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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Tackling The "Axis Of Evil"; Interview With King Abdullah II of Jordan; A Look Deep Inside the Hermit Nation; How The Widening Socioeconomic Gap Hurts Our Kids. Aired 10-11a ET.
Aired May 3, 2015 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the global public square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
ZAKARIA: On today's show, the axis of evil. Remember that phrase? Well, we're going to tackle all three countries today. Iraq, North Korea, and Iran.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Axis of evil.
ZAKARIA: The Persian nation is first up. We know all too well how the nuclear agreement is playing in the United States.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And this Iran deal, I believe, is an historic mistake.
ZAKARIA: But what do the Iranians think about it? Both regular, everyday folks, and the hardliners in government. I'll talk to "The New York Times'" Tehran bureau chief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a powerful propaganda machine.
Then Iraq and Syria and ISIS. We have a rare treat: a king to tell us about the terror group's rise and how it will meet its demise. King Abdullah II of Jordan.
KING ABDULLAH II, JORDANIAN LEADER: I think they've -- their best days are behind them.
ZAKARIA: And a look deep inside North Korea. The most secretive nation on earth. Best-selling author Blaine harden has dug into the hermit kingdom and discovered some frightening information.
Finally, it's state-of-the-art technology most famous for use in killing machines. But we'll show you some drones that could be used to save lives instead of ending them.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. Reading about the short, troubled life of Freddie Gray, who suffered lead poisoning as a child, was arrested for drug offenses more than a dozen times, and eventually died in police custody last month in Baltimore, I recalled a description of a world of young men, mostly black, trapped in America's criminal justice system. It was written by an arch conservative who was at the time a prisoner in a Florida jail. It says, "Many are victims of legal and social injustice, inadequately provided for by the public assistance system and over-prosecuted and vengefully sentenced. The failures of American education, social services, and justice are unaffordable as well as repulsive. In tens of millions of undervalued human lives, the United States pays a heavy price for an ethos afflicted by wantonness, waste, and official human indifference."
The author of those words is a foreigner, Conrad Black, once one of the world's most powerful media barons who spent more than three years in a U.S. prison on charges of fraud. Whatever one thinks of Black's own case, which is complicated, his lessons are worth taking seriously, since they come from a friend of America and a hardline conservative at that.
It is well known by now that with nearly five percent of the world's population, Black says, the United States has 25 percent of the world's prisoners. America's prison population is many, many times higher per capita than that of other advanced democracies like Canada, Britain, France, and Japan. Prosecutors in the United States win 95 percent of their cases, Black says. 90 percent of them without ever having to go to trial. That conviction rate is 60 percent in Canada and around 50 percent in Britain, he claims.
Now, are American prosecutors that much better? No, argues Black. It is because of the plea bargain, a system of bullying and intimidation by government lawyers for which they would, quote, "be disbarred in most other serious countries and which enables prosecutors to threaten everyone around the target with indictment if they don't miraculously recall under careful government coaching inculpatory evidence." Black cites a much-discussed essay from last November in The New York Review of Books. U.S. district judge Jed Rackoff argued that because of the plea bargain, the criminal justice system in the United States today bears little relationship to what the founding fathers contemplated, what the movies and television portray, or what the average American believes. There is more
[10:05:00] often than not no day in court, no trial, no rights for the accused. The prosecutor almost always gets what he wants.
Having served on a grand jury myself, I can confirm that it is, in fact, a rubber stamp for the prosecution, which is exactly the opposite of what it was intended for.
The crime wave of the 1970s scared America. And when scared, Americans often overreact and enact bad legislation. What followed were a spate of laws relating to drugs and crime that have given the police and prosecutors far too much power and the accused too few protections and too little dignity. The zeal to lock people up has spawned a vast prison industrial complex that now lobbies aggressively for its own special interests, which of course mean more arrests, lockups, and thus more prisons.
The Anglo-American system of law was historically defined by its focus on the rights of the accused, not the powers of the prosecutor. In describing that system, the great English jurist William Blackstone once said, "Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." We have strayed very far from that sensibility in America today. For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week.
Let's get started.
Iran's actions this week again made many observers scratch their heads in confoundment. On Tuesday, the nation's Revolutionary Guard fired shots across the bow of a cargo ship, the Maersk Tigris, and then seized it. According to the shipping company, the Tigress was in international waters at the time, and such a hostile action is said to go against accepted standards of maritime law.
And this, of course, comes at a crucial time for Iran as it tries to finalize a nuclear deal with the West. I wanted to dig deeper and understand the collective psyche of the Persian people, if one could do such a thing, where their heads are at this important juncture in history. We all know how Americans feel about the nuclear deal. There's cautious optimism from its supporters --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think this is the best that's going to get done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: -- and not so cautious pessimism from its detractors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: You will see a nuclear armed Middle East, and that is incredibly dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But we know little about how Iranians feel. To talk about that, a special guest is here in studio. Thomas Erdbrink is the Tehran bureau chief for "The New York Times," and he knows Iran like few Western reporters. He has lived there for 13 years and is married to an Iranian woman.
ZAKARIA: First, from what you can tell, what has been the public popular reaction to this agreement?
THOMAS ERDBRINK, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, if you take into account that people feel isolated because of the sanctions and that President Rouhani came to power with the problem -- with the promise of restoring relations with the rest of the world, you can imagine the joy that many people felt when the news of a framework agreement came out. And, of course, we saw images of people going out in the streets and honking their cars. But those are only a couple of thousands in a city of 12 million.
Still, that evening was a very historic evening because not only this framework agreement was struck. Also, President Obama gave a press conference which was aired live on the Iranian state television.
And a lot of people, they stayed home and they watched it. And someone came up to me and said, Thomas, I don't believe this.
We have been disappointed so many times over the past years.
How is -- will this really lead to a deal?
And as days passed and more details came out, people got the feeling that, OK, of course, there are a lot of points to be discussed, but it seems that everything is moving in the direction of a solution.
ZAKARIA: What about Iran's hardliners? Can they derail the deal?
ERDBRINK: Iran's hardliners are not like the hardliners in the West. Iran's hardliners take cue from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali- Khamenei. And he has been the great architect behind these talks. He has been leading these talks. He has been allowing these talks. He has been giving public speeches about these talks.
And at no point has he, um, said that he is against these talks. He says he is not optimistic. He says that the Americans are not to be trusted. But recently, he also said if these talks succeed, we might talk about other issues with the Americans.
Now, Iran's hardliners, they listen very carefully to him. And I don't think they will independently, after a deal was struck that has gotten the ayatollah's seal and approval, that they will form a big issue with the way here in -- in the United States Congress which is an independent power, can create
[10:10:00] problems for the Obama administration regarding this deal.
ZAKARIA: The supreme leader, do you think he is aware of the kind of public longing for the sanctions to be lifted, for contact with the world and the West?
Do you think that that -- that he's aware of that and do you think that matters to him?
ERDBRINK: I absolutely think that -- that -- that he is aware of the sentiments on their -- on his population.
Ayatollah Khamenei is -- is very well informed. And part of his calculation, if you will be, is that in order for this nuclear problem to be solved, he needs his nuclear problem to be solved in order for Iran to move forward and to remain a strong country. ZAKARIA: When I look at the hardliners, what strikes me is that they still seem to have considerable power in the Iranian system. And I look at one -- one bellwether, which is, you know, im -- important to me, which is what has happened that "The Washington Post" reporter, Jason Rezaian, who has been arrested on trumped up charges, now is being accused of espionage, which is ludicrous.
But the fact that this can happen while Rouhani and Zarif are trying to make this overture, this deal with the West, suggests to me that there are people in Iran who are trying to sabotage, you know, this effort even as he -- even as they're negotiating it.
ERDBRINK: Absolutely. And not only is this a thorn in the side of people like Rouhani and Zarif, his foreign minister, but it also sort of underscores their limited power, because how can Mr. Rouhani and Mr. Zarif claim that they're able to make a nuclear deal, a ground- breaking and historic nuclear deal with Iran, but at the same time tell the administration, oh, we are unable to get Jason Rezaian released?
It is definitely a big stain on their attempt to sort of regain new grounds with -- with -- with the West. And Jason is a friend of mine. He's my successor at "The Washington Post." I worked for "The Washington Post" for four years. I saw Jason very often. And I am not the Iranian judiciary, of course, but I have not seen any of the things they accuse him of. And one of the accusations, actually, is writing a letter to President Obama -- well, that is exactly the same thing that Ayatollah Khamenei has done.
So that comes -- it's such a big crime.
ZAKARIA: Thomas, a pleasure to have you on.
ERDBRINK: Thanks for having me.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, today's main event, Jordan's King Abdullah on the fight against ISIS. His nation shares borders with both Iraq and Syria. He has a huge vested interest in this fight. His Majesty will tell us how he thinks these terrorists can be defeated.
ZAKARIA: Many of you tuned in last Monday hoping to see our new special on ISIS only to find out it had been pre-empted for breaking news. We heard from a lot of disappointed viewers, but we have good news. The special, which is called "Blindsided: How ISIS Shook The World," has been rescheduled for Monday, May 11, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.
Given the great interest in understanding ISIS, that will be the topic of today's main event. As many of you will remember, I traveled to Jordan recently to interview that nation's king, Abdullah II. We did a special section of that interview on the ISIS threat, where it came from, how it surprised so many, how it will end. This has never aired before, but I wanted to show it to you now.
ZAKARIA: Your Majesty, thank you so much for joining us.
KING ABDULLAH II: Great to be here, Fareed. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: How did ISIS come about? What -- in your mind, where did this come from?
ABDULLAH: That's the million dollar question. There's a lot of conspiracy theories out there. There is no set answer. From the Jordanian perspective, we saw ISIS several, almost two years ago formed out of Raqqah in the north which is their major headquarters.
And what was interesting is, as they were forming and being built and strengthened, they were not being hit. The regime, the Syrian regime was hitting everybody else, but not ISIS. And that raised a lot of eyebrows, you know, why were they allowed to build?
One argument was obviously because there was such international condemnation of the regime let's get somebody out there that's worse from the regime point of view. So that you can swing public opinion back towards Bashar. And they've been very successful in doing that. Because today if you ask, I think everybody in the region, who's worse the regime or ISIS? -- I think a lot of people will point the finger at ISIS.
ZAKARIA: You're a military man. Are they good on the battlefield?
ABDULLAH: Well, tactically what they do, and this is the sad part about it, there's a lot of young, frustrated and deluded Muslims around the world. You know a lot of them from poverty backgrounds who believe in this false claim of this Islamic caliphate that has no relationship in our Islamic history. And believe the mantra that these people have, that come to Syria and to Iraq to fight the war. And they're basically the cannon fodder.
And so what happens is they're considered sort of the light shock troops. They're the suicide bombers whether by vehicles or by cars. And they're the expendables. And so the tactics are is you've got these light troops that come in as the first wave, blowing themselves up either by vehicles or by blowing themselves up against the more regular troops that everybody else has.
And then the heavy infantry, which is the hard core ISIS, are the ones that then exploit their positions. So they have an abundance of these throw-away jihadist and that's the sad part about it. And then any foreign fighter that comes into Syria (INAUDIBLE) ISIS this is not what they signed up for, get executed. We heard for example, that when our brave pilot was executed there
were some Syrians and some jihadist that sort of said, look, this is wrong. They were executed on the spot. So anybody who says this is not right is not tolerated.
ZAKARIA: So how does this all end with ISIS?
ABDULLAH: Well from the military tactical perspective you watch how the offensives develop inside of Iraq. But again, the underlying issues is I think how the Kurds are properly supported. Because that is going to be very, very critical. How do we all reach out to the Sunnis to feel that there is a future for them? And that they are not alone.
And if we do not solve the puzzle of a future political future for the Sunnis in Iraq, then they're sitting there saying, Baghdad and ISIS -- what's the difference? So I think the key is that unless we can unravel the future of a Sunni or a Sunni-stan as part of the future of Iraq, then the Iraqi puzzle will never be done. And I hope that our friends especially in the United States understand that crucial part.
From Syria again is how we reach out the Syrian tribes and I think that this is the beginning of the end of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. So I'm seeing that they're heydays is behind them. It's not something that's going to happen overnight. But I think that their best days are behind them.
But again the holistic approach. Look at Egypt, the support for Egypt is tremendously important because they have the problems in the Sinai. The next elephant in the room, the big elephant in the room that nobody is really concentrating upon is Libya. And this is where Egypt plays a very vital role.
Then Boko Haram and Shabab holistically we have to figure out how to tactically and strategically, as part of the international community, deal with these issues. As well as the groups out in Asia (ph). If we don't do it that way, we can't just say, ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Then 2016, look at Sinai and Libya and then 2017, start thinking about Africa. It has to have a holistic strategy in 2015.
ZAKARIA: Final, final question. Ideologically they can be defeated?
ABDULLAH: Ideologically, they represent one percent of Sunni Islam, and we should not be victimized because of this one percent. They will -- false prophets always fail. True Islam will always succeed. But we cannot be victimized as the enemy by the rest of the international community.
So what we ask is other religions and societies across the world, stand with us. Stand with the good Muslims that are out there fighting this fight. Be part of our partners against this issue. And we will be victorious.
But we all have to come together. This is a generational fight. This is the third World War by other means. And we will only victorious if all of us put our differences aside. Move away from hate speech and move away from falling into the trap that the extremist ones by asking all of you to fall into the trap of giving them more power than they deserve.
ZAKARIA: Your Majesty, pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much.
ABDULLAH: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, a ground breaking study that might help you live a little longer. It's a study of how people die. It really is fascinating. It tries to chronicle almost every death in almost every country across the world. It's big data, and the results are fascinating.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What In The World" segment. The devastating earthquake in Nepal has wreaked havoc and destruction, killing many thousands. It's a tragedy that deserves the world's attention.
But this week we wanted to alert you to other mortal threats to humanity that gets far less attention than earthquakes but are just as important to keep in mind. For example, in 2013, more people were killed by drowning compared to natural disasters. Road injuries killed more people than malaria. Suicide killed almost twice as many people as breast cancer. And falls killed almost as many people as leukemia and prostate cancer combined.
All of these surprising statistics come from one of the most ambitious scientific endeavors ever attempted. A project that's been compared to the Human Genome Project. It's called the Global Burden of Disease Study, a gargantuan effort to track just about every death around the world, involving more than 1,000 investigators and covering 188 countries. For comparison, the U.N. has 193 member states.
The project is chronicled in a book that came out recently called "Epic Measures: One Doctor, Seven Billion Patients" by Jeremy N. Smith. Dr. Christopher Murray, the public health guru behind the project, realized that to fight disease and death around the world more effectively, health care officials needed to know exactly what was killing and hurting the humans on planet earth. So he and his team are grabbing every bit of data they can get their hands on, a case of "Moneyball" meets medicine, as Smith notes.
What's interesting about their latest report on 2013 is that there were huge variations among different countries when you look at
[10:30:00] causes of death. For example, three Persian Gulf states, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, had very high injury road injury death rates; in Oman, twice the global average. These countries could learn some lessons from Sweden, which had just a quarter of the global average for road injury deaths.
Half of all suicides in the world took place in India or China. But since 1990, suicides have risen in India while they have gone down in China.
In the U.S., maternal mortality rates have been on the rise and are much higher than in other developed countries. The study author reportedly said that less access to health care might be a reason.
So what should we do with this data? Well, by making comparisons to places that do better, countries, states, and cities can adopt best practices. Already, Dr. Murray's institute says public health officials are being influenced by the data or other information like it to try to save lives.
The institute offers two real-world examples. Rwanda's minister of public health found that the biggest risk factor for premature death and disability in 2010 was not HIV or malaria. It was air pollution inside people's homes from cooking. So Rwanda gave out 1 million clean cooking stoves to those most in need. China approved tougher protections for the environment after global burden of disease experts showed how outdoor air pollution was partly responsible for 1.2 million deaths in 2010. And the author, Jeremy Smith, says that after Iran found out that traffic accidents were leading preventable cause of health loss, Iran ordered new roads to be built and retrained its police force.
We've all heard about the rise of big data and how it will have big effects. Well, this is the ultimate big data project, and it could indeed save lives and money big time.
Next on GPS, is it possible to understand the most repressive, secretive nation in the world? We're going to try. Author Blaine Harden takes us deep inside North Korea.
ZAKARIA: Every move of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, is scrutinized. That's what happens when you run the most secretive nation in the world.
This week, Russia announced that Kim's planned visit to Moscow this month had been called off. Just as when Kim went missing for a few weeks late last year, the pundits started wildly speculating as to why.
To understand a nation, its actions and even its leader, you need to understand its history. And my next guest, the author, Blaine Harden, has a very interesting new book called "The Great Leader and The Fighter Pilot." It delves into The Hermit Kingdom's past and in doing so, reveals quite a bit about the nation's present.
Blaine, take us back, in a way. How was North Korea created?
BLAINE HARDEN, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT LEADER AND THE FIGHTER PILOT": The Americans created it in 1945. They divided the peninsula in half. They cut it in half, giving the north to the Soviet Union and taking the south for themselves.
Both sides installed puppet leaders. The puppet that the Soviets chose was Kim Il-sung. Kim Il-sung turned out to be much more than a puppet. He turned out to be a brilliant demagogue, and he ran the country until 1994, at which point he died. His son took over and now his grand sard -- grandson is in charge.
But in a sense, Kim Il-sung has never died. He's still the leader. The rules that he put in place, the state that he created, remains exactly like he made it in the 1950s.
The Kim family dynasty has done what no totalitarian system has done before, which is to survive the creator. When Hitler died, Nazi Germany was gone. When Stalin died, the gulag melted away in the Soviet Union within two or three years. When Mao died, China fundamentally changed.
When Kim Il-sung died, nothing changed.
ZAKARIA: Why is that?
HARDEN: It's because he created a system, a family system that really institutionalized Stalinist tools of control.
ZAKARIA: But also, created this almost deification of the family. I mean you talk to North Koreans -- and I've main -- mainly read this and --
ZAKARIA: -- watched it on TV when you have these defectors come out, they all did believe that the Kim family, even this young kid, is essentially god-like.
HARDEN: They've -- they've succeeded in doing that through good message control and incredible discipline and limiting information into the country. There's more information now in North Korea than there ever has been. People have radios. But still, most of the information they get is from the state.
ZAKARIA: What is your sense of -- of Kim Jong-un?
HARDEN: Well, what's different about him compared to his father, Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, is that he's reaching back to the persona of his grandfather. He looks like him. He acts like him. He goes out and touches people in marketplaces and at factories. He tries to plug into the populist credentials that his grandfather had. And his -- his grandfather was sort of a demographic -- a demagogic genius. He had this sort of pixie dust. He would walk into a room and sense the fears and aspirations of the people and convert that into his own power. ZAKARIA: Do you think it's truly erratic? Do you worry, you know,
based on what you have read and researched, is -- is Kim Jong-un rational or utterly unpredictable?
HARDEN: I believe he's like his father and his grandfather in that he's very rational, very cunning. Just -
[10:40:00] just this week, the "New York Times" and other news outlets are reporting that Kim Jong-un has killed 15 people in his government and nearly 60 since he came to power three and a half years ago. And this is -- this is the -- the game that his grandfather was so good at -- purging and eliminating those who challenged him.
So he is very much in the tradition of -- of his family -- cold, cunning, calculating, but not crazy. They want to project an image of being trigger-happy and wild-eyed and belligerent. But I think that's just to preserve their power on the long-term, because it prevents -- inhibits people from challenging them.
ZAKARIA: Do you think that this regime can -- can persist?
I mean we've all been surprised. You know, if somebody had said to me 15 years ago, do you think North Korea will be around 15 years from now in pretty much exactly the same form it is now, as closed, as repressive, I would have probably said no, the winds of change will open it. They'll do something.
Nothing. It's exactly what it was 15 years ago.
HARDEN: It's been around for 67 years, which is twice as long as any other comparable system in world history. Right now, there's no indication that -- that his rule, that the family's rule is in any imminent danger. It could change. These kind of regimes do disappear.
But at this point, it is very much in place.
ZAKARIA: Blaine Harden, a pleasure to have you on.
The book is "The Great Leader and The Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and The Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way To Freedom."
Next on GPS, is the American dream dead?
Well, my next guest says it's certainly in deep crisis. And the way he came to that conclusion is fascinating. He visited his hometown. You won't want to miss it.
ZAKARIA: Is the American dream dead?
Well, my next guest says that even if it isn't dead, it is certainly in crisis. And he should know.
Robert Putnam was honored by President Obama with the nation's highest humanities medal for deepening our understanding of community in America. He has a ground-breaking new book called "Our Kids." In it, he compares the opportunities that his graduating high school class had in 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio to kids at the same school today. The results are disheartening.
Robert Putnam, a pleasure to have you on.
ROBERT PUTNAM, AUTHOR, "OUR KIDS": Thanks, Fareed.
It's good to be here.
ZAKARIA: So first talk about that...that class. 1959.
What was life like for you in Ohio?
PUTNAM: Well, and I have to say, this is not just by golden glow rememberings of it. We've gone back and interviewed all the surviving members of my class and we've looked deeply at Port Clinton's history.
It was a period in which there were surprisingly few class barriers in Port Clinton. There were barriers of race and barriers of gender, but class barriers almost didn't exist. And about 80 percent of the kids in my high school graduating class from Port Clinton, from both sides of the tracks, did better than their own parents. Better economically and better educationally.
ZAKARIA: So now take us to what would a graduating class in Port Clinton look like today?
PUTNAM: Port Clinton has been dramatically changed. Part of the town has been devastated by Rust Belt problems, and so there are a lot of kids now, very poor kids from broken homes whose parents thought they might get a job in one of the factories, but the factories are all gone. So those kids are living in serious poverty.
But meanwhile, right along the shore, in Port Clinton, they've got a lovely site on Lake Erie, there's now an who -- a new gated community about 20 miles long and about 150 yards deep of million-dollar mansions. So if you go to the Port Clinton high school now and look in the parking lot, next to each other, parked in the parking lot, are BMW convertibles driven there by kids whose dads live on the -- in the mansions and junkers, jalopies in which the kids live because they're homeless.
That kind of unbelievable contrast in -- between rich kids and poor kids is -- is new and it's not only new in Port Clinton. It's new, really, nationwide.
These -- these larger social trends that we're familiar with, the growing gap between rich people and poor people, the growing segregation of America along class lines, those come down and affect the lives and the opportunities and the resources available to kids.
ZAKARIA: And the trajectory for kids, disadvantaged kids now, is so bad, because they start out at this disadvantage and then every time they stumble, that disadvantage deepens.
PUTNAM: That's exactly right. In the book, "Our Kids," we've got a whole series of what we call scissor scraps, scraps that look like this, in which things are getting better for kids coming from affluent homes and getting worse for kids coming from -- from poor homes.
It's -- you -- there's a -- there's a gap that we call the goodnight moon gap, which is how much time parents spend reading to their kids. A growing gap. There didn't used to be any gap between classes in terms of how much time their parents read to them. Now there is.
There's a summer camp gap that is how much time parents -- how much money parents are able to spend on their kids for summer camp or piano lessons or, you know, all that sort of thing. A huge gap now. Seven times as much money spent on the average rich kid as on the average poor kid.
Gaps in terms of quality of schooling, gaps in terms of church attendance. All of those growing gaps are...
ZAKARIA: And -- and that's what explains the fact that, you know, social mobility in America is so low, because if you're on the bottom end of that scissor graph, you just can't make it up.
PUTNAM: Absolutely right. You can see the final result of this in terms of graduating from college, getting the degree that is the necessary credential nowadays.
Really interesting studies have been done comparing how important your own test scores, your own intellectual ability is and how important your parents' income is.
PUTNAM: So it turns
[10:50:00] out now, smart poor kids, high test scores, but low parental income, are less likely to graduate from college than dumb rich kids; that is, kids who are lower scorers, but their parents have money.
That, Fareed, violates the fundamental notion of what the American dream is. You shouldn't -- your chances in life shouldn't depend upon your parents' income, they should depend upon how hard you work.
ZAKARIA: And what can we do? What are the solutions? PUTNAM: There -- there are some big things we can do. For example, universal early childhood education is -- we know that that works. We know it works especially for -- for poor kids. It's not yet, despite the debate about the president's proposals here, it's not yet a red/blue issue, because the most impressive early childhood education program in America is in Oklahoma, one of the reddest of states.
So I'm trying to avoid making that become a -- a political issue, because it isn't right now. We -- the facts are that they would help. The other big things that would help, of course, is if we could end this 30 year stagnation of wages for -- for -- that is affect the working class.
But there are also smaller things not quite as powerful in the long run but -- but doable right now.
For example, instituting pay for play for high school activities, that is, nowadays, if you want to play in extracurricular activities, your parents have got to pay about $400 a term.
We know that extracurricular activities have a payoff down the road because employers are willing to pay more for people who've learned those soft skills.
So now to charge people, kids, to take part in those activities has had the inevitable consequence that poor kids are dropping out of band and chorus and football and French club, to their detriment. And that is self-inflicted.
This is not a zero sum game. It's not like if we help poor kids, it's going to hurt my grandchildren. On the contrary. What we know is my grandchildren are going to be better off if we help all the kids, because the country is going to grow faster, we're going to be using everybody's minds, not just the rich kids' minds, we're going to be not having to pay for the criminal justice costs and the -- and the health costs and so on.
This is a -- an easy -- ought to be an easy kid -- easy case. Everybody would be better -- better off if we just invested more of our own love and attention, mentoring, for example, and also of our country's resources in these poor kids.
ZAKARIA: Best of luck, Robert Putnam.
PUTNAM: Thank you very much, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: A pleasure to have you on.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, drones have become very good at one thing: killing human beings. But can you envision a time when they might save lives in addition to ending them? That day is here. I'll explain when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:56:37]
ZAKARIA: Just in case you think that the only reports we read are about war, death, and disease, let me point out that the International Organization of Vine and Wine published its annual report on the state of global wine this week.
And it brings me to my question. Spain has the largest amount of vineyard space in the world, but what country is the second-largest wine grower by area? France, the United States, China, or Russia? Stay tuned, and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics" by Daniel James Brown. This is a big bestseller just out in paperback and well worth the kudos it has received. It's the story of nine working-class kids who came out of the farms and plains of the American West and ended up defeating the most storied rowing teams in the world, including Hitler's favorite, at the Olympics. It's a great tale, but one also about endurance, grit, and teamwork. Truly inspiring.
And now, for the Last Look. Last week the president went to the White House briefing room to announce the deaths of two innocent hostages being held by al Qaeda, killed in a U.S. drone attack.
This week we saw the potential for drones to save lives, not just end them. The scene was Nepal, and I'm sure you saw the amazing drone footage of that devastation. That helped the disaster hit home, and I'm certain encouraged many dollars of donations.
But that's just the beginning. A Canadian organization, Global Medic, is using these drones to map the areas affected by the quake, gather visual intelligence, deploy rescue resources, and detect heat signatures -- in other words where survivors could be hidden.
So drones can do a great deal of good. Indeed, last year the United Arab Emirates launched a competition called Drones For Good, which awards million-dollar prizes for innovative drone technologies. One of the top prizes in 2015 went to this search-and-rescue drone. It is inside a cage and is designed to be able to keep flying if it collides with any obstacles, when other drones may have crashed. It can roll over debris and is safe to come into contact with humans.
Another prize went to a drone designed to extend cellular network coverage, vital during an emergency. But it's not just about disasters. One company, a start-up called Bio Carbon Engineering, reached the finals this year. It hopes to use drones like these for precision planting of 36,000 trees a day, one billion trees a year, to counter deforestation.
Do you have a great idea for a drone? Go to our Facebook page and let us know.
The correct answer to the GPS challenge question is C. According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine, China surpassed France in 2014 with more land dedicated to vineyards. Italy and Turkey round out the top five, which account for 50 percent of the world's vineyard area. The largest consumer of wine, the report says, that would be us here in the United States. So cheers, (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.