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News Brief: Irma Weakens, Clinton Memoir And New iPhone


Today, we are just getting a clearer picture of the destruction that was caused by Hurricane Irma. In different spots across Florida, first responders are on the ground, still searching for people stranded or needing help.


Right, and the Coast Guard has flown over the Florida Keys to assess the damage. U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Peter Brown was struck by what he saw from above.

PETER BROWN: There's some significant house damage there. We saw some more trailer homes that were heavily damaged. We saw some fixed structures that were also damaged and a number of boats that were - had been tossed about, some still underwater and some thrown up on land.

MARTIN: And one of our own reporters, NPR's Kirk Siegler, has been out talking with people who fled the Florida Keys. And he came across a man who's taking shelter in his camper.

MARK SCHWEISS: Well, now I don't have nothing to eat, and I can't get to my house. I got no place to sleep. I really do. But I mean, you know, I didn't plan on sleeping in this thing.

MARTIN: NPR's Kirk Siegler is here now to tell us more from Miami.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Good morning, guys. And that was Mark Schweiss that you heard there. Now, he's lived on the Florida Keys for more than 40 years, and I met him in this sort of weird scene where you had a police trying to prevent people at a roadblock from continuing down the highway that connects the mainland to the Keys. And they had diverted people out to this huge speedway at this deserted parking lot. There weren't any services there. There weren't any amenities.

And as you could hear Schweiss there, he was ready to vent when I found him. And, you know, he said he had left because it was a Category 4. He had left his home in Key Largo. But he told me he's never planning to heed mandatory evacuation orders again because he knows that his house is OK, and he says he and his neighbors believe the road is OK, at least to get to where they are. And they want to get home.

GREENE: God, it's - Kirk, that's one of the - this - really tough questions for officials in storms like this. We saw it in Harvey too. Like, do you evacuate? Does that put people in more or less danger? So what are you hearing from other people who made the decision to leave the Keys and try to get out?

SIEGLER: Well, there's - you know, most people are certainly not blaming the authorities or the forecasters. There's just been a lot of confusion about this, about where the storm was headed. And some of the frustration from folks who are still out stems from the fact that they've now been gone for more than a week now - in particular, a lot of the folks in that parking lot that I was talking - where I was talking to people where I had to kind of climb over a barricade and walk a couple hundred yards out there, and people were just wondering if I had any answers.

But yes, in a natural disaster like this - and this extraordinary, with this many people - millions of people - having to evacuate or believed to be evacuating - there's just a lot of confusion. And you know, there's a lot of rumors flying around and some mistrust in some places.

GREENE: NPR's Kirk Siegler talking to us from Miami, covering the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Kirk, thanks.

SIEGLER: Thank you.

GREENE: And if you haven't spent enough time thinking about the 2016 presidential election, well, it is your lucky day today.

MARTIN: Right, so former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has a new memoir out today. It's titled "What Happened." She wrote it in the months after the election from her home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

HILLARY CLINTON: It is wonderful being home, having time to putter around, clean closets, you know - long days, going for walks, seeing my grandchildren, taking friends out to dinner. So it's not where I wanted to be, but it is a great reminder of what more there is to do in life and what the future can be like.


GREENE: Rachel, has Hillary Clinton really just been puttering around since the election?

MARTIN: Right? It's hard to believe that that's entirely what she'd be doing. No, she also wrote a book, as we mentioned. It's this exhaustive explanation of how she sees the 2016 election.

GREENE: Well, how she saw it - I mean, before the book came out, she was putting blame in a lot of different directions for her loss to Donald Trump. Is there a lot more of that in the book?

MARTIN: Yeah, definitely. She blames James Comey, former director of the FBI, for his statements about the investigation into the email scandal. She blames the Russians for their interference in the election. She blames the media. She blames sexism. She does, though, take ultimate responsibility. She says she was the nominee. The mistakes in her came - campaign were hers and hers to own. But she doesn't spend a whole lot of time on her mistakes.

She told me that she does indeed regret using a personal email server - that was a, quote, "dumb mistake," she said, even a dumber scandal. She also talked about focusing too much on policy solutions to people's economic pain. She said she understood it, she just couldn't put it into words. She couldn't feel their pain - a phrase her husband actually made famous.

GREENE: So you had a long talk with her. I mean, it - what struck you most?

MARTIN: Yeah, so really, what's the most interesting part of this is her role moving forward and how she sees it. Some Democrats just want her to go away. They don't want her to be the public face of their party anymore. And I asked her how she feels about this - that. Let's listen to what she had to say.

CLINTON: Well, they don't have to buy my book. And they can turn off the radio when they hear me talking (laughter). I'm not going anywhere. I have the experience. I have the insight. I have the scars that I think, you know, give me not only the right, but the responsibility to speak out.

MARTIN: She feels like she has earned a place in the political culture right now - in the political moment - to stay, at least as one of the parties - one of the leaders of the Democratic Party moving forward.

GREENE: Well, let's bring another voice in. I want to ask about that very thing to NPR's political editor Domenico Montanaro.

Hey, Domenico.


GREENE: So what's the reaction from Democrats to this book? Do they want Hillary Clinton to remain a leader of their party?

MONTANARO: That's a big question - and not really, in many respects. You know, they understand what she's going through. They're sympathetic, and they think that, you know, many of the reasons she lays out for loss are true, right? But there were at least - and Rachel talks about the blame situation with who she blames for it, whether or not she takes ultimate responsibility. And she does. But she blamed - I counted up 13 different things that she blames, other than her herself or the campaign.

GREENE: Thirteen.

MONTANARO: So - yep. And so look, this was - 2016 was really painful, you know, election for Democrats, and many just don't want to relive it and re-litigate the election. And the sense among Democratic operatives is, they just don't see how effective this is going to be.

GREENE: But there's so much at stake in upcoming elections for Democrats, right? And this just adds so much to it, this big question of what Hillary Clinton's role would be.

MONTANARO: Yeah, I mean, obviously, there's a ton at stake in the midterms next year for Democrats. You know, if they're able to take back either the House or the Senate, you know, they could effectively stop any legislation Trump wanted to get through. But, you know, as Clinton points out, there are 24 districts that she won in the presidential election that have Republican members in them, and she wants to keep her voice out there.

GREENE: NPR's Domenico Montanaro - thanks, Domenico.

MONTANARO: Thank you.


MARTIN: Is your phone ringing?

GREENE: That's your phone, Rachel?


GREENE: We know that sound.

MARTIN: It's the iPhone. It's getting an update today. Apple's going to release a new model. Apparently, it's got a lot of new bells and whistles to get excited about - new ringtones, perhaps?

GREENE: But will that ring sound the same? That's the question. Let's ask NPR's tech correspondent, Alina Selyukh, who's here. Hey, Alina.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Hi, good morning.

GREENE: So, well, I won't even ask you if the ring is going to stay the same. You - we don't know anything about this yet.

SELYUKH: (Laughter) We don't know.

GREENE: But what do we know so far? Is there something noteworthy, newsworthy about this new iPhone?

SELYUKH: So the moment is really important. We are sitting in the year 10 of the iPhone. This is the anniversary year, so huge stakes for Apple to reveal something fancy. And I was talking to a tech analyst yesterday. And he was saying, you know, back in 2007, the first iPhone was nothing like anything else out there. And when you think about the new iPhone we're getting today, it's redesigned. It's a big change and probably biggest in years, but fundamentally, it's still another iPhone.

GREENE: Yeah, they've got to decide, like, do we make it something brand new? Or people seem to like it, so why change that much?

SELYUKH: Well, so they're adding a huge amount of really, like, fancy, elaborate features. So and one thing to say, though - that we actually don't know what we're getting today, but there have been huge leaks - super whopper of a leak that we got over the weekend with lots of juicy details. So that's where I'm getting some of the information.

GREENE: Well, can you give us a few of the juicy details?

SELYUKH: Right, so the big reveal is going to be what people are calling the iPhone X, and it's slated to be by far the most high-end phone that Apple's produced. And the price we're expecting will start at $1,000.

GREENE: Oh, that's a lot.

SELYUKH: But what you will get for that phone will also look quite different, which is a big deal for a lot of iPhone fans. The screen is going to be brighter and sharper, and it's going to occupy as much space as possible - think all the way to the edges - which also means Apple is likely getting rid of the traditional home button. It's a huge redesign.

GREENE: The home button's going to be gone?


GREENE: My thumb, like, is so - I mean, it - my thumb won't know what to do with it - for itself, like, it...

SELYUKH: You will have to learn...

MARTIN: I appreciate you're dumbfounded, David, with no home button.

SELYUKH: ...New ways of navigating your iPhone. That is something that many iPhone rivals have done, so iPhone is sort of following up on its competition. And one other major feature I want to mention is facial recognition. You know, some of the more recent iPhones had or still have a fingerprint scanner in the home button (laughter).

GREENE: Which - and mine never works, by the way. I think there's something wrong with my fingers. But go on, yeah. So.

SELYUKH: Well, so the next step is the new generation is going to have a face scanner that will recognize you and presumably unlock your phone just from you looking at it.

MARTIN: Until this thing makes dinner and changes diapers, don't talk to me about it.

SELYUKH: (Laughter).

GREENE: Yeah, facial recognition - there's something eerie about that. But I'll wait and see. OK, new iPhone coming out and we're learning the juicy details from NPR's Alina Selyukh. Thanks, Alina.

SELYUKH: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAM-FUNK'S "NIGHT STROLL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.