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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 31, 2021 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> nawaz: good evening. i'm amna nawaz. judy woodruff is away. onhe newshour tonight: covid surge. new cases soar, breaking pandemic records across the u.s., as countries around the globe celebrate new year's eve. then, colorado's wildfires. fueled by hurricane-force winds, the blaze leaves thousands homeless, and could be the most destructive in the state's history. also, legendary actress and beloved comedian betty white has died, just weeks shy of her 100th birthday. and, it's friday. david brooks and jonathan capehart reflect on the year in politics, and democracy in america. all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour.
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more at kf.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcaing. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> nawaz: well, the u.s. has set a new daily record for covid cases, topping 580,000 new cases yesterday, and shattering wednesday's total of 488,000. for the first time in the pandemic, america recorded more than two million cases within just one week. the nation is now averaging more than 300,000 new cases a day.
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all of this comes as new data suggests those highly-sought- after rapid antigen tests may not be as effective as hoped in detecting the omicron variant. dr. kirsten bibbins-domingo is a physician and epidemiologist at the university of california, san francisco. she joins me now. dr. bibbins-domingo, welcome back to the "newshour". thanks for making the time. i want to get to what is at the top of everyone's minds. they want to know what to make of them especially of new year's eve gatherings. what would you sayo that? >> we are heading into a really challenging january, and this is just the beginning of the rise in cases the good news is if we look at how other countries have dealt with an omicron surge, it looks like it lasts four to six weeks. but how high this crest rises, how broad the wave is and how much damage lasts in the next few months is entirely in our
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hands and means we have to make good choices starting student. >> reporter: what does that mean for people who are vaccinated who have a test in hand, hour that determine how people go ahead with celebration tonight? >> i think even vaccinated and boasted, i would be avoiding crowds tonight. if you look at the positivity rates in our major cities, if you look at the positivity rates in all our states, they're really high right now and it suggests that one in twenty, one in ten, one in four people in a large crowd is going to be infected and with breakthrough cases happening, it's something i would avoid. the other thing i would say, if you're vaccinated and boosted and are spending time mostly with vaccinated, boosted people, that's the best, is the mask, and high-quality masks, the 9-95, the kn95s will be the first, something we haven't emphasized as much as we should. having something on tighter fitting surgical mask, plus a
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cloth mask over top can offer an additional layer of protection. but if you can at all alter your plans to be with a smaller crowd mostly vaccinated and boosted, that's the best. >> reporter: so masking is key and also testing. new information this week from the f.d.a. says early seat suggests the at-home tests so many people are clamoring for do detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity. doctor, do they work or not? >> right. i think the key here is tt we need to see data whenever there is a new variant and, luckily, the f.d.a. and the n.i.h. are giving us -- doing the studies to help us understands these tests. my understanding of the data that we have right now is that, in fact, this test does work, and it is a useful tool. it detects the omicron variant. the variant is altered in a way
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that the test still really has confined that virus. what it can't do is tell you with 100% certainty that, when you get a negative test, you're not actually infectious. so the way i think about it is that, if you have a positive test, if you see that line come up positive, even if it's a faint line, you have covid, you should act like you have covid, you should not second guess this test. if you don't have that positive line, it might mean that you're negative, but it might mean this test is not as good as being with high certainty that you are negative for covid, and that's where we have to -- that's where we have to be a little more cautious. but what i worry about is that the message should not be these tests are not useful. they're absolutely useful if people act on a positive test and avoid contact with others. >> reporter: in the minute we have left, i think it's fair to
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say a lot of us thought this year would be the year we put the pandemic behind us, and it was not. so how will or should our approach to covid change as we go into yet another pandemic year? >> right. we are going to be living with this virus, but i think living with this virus means neither shutting down and being anxious and fearful all the time, nor throwingaution to the wind and just acting as if nothing matters. i think the pandemic has taught us that our own actions matter, we have to assess our own risk, but our own actions also matter for others, and we have to both individually and collectively make decisions that are going to keep ourselves and those around us healthy. we need to -- these are going to evolve over time, and i think what the pandemic is teaching us is we're going to have to understand those lessons that were true at the start of the pandemic even more true now but doubling down on understanding how to keep ourselves and others
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safe as we learn to live side by side with this virus. >> reporter: here's hoping everyone's doing what they can to keep themselves and everyone around them safe. dr. kirsten bibbins-domingo from the university of california san francisco, thank you so much for being with us and happy new year to you. >> thanks, happy new year. >> nawaz: in the day's other news, the world is once again ringing in the new year under the cloud of the pandemic. some celebrations were scaled back, while others were undeterred. in north korea, thousands watched fireworks along the river in pyongyang. london's big ben was set to chime at midnight, for the first time after three years of renovations. and in australia, fireworks lit up the sky over sydney, in spite of the country recording its highest daily case numbers. >> we've never, ever been here
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before, we've never done it, and we just thought weould take the risk and just see how it is. we've got masks, we're triple- vaxxed, and we're just going to wing it. >> nawaz: back in the u.s., new york city prepared to hold its celebrations in times square, but only 15,000 revelers will be allowed to watch the ball drop. they must also show proof of vaccination. more than 500 homes in colorado have likely been destroyed, after wildfires blazed through boulder county. the flames first ignited yesterday outside denver, and have since forced tens of thousands of residents to evacuate. so far, no one has died, but at least seven people were injured. the governor declared a state of emergency. we will have more on this after the news summary. in a separate development, the colorado governor has also shortened a truck driver's prison sentence for causing a deadly highway pileup, after his original 110-year sentence drew public outrage. rogel aguilera-mederos will now
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serve ten years in prison. the governor called the 2019 crash a "tragic but unintentional act." the world food program has suspended its operations across sudan's north darfur province, following attacks on all three of its warehouses in the area. hundreds of armed looters stole more than 5,000 metric tons of food there this week. the halt in aid will impact around two million people in need of food. former south korean president park geun-hye was released from prison today after being pardoned by her successor. the former president had served nearly five years of her 20-year prison sentence for bribery and other crimes. she'd been hospitalized due to health problems for the last month. the current president said park's pardon is meant to promote national unity. the number of journalists killed on the job this past year was one of the lowest death tolls in 30 years. the international federation of journalists said 45 reporters and media workers died while working in 2021. that is down from 65 deaths the
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previous year. 33 members of the media were murdered in targeted attacks this year. the most dangerous country for journalists was afghanistan. on wall street, stocks edged lower on this final trading day of the year. the dow jones industrial average lost 60 points to close at 36,338. the nasdaq fell 96 points, and the s&p 500 slipped 12. and, two passings to note tonight. legendary actress and beloved comedian betty white died overnight at her home in los angeles, just weeks shy of her 100th birthday. white's trailblazing career in television spanned more than 60 years. she was best known for her roles on the hit sitcoms "the golden girls" and "the mary tyler moore show." we'll look back on her career later in the program. and, boston celtics hall of famer sam jones died last night in florida. known for his sharp shooting,
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jones won ten n.b.a. titles during his 12-year basketbal career. he was also a member of the n.b.a.'s first starting lineup to include five black player sam jones was 88 years old. still to come on the newshour: david brooks and jonathan capehart look back at 2021. how mozart is helping an italian winemaker's harvest. and, recalling some of this year's most iconic images. and much more. >> nawaz: as we reported, tens of thousands of people in colorado were forced to evacuate quickly yesterday. wind-fueled fires swept through suburban neighborhoods outside of denver, causing significant property damage. as stephanie sy reports,
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residents there remain on edge, as some areas are still too dangerous to access. >> sy: whole neighborhoods in boulder county, colorado this morning are in smoldering ruin. the winds eventually died down overnight, and today, snow is providing some relief. but, dangers remain. >> i know residents want to get back to their homes as soon as possible to assess damage. in many of those neighborhoods that are currently blocked off, it's still too dangerous to return. we saw still-active fire in many places this morning, and we saw downed por lines. we saw a lot of risk that we're still trying to mitigate. >> sy: the fast-moving grass fires, accelerated by hurricane-force winds-- gusting up to 105 miles per hour-- destroyed hundreds of homes. a dry winter also helped fuel the marshall fire. at least one first responder and several others are injured. but, it could have been much
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worse, said colorado governor jared polis. >> so far, it looks like the two major hospitals in the areas were spared. looks like schools were spared. and we might have our very own new year's miracle on our hands if it holds up that there was no loss of life. >> sy: polis declared a state of emergency yesterday, and said president biden has approved an expedited disaster declaration. the towns of louisville an superior appear to have suffered the most. located about 20 miles northwest of denver, some 34,000 residents there were oered to evacuate ahead of the fires. one of them was brent parrish. he returned to louisville this morning to find his home still standing. >> we were completely overwhelmed with relief, you know, with the-- the fact that we have a place that we don't have to rebuild. and then, just really sad for the neighborhood, because, i mean, yeah, it's devastating.
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>> sy: he says he's figuring out next steps. >> my biggest concern right now is-- is my kids, and their safety, and, you know, whether it's reallsafe to be here or not, whether there's smoke damage that they're inhaling and whether there's chemicals that they're inhaling from a fire. when-- when the water is going to be safe to drink. i haven't even looked at our fridge, but i'm sure all our food is bad, so we've got to find some food. ( screams ) >> sy: a widely-shared veo inside a chuck e. cheese showed how quickly the fire spread in superior on thursday, parents wrangled their kids and dashed for the exits, panic rising. the winds were so strong, they had to force open the doors. fire investigators are focused on downed power lines near the fire's start, as they try to uncover the origins of the blaze, now considered the most
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destructive in colorado's history. from above, the extent of the damage is clear-- so many families will have to rebuild in the new year what was lost in the old. for the pbs newshour, i'm stephanie sy. >> nawaz: since the taliban regained control of afghanistan in august, the u.s. has evacuated more than 75,000 afghans through operation allies welcome. roughly 23,000 evacuees remain on six military bases across the country, but more than 50,000 have already been placed in local communities. after a tumultuous journey, these refugees are now tasked with starting over, and rebuilding their lives in a new country. earlier this week, i spoke to krish o'mara vignarajah, who leads refugee resettlement efforts with the lutheran
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immigration refugee services. krish, welco to the newshour, and thank you for making the time. we should point out to everyone watching-- anyone who arrives here has already been vetted, before they come to the united states. they're housed on these u.s. military bases across the country, and then your organization steps in. so, just tell me a little bit about the role that your group plays, and what you do when you first come into contact with these arriving afghans. >> sure. so, l.i.r.s. is one of the nine resettlement agencies that work with the state department. we are there from beginning to end, meaning, we pick these individuals up from the airport. we find them affordable housing that they move into. with the help of volunteers, we will actually even furnish that housing with some modest furniture, stock the refrigerator with culturally familiar foods. we'll help enroll their kids in public schools, try to connect them to community-based resources. basically, be there during those first few days to meet their basic necessities, but in the immediate term, it's also making sure that we can find
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them a job. so many of them come eager to start contributing, so we try to help with a range of services. >> nawaz: krish, how big of an operation is this? in terms of people and resources. we're talking about tens of thousands of people who just left under emergency evacuation and are arriving here with basically nothing but the clothes on their back. >> it's a truly historic effort. i think that the last time we saw this scale of an operation was when we resettled 130,000 vietnamese in about the span of a year. here, we have about 70,000 released from military bases and coming into communities across the country. i think what contributes to the historic part of this effort is that the resettlement infrastructure is coming off of four years where it was decimated-- we had more than 100 offices across the network that were closed. shuttered. and so, we are rebuilding at a time when tens of thousands are coming and need our help, and so case managers are serving the
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number that they would have served in a year, in a week. >> nawaz: so krish, everyone saw those haunting images during the evacuation, rit? people hanng babies over the airport wall, people clinging to plane as they took off. tell us a little bit more about the people who did make it? >> yeah, so, thankfully, the military operation evacuated both a number of families as well as quite a number of unaccompanied children. so, these are families who served alongside the military. they worked at the u.s. embassy. they may have served at a development n.g.o. in afghanistan. in terms of the children, we're talking about 1,200 children who came. the vast majority do have a parent or guardian here in the u.s. who will serve as a sponsor. but there are a couple hundred children who are still in our care and custody. and so, they will face the legal limbo, because they are not coming in as unaccompanied refugee minors. so they have to go into the asylum program. the complexity here is that they have experienced more trauma than i've ever seen with
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unaccompanied children. the trauma of leaving afghanistan. the trauma of what was a treacherous and uncertain journey. and then, the trauma of not knowing whether they will actually get legal relief. and so, that instability, it just makes their healing process delayed. >> nawaz: you know, like any newly-arriving population, there's always some element here in america that greets them with hostility. that's sort of the history of this country. and this group is no exception. we've seen a number of people on the far right talking about terrorism, and saying america is "full." there's no room for refugees. how worried are you about threats to these afghan families? >> the truth is, they are fleeing terrorism. they are fleeing risks and threats that were directly made to them antheir families. and so, we are still seeing people who are fear-mongering, but by and large, we have seen so many-- political leaders, even, who said "we want to help. we wanto help. this is who we are as a nation." it's not just the right thing to do, but of course, the smart
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thing to do. so many employers who are saying now is the time to welcome these afghans, because we are desperately in need of the talent that they represent. >> nawaz: so, secretary of state antony blinken recently visited one of your facilities here in virginia. he is among those who said that the u.s. will continue to have a commitment to afghans who were left behind. we know thousands who worked with the u.s. throughout that effort, over 20 years. what do you think that the u.s. owes to those afghans? >> we know that conservatively there are at least 200,000, more likely a quarter of a million who are still in harm's way. what we have strsed to secretary blinken, and the rest of the government is, that though our military presence has ended, our mission has not. and we've got to make sure that whether it is protecting those at-risk afghans, protecting women and girls-- we're trying to make sure that we continue to have a strong presence in afghanistan. >> nawaz: that is krish o'mara vignarjah, president and c.e.o. of lutheran immigration refugee services. thank you so much for being with
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us. >> thanks for having me. >> nawaz: and now, to the analysis of brooks and capehart. that is "new york times" columnist david brooks, and jonathan capehart, columnist for the "washington post." gentlemen, good to see you. let's have a pretty big discussion here on this final conversation in 2021. i want to talk more broadly about the state of democracy. i know we've talked about it over the last year, but there's no bigger story, i think, in 2021 and no bigger question going into 2022. our year began with an attack on the u.s. capitol, the largest in over 200 years. if you look at where americans are, a september poll found 30%
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of americans believe the 2020 election was stolen. the reason we know folks turned out on january 6th found 40% of americans don't trust elections are fair we're talking about the foundational parts of our democracy. when you look at the numbers, how worried are you? >> i'm moderately worried. what i see is disillusionment, distrust and cynicism. we have a great electoral system. we just ran a major election in the middle of a pandemic and we did it with record turnout, almost no fraud, and for all effects, zero fraud, and we got a result, and, so, we have more people active and voting than ever before. we have problems which we can talk about later in counting the votes and making sure the counting is secure, but the actual casting of votes, it's a pretty proud american institution, we should be a little more proud of the things that we have done well. so, when i see the votes, i see
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some partisans, republicans who think it was stolen because they're trumpy republicans, but i see a sad pervasive cynicism that wears down systems that are not actually failing and that cynicism can be corrosive to a country. >> nawaz: jonathan, hat do you see when you look at the numbers? >> i'll answer your original question about how worried am i about our democracy and i'm very worried. i hear what david is saying about the participation we saw in the last election, the millions of americans who turned out to the polls, but we can't ignore the fact that as a result of the "big lie," we have poll numbers like that that you just showed, but we also had state legislatures around the country pass restrictive voting laws that not only prevent people from being able to register to vote but also go the extra length of turning what used to be independent state boards of elections into partisan bodies
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where the state legislature can get involved, if the state legislature doesn't like the electoral result or the vote cast by the people. so the fac that we have that happening around the country is what gives me pause. the last thing i will say on this is that it didt -- what kes it even worse is that one of the two major parties -- political parties in this country is aiding and abetting that effort to undermine the foundation of our democracy. >> nawaz: david, what about that? i mean, the big lie, the idea the election was stolen, that is still pushed by arguably the most influential person in the republican party and that is donald trump, and it is not forcefully denounced by many leaders. so, in a two-party system, if one party is messaging things that undermine those foundational parts of democracy, can the system hold? >> yeah, it's an open question. if you had gone back to republicans in 2015 and told
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them what republicans would be doing in 2021, they would be shocked. so this is a party tha tt has sd down the toilet, i don't know how else to say it. so that is a real problem. i cut jonathan's alarm in half on the voting rights issue. the republicans are trying to restrict voting. given the history of their country, that wreaks. some of the thing they're trying to do, voter i.d. laws are popular. some of the things that are said on restrictions on voting is voting restrictions don't strict voting. this has been studied and we've talked about this on the show in the past, over and over aga by academics they find when states tighten voting restrictions turnout is the same. when they loosen, same. voters vote. so i'm less alarmed than the second thing jonathan said which is the state legislatures taking over after the votes are counted, and for that to be
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really problematic, it would have to happen in a purple state. there would have to be a republican state legislature werful enough to basically politicize the system in the sort of state joe biden would carry. if they do that, then we have a real problem in our democracy. >> nawaz: david, to put a finer point on that for anyone not tracking over the last year, there have been massive efforts to restrict voting across the country in 2021, more than in modern history. according to the brennan center, between january 1 or december 7, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting, heading into 2022. 13 states will be considering bills to consider restricting access. 25 states enacted new voter protections in 2021. so, jonathan, that's at the state level, but at the federal level, if the government can or does not cod phi voting access,
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what do you worry will happen -- codify? >> that goes back to the original answer and that is i fear for our democracy. we saw the gutting of the voting rights act almost immediately offa supreme court decision was handed down, particularly southern states moved very quickly to institute voter restrictions. so if the federal government, if congress cannot find its way to passing the john lewis voting rights advancement act or the freedom to vote act i think is the last it regulation of the other voting rights bill, and i have been a long-time advocate of do away with the filibuster in order for those pieces of legislation to get through congress and deal with the consequences later. because if the right to vote is undermined, if the right to vote is diminished in a way that
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allows for a party to overturn the will of the people, then any of those consequences that could come from doing away with the filibuster will pale in comparison. that's how dire i think the situation is. call me alarmist, but i would rather be alarmist than complacent. >> nawaz: david what would you say to that? i believe we've heard them say that hasn't impacted voter restriction laws as in the past. do we wait or do we pass them now? >> states change their voter rules all the time. we've studied this. as reporters, we just report the evidence, and the evidence from study after study after study is voting restrictions don't restrict voting, so that doesn't mean we say what is happening is fine, it just means we mitigate some of our alarm. now, again, this is where
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jonathan hathe alarm and that's what happened after the votes. there is a form to have the electoral count act put in a century ago o make sure after the votes are cast they're counted properly, the vice president has a proper role, the state legislatures don't overstep their authority, and if there's one thing we learned from january 6th, we have severe holes in the way we count votes and that's where our efforts should be and there's even some little glimmers of light that there's a bipartisan majority in washington for reforming the electoral count act, and that would be an important first step. >> nawaz: i'm sure. i know we will continue to cover all of these issues into the new year as well. on this last day of 2021, david, when you look ahead to the new year, what are you watching and following? are you carrying hope into this next year? >> you know me, blissful optimism. in may of 2020, i was looking forward to a summer of joy, and
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that didn't happen. i was shocked to learn today that more americans died of covid in 2021 than in 202. so 2021 was a rough year, so i'm looking forward to a summer where we've -- it's not going away but where we learn to live and breathe again, where we learn to go to concerts again, where we have big meetings and we don't have to be vaguely paranoid as we're hanging around each other in bars. that's what we're looking for, a simple wish. but i'm going with hedonism in 2022. (laughter) >> nawaz: jonathan, what about you? >> well, i'm not going to go that far. but i do share david's response because my response was also i am looking forward to -- i am hopeful about the pandemic, i am hopeful in this regard, that we will learn how to live with this pandemic in ways that allow us to be with eachther again, to do
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all the things that david said, even if you want to be hedonistic about it, great, that at least we won't be living in a defensive crowd, afraid to go out of our homes, afraid to be with our friends and family, afraid to be with other people for fear of catching this deadly virus. so that's what makes me hopeful. >> nawaz: david, as you look into the new year, big political things you want to watch setting aside your own personal plans. >> my personal hedonism while i'm in the hot tub? i worry about abroad. we've had an easy time in foreign policy over the last years and we have been blessed by not having major international disasters. i worry about russia and ukraine quite a lot. i worry about china is a lot less stable than it seems or tries to get in a conflict with taiwan and somebody in the pacific. i worry about the middle east.
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i have a gut accepts that the eet ride we've had internationally, we're pushing our luck on it. >> nawaz: jonathan, what about you? >> i'm paying attention to the january 6th select committee. i think that all through december, they have been ramping up with the subpoenas, with the invitations to voluntarily testify to sitting member of congress. next year we're going to see public televised hearings. we could very well see subpoenas of sitting members of congress and watching those sitting members of congress defy subpoenas. so the january 6th select committee is going down uncharted territory but it is territory that needs to be forged. they are looking into an attack not only on congress but on our democracy and its investigation and its findings -- the investigation needs to go forward, the findings need to be made public, and the people who are found cuppable need to be held accountable.
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>> nawaz: i'm certain we're going to hear a lot more on all of those topics from both of you. i for one am looking forward to seeing both of you in person in the new year. here's hoping that happens very soon. until then, please stay safe. thank you so much. happy new year to both of you. >> happy new year to you. >> nawaz: the italian region of tuscany is renowned for its world-class wine, from the vine to the vat, making it a time-honored practice in which little has changed over the centuries. but, as christopher livesay explains, there's one small vineyard challenging tradition, and bringing its wine to life with the sound of music. >> reporter: in the rolling
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hills of montalcino, tuscany, a harmonious combination of temperate climate and fertile soil has long helped create some of the finest wines in the world. but, at this vineyard-- the paradiso di frassina-- there's another, peculiar ingredient. ♪ ♪ ♪ for seven days a week, and 24 hours a day, these sangiovese grapes are fed a steady diet of mozart. the man behind this unorthodox approach is owner carlo cignozzi, a former musician. >> ( translated ): i knew that music provides energy to the human soul. people need it to thrive. plants are the same. >> reporter: but could mozart's "divertimeo in d" really produce a bacchanalia? cignozzi says the vines closest to the speakers produce the juiciest grapes and the greenest leaves. he doesn't have to use much fertilizer, or any pesticides.
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mozart, he says, drives away the pests. >> ( translated ): crickets mate on the vine. that's why they make that sound, it's their mating call: cri-cri-cri... >> reporter: tell me about this. why does the music scare away the crickets? >> ( translated ): because the cricket sings a serenade.“ i'm here, my love, i'm coming!” but if mozart music is playing, the female can't hear it. so they leave, and go somewhere more quiet, to my neighbors' vineyards, instead. the same thing happens with birds and wild boars that would otherwise eat my grapes. >> reporter: mozart wine. it sounds like a gimmick. but now, researchers say there may be some veritas in this unorthodox viticulture. scientists at the c.r.e.a. research laboratory in tuscany are trying to verify some of those claims. >> ( translated ): prior research shows that there is a positive impact on plant growth, as well as insects, when certain sound waves act as a deterrent for pests.
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>> reporter: he also speculates that mozart music mimics the frequencies of running water-- which might explain why the grapevines stretch and grow towards the speakers. now, storchi and his team are trying to verify yet another potential benefit... >> now i'm going to cut a leaf. >> reporter: ...to see if music prevents the growth of fungus. so, you're looking for the right wavelength that will keep this plant from getting an infection? >> yes. >> reporter: people have long considered plants to be lower life forms than humans. it was aristotle who said that“ plants are on the edge, between living and nonliving.” and, in the old testament, noah made room on the ark for the animals, not the plants. but today, there's a movement in science to recognize plants as sensitive, and even sentient creatures. >> because plants are not just able to live. they are able to sense. they are much more sophisticated
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in sensing than animals. >> reporter: stefano mancuso, from the universi of florence, seen here giving a ted talk, is one more scientist studying cignozzi's musical vineyard in depth. >> and they are also able to show and exhibit such a wonderful and complex behavior, that can be described just with the term of intelligence. >> reporter: of course, there are skeptics. does anyone ever call you crazy? >> ( translated ): sure. the italians are the worst. it's like hitting a wall. they tell me, "carlo, don't mess with wine.” >> reporter: but among the believers, cignozzi also counts bose, the high-end speaker producer. the company has sponsored his 120-speaker sound system, stretching 25 acres... ♪ ♪ ♪ ...and even side his cellar, where resident wine master federi ricci speculates, the musical vibrations help with the fermentation process inside these barrels of prized brunello, much in the way that
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swirling wine in the glass can unlock its most subtle flavors. >> ( translated ): it's certainly very different. it has different chemical characteristics, it has many more polyphenols inside. polyphenols give color to wine, as well as all those antioxidants that give it body. so this definitely makes a better wine. >> reporter: but does the music have to be mozart? scientists say it could be anything, from the rolling stones to barry white. but cignozzi disagrees. he can't get enough of mozart. >> ( translated ): i've tried a variety, like gregorian chants. ( sings ) but for me, mozart is the composer of nature. it's the most geometric, the most profound, the most cheerful, yet the most mysterious. such is mozart. such is my wine as well. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm christopher livesay in montalcino, tuscany.
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>> nawaz: as we reported earlier in the program, tv legend betty white has died at 99. her career spanned more than 60 years, and included a whole host of unforgettable roles. npr tv critic eric deggans joins me now to talk about white's legacy, and her role in making sitcoms appointment viewing. eric, welcome back to the newshour. always good to see you. betty white did it all, right, she did talk shows and sitcoms and movies and hosting. it's not fair to ask this question because you can't cover six decades in one answer, but what stands out to you over that decades-long career? >> well, a few things stand out to me. number one, she was someone who did-- she was old school showbiz in the sense that she did
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everything. and she did everything andade it look effortless. and so when she was starring in radio, when she was a queen on game shows, she was a great panalist on game shows. and then she transitioned to sitcoms. and she even produced her own talk show. nbc asked her to co-host the "today show" many, many years ago. she didn't want to move to new york, so barbara walters got that job. i mean, she did so many things. and then later in her life, she transitioned to doing commercials and, you know, sort of being this saucy grandma-kind of character. so, she did so many things well. and then, in a private life, she was also an advocate for-- against animal cruelty, and for animal rights, and someone who always seemed to be on the right side of issues even when she was starting her tv career. and, she was hosting the show and she had a black performer on the show.
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and southern tv stations pressured her to drop that black performer. she refused to do so, and in fact, gaveim more screen time. >> nawaz: so eric, i-- like millions of others-- came to love her as rose on "the golden girls," but do you have a favorite betty white role? >> my favorite role of hers was as betty white, later in her career. she developed this ability to poke fun at what people expected her to be because of her age, but she was still very sharp, very relevant, willing to poke fun at what people expected of her as an octogenarian. and i thought that was-- i really love that part of her career. i loved seeing her host "saturday night li" in her late 80s, after a public campaign from people on facebook, to-- to push the show into having her as a guest host, and some really great snickers commercial for the super bowl.
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>> nawaz: eric, entertainment is such an age-conscious industry, especially for women, and betty white really embraced her age. i want to share with you one thing she told the a.p. in a recent interview. she said "don't try to be young. just open your mind, stay interested in stuff. there are so many things i won't live long enough to find out about, but i'm still curious about them." i'm wondering what you think it was about betty white that helped her to find generation after generation of new fans. >> what i think was great about betty whitis that she was smart and talent, and i think she also understood how to find the funny in whatever she was doing, whenever she was doing it. so, when she was on the "mary tyler moore show," she was playing a character who was sweet on the surface, but when you got to know her off-camera, was very cynical and aggressive. and then, when she was on "golden girls," she played a character that was more naive and open-hearted. and then, when she was on "hot in cleveland," she played a character th was kind of like the saucy grandma, who had this, you know, secret life of, you know, raising all kinds of hair,
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that you never thought that she would be involved in. and she always found a way to make those things funny and involved with the times, and figure out how to present herself in a way that would be really entertaining to people, and that they would also find really appealing. and that is that is something that's not easy to do, especially over a 60-year career. it's just amazing how much she achieved. >> nawaz: that is npr's eric deggans, helping us remember the life and legacy of betty white. eric, thank you so much for your time. >> thank you for having me. >> nawaz: at boston's museum of fine arts these days, you'll find a patchwork of american stories, assembled one quilt at a time. jared bowen of gbh boston has
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our look, as part of our arts and culture series, "canvas." >> reporter: of the nation's art forms, it's among the most deeply embedded. quilts. not that we, or even some of its most acclaimed artists, have always recognized that. >> looking around, we always had quilts, either maybe on the couch or on the wall, which is crazy to me because i never looked at them as, like, art objects. >> reporter: but after leaving a career as a college basketball player behind, and realizing another career in photojournalism was not for him, a year and a half ago, artist michael c. thorpe began quilting. something he'd always watched his mother, susan richards, do. >> then she got a quilting machine. it's in the house. and i started playing around with it, and then started to understand that i could use that as, like, painting. and that's when it just exploded, because she showed me everything, and then i just i took it from there. >> reporter: and it's landed him here, in the museum of fine arts, as e of the artists featured in the exhibition "fabric of a nation: american quilt stories." thorpe's quilts are normally
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colorful and joyous, but he made this piece the day after george floyd's murder. >> basically i kept coming back to, like, what do people think of, like, black men? and a lot of this came from, like, putting the burden on, like, the audience, you know? because everyone was talking about, like, black people are always burdened with, like, telling people about the situation, living through the situation. and i was just like, i want to relieve myself of that, and give it to the audience. >> i think if we can agree on anything, it's the story of our nation is a complicated one, and we're-- we're living that now. >> reporter: jennifer swope curated this show, and traces how the history of america has been woven together in quilts spanning centuries. >> there's always the incredible story of the american quilting bee, where early suffragists came together and plotted to expand the franchise of voting, or to promote the ideas of abolitionism. d that's deeply baked into the idea of the american quilt. >> reporter: quilts told the
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story of cotton and corduroy landscapes, of rural family life, and of trauma. >> we have dr. carolyn mazloomi's work, "strange fruit ii," which is about the song that was popularized by billie holiday, which is graphically gut-wrenching. ♪ ♪ ♪ it shows lynched bodies on a tree. it shows ku klux klan figures. and that will give people pause, and rightly so. >> reporter: but artist bisa butler's quilt is halting for its shimmering portraits of atlanta's morris brown college baseball team from 1899. it's so layered. layered in theme, it's layered in practice. >> i think layered is the
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perfect word to use. what i think she really wants people to do is to look carefully at each of these figures and recognize their individual humanity, and she does that really by creating these portraits in coloand cloth. >> reporter: here we also find one gallery transformed into a virtual temple. it features the only known surviving quilts by harriet powers, side-by-side for the first time. >> she's an icon. what she was able to achieve. >> reporter: a former enslaved woman, powers is considered the mother of african american quilting. she renders life lessons in this pictorial quilt from the late 1890s. but it was her bible quilt, sewn a decade earlier, that made powers a sensation, after it was exhibited in an atlanta fair visited by nearly a milliopeople, including then- president grover cleveland. >> these were the offspring of her brain as she described them. and they were precious to her. her whole cosmology is part of those works of art. there is nothing unplanned.
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>> reporter: as a strong tradition of quilting bees reminds us, quilts are commonly communal efforts. gee's bend is an alabama community that's taken on nearly mythical proportions for a quilting tradition that has passed from generation to generation since the 19th century. >> several people have described the quilts of gee's bend as the product of what we might think of as a school of art in a sense that it was a tight community. >> reporter: community prevails in these works-- even for artists like thorpe, who work independently. >> it's like a village, you know to make anything. and literally every piece-- every piece of fabric i get, from my aunt's quilt shop, may come from just like a local fabric store. everybody's, like, contributing to it. feels like there's, like, a community behind me, because i couldn't do itithout my mom, without my family, without all these people that make these amazing fabrics that i use.
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>> reporter: or the history woven deeply into thfabric of a nation. for the pbs newshour, i'm jared bowen in boston. >> nawaz: filly tonight, we wanted to take a look back at some of the images that have defined this incredible year, and hear from the photojournalists who captured them. >> my name is mario toma. i'm a staff photographer with getty images. this year, i covered covid impacts in southern california, louisiana, and brazil. >> my name is marcus yam. i'm a foreign correspondent and photojournalist for the "los angeles times." i was in kabul during the fall of afghanistan. little did i know that i was going to see the swift transfer of power. >> my name is justin sullivan. i'm a staff photographer with getty images. i'm based in san francisco. this year was a busy year for me.
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i covered a lot of stories that revolved around the drought that's happening in the western united states, and also a lot of wildfires. >> my name is leah millis. i am a senior photographer for thomson reuters. i cover politics, breaking news, features, stories, other things around the world. >> my name is ashley gilbertson. i'm a photojournalist. i live in new york city, and i'm with the photo agency called seven, and i do a lot of work as a freelancer for the "new york times." and they said, do you want to go to washington tomorrow? because there's going to be this "stop the steal" rally, and we're looking for some pictures of impassioned trump supporters and whatever else happens. and, as i got to the lawn on the capital, i-- i could see that there was a group of trump rioters now, and they were pushing and smashing a door and windows. one of the rear entrances. so i ran straight towards that. they got in, and i was one of the first 20 people into the place, and i followed this crowd as they moved through the
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corridors. and some of them put their hands up and there was shouting. and so i move in front to see what's going on. i didn't know that he was protecting and trying to lead them somewhere else. i didn't know that it was. he was going to take them away from the chamber where there were still senators inside. and i see that there is a police officer standing there and he's shouting at them and... that police officer, who we now know is eugene goodman-- to me, was the sole act of real courage that i saw. >> the one photo that i caught a flash bang in is a very imperfect image. part of the exposure is kind of blown out. but i think the photo really resonates with people because it kind of captures the shock of what was going on. i remember looking around and just being in complete disbelief or shock. i never would have imagined a scene like that. >> photographic coverage of, you know, what-- what went on in afghanistan was so important,
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because the world saw quickly how you know how tragic things became and how terrible things became. in the 24 hours leading up to the americans leaving, there are these key moments that i remember. i remember-- there was gunfire that rang out throughout the night. and it was like the taliban had won the super bowl. and it was surreal to be in that airport as they took over. and i remember thinking to myself, i will-- i will look back at this day, and remember this for the rest of my life. >> covering wildfires in california is definitely eye-opening, and it has evolved so much over the 20 years that i have been covering them. they're much bigger now. they're much more unpredictable, dangerous. we've had wildfires in california this year that almost burned a million acres, which is, you know, a first. it's never happened. and, you know, it's devastating. and to-- to see towns go up in flames, people's homes go up in
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flames, livelihood, farms. you know, it's heartbreaking. i mean, this story about drought and wildfire, it affects everyone in california. whether you like it or not, you know, you're going to get it-- you're going to be impacted by smoke. you're going to get impacted by the fire itself. you're going to impacted when the water runs out. it affects everyone. >> i think the role of photojournalists during the pandemic and during other mass casualty events and natural disasters is to document the human side of these crises. and that's what we do. and i remember walking through one of the hospital corridors, and in one of the covid wards, and, one of the nurses said to me: "the world needs to see this. thank you for being here."
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and i kept those words in the back of my head. >> nawaz: and that is the newshour for tonight, and for 2021. i'm amna nawaz. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you for joining us. have a safe and happy new year. and we'll see you very soon, in 2022. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> fidelity wealth management. >> consumer cellular. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation. for more than 50 years, advancing ideas and supporting institutions to promote a better world. at www.hewlett.org. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most
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pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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tonight, the durability of plastics is why we love them. it is also the real problem in the environment. >> a special report about the impact of plastics on our environment. >> if plastics were a country úthey would be the fifth larges emitter of greenhouse gases. >> hello and welcome. tonight, we bring you a special episode that is all about plastic. is a big part of everyday lives. it is made all kinds of medical

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