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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  April 18, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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toearn more, visit captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, april 18: recent shootings re-ignite gun and police reform debates. ♪ ♪ ♪ singer, songwriter and musician sam amidon: putting a new twist on traditional folk songs. and japanese artist yayoi kusa's “cosmic nature” exhibit. next on “pbs newshour weekend.” >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the anderson family fund. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein
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family. barbara hope zuckerberg. the leonard and norma klorfine foundation. the peter g. peterson and joan ganz cooney fund. the estate of worthington mayo- smith. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering no-contract wireless plans, designed to help people do more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you. to learn more, visit additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like
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you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thank you for joining us. president joe biden called gun violence in the u.s. a“ international embarrassment” when he announced new executive orders ten days ago. if we accept the gun violence archive projt's definition of a mass shooting as one that kills or injures at least four people, here's what has happened in just the past four days: on thursday there were mass shootings in illinois, florida, washington, d.c., and indiana. on friday in michigan. yesterday in ohio, and early today in wisconsin. at a bar in kenosha, wisconsin, early this morning, three people were shot and killed and two were seriously wounded. as of this afternoon, the suspect remained at large, but authorities said it appears to be a “targeted and isolated incident.” the kenosha shooting is one of 150 mass shootings so far this year, according to the gun violence archive. today, after talking about the covid pandemic, dr, anthony
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fauci was asked if mass shootings are also a public health emergency. >> myself, as a public health person, i think you can't run away from that. when you see people getting killed, in this last month it's just been horrifying what's happened. how can you say that's not a public health issue? >> sreenivasan: in indianapolis there were vigils yesterday for the eight victims of the mass shooting at local fedex facility last week-- four of whom were members of the city's sikh community. sikh community members and city aders spoke at one of the events and called for gun reforms in the wake of the shooting. despite a red flag law in indiana that is supposed to prevent gun possession by people who present an imminent threat, police said the two firearms used in the killings were legally purchased by the gunman last year. the gunman's mother reported him as a threat last year and police confiscated a shotgun. in a statement, his family apologized and said “we are devastated at the loss of life caused as a result of brandon's
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actions; through the love of his family, we tried to get him the help he needed." protests of police-involved deaths continued last night as the nation prepares for closing arguments tomorrow in the trial of former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin. in brooklyn center, minnesota, hundreds gathered by a police station for the seventh consecutive night to protest the police shooting of 20-year old daunte wright last sunday. >> say his name! george floyd! >> sreenivasan: demonstrators also chanted the name of george floyd, who chauvin is accused of killing during an arrest last may. california congresswoman maxine waters, joined protesters last night and urged them to “stay in the street.” >> we have to persist in calling for justice. we have to let people know that we're not going to be satisfied unless we get justice in these cases. >> sreenivasan: pbs newshour will have complete coverage of the closing arguments in the derek chauvin trial tomorrow. today in seoul, south korea, u.s. special envoy for climate,
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john kerry, announced that china and the u.s. have agreed to cooperate on curbing the climate emergency. the announcement comes just days before president biden will host a global leaders virtual climate summit. 40 world leaders have been invited, including chinese president xi jinping. china and the u.s. are the world's largest carbon emitters and together produce nearly half the fossil fuel emissions that contribute to global warming. in the statement, the two countries said they will discuss specific actions including carbon capture and will help finance a switch to low-carbon energy sources in developing countries. in russia, family members and doctors say they fear that imprisoned opposition leader alexei navalny is near death as he continues his hunger strike. today, navalny's personal doctors said they were denied entry after waiting outside navalny's prison for two hours. yesterday, a doctor said that, based on recent test results, navalny, “could die at any moment.” yesterday president biden called navalny's treatment totally unfair and inappropriate.
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today national security adviser jake sulivan said there will be consequences for russia if navalny dies in custody. supporters of navalny are calling for protests in moscow and st. petersburg later this week. navalny is the most visible critic of russian president vladimir putin. he was arrested in january when he returned to russia from germany where was recovering from poisoning by a soviet-era nerve agent. for additional national and international news, visit >> sreenivasan: president joe biden promised an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days in office. as that deadline approaches, he finds himself governing with thin majorities in congress while trying to get bipartisan support on issues like infrastructure, immigration reform, refugee caps and the end of america's 20 year war in afghanistan. for more i spoke with special correspondent jeff greenfield, who joined us from santa barbara.
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so, jeff, joe biden is not a shrinking violet, i mean, these requests for $2 trillion for infrastructure, $2 trillion for covid relief, these are huge asks, and he doesn't have a bulletproof majority in congress. >> indeed, he has a paper thin majority in congss. and that's what makes this so startling. you think of major social programs, they were initiated by presidents who had won landslide victories-- f.d.r. in 1932, l.b.j. in 1964. but i think there were a couple of explanations for this. first, the biden people are very aware that obama may have asked for too little in 2009, which did not prevent a slow, weak, politically damaging recovery. so they're asking for a lot. second, the infrastructure plan is very popular, according to the public opinion polls, among even republicans.
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and really interestingly, when people learn that biden wants to pay for it with tax increases on corporations, the support goes up. the third thing is the democratic party, as we know, has moved substantially to the left. so there's pressure on biden to be big. and last, and i think we have to remember this especially, the biden people know that history says they're going to lose those majorities in congress in the midterms. and if they want to get big stuff done, they've got to do it in these first two years. >> sreenivasan: big stuff, including withdrawal of u.s. troops from afghanistan, this is something that donald trump also wanted. now joe biden says that he would like them out before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. is this a political change? >> i think it's a broad political change. you might have expected in other eras for the republicans to come down very hard on a democrat looking to fold our tents and pull out. but donald trump, he ran on an america first, more or less,
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isolationist plan. he talked about ending forever wars, and his plan was to get troops out by may 1. so, to some extent, republicans are boxed in. but more important, biden's always been a skeptic about afghanistan. when he was vice president, he was telling obama, don't let the generals jam you. and that skepticism, to be blunt, has been very amply rewarded. are gaston and cruchtion where the government's reach does not go much beyond kabul where the the whole idea of, all right, we're going to implant there a stable governing democracy, just isn't happening. you had secretary of state blinken today saying, well, al-qaeda has been degraded. they're not a threat anymore. but that was true a couple of months after the 2001 invasion.
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and what i think you're seeing is another example. you could look at it in iraq or back to vietnam,he hubris of a western country the hubris of a western country saying, "we are going to impose our version of a strong government on a culture utterly alieto that whole idea." and so, i think that kind of humility of which george w. bush talked about in his campaign and then did in practice, both parties, i think, have gotten a substantial dose of humility from that $2 trillion expenditure in afghanistan over 20 years. >> sreenivasan: what happens to some of the afghans that were working with u.s. troops and others who are trying to claim asylum and refugee status in the united state the refugee status kind of came back in the news this week, and it was biden making a statement, then getting a lot of pushback from his own party, and then pivoting. >> indied. it's very important to remember t >> it's very important to remember that the refugee controversy is not about the
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surge of unaccompanied minors to the border, at least not formally. these are refugees who have already been cleared for entry into the united states. and what donald trump did was to put e quota on their admissions to a historic low, and biden had promised in the campaign to quadruple that quota from 15-60,000. what i do think is pretty clear is that the crisis at the border, and the white house is finally calling it a crisis with all those unaccompanied minors, made them very wary of yet another program to bring more people in. but as you say, the pushback was enormous. the number two democrat in the senate, dick durbin, was very critical of biden. and that's why i think this morning jake sullivan, biden's national security adviser, went on tv to say, no, we're going to raise the quota. but what it does point to, to go back to our earlier conversation, is that to the democratic party, the progressive base is fully prepared to hold biden's feet to the fire when they think he is turning his back on what he appears to have promised them. >> sreenivasan: jeff greenfield joining us from santa barbara
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today. thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. >> sreenivasan: singer, songwriter and musician sam amidon has been onstage for more than 35 of his almost 40 years, with 11 albums and collaborations with the likes of guitar maestro bill frisell, as well as with his wife, the noted british singer/songwriter beth orton, amidon has developed a shining reputation for taking something very old and making it sound brand-new. newshour weekend special correspondent tom casciato has our story. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: sam amidon is a musical enigma of sorts. you might consider him a folk purist if you only heard him sing a traditional appalachian tune like "across the blue mountains." ♪ i'll buy you a horse love and a saddle to ride ♪ >> reporter: but listen to his re-do of another tune, "georgie buck," and you'll hear why amidon's known for taking old time music into sonic areas the old timers likely never
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imagined. ♪ i'm going to the shack all the way back ♪ going to the shack in my mind ♪ >> reporter: you've been described as a folk experimentalist, which sounds like a complete oxymoron. it sounds like-- like being an "outgoing homebody" or something. >> ( laughs ) absolutely. i would say i'm primarily a singer/song reworker, a fo song reworker. >> reporter: a reworker yes, but one who makes the songs his own to the point of achieving what the music site "pitchfork" calls "a resounding personal statement out of songs in the public domain." the story of how he arrived there? well, it starts early. >> so, my parents met in the folk scene in their 20's in cambridge, massachusetts, in the mid '70s. and they both sort of discovered folk dancing, contra dancing, you know, traditional ballads, whether appalachian ballads or english or scottish. and they moved to vermont. and i grew up as a generation of
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kids whose parents had really come to this area to be able to-- to have folk dances on the weekends, and it w all these different sort of community folk music making. >> reporter: he could carry a tune right from the go. ♪ baa baa black sheep have you any wool? ♪ yes sir, yes sir three bags full ♪ >> my dad had a brass band that was sort of hippie-ish folk music, brass band played for dancing. i mean, it was, literally music was everywhere in the, sort of, folk music community. >> reporter: soon he took up the fiddle and took to the stage with his folks. were you born and raised to be a musician? i mean, the music industry of the last 50 or so years is strewn with people who picked up an instrument and went out to play as an act of rebellion. >> ( laughs ) my parents were smart because it wasn't-- there was no pressure around it in the sense of, you know, "you're going to do this. you have to do this." it was more like just immersion. i mean, it was everywhere around us. i was just drawn to the fiddle.
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i really was drawn to the fiddle at a young age. and i just loved fiddle tunes. >> reporter: he would also become adept at guitar and banjo, but just as important as his playing was his skill as a listener-- not to music on the pop chartsbut on old american field recordings. >> there's a ballad singer named almeida riddle. ♪ i love my little rooster and my rooster loves me ♪ i'm gonna cherish that chicken 'neath the green bay tree ♪ >> and then bessie jones is a foundational musician for me, who was in the georgia sea islands. ♪ mmm tell moses, lord ♪ >> reporter: but it was what he added to his folk listening that helped him become the artist that he is today. >> there was a-- a eureka moment that happened to me when i was about 16, which is that i ng a lot of appalachian folk songs, but i was really much more interested in miles davis, especially electric '70s experimental, wild miles davis. ♪ ♪ ♪
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and i was really interested in things like free jazz, people like ornette coleman who took jazz and made it completely abstract, and the intensity and weirdness of it was entrancing to me. and then i went back and i started listening to these field recordings. i heard something similar. i heard a similar intensity and strangeness in a lot of the recordings. 'cause in the 1950's when they were making these recordings, some of these people had been very isolated. and they would-- they played in this really scratchy kind of way. anyet, it was super rhythmically compelling. and i heard this connection between this super experimental creative music and yet on the other side, this deep old field cordings seemed to me just as strange and just as mysterious. and so, that took a while for me to figure out how i would make that music of my own. >> reporter: he did figure it out. while he tunes up, listen to a 1940's version of a traditional tune done by the stanley brothers in their famed high lonesome style, "little maggie."
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♪ yonder stands little maggie with a dram glass in her hand ♪ >> so, the original kind of version would go something like this. ♪ yonder stands little maggie with a dram glass in her hand ♪ she's drinking away her sorrows ♪ she's courting some other man ♪ >> reporter: but when he went into the studio for his 2020 self-titled album, he renamed the song simply "maggie." he had come up with an entirely different banjo riff and a driving new rhythm. ♪ ♪ ♪ now, with the banjo augmented by electric guitar, synth and percussion, a brand-new version of a very old song was born, thoroughly contemporary yet steeped in tradition. ♪ yonder stands little maggie with a dram glass in her hand ♪ >> reporter: there's even some
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singing with that old-time strangeness and mystery he talks about. there's one bit toward the end of your version of "maggie" where the vocals get way out ahead of the beat. what's up with that? >> i just-- i just drifted off. ( laughs ) ♪ she's drinking away her troubles ♪ and courting some other man ♪ >> reporter: a lot of people would have said, "oh, man, i blew that. let's do another take." >> absolutely. well, here's the thing: one thing that's really beautiful about listening to the field recordings is that you're hearing the person in their house. and there's just a quality of, sort of, accident. and it makes listening to them really beautiful. and i've always tried to leave some element of that into my records. >> sreenivasan: we have more sam amidon music for you. for an exclusive solo performance of his song "maggie," go to our "pbs newshour" youtube channel. ♪ yonder stands little maggie
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with a dram glass in her hands ♪ >> sreenivasan: her work has been described as transformative, both for the observer and for her exhibit's surroundings. japanese artist yayoi kusama's latest exhibition, postponed initially because of the pandemic, aptly uses a 250 acre landscape as the setting for her exhibit, "cosmic nature." newshour weekend's christopher booker has more. >> reporter: there is a strange, yet seemingly natural symmetry in yayoi kusama'takeover of the new york botanical garden. it may be wrapped around the trees, sitting in the fountains or nestled between tropical plants, but against the backdrop of the annual spring explosion of flowers and leaves, the work seems nowhere near out of place. the shapes and colors of the bronx garden provides a natural
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runway for the unmistakable works of one of the world's most famous living artists. but at 92, kusama seldom travels, so bringing her work to the world has, in recent years, fallen on curator mika yoshitake. >> there's a very visceral connection to nature that you'll see in her forms. it almost feels kinetic. buds are about to bloom and there's this threshold between the botanical and the cosmic world. >> reporter: originally scheduled to open last spring, "kusama: cosmic nature" spans over 70 years of her work, from this 1945 sketch to 2020's "dancing pumpkin." so, when you're going through looking at this space, what are you thinking? what are you looking to understand or to figure out? >> well, with kusama's work, the interaction with the sun, the glass, the sky and the reflective nature of some of her
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works is very key. the botanical gardens really did determine which kind of pieces we would select. so, like the ascension of polka dots on trees, i think what we discover is how kusama's work really enhances the botanical landscape. so there is a dialog between the two. her work is not blending in with the natural environment, is really on its own. it holds its own. >> reporter: for kusama, this dialogue between the botanical and ethereal started early. growing up, her family ran a nursery business in matsumoto, japan. you met and started working on this project before the coronavirus pandemic. did you find yourself or did the gallery find itself second guessing what work to include, especially as we're talking about relationships with nature and our existence? >> so, the pandemic forced a lot of changes, especially in this building, in the way that the
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crowd would, you know, flow, but, you know, i think the pandemic has really been eye opening in terms of... just more philosophically, we're not self- contained bodies. you know, we coexist with the natural environment. and i think that the work that kusama provides remindus of that vulnerability and the coexistence of nature, human nature and cosmic nature. >> reporter: where does this show then fit into her long story? is this a culmination of a life's work? is this just another show within a life's work? >> it's a comprehensive, the first comprehensive examination of her engagement with nature. that calm, contemplative walk in between is as important as the work itself. >> reporter: "kusama: cosmic nature" will be on display until
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october 31. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, sunday. >> sreenivasan: finally tonight, during the coronavirus pandemic, time has sometimes seemed to slow to a crawl, but behind the closed doors of one german museum, days without visitors became a race to break an unusual record. it may be a stretch to call this music to your ears at first... ( clinking ) but there is something mesmerizing about model trains, and this one is built to set a record as it chugs along, tapping away at thousands of tiny water-filled glasses. >> ( translated ): and what sounded like a crazy idea, where everyone first said, "you must be crazy," now we are going to go along and sort of try to break a world record, because that would be a world record, and that just brings fun to all of us, honestly. we're playing kids. >> sreenivasan: when the coronavirus pandemic closed this hamburg, germany, miniature train museum, the staff had time on their hands.
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so, naturally, they did what anyone would: they built a musical model train. their goal? to set guinness world record fothe longest melody played by a model train. ♪ ♪ ♪ traveling through intricate landscapes and tiny versions of cities, the trn is equipped with tiny mallets that strike tiny water-filled glasses, and the water levels must be exact. there was a not so little problem: by the time the 2,840 glasses wereilled to the right levels, the water started to evaporate, making them off-key. >> ( translated ): so, we've been looking for solutions. we tried it with plastic wrap to cover the surface, and we found out that a light oil, very liquid oil, so not cooking oil or something, it's best to create a layer on top that preserves it and then there's hardly any evaporation. so, we tested it over the >> sreenivasan: striking the right notes 2,840 times, the train plays a medley of 20
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classical pieces. >> sreenivasan: that's all for this edition of “pbs newshour weekend.” for the latest news updates visit i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. stay healthy and have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet ptioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the anderson family fund. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. barbara hope zuckerberg. the leonard and norma klorfine foundation.
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the peter g. peterson and joan ganz cooney fund. the estate of worthiton mayo- smith. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. additional support has been provided by: consumer cellular. and by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. is your family ready you'refor an emergency?
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