PBS NewsHour Weekend full episode August 25, 2019


>>Sreenivasan: ON THIS EDITION FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 25: WORLD LEADERS GATHER IN FRANCE FOR THE G-7 SUMMIT. A LOOK INTO FINDINGS FROM THE D.E.A. OPIOID DATABASE. AND AN AUTHOR’S EXPLORATION OF CONFLICT– THROUGH FOOD. NEXT ON “PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND.”FROM THE TISCH WNET STUDIOS ATLINCOLN CENTER IN NEW YORK,HARI SREENIVASAN.>>Sreenivasan: GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US. AT THE G-7 SUMMIT IN BIARRITZ, FRANCE TODAY, PRESIDENT TRUMP MADE A WHIRLWIND OF COMMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS ON EVERYTHING FROM THE TRADE WAR WITH CHINA TO BREXIT TO A NEW TRADE AGREEMENT WITH JAPAN TO NORTH KOREA’S LATEST MISSILE LAUNCH. AT A BREAKFAST MEETING WITH THE BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON AND AIDES, THE PRESIDENT APPEARED TO WAVER ABOUT HIS RECENT DECISION TO INCREASE TARIFFS AGAINST CHINA AGAIN.>>MR. PRESIDENT, ANY SECOND THOUGHTS ON ESCALATING THE TRADE WAR WITH CHINA?>>YEAH, SURE. WHY NOT?>>SECOND THOUGHTS? YES?>>MIGHT AS WELL. MIGHT AS WELL.>>YOU HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT ESCALATING THE WAR WITH CHINA?>>I HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT EVERYTHING.>>Sreenivasan: HOURS LATER THE WHITE HOUSE ISSUED A STATEMENT SAYING THE PRESIDENT’S WORDS WERE “MISINTERPRETED.” NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT YAMICHE ALCINDOR IS COVERING THE G-7 MEETING AND SHE JOINS US NOW FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. WHAT’S THE MISINTERPRETATION? HE SAID HE HAD SECOND THOUGHTS.>>Reporter: THE WHITE HOUSE HAS REALLY BEEN TRYING ITS HARDEST TO WALK BACK THE PRESIDENT SAYING THAT HE HAD SECOND THOUGHTS WHEN IT CAME TO THE ESCALATING TRADE WAR WITH CHINA, BUT REPORTERS ASKED THE PRESIDENT THREE TIMES “ARE YOU HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS?” AND HE SAID VERY CLEARLY, “I HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT EVERYTHING.” NOW, SOON AFTER THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, STEPHANIE GRISHAM, SHE PUT OUT A STATEMENT SAYING THE PRESIDENT IS HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS BECAUSE HE WANTS TO ESCALATE THE WAR– THE TRADE WAR WITH CHINA EVEN MORE. SO SAYING THAT, INSTEAD OF SAYING THAT HE WANTS TO DIAL IT BACK, HE ACTUALLY WANTS TO DIAL IT UP. ALSO TREASURY SECRETARY STEVE MNUCHIN CAME OUT AND TALKED TO REPORTERS HERE IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. HE SAID THAT THE ROOM WAS VERY LOUD, THAT THE PRESIDENT MIGHT NOT HAVE HEARD THE QUESTION RIGHT, BUT AGAIN IT GOES BACK TO THE IDEA THE PRESIDENT REPEATED THE QUESTION AND SAID, “I HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS ON EVERYTHING.” SO IT’S VERY RARE FOR THE PRESIDENT TO EXPRESS ANY SORT OF SELF-DOUBT, IT’S VERY RARE FOR THE PRESIDENT TO EVER SAY THAT HE HAS SECOND THOUGHTS ON SOMETHING, BUT IN THIS CASE, HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN HAVING A MOMENT WHERE HE WANTED TO HAVE SOME SELF-REFLECTION, BUT THE WHITE HOUSE IS QUICKLY PIVOTING AWAY FROM THAT.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT. SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS AT THESE MEETINGS IS SORT OF ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATIONS WITH THESE LEADERS. PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE OF JAPAN AND THE PRESIDENT MET. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF THAT CONVERSATION?>>Reporter: THE U.S. AND JAPAN ANNOUNCED A PRETTY SIGNIFICANT POTENTIAL TRADE DEAL HERE IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. THE TWO LEADERS SAID THAT JAPAN IS GOING TO POTENTIALLY BUY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF CORN FROM THE U.S. AND THAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE ESCALATING TRADE WAR WITH CHINA HAS MEANT THAT A LOT OF U.S. FARMERS HAVEN’T HAD A MARKET TO SELL THEIR CORN. I TALKED TO A U.S. OFFICIAL WHO SAID THAT THIS TRADE DEAL IS A BIG WIN FOR RANCHERS AND FOR FARMERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE THE BASE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP AND HE WANTS TO DO SOMETHING TO REALLY LOOK LIKE HE’S HAVING A WIN FOR THEM. THAT SAID, THE PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN WAS A LOT LESS CONFIDENT THAN PRESIDENT TRUMP. PRESIDENT TRUMP WAS TALKING AS IF THE DEAL WAS ALREADY DONE. SHINZO ABE, THE PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN, THOUGH, SAID IT’S A POTENTIAL DEAL. THEY SAID THAT THEY WANT TO TRY TO SET A GOAL OF SIGNING IT NEXT MONTH AT THE U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN NEW YORK, BUT STILL THE DEAL IS NOT ALL THE WAY SET.>>Sreenivasan: LET’S TALK ALSO ABOUT ONE OF THE PARTIES THAT’S MISSING FROM THE TABLE, THAT’S RUSSIA. THE PRESIDENT WANTS RUSSIA THERE. THE ALLIES DO NOT.>>Reporter: THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN PUSHING TO HAVE RUSSIA ADDED BACK IN TO THE G-7, WHICH USED TO BE THE G-8, BUT THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN LYING ABOUT RUSSIA WAS KICKED OUT OF WHAT USED TO BE THE G-8 IN THE FIRST PLACE. PRESIDENT TRUMP IS SAYING THE REASON WHY RUSSIA WAS KICKED OUT WAS BECAUSE HIS PREDECESSOR, PRESIDENT OBAMA, WAS OUTSMARTED BY VLADIMIR PUTIN. THAT SIMPLY IS NOT TRUE. RUSSIA WAS KICKED OUT BECAUSE THEY ANNEXED CRIMEA WHICH WAS A SOVEREIGN PART OF THE UKRAINE AND AS A RESULT WORLD LEADERS GOT TOGETHER AND WANTED TO PUNISH RUSSIA. AND AS A RESULT THEY KICKED THEM OUT OF THE G-8 AND IT BECAME THE G-7. THE PRESIDENT TODAY SAID THAT ADDING RUSSIA BACK INTO THE G-7 IS A WORK IN PROGRESS AND HE WAS PRETTY CLEAR THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF WORLD LEADERS HERE WHO DO NOT AGREE WITH THAT STANCE. SO IT’S STILL UP IN THE AIR WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH RUSSIA.>>Sreenivasan: THIS WAS ALSO THE FIRST TIME HE MET WITH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON. HOW DID THAT MEETING GO?>>Reporter: THE MEETING BETWEEN BORIS JOHNSON, THE NEW PRIME MINISTER OF THE U.K., AND PRESIDENT TRUMP WENT PRETTY WARMLY. THE PRESIDENT PRAISED BORIS JOHNSON, SAID HE’S THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE TIME WHEN IT COMES TO THE U.K. AND BREXIT, BUT THEN BORIS JOHNSON IN SOME WAYS CONTRADICTED THE PRESIDENT A BIT. HE SAID THAT HE REALLY LIKED THE IDEA OF FREE TRADE AND HE SAID THE U.K. HAS BENEFITED FROM 200 YEARS OF FREE TRADE, WHILE THE PRESIDENT HAS PUSHED BACK ON THAT. BORIS JOHNSON ALSO SAID THAT HE IS NOT A FAN OF TARIFFS. SO IN SOME WAYS WHILE BORIS JOHNSON WAS SMILING AND IT SEEMED AS THOUGH IT WAS A VERY WARM MEETING, THERE WAS SOME PUSHBACK GOING ON THERE AND WE’VE SEEN WORLD LEADERS THROUGHOUT THIS G-7 GENTLY PUSH BACK ON THE PRESIDENT WHILE ALSO KEEPING THINGS POSITIVE.>>Sreenivasan: WE ALSO HAD A SURPRISE GUEST OF SORTS NOT AT THE TABLE BUT IN THE TOWN.>>Reporter: THE BIG SURPRISE HERE WAS IRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER, JAVAD ZARIF, SHOWED UP UNEXPECTEDLY AT THE G-7. IT COMPLETELY BLINDSIDED PRESIDENT TRUMP AND U.S. OFFICIALS HERE. WE’RE TOLD AT THE NEWSHOUR THAT THE PRESIDENT IS STILL WEIGHING WHETHER OR NOT HE MIGHT MEET WITH THE FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF, BUT WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THAT THE PRESIDENT IS FEELING AS THOUGH HE’S BEEN BLINDSIDED, AND HE FEELS AS THOUGH THIS IS THE FRENCH REALLY NOT DOING ITS DUE DILIGENCE TO TELL HIM ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING TO BE HAPPENING HERE. WE ARE TOLD THAT THE PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE ADVISED BY SECRETARY OF STATE POMPEO THAT ZARIF IS TOO LOW DOWN THE TOTEM POLE TO MEET WITH THE PRESIDENT. THAT SAID, IT’S 100% GOING TO BE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DECISION IF HE MEETS WITH ZARIF. RIGHT NOW, ZARIF IS EXPECTED TO ONLY MEET WITH FRENCH OFFICIALS HERE. THE PRESIDENT OF FRANCE, EMMANUEL MACARON, SAID VERY EARLY ON IN THE G-7 THAT HE WAS GOING TO TRY TO USE THIS G-7 TO EASE TENSIONS BETWEEN IRAN AND THE U.S. SO, THAT MIGHT BE WHY ZARIF MADE THIS SURPRISE VISIT.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT, OVERALL HOW IS THIS G-7 COMPARED TO PREVIOUS ONES?>>Reporter: THE BIG LOOMING QUESTION OF THIS G-7 WAS REALLY IS PRESIDENT TRUMP GOING TO BE UNPREDICTABLE? IS HE GOING TO GET INTO CONFRONTATIONS AS HE HAS DURING THE LAST TWO G-7’s? WHAT WE SAW WAS A LESS CONFRONTATIONAL G-7. LARRY KUDLOW, THE PRESIDENT’S TOP ECONOMIC ADVISOR, SAID THAT THERE ARE “GOOD VIBES HERE.” ALSO, WE’VE SEEN THE PRESIDENT HAVE WARM MEETINGS WITH WORLD LEADERS HERE. THAT SAID, IN MEETING AFTER MEETING WE’VE SEEN LEADERS REALLY GENTLY PUSH BACK ON THE PRESIDENT. WITH SHINZO ABE, THE PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN, AS I SAID THERE WAS THE ISSUE OF THE TRADE DEAL. ALSO, THE PRESIDENT SAID THAT HE DIDN’T THINK NORTH KOREA WAS VIOLATING ANY SORT OF AGREEMENT WHEN IT WAS TESTING ITS MISSILE, WHEREAS SHINZO ABE SAID HE SEES A COMPLETE VIOLATION BY NORTH KOREA BECAUSE OF THOSE MISSILE TESTS, SO WE SEE SOME PUSHBACK THERE. BORIS JOHNSON AGAIN WAS REALLY TALKING ABOUT FREE TRADE, EMBRACING IT WHILE PRESIDENT TRUMP WAS NOT. THAT SAID, THERE’S NOT GOING TO BE A JOINT COMMUNIQUE HERE, THAT’S BECAUSE THE FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON DOESN’T WANT TO HAVE A COMMUNIQUE THAT THE U.S. DOESN’T WANT TO SIGN SO THEY’VE DONE AWAY WITH IT COMPLETELY. SO OVERALL, IT’S STILL BEEN A PRETTY CALM G-7, BUT THERE HAVE BEEN FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES BECAUSE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S UNPREDICTABLE BEHAVIOR.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT, NEWSHOUR’S WHITEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT YAMICHE ALCINDOR JOINING US NOW FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. THANKS SO MUCH.>>Reporter: THANKS, HARI.>>Sreenivasan: VIOLENT POLITICAL UNREST CONTINUED IN HONG KONG FOR THE SECOND DAY IN A ROW TODAY. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE 12 WEEKS OF DEMONSTRATIONS THERE WERE REPORTS OF POLICE OFFICERS DRAWING THEIR GUNS AND FIRING AT LEAST ONE WARNING SHOT ABOVE A CROWD OF PROTESTERS. POLICE ALSO USED WATER CANNONS ON PRO-DEMOCRACY DEMONSTRATORS WHO ATTACKED OFFICERS USING STICKS AND RODS. BRAZIL’S MILITARY IS NOW PART OF THE BATTLE TO CONTAIN MASSIVE FIRES IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST. OFFICIALS REPORTED NEARLY 77,000 WILDFIRES ACROSS THE COUNTRY SO FAR THIS YEAR, THAT’S UP 85% OVER THE SAME PERIOD LAST YEAR. FARMERS SET MANY OF THE FIRES TO CLEAR LAND FOR PLANTING DURING THE DRY SEASON FROM JULY TO SEPTEMBER. MINING AND COMMERCIAL COMPANIES ALSO ILLEGALLY CLEAR-CUT AND BURN AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT. BRAZIL’S PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO IS FACING INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM FOR DELAYING A RESPONSE TO THE GROWING NUMBER OF FIRES AND FOR ENCOURAGING MORE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAINFOREST REGIONS. THE FIRES HAVE ALSO SPREAD INTO NEIGHBORING BOLIVIA, BURNING CLOSE TO TWO MILLION ACRES AND FORCING EVACUATIONS. FORMER ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN JOE WALSH IS NOW THE SECOND REPUBLICAN TO CHALLENGE PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR THE PARTY’S 2020 WHITE HOUSE NOMINATION. TODAY ON ABC’S “THIS WEEK,” WALSH SAID HE IS RUNNING BECAUSE MR. TRUMP IS “UNFIT” AND THAT “SOMEBODY NEEDS TO STEP UP.” HE ALSO CALLED THE PRESIDENT A BULLY AND A COWARD. WALSH WAS ELECTED TO CONGRESS IN 2010 AS PART OF THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT. HE LOST A BID FOR A SECOND TERM TO DEMOCRAT TAMMY DUCKWORTH IN 2012. AFTER LEAVING CONGRESS, WALSH BECAME A CHICAGO-AREA RADIO TALK SHOW HOST. FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR BILL WELD IS ALSO RUNNING FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION. FOR THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE G-7 SUMMIT, VISIT pbs.org/newshour.>>Sreenivasan: THE MANUFACTURERS AND DISTRIBUTORS OF OPIOID PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS SUPPLIED BILLIONS OF PILLS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, AND IT LED TO ADDICTION, ABUSE AND DEATH. YOU CAN SEE HOW AND WHERE THE EPIDEMIC GREW IN A NEW “WASHINGTON POST” REPORT, PART OF THE INVESTIGATIVE SERIES “THE OPIOID FILES.” USING A NEWLY-PUBLIC DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION DATABASE THAT TRACKS EVERY PAIN PILL SOLD TO PHARMACIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, REPORTERS ANALYZED MILLIONS OF TRANSACTIONS AND SHIPMENTS OF OXYCODONE AND HYDROCODONE PILLS FROM 2006- 2012. I RECENTLY SPOKE WITH STEVEN RICH, DATA EDITOR FOR “THE WASHINGTON POST,” ABOUT HOW THE NEWSPAPER’S TEAM GOT THE DATABASE AND WHAT THEY FOUND.>>SO, WE WOUND UP INTERVENING IN A COURT CASE IN OHIO IN WHICH THIS DATA BECAME AN EXHIBIT IN ORDER TO TRY TO FORCE ITS RELEASE. WE DID SO WITH THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE MAIL IN WEST VIRGINIA AND OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST YEAR, WE MANAGED TO FIGHT AN APPEAL AND MAKE IT PUBLIC. AND WHAT WE LEARNED WAS THAT THERE ARE WAY MORE PILLS FLOWING INTO THE PHARMACIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY THAN WE HAD EXPECTED. THERE WERE 76 BILLION PILLS OVER THE SEVEN-YEAR TIME FRAME ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, BUT THE PILLS THEMSELVES WEREN’T EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED. THERE WERE FAR MORE PILLS PER PERSON IN PLACES LIKE APPALACHIA, IN WEST VIRGINIA, IN KENTUCKY.>>Sreenivasan: AND YOU CAN GO ON THE SITE AND BASICALLY PLUG IT IN BY COUNTY ON A COUNTY BY COUNTY LEVEL AND SEE, AND ONE OF THE BREAKDOWNS THAT YOU HAVE WAS REALLY FASCINATING IS YOU’VE KIND OF DIVIDED IT BY THE POPULATION THERE, YOU SAY HOW MANY PILLS PER PERSON ACTUALLY SHOWED UP AND THE NUMBERS ON SOME OF THESE COUNTIES ARE STAGGERING.>>YES, SO ACROSS THE COUNTRY, THE NATIONAL AVERAGE WAS 36 PILLS PER PERSON PER YEAR. BUT SOME OF THESE COUNTIES, ESPECIALLY IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA HAVE UPWARDS OF 200 PILLS PER PERSON PER YEAR. AND THIS IS NOT JUST FOR PEOPLE WHO WERE PRESCRIBED THE PILLS. THIS IS 200 FOR EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD LIVING IN THAT COUNTY.>>Sreenivasan: AND, YOU KNOW, IN THIS, YOU’RE ALSO UNCOVERING E-MAILS AND PART OF THE REPORTING AND PART OF THE OPIOID FILE STORY AND WHAT IS THE CULTURE THAT’S HAPPENING AT THE COMPANIES THAT ARE DISTRIBUTING THIS DOWN TO THE PHARMACY LEVEL? INSTEAD OF SAYING HEY, WAIT, THAT SEEMS LIKE A REALLY LARGE NUMBER, WHAT WERE THE CONVERSATIONS?>>SO I THINK ONE E-MAIL SORT OF SUMS IT UP PRETTY WELL FOR ME, WHICH IS ONE SALES MANAGER E-MAILED AND JUST SAID “SELL, SELL, SELL.” THE CULTURE WAS, YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE WHO SOLD THE MOST OF THESE DRUGS INTO THESE PHARMACIES WERE THE ONES WHO WERE GETTING THE BIGGEST BONUSES AND THERE WAS A LOT OF, YOU KNOW, IN MANY OF THESE E-MAILS, THERE WAS A CALLOUS NATURE AROUND THE ADDICTION ASPECT OF THIS. AND SO REALLY WHAT WE’RE STARTING TO SEE FOR THE FIRST TIME IS HOW THESE COMPANIES HANDLED THESE UNUSUAL SHIPMENTS TO THESE PHARMACIES. FOR EXAMPLE, IN ONE CASE WE FOUND A PURDUE PHARMA EXECUTIVE WHO GOT A SUSPICIOUS ORDER E-MAILED TO HIM AND ONE MINUTE LATER HE APPROVED IT. AND SO THEY ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT THESE SUSPICIOUS ORDERS TO THE D.E.A. AND SO THAT’S WHY THEY HAD THE SYSTEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, BUT IF SOMEBODY IS APPROVING THINGS THAT QUICKLY IT’S HARD TO TELL WHETHER THEY’RE ACTUALLY TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IF THE ORDER IS SUSPICIOUS OR THEY’RE JUST APPROVING EVERYTHING.>>Sreenivasan: SO, DEPENDING ON THE CASE, SOME OF THE COMPANIES SAY, LISTEN IT WASN’T OUR FAULT, WE’RE NOT RESPONSIBLE, EVEN GIVEN ALL THESE E-MAILS THAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, BUT WHAT IS THE CONSEQUENCE? WHAT IS THE REPERCUSSION? WHAT CAN CONGRESS DO?>>IT’S HARD TO SAY. I MEAN, WE ARE SORT OF PAST THE HEART OF THE PRESCRIPTION PILL CRISIS AND INTO THE FENTANYL CRISIS. SO TRYING TO STOP THIS WAVE OF OPIOIDS IS SORT OF WHERE THEY NEED TO BE. RIGHT NOW, THE CURRENT SOLUTION TO THAT IS USING THESE OVERDOSE REVERSING DRUGS LIKE NARCAN AND THAT IS SORT OF STEMMING THE PROBLEM A LITTLE BIT IN PLACES LIKE OHIO, BUT IT’S SORT OF A BAND-AID OF A SOLUTION. AND SO THERE REALLY NEEDS TO BE AN EMPHASIS ON STOPPING FENTANYL FROM GETTING INTO THE COUNTRY AND ALSO IN TREATMENT FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ADDICTED TO IT.>>Sreenivasan: YOU KNOW, EVEN THOUGH WE’VE SEEN SOME SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT IN THE NUMBERS WE’RE STILL TALKING 60,000 PLUS PEOPLE DYING EVERY YEAR AS PART OF THIS CRISIS. SO WHEN– I WONDER THAT– YOUR NUMBERS WENT TO 2012. DID YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM IS WORSE OR DID IT GET WORSE IN THOSE LAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS AND WE DON’T HAVE THE DATA FOR IT YET?>>SO WE THINK THAT IT PROBABLY GOT A LITTLE WORSE IN 2013 AND 2014 AND AROUND THAT TIME IS WHEN THE D.E.A. REALLY STARTED TO CRACK ON PRESCRIPTION PILLS AND SO WE THINK THAT IT PROBABLY STARTED TO GET A LITTLE BETTER IN 2015 AND 2016. BUT AROUND THAT SAME TIME, PEOPLE WHO WERE ADDICTED TO THESE AND UNABLE TO GET THE PILLS ANYMORE STARTED TO SWITCH TO HEROIN AND AS A RESULT OF THAT THEY ENDED UP GETTING HOOKED AND MANY OF THEM SWITCHED OVER TO FENTANYL AND THAT’S HOW WE’VE ENDED UP WHERE WE ARE TODAY.>>Sreenivasan: YEAH. AND FINALLY, WHAT IS THE KIND OF REVOLVING DOOR IN GOVERNMENT ABOUT THIS? I MEAN, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT THIS IS A D.E.A. DATABASE THAT YOU FOUND ALL OF THIS THROUGH. WHAT’S HAPPENING TO SOME OF THOSE EMPLOYEES NOW?>>WE KNOW THAT A LOT OF THE D.E.A. EMPLOYEES WHO WORK SPECIFICALLY IN THE DIVISION TO PREVENT DIVERSION OF THESE DRUGS TO THE BLACK MARKET ARE NOW WORKING AT MANY OF THESE DRUG COMPANIES IN THEIR DIVERSION DEPARTMENTS AND SO THEY’RE LITERALLY SITTING ACROSS THE TABLE FROM WHERE THEY USED TO SIT WHERE THEY WERE TRYING TO STOP IT, NOW THEY’RE TRYING TO CONVINCE THE D.E.A. THAT THESE COMPANIES ARE DOING WELL WITH STOPPING IT AND SO WE’VE SEEN DOZENS OF EMPLOYEES IN RECENT YEARS MAKE THE JUMP DIRECTLY FROM THE D.E.A. TO THESE DRUG COMPANIES FOR MUCH MORE LUCRATIVE JOBS.>>Sreenivasan: STEVEN RICH, DATA EDITOR OF “THE WASHINGTON POST,” THANKS SO MUCH.>>THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.>>Sreenivasan: NEWS IN AND AROUND THE MIDDLE EAST THESE DAYS IS USUALLY ABOUT CONFLICT. BUT FOOD WRITER YASMIN KHAN SET OUT TO EXPLORE THE REGION. THROUGH FOOD. SHE COLLECTED RECIPES AND TELLS THE STORIES OF PALESTINIANS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA IN HER COOKBOOK “ZAITOUN: RECIPES FROM THE PALESTINIAN KITCHEN.” I SPOKE WITH HER PREVIOUSLY ABOUT HER BOOK AND WHY SHE FEELS FOOD CAN HELP FOSTER CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING.>>I’VE WORKED IN HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ABOUT 15 YEARS. I TRAINED IN LAW AND IN MY PAST CAREER. THAT WAS MY VOCATION, AND MY BRIEF FOR SEVERAL YEARS WAS ISRAEL-PALESTINE AND IT REALLY GOT ME INTERESTED IN THE REGION. AND YOU KNOW I’M REALLY INTERESTED IN SHARING PEOPLE’S STORIES. THAT’S THE COMMON THREAD THAT I HAD IN HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNING AND NOW IN MY COOKBOOKS, AND FOOD CAN BE SUCH A USEFUL VEHICLE FOR EXPLORING PLACES OF CONFLICT BECAUSE AS A NEUTRAL SUBJECT THAT EVERYONE ENJOYS FOOD CAN OFFER A VEHICLE THAT WE CAN BETTER UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.>>Sreenivasan: RIGHT THE OLD IDEA OF BREAKING BREAD WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR OR YOUR ENEMY, RIGHT? DO YOU FIND THAT EVEN FOOD IS CHARGED IN THAT REGION?>>I MEAN, EVERYTHING IS CHARGED IN THAT REGION. AND, AND CERTAINLY, YOU KNOW, FOR MANY PALESTINIAN COMMUNITIES YOU KNOW THE FOOD THAT THEY EAT AND HOW THEY EXPERIENCE FOOD CAN’T BE SEPARATED FROM THE POLITICAL SITUATION, YOU KNOW FROM THE WALL BEING BUILT BY THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT IN THE WEST BANK THAT CUTS OFF WATER SUPPLIES AND CUTS THROUGH PALESTINIAN AGRICULTURAL LAND TO THEIR BLOCKADE OF GAZA THAT’S LEFT OVER 80% OF GAZANS DEPENDENT ON U.N. FOOD AID TO SURVIVE. YOU KNOW, FOOD AND THE OCCUPATION ARE INCREDIBLY LINKED FOR THE PALESTINIAN COMMUNITY.>>Sreenivasan: AND EVEN THE WORD OLIVE, OR “ZAITOUN,” IT MEANS “OLIVE,” RIGHT? AND YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THE OLIVE TREES THAT ARE IN THE REGION.>>THAT’S RIGHT. ABOUT 80% OF THE WEST BANK IS AGRICULTURAL LAND. AND THE PREDOMINANT THING THAT IS GROWN ARE OLIVES AND I CHOSE “ZAITOUN” AS THE TITLE FOR THE BOOK BECAUSE OLIVES REALLY REPRESENT BOTH THE ESSENCE OF PALESTINIAN COOKERY. YOU ALWAYS HAVE A BOWL OF OLIVES AND THEN YOU ALWAYS FINISH MEAL WITH DELICIOUS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, BUT OLIVE TREES HAVE ALSO COME TO REPRESENT THE PALESTINIANS AND THEIR CONNECTION TO THE LAND AND THEIR STEADFASTNESS. AND WHEN THEY’RE UPROOTED AS THE U.N. REPORTED LAST YEAR THEY ROUTINELY ARE BY ISRAELI, ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK. THEY’VE COME TO REPRESENT PALESTINIAN DISPLACEMENT. SO OLIVES REPRESENTED EVERYTHING THAT THIS PROJECT WAS ABOUT.>>Sreenivasan: I MEAN, HOW DO YOU WRITE– TECHNICALLY THIS IS PALESTINIAN FOOD, THIS IS A STATELESS AREA, RIGHT? I MEAN, YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT A PEOPLE THAT DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY. BUT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT THAT FOOD AND THAT IS DISTINCT IN SOME WAYS FROM ISRAELI FOOD. I MEAN, TO AMERICANS IT’S ALL MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD, WHICH IS OUR PROBLEM.>>YEAH, I MEAN, IT’S SUCH A FUNNY– I’D LOVE US TO GET TO THE STATE WHERE IN THE U.S. WE CAN BREAK DOWN THE DIFFERENT MIDDLE EASTERN CULINARY TRADITIONS, YOU KNOW. YOU KNOW, WHEN WE SAY EUROPEAN FOOD WE KNOW THAT GERMAN FOOD IS DIFFERENT TO FRENCH FOOD WHICH IS DIFFERENT TO ITALIAN FOOD. AND IT’S THE SAME IN THE MIDDLE EAST. YOU KNOW, I MEAN UNDOUBTEDLY BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM COMMUNITIES LIVING TOGETHER FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS IN THAT REGION. THERE ARE MANY SIMILARITIES, BUT PALESTINIAN FOOD HAS ITS OWN UNIQUE FLAVOR, ITS OWN UNIQUE RECIPES BECAUSE YOU KNOW PALESTINIAN IDENTITY HAS, IS A RICH CULINARY AND CULTURAL TRADITION.>>Sreenivasan: SO IS THERE, IS THERE SOMETHING THAT’S QUINTESSENTIALLY PALESTINIAN THAT WE JUST FOR, TAKE FOR GRANTED AS MIDDLE EASTERN IN GENERAL? WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT IS, YOU KNOW, WHAT’S A RECIPE THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE, THAT SAY NOW IF YOU’RE EATING THIS, THIS IS ACTUALLY SOMETHING THE PALESTINIANS HAVE EATEN FOR WHATEVER, THOUSANDS OF YEARS?>>I THINK IT’S MUSAKHAN, WHICH IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE RECIPES IN THE BOOK, AND IT’S PIECES OF CHICKEN THAT YOU MARINATE IN SUMAC WHICH IS THIS ASTRINGENT SPICE, AND RED ONIONS, AND YOU ROAST IT AND THEN YOU GET SOME BREAD AND PUT THE CHICKEN ON TOP AND POUR THE CHICKEN JUICES ON TOP SO IT SOAKS INTO THE BREAD, AND IT’S A BIG SHARING DISH THAT YOU’D KIND OF TEAR APART WITH YOUR HANDS AND THAT IS A DISH THAT YOU’LL FIND IN ALL PALESTINIAN COMMUNITIES. AND FOR ME REALLY CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF SHARING THAT IS SO INTEGRAL TO PALESTINIAN FOOD.>>Sreenivasan: WAS IT LOGISTICALLY DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO GET AROUND WHEN YOU DID THE RESEARCH TO TALK TO ALL THESE PEOPLE?>>IT WAS VERY HARD. I MEAN AS, AS A JOURNALIST, YOU KNOW, AND A WRITER I WAS DETAINED AT TEL AVIV AIRPORT WHEN I WAS ENTERING THE COUNTRY ON BOTH OCCASIONS. AND ALSO JUST, YOU KNOW.>>Sreenivasan: DID THEY BELIEVE YOU THAT YOU’RE WORKING ON A COOKBOOK?>>WELL, YOU KNOW, THEY– AFTER SIX HOURS OF DETENTION THEY, THEY CERTAINLY DID, AND MY, MY INTERVIEWER WENT ON OVER AND OVER EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE MY HISTORY MY WORK MY FAMILY AND AT THE END OF IT I WAS LIKE, LOOK, IF YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME YOU KNOW I’M JUST WRITING A COOKBOOK. YOU KNOW, WHY DON’T YOU JUST LET ME IN OR SEND ME BACK? I’M NOT THAT INTERESTED. AND MY INTERVIEWER WHO HADN’T INTRODUCED HIMSELF IN THE WHOLE TIME WE WERE TALKING JUST LOOKED AT ME WITH THIS DEAD FACE AND WAS JUST LIKE, BUT DO YOU KNOW ANYONE IN HAMAS? AND I WAS LIKE, OH, YOU KNOW THE, THE LEVELS OF, OF I THINK INTIMIDATION THAT MANY, MANY PEOPLE OF MUSLIM HERITAGE HAVE WHEN THEY’RE ENTERING ISRAEL IS ALONG THOSE LINES OF JUST EVERY BIT OF THEIR LIVES QUESTIONED.>>Sreenivasan: WHAT ABOUT THE RESPONSE FROM THE SOURCES WHEN YOU’RE ACTUALLY HAVING THIS CONVERSATION WITH THEM, DO THEY, HOW DO THEY PERCEIVE YOUR ATTEMPT TO CHRONICLE THIS?>>WELL AS AN OUTSIDER AND I THINK THAT THERE IS A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE THAT TRAVEL WRITERS HAVE ALWAYS PLAYED, AND JOURNALISTS, IN BEARING WITNESS TO SITUATIONS AND JUST AS IN MY FIRST BOOK, “THE SAFFRON TALES.” I’VE HAD A VERY SIMILAR REACTION IN THE RESPONSE FOR “ZAITOUN” BECAUSE PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST ARE SO FRUSTRATED AT ONLY BEING DEPICTED AS EITHER TERRORISTS OR VICTIMS YOU KNOW THE IDEA THAT THIS WAS A BOOK THAT WAS ABOUT CELEBRATING PALESTINIAN CULTURE ABOUT SHARING SOME OF THE JOY AND BEAUTY THAT EXISTS WITHIN THIS FRAUGHT SITUATION WAS SOMETHING THAT YEAH, I MEAN, IT MEANT THAT WE WERE CONSTANTLY GETTING INVITED INTO PEOPLE’S HOUSES FOR DINNER YOU KNOW I GOT INVITED TO A WEDDING YOU KNOW HAVING JUST NEVER MET THE PERSON BEFORE.>>Sreenivasan: HEY THERE’S A FEAST YOU SHOULD CHECK THIS OUT.>>EXACTLY. BUT ALSO, YOU KNOW, PALESTINIANS ARE INCREDIBLY HOSPITABLE AND GENEROUS PEOPLE AND THAT ISN’T SOMETHING YOU GET TO HEAR ABOUT VERY OFTEN AND THAT’S WHAT I WAS, YOU KNOW, IT’S REALLY DRIVEN ME TO WRITE THIS BOOK. I MEAN THERE WAS THIS OLD JEWISH PROVERB THAT I LEARNT DURING THE RESEARCH FOR THE BOOK THAT IS “MY ENEMY IS JUST A PERSON WHOSE STORY I HAVEN’T HEARD YET.” AND THAT FOR ME REALLY IS SUCH A MOVING PHRASE AND REALLY ENCAPSULATES EVERYTHING THAT I’M TRYING TO DO IN MY WORK JUST SHARE STORIES AND TRY TO BREAK DOWN THIS, THIS DEHUMANIZATION THAT TOO OFTEN HAPPENS WHEN WE’RE REPORTING ON THE MIDDLE EAST, AND BUILD CONNECTION BECAUSE I REALLY BELIEVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, HUMANS, NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE IN THE WORLD, HAVE GOT MORE TO UNITE US THAN DIVIDE US.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT. THE BOOK IS CALLED “ZAITOUN.” YASMIN KHAN, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.>>THANK YOU.>>Sreenivasan: FINALLY TONIGHT, WHILE LEADERS OF THE G-7 NATIONS MET IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE TODAY, IN PARIS PEOPLE LINED THE STREETS TO CELEBRATE THE 75th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CITY’S LIBERATION FROM THE NAZIS. CHEERING CROWDS WAVED FRENCH FLAGS DURING A PARADE FEATURING VINTAGE CARS AND MILITARY VEHICLES AND PEOPLE DRESSED IN 1940’s COSTUMES. TWO MILLION PEOPLE FILLED THE STREETS OF PARIS ON AUGUST 25, 1944 TO CELEBRATE. THAT’S ALL FOR THIS EDITION OF “PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND.” I’M HARI SREENIVASAN. THANKS FOR WATCHING. HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.

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