immigrants convicted of crimes.
The case centers on people given green cards and allowed to live and work in the U.S. permanently.
The U.S. government says, if they break U.S. laws, they can be held indefinitely pending
The green card holders say they deserve hearings to argue for their release while their deportation
President Trump is stepping up attacks on Democrats over a universal health care proposal
known as Medicare for all.
He wrote in "USA Today" that it would -- quote - - "eviscerate" existing benefits for seniors.
Democrats argue it would increase coverage.
The president also signed legislation aimed at cutting prescription drug prices.
And the Justice Department gave initial approval to letting pharmacy giant CVS Health merge
with health insurer Aetna.
The move is valued at $69 billion.
The companies say the deal will cut costs by encouraging patients to visit walk-in clinics
that CVS outlets.
Some consumer groups warn it could limit choice and drive up prices.
Under the deal, Aetna will sell its Medicare drug plan business.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": questions mount in the disappearance of Saudi dissident
the president announces a major change in ethanol gasoline rules in an effort to help
farmers; in refugee camps in Bangladesh, Rohingya women bearing babies born from rape; plus,
the health and economic risks associated with a controversial pesticide.
The case of a missing journalist could have a major impact on the United States' relationship
with historic ally Saudi Arabia.
Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen for more than a week, when he entered the Saudi Consulate
Saudi Arabia says it doesn't know where he is.
But Turkish officials say he was murdered and that the accusation has led to a new effort
today on Capitol Hill that could end in sanctions on Saudi Arabia.
Nick Schifrin starts our coverage.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The last time Jamal Khashoggi was seen alive, he walked into Saudi Arabia's
Istanbul consulate thinking he was safe.
The 59-year-old prominent journalist had told friends not to worry.
His fiancee waited outside, expecting him to emerge with papers allowing them to marry.
But just hours before, 15 Saudis flew into Istanbul to be what a Turkish official told
local media was a hit squad.
A newspaper close to the government reported the men had connections with Saudi military
and intelligence, and it also published their movements, including one of the planes they
used to arrive at morning and leave that night.
Turkish officials told international media these men likely kill Khashoggi on orders
from Saudi leadership and dismembered his body with a saw.
Khashoggi used to be a Saudi government adviser and always supported modernization efforts
led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.
JAMAL KHASHOGGI, The Washington Post: He is doing what we demanded of him to do.
So why am I being critical?
Simply because he is doing the right things the wrong way, very wrong way.
NICK SCHIFRIN: He opposed MBS' tactics, what Khashoggi described as a crackdown on criticism,
including female activists who've been arrested.
Khashoggi said Mohammed bin Salman stifled dissent.
JAMAL KHASHOGGI: So the environment in Saudi Arabia doesn't allow for constructive criticism
or constructive debate and discourse about lively matter, matter that are going to affect
us for the future.
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), South Carolina: I have never been more disturbed than I am right
NICK SCHIFRIN: Republican lawmakers have traditionally declined to criticize U.S. ally Saudi Arabia,
but in a letter released today, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and
other leading senators triggered a process that automatically imposes sanctions on Saudi
Arabia if it murdered Khashoggi.
BOB CORKER (R), Tennessee: Yes, all of us are taking it very seriously and urging pretty
dramatic steps to be taken.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Capitol Hill skepticism has been rising with civilian casualty reports
from Yemen, where the U.S. supports a Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting Iran-backed
But the reports about Jamal Khashoggi are pushing lawmakers to increase pressure on
The administration is beginning to respond.
A White House statement said National Security Adviser John Bolton, senior adviser Jared
Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talk with Mohammed bin Salman and -- quote
- - "asked for more details" and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation
And President Trump increased the pressure on Saudi Arabia when he said he wanted to
meet Khashoggi's fiancee, who appealed to the president and Melania Trump in a Washington
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: We're in contact with her now, and we want
to bring her to the White House.
We will have to find out who did it.
But people saw him go in, but they didn't see him come out, as they understand it.
And we're going to take a very serious look at it.
It's a terrible thing.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to the Saudis?
DONALD TRUMP: I would rather not say.
But the answer is yes.
NICK SCHIFRIN: We take a deeper look at what this could mean for U.S. and Saudi relations
with Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut.
He sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us today.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the ranking member and you have
been working on a letter that has just been released.
What does that letter say?
What kind of pressure are you trying to put on the administration?
CHRIS MURPHY (D), Connecticut: So, under existing global human rights law passed by the Congress
and signed by the president, the ranking Democrat and the Republican chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee have the ability to ask the administration to come to a finding
on a potential gross violation of human rights abroad.
And that's what this letter asks, for the president to make a determination as to whether
Jamal Khashoggi was indeed executed by the Saudis, as has been alleged.
Now, I think you have to take this letter with a grain of salt, because it is asking
the administration that has shown very little interest in getting to the bottom of this
story to come up with a definitive finding, which they may be unlikely to do.
But at least it requires the administration to now go through a process by which they
will have to do some fact-finding to discover whether, as we believe, the Saudis executed
NICK SCHIFRIN: That process last about 120 days, as I understand it.
Do you expect -- or perhaps do you hope that sanctions will be imposed on Saudi Arabia
to show them that there are consequences if indeed Jamal Khashoggi was murdered?
CHRIS MURPHY: So, if those sanctions have to be triggered by a presidential finding,
then my expectations are low.
I think the Trump administration has not shown much interest in trying to figure out what
And, of course, we know that there is this deep and unconditional bond that has been
created between the Trump administration and the Saudi royal family that I imagine the
administration is not going to be interested in breaking.
So if we are to impose sanctions or have some consequences for the potential murder of this
journalist, it's probably going to have to be Congress acting on its own.
So I'm glad this process is taking place.
I was glad to sign a letter.
But I also don't have high expectations that the administration is going to trigger sanctions.
NICK SCHIFRIN: This letter demands additional sanctions, but do you think, in the meantime
or in addition, the U.S. should, for example, cut off arm sales to Saudi Arabia?
CHRIS MURPHY: I think it's time for us to cut off arms sales.
I will be honest.
I have argued that we should do that separate and aside from the allegations concerning
But we're going to have to send some signal in the short term that the deliberate targeting
of a journalist, a U.S. resident journalist, is unacceptable.
It may take a long time for the administration to work through a sanctions regime.
We can take the immediate step as Congress of suspending arm sales to the Saudis.
I think that that would be -- I think that's worthy of discussion in the Foreign Relations
Committee in the upcoming days and weeks.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Let's zoom out here to talk about the region and U.S.-Saudi relations.
The U.S. administration's priorities in the Middle East are to counter Iran, counter violent
extremism, to get to some kind of attempt for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Saudi Arabia is critical for all those three things.
So why do you have some criticism of the administration for leaning on Saudi Arabia, for using Saudi
Arabia as a linchpin across the region?
CHRIS MURPHY: Well, there's no doubt that Saudi Arabia has been key in creating a kind
of detente in the region between the Sunni nations and Israel.
But on our other two objectives, the nature of the U.S.-Saudi alliance today is actually
running counter to our stated goals in the region.
By backing the Saudis play in Yemen, for instance, we are actually making Iran stronger, because
the longer that civil war goes on, the deeper Iran gets involved in the Houthi resistance
And we are actually helping fund radical groups all around the world by continuing this alliance
with the Saudis, who quietly funnel money to an intolerant brand of Islam, Wahhabism,
that forms the building blocks of a lot of these Sunni extremist groups around the world.
So, unfortunately, I think the nature of our alliance with the Saudis actually runs contrary
to many of our goals in the Middle East.
NICK SCHIFRIN: I have asked many officials in the Department of Defense about the war
in Yemen, and they say that, look, Saudi Arabia isn't perfect.
Of course, there have been civilian casualty incidents inside Yemen, but they are our ally.
We need to stand by them.
And they are on the same side as us when it comes to Yemen.
Do you believe that Saudi Arabia is on the same side?
CHRIS MURPHY: No, I don't think they're on the same side.
And I think that they have been misrepresenting the nature of the war inside Yemen.
They have been telling us that they're not trying to hit civilians, when the evidence
is to the contrary.
The evidence tells us that they are targeting civilians, that they are targeting civilian
It's not that they're missing their targets.
It's that they're actually hitting their targets.
And I think, if it turns out that they have been lying to us over the last few days about
the murder of Khashoggi, which I would argue they probably have been, then I think that's
further evidence to tell us that they are also not telling us the truth when it comes
to the way in which targeting is conducted inside Yemen.
All the evidence tells us that they have been trying to hit civilians, and they have been
And we should withdraw from our military partnership inside Yemen, because we should never be part
of any military campaign, even if it's with a named ally, in which civilians are the target.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, thank you very much.
CHRIS MURPHY: Thanks.
AMNA NAWAZ: Next: The subject of energy production was front and center during a campaign-style
rally President Trump held®MDNMin Council Bluffs, Iowa, last night.
John Yang has the story.
JOHN YANG: In the heart of corn country, President Trump made good on a campaign pledge to farmers.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: My administration is protecting ethanol.
JOHN YANG: The president told a Council Bluffs, Iowa, rally that he's directing the Environmental
Protection Agency to lift the ban on summer sales of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol,
known as E15.
DONALD TRUMP: We are unleashing the power of E15 to fuel our country all year long.
JOHN YANG: The move is a boon for corn farmers squeezed by low prices for their crop and
by foreign tariffs.
Ethanol is a biofuel made from corn.
Since 2007, it has been blended with gasoline.
Most gas today contains some ethanol.
It was once touted as a greener fuel source, but, increasingly, environmentalists oppose
expanding its use.
They argue the effects of growing more corn offset ethanol's benefits.
Also against the move, oil companies.
They have long opposed ethanol and say high ethanol fuel can damage engines in older cars.
The Trump administration's EPA has waived some rules requiring ethanol's use in gas
at the behest of oil producers.
DONALD TRUMP: I made that promise you during to you during the primaries, remember?
I made that promise.
Promises made, promises kept.
JOHN YANG: Politically, the president's move is seen as an effort to bolster farm state
Republicans in tight races this fall, including some he singled out during Tuesday's rally.
In addition, allowing year-round sales of high ethanol blends has been sought by Iowa
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who successfully shepherded the confirmation of Supreme Court
Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Mr. Trump said the administration would move quickly to have the new rules in place by
For a closer look at how the fortunes of corn factor into nearly everything in farm country,
particularly during an election year, we turn to Grant Gerlock.
He's a reporter with Harvest Public Media, and he's based at PBS member station NET News
in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Grant Gerlock, thanks for joining us.
Explain to us the pressures that corn producers are facing right now.
And how big a deal is this to expand the use of ethanol?
GRANT GERLOCK, Harvest Public Media: Well, corn prices have been down in the dumps for
a few years now.
And farm income has been on a downward trend for several years in a row.
And you mentioned the stress from the tariffs and those disputes with China and Mexico and
And so farmers have been looking for any kind of good news that might point towards signs
that maybe prices would increase and that incomes could come back up a little bit.
And so they look at E15 as something that could use more corn, because that's the most
common thing that ethanol is made from.
And if E15 is widely used in the U.S. -- and that would take a lot of work -- it could
use more corn.
That would be more demand for their corn that they sell, and would help prices and all those
things on down the line.
But it's just good news, when there's been a lot of bad news coming their way.
JOHN YANG: And explain to us why E15, why these higher ethanol blends were banned in
the summer months.
GRANT GERLOCK: Well, E15 wasn't even approved as a motor fuel until, in 2011, EPA approved
it for most cars and trucks built after 2001.
And when they did that, they kept this restriction for about three-and-a-half months over the
summer from June to mid-September.
And the reason they did that was because of smog.
That's the concern.
E15 is more volatile than regular gasoline.
And so it's a bigger risk for causing ozone pollution.
There are many parts of the country where smog is a problem during the summer months.
And if there's smog pollution, it can be bad for your health, especially if you have asthma
or COPD or other respiratory illnesses.
So they try to keep that smog down.
That's one reason E15 wasn't allowed to be sold during that time of the year.
But the trick, especially when you talk to ethanol -- ethanol groups about this, is that
during those summer months, when you can't buy E15, you could still buy E10, the 10 percent
blend of ethanol, which has about the same impact on ozone and those smog issues.
So they really saw that more -- as more of a technicality.
The reason E10 can be sold in the summer and not E15 is because E10 was given a waiver,
and E15 didn't have that waiver.
That's what they're looking for the EPA to do.
That's what the president is directing the EPA to do.
JOHN YANG: And as we said in the tape piece, that this is an unlikely alliance between
environmentalists and the oil industry against the president's proposal.
You mentioned the increased smog from E15, but there are other -- environmentalists have
other arguments against this.
GRANT GERLOCK: Well, one thing they argue is that ethanol was supposed to be the lower-carbon
And, in their view, it hasn't measured up to that promise.
Now, the EPA stands by their finding that ethanol made from corn is still a reduction
in greenhouse gases compared to regular gasoline.
But there have been a number of studies that raised that -- raise questions about that,
especially when it comes to looking at the impact on land use.
When ethanol was first being built up, the industry was being built up, a lot of farmers
saw this as a great opportunity, because prices were going up.
And so they took land that was in use for other things, like making hay or pasture,
and they started farming corn on that land.
That came with a release of carbon when those grasslands were plowed up to raise corn for
And there are other things that come along with that, habitat and the impact on water
quality, if there are issues with fertilizer running into the water.
So, those are things that environmental groups look at.
They'd like to counteract some of those effects that they see from increased production of
corn to produce ethanol.
JOHN YANG: And, quickly, the oil industry says this would damage older cars.
What's the argument there?
GRANT GERLOCK: Yes, it would damage older cars.
They talk about that a lot.
But the broader issue for oil companies is that, if you're using E15, you're using 5
percent more ethanol in your gas tank.
And that's 5 percent of ethanol that you're using, instead of gasoline made from oil.
And this is at a time when consumption of oil for gasoline has been on a downward trend.
So we have got a shrinking pie here, and they're not looking to give another 5 percent away
to the ethanol industry.
And so they have really stringently opposed this kind of expansion of ethanol production
And you see that in the people who support it and oppose it.
Ted Cruz has been one of the biggest critics of E15 expansion to year-round, E15.
And some of the big supporters have been Joni Ernst from Iowa.
So you have oil state in Texas, corn state in Iowa on opposite sides of this issue.
JOHN YANG: Grant Gerlock of the PBS station NET in Nebraska, thank you very much.
GRANT GERLOCK: You got it.
AMNA NAWAZ: We begin now with a strong warning.
This story and interview, which lasts about 10 minutes, contain graphic descriptions of
sexual violence that may upset viewers, especially children.
Last Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two people who fight the use of rape as
a weapon of war, one a survivor, the other a physician who treats them.
But this horrific tactic endures, nowhere more prevalent today than Myanmar, where the
ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority has seen an explosion of rape.
Judy Woodruff will explore some of the larger issues at stake here, but, first, from the
refugee camps of Bangladesh, where the Rohingya have fled, special correspondent Tania Rashid
TANIA RASHID: This 4-month-old baby has no name.
Her 18-year-old mother, whose name and face we conceal to protect her identity, doesn't
know what to call her.
Every time she holds this little girl, she says she is reminded of the violence that
brought her daughter into being, of being brutally raped by members of the Myanmar military
forces last year.
The troops murdered her mother and sister in front of her, then kidnapped her and kept
her for 10 days.
Six men stole her virginity and gang-raped her repeatedly.
WOMAN (through translator): The military took us to a Buddhist village, threw us inside
of a school, and kept us there.
There were three of us.
One night, they went out to dinner, and the wife of one of the soldiers helped us leave.
TANIA RASHID: She managed to escape and fled to Bangladesh, along with 700,000 Rohingya
Muslims, who made the same trek last year, walking through the jungle with no food or
WOMAN (through translator): I noticed some changes in my body.
I wasn't getting my period.
I realized I was pregnant.
TANIA RASHID: She gave birth in a sweltering hot dark hut with the help of a Rohingya woman.
Both she and her baby are malnourished.
WOMAN (through translator): I feel really weak and restless.
I have lost the energy to hold my child.
Since I have been here, I haven't been able to get a proper meal.
I eat very little.
I have no energy.
I'm not happy with my life.
TANIA RASHID: She says she feel deeply ashamed and has nothing to live for, except her child.
WOMAN (through translator): Who is going to look after me?
Now I have this baby, nobody will marry me.
If I was married off, I would have a child legitimately, not a baby out of rape, like
I do now.
TANIA RASHID: Cases like this are common throughout the Bangladeshi refugee camps.
This woman is one of thousands who were sexually assaulted during a bloody military crackdown
by the Myanmar military forces and armed vigilante groups last year.
The U.N. says military leaders involved must face genocide charges.
These overcrowded refugee camps are among the largest in the world, where close to a
million Rohingya refugees seek shelter.
Rape as a weapon of war and persecution is not a foreign concept for the Rohingya.
The Myanmar military has used sexual violence for decades.
Many are aware the women are victimized, but, in traditional Rohingya Muslim culture, rape
is seen as bringing dishonor to households.
Local health experts here say the survivors carry double the trauma, first from sexual
assault in Myanmar, then in the camps, where they're isolated and excluded from society.
They even face further sexual assaults from locals in the area.
According to a U.N. Security Council report in March, humanitarian organizations have
provided services to more than 2,700 survivors of sexual violence in the camps.
The United Nations populations fund has set up women-friendly spaces to help survivors
with psychosocial and medical support.
But the reach has not been strong enough.
Those cases of rape are coming at alarming rates to medical facilities in the area, it's
hard to trace the actual number of women that have been impregnated.
Many are afraid to come forward, due to shame and rejection in the family.
They turn to community healers and leaders instead.
Amy Garrett, who works as a midwife with Doctors Without Borders, has seen this firsthand.
AMY GARRETT, Midwife, Doctors Without Borders: Often, the women are given some blame for
this happening, which is crazy to think.
It's definitely the women have that, have the blame, it's their fault.
And if they have been perpetrated by such violence, if they continue with the pregnancy,
and they are unmarried, this can bring a lot of shame on their, and they will never be
And then I -- from my experience and from what women have told me, if you're an unmarried
woman, then life sometimes isn't even worth living.
TANIA RASHID: To avoid being disgraced and exiled from her community, this 15-year-old
girl, whose face we concealed at her request, made a difficult choice.
She aborted her pregnancy at four months while carrying her rapist's child.
GIRL (through translator): The doctors gave me two injections and some medication.
I took the medicine for three days.
Then the fetus came out of my womb.
The medicine increased my heart rate.
I felt really sick.
I felt like a dead person when it happened.
TANIA RASHID: Months later, she says her whole body still aches from the pain of the abortion,
but she doesn't regret the choice.
GIRL (through translator): People don't like hearing about women who are raped and pregnant
They will not see us in a good light.
If people find out I had a baby without a husband, people will harass me, and nobody
will want to marry me.
I will be seen as a whore.
TANIA RASHID: But, in her community, she's still widely known to have been raped.
She spends a lot of time alone, hiding in her hut, and risks sexual harassment from
men and boys in the area.
Nural Bashar is one of the few magis (ph), or camp leaders, in the area working to help
survivors of sexual violence.
He helped take six women to get abortions last year and continues to keep an eye on
NURAL BASHAR, Camp Leader (through translator): As a magi, I have to help these women.
I hope men will not look at them in a bad way.
I want to keep these women safe.
It is the world's responsibility to help them.
As a magi, I have to help them a lot.
TANIA RASHID: He says women in the camps remain vulnerable, and their best protection is marriage.
Even then, the risks remain.
NURAL BASHAR (through translator): Men will only marry rape survivors if the women have
And if they can't give any more money, then the men will leave them for being raped.
TANIA RASHID: With a community that views them as dishonored and unequal, survivors
of sexual violence continue to live in hiding.
Until those cultural stigmas around rape and sexual violence shift, thousands of girls
will continue to suffer toward an uncertain future.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Tania Rashid in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, for more on the Rohingya and related issues, including an award being
given to those trying to stop such acts of inhumanity, we turn to Washington Post columnist
David, thank you for talking with us.
What we have seen is just unspeakable, unimaginable.
And we knew that the Myanmar military was doing this, didn't we?
DAVID IGNATIUS, Columnist, The Washington Post: We did know.
That's part of the shock here, is that these terrible things were happening, and nothing
really was done to stop them.
I was lucky enough to meet a Rohingya Muslim lawyer who, after spending 12 years in prison,
devoted himself to trying to save as many of his people as he could last June.
The lawyer's name is Kyaw Hla Aung.
And it was an extraordinary meeting, and a person who is a real-life hero trying to save
these desperate people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, David, we know the reason you met him is because you were
part of a -- the process of awarding a prize to him.
It's a prize that has been given every year to people who are speaking out and working
to stop these sorts of terrible inhumanitarian things like we have seen in Myanmar.
Why does -- does shining a light on these things make a difference?
DAVID IGNATIUS: Judy, this prize, I hope, does shine a light and celebrate heroism in
It's called the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.
It was created by an Armenian named Ruben Vardanyan and two other Armenians, Vartan
Gregorian, who is the head of the Carnegie Foundation in New York, and Noubar Afeyan,
who is a businessman here in America.
My own family is Armenian originally.
So this had meaning for me.
The Armenians, as I hope people know, suffered from a terrible genocide themselves in 1915.
And the idea of this prize was to honor those who in our time try to prevent horrors like
this from happening.
This is the third year that this prize has been given.
This year's honoree, Mr. Kyaw, attempted to stop the genocide that's been taking place
against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The idea of this prize, in a simple phrase, is gratitude in action, gratitude from those
who have survived, whose family survived, gratitude to those today who are trying to
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, it's an uphill battle, isn't it?
DAVID IGNATIUS: Yes.
These unspeakable crimes take place in our world.
But I also have met the people who, with incredible bravery, are trying to stop these horrors,.
To meet these people who are heroes does give you some hope, even as you are reminded of
the horrors that go on around us.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You're so right.
I mean, we have to have hope, because it is - - again, to watch what has happened, to watch
these young women, the Rohingya young women who are faced with such a horrible choice,
one has to be filled with despair.
So knowing that there are people working to end this kind of thing has to give us hope.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Watching the story of the people in that camp, those women who have
been victimized so much, you think of their bravery.
You think of the people who are trying to help them, the midwife, the camp guide.
And you think of all the people who, in this nightmare, illustrate this Aurora idea, gratitude
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Ignatius with The Washington Post.
And, again, our thanks to Tania Rashid for that remarkable reporting from Bangladesh.
Thank you, David.
DAVID IGNATIUS: Thanks, Judy.
AMNA NAWAZ: Finally: the risk of potent pesticides long used in agriculture.
Miles O'Brien looks at why they're considered a key weapon in a farmer's arsenal, despite
real health concerns.
It's our weekly look at the Leading Edge of science.
MILES O'BRIEN: It's always harvest time in California's Central Valley, the nation's
fruit basket, but little else is certain here.
Just asked grower Bob Blakely.
BOB BLAKELY, California Citrus Mutual: I mean, if you had a million dollars, you would be
better off going to Las Vegas and gambling it then you would be going out here and becoming
a citrus grower.
MILES O'BRIEN: Growers must clear a high bar to achieve success.
The fruit has to be perfect.
BOB BLAKELY: If it doesn't look pretty sitting on the supermarket shelf, they're not going
to purchase it.
MILES O'BRIEN: Which puts them at odds with these little guys, cousins of grasshoppers
called katydids, which do a lot of damage to crops.
To kill katydids, many growers turn to a class of potent insecticides called organophosphates.
The most widely used is chlorpyrifos, manufactured by DowDuPont.
Chlorpyrifos works how fast?
BETH GRAFTON-CARDWELL, University of California: Pretty much within minutes or hours.
MILES O'BRIEN: Oh, OK.
BETH GRAFTON-CARDWELL: Yes.
MILES O'BRIEN: Serious stuff.
BETH GRAFTON-CARDWELL: Yes.
MILES O'BRIEN: Entomologist Beth Grafton-Cardwell is director of the Lindcove Research and Extension
Here, they grow citrus trees, deliberately subject them to an onslaught of pests, and
then try to figure out the best way to kill them to save the produce.
Sometimes, the solution is an organophosphate like chlorpyrifos.
BETH GRAFTON-CARDWELL: Because they are nerve poisons, and they're broad spectrum, and they're
general, and they will kill a whole array of pests.
MILES O'BRIEN: But for the same reason organophosphates are very good at killing katydids, they are
harmful to humans, especially children.
BRENDA ESKENAZI, U.C.
Berkeley: So our kids continue to be exposed by virtue of living near agricultural spraying.
MILES O'BRIEN: U.C.
Berkeley Professor and epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi is researching the impact organophosphates
have on children who live near the fields.
She began studying 600 pregnant women in the Salinas Valley nearly 20 years ago.
Eskenazi found pregnant women with signs of organophosphates in their urine gave birth
earlier, had children with diminished I.Q.s, and more.
BRENDA ESKENAZI: Attention problems when the kid was school-age, lower I.Q. in middle school
age, poor executive function a little bit later.
And now we're beginning to show some signs of poor social cognition, which is kind of
related to autism-like symptoms.
MILES O'BRIEN: Claudia Angulo lives beside the fields in the Central Valley with her
Her 12-year-old son has ADHD.
She is convinced it is caused by exposure to chlorpyrifos when he was in utero.
CLAUDIA ANGULO, Mother (through translator): Well, as a mother knowing about the pesticide
that caused this in my child worries me.
I'm also worried that my children continue to be exposed to this on a daily basis.
MILES O'BRIEN: In August, a federal court ruled the EPA must ban all uses of chlorpyrifos
nationwide by the end of November.
The agency originally had promised two years ago it would put the ban in place by March
But President Trump's EPA shelved the idea to allow further study, keeping chlorpyrifos
on the market.
The EPA has appealed the Ninth Circuit court ruling.
Meanwhile, growers say they are trying to employ an alternative approach called integrated
One of the primary tactics?
Make the enemy of their enemy their friend, that is, insects that prey on the crop-damaging
pests, so-called beneficials.
The approach makes chlorpyrifos less attractive for growers.
BOB BLAKELY: Chlorpyrifos is hard on some of our beneficials, so we don't like to use
If we're -- if we want to maintain our integrated pest management program, we would rather use
something that doesn't harm our beneficials.
MILES O'BRIEN: But many growers are changing their strategy in the face of an escalating
threat posed by invasive species.
BETH GRAFTON-CARDWELL: The first 15 years of my job, I had virtually no new invasive
It's escalating because there's just more people out there moving more products.
MILES O'BRIEN: She spends about 90 percent of her time focused on the biggest threat
of all, the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads the bacteria that causes a disease called
Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening.
It first hit Florida in 2005 and has since decimated much of the citrus crop there.
But, so far, the dreaded Huanglongbing disease has only appeared in some backyards in greater
L.A., not in any commercial groves.
California citrus growers say they need to keep the pesticide in their arsenal.
They say it might come in handy as they try to avoid a repeat of the devastation in Florida.
BOB BLAKELY: We have to be more aggressive because we're basically fighting for our survival.
If the -- if HLB, or the Huanglongbing, becomes established, we won't have a citrus industry.
It will kill the citrus industry, because that disease kills the trees, and there's
MILES O'BRIEN: But while the EPA was considering a ban on chlorpyrifos, its scientists concluded
there are safer alternatives to the pesticide.
Miriam Rotkin-Ellman is a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council,
which has sued the EPA, hoping to force it to follow the advice of its own scientists
to ban chlorpyrifos.
MIRIAM ROTKIN-ELLMAN, Natural Resources Defense Council: It's important that we take action
where the science shows us we need to get chemicals off the market.
We also need investment in non-toxic farming.
We need farming that doesn't poison the workers.
We need farming that doesn't result in toxic residues coming home in everybody's grocery
baskets and ending up on the plates of their children.
MILES O'BRIEN: Indeed, chlorpyrifos is detectable on conventionally grown produce sold in grocery
Washing fruit helps, but the only guaranteed way to avoid the chemical is to buy organic.
So why isn't that the preferred means of production?
BOB BLAKELY: But in terms of supplying the vast quantity of fruit that we need, it would
be very difficult to do it organically.
I have nothing against organic.
A lot of people prefer that.
The product I grow in my own home is usually organic, because I don't use a lot of pesticides
around my home.
MILES O'BRIEN: No such luck around Claudia Angulo's home, nestled near the groves in
She doesn't have a choice.
CLAUDIA ANGULO (through translator): We are living in a place where the economy is fueled
So if I go farther north or farther south, that will still be the case.
And I don't have the resources to move to another state.
That worries me.
And that's why I am fighting for a change.
MILES O'BRIEN: The long fight over chlorpyrifos has now moved into unplowed legal ground.
It's a battle between a federal court and the federal agency charged with protecting
families like Claudia Angulo's.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Miles O'Brien in California's Central Valley.
AMNA NAWAZ: And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, and see you soon.
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