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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  January 8, 2022 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, january 8: russian troops arrive in kazakhstan, amid arrests and charges of a plot to overthrow the government. a big step unfolds on the journey of the webb space telescope. and, a documentary on the short- list for an oscar nomination takes us inside an immigration dention facility at the height of the pandemic in 2020. next, on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-smith. leonard and norma klorfine. the rosalind p. walter
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foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. barbara hope zuckerberg. 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's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connec we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our u.s.-based customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit additional support s 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 you. thank you.
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>> sreenivasan: good evening, and thank you for joining us. e largest city in kazakhstan is under tightened security today. after a week of deadly protests in the central asian country, the russian defense ministry released ftage of russian soldiers and equipment arriving in kazakhstan today. the deployment comes at the request of kazakhstan's president and is part of a russian-led post-soviet military alliance. kazakhstan occupies a stratec spot between russia, china, and several former soviet republics. and in almaty, the former capital in the southeastern part of the country, there was a large police and army presence on the streets. protests that started in the western part of the country over increased energy prices, spread, and became violent. government buildings and vehicles were burned, more than 4,000 people have been detained, and at least 26 protesters and 18 police officers have been killed. president kassym-jomart tokayev said yesterday that police
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should "shoot to kl" protesters in the biggest uprising since the country became independent in 1991. he has blamed the violent protests on foreign-backed terrorists. also today, kazakhstan's security council announced that a former top security official was arrested and charged with treason for attempting to overthrow the government. as recently as wednesday, the security chief was leading that same surity council, and was in televised meetings with the president. for more on kazakhstan, russia, and what's at stake, i spoke with jeffrey mankoffsenior associate with the russia and eurasia program at the center for strategic and international studies, a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization in washington, d.c. jeffrey, when you look out at the headlines that are coming out of kazakhstan, and what's been happening this week, what goes through your mind? >> this is a crisis that developed very rapidly, and escalated to a point where i think the country's future is
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very much up in the air. and if we were looking at what was going on in kazakhstan even a couple of months ago, i don't think there were many indications that things were going to go this badly off the rails this quickly. >> senivasan: put kazakhstan in perspective for us. most americans, frankly, probably don't know why it's important, geo-politically. who are its allies? where does it stand? >> kazakhstan is an enormous country. i think it's the ninth largest country in the world. and it is at the center of central asia. it has a 7,000-kilometer border with russia. it's also a major oil producer, major uranium producer, and, as we've been reminded in the last week or so, an important source of the computing power that's used to mine cryptocurrency. so, all of these markets have been affected by the upheaval there. it's also along one of the main corridors that china is looking to develop for over-land transit to europe. and i think more broadly, it's
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important because of what the upheaval there suggests about stability in a lot oother countries in the former soviet region that have similar political models. >> sreenivasan: so, russia says, "hey, we share this massive border with this country, and political unrest there could spill over into our country." and does that justify their intervention in this? >> the kazakh government asked for this intervention. so, i think it's important to note that, in that sense, it's fferent from, you know, what we've seen russia do with troop deployments in places like ukraine. at the same time, of course, the mission that they've been given is to prop up an authoritarian government that has shown no compunction about shooting its own citizens. >> sreenivasan: so what's the ripple effect here on america? diplomatically, economically? >> so, i think for the u.s., the direct stakes are low. obviously, we're concerned about
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the humanitarian implications, upward pressure on oil prices. that's something that the u.s. is going to care about. and i think it also, of course, plays into the dynamic of u.s./russian, and probably to a lesser degree, u.s./chinese relations. i thinthe russians, for the past several months, have been really focusing on this european security situation on-- on circumstances along the rder with ukraine, and were not particularly happy about having to be drawn into this unrest on their southern border. in terms of the bilateral relationship, i think it's just another area where there's going to be disagreement between moscow and washington. >> sreenivasan: what is the united states' interest in kazakhstan? why do we consider it a friend? >> kazakhstan has actually been, for the most part, quite effective diplomatically since its independence. it's also built good bilateral relationships with a number of western countries, including the united states.
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it's been relatively open to foreign investment in the energy sector, so companies like chevron have a-- a large presence there, and have going back to the 1990s. and kazakhstan, even though it has this close security and econom relationship with russia, has done a pretty good job and made a concerted effort to reach out to the united states, to a number of european partners, and to let them know that it's an independent country. it has its own interests, it has its own foreign policy, and it's not just, you know, a vassal of russia. >> sreenivasan: jeffrey mankoff, thanks so much for joining us. >> sure. thanks for having me. >> sreenivasan: president joe biden and former president barack obama gathered with hundreds of family, friends, and political leaders to honor the life of former senate majority leader harry reid at services in las vegas today. the invitation-only memorial paid tribute to reid, who rose from childhood poverty in a small nevada town to become
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one of the most powerful lawmakers in america. >> he was tough as nails, a fighter to his core. but also one of the most compassionate individuals you could ever imagine. >> sreenivasan: former president barack obama delivered the eulogy. >> despite all the power he wielded, his reputation as being the consummate washington insider-- what i came to realize was that harry always remained something of an outsider in washington. which makes sense, given the remarkable path to the senate that he had taken. a path that was, at least as unlikely, if not more unlikely than mine. >> sreenivasan: reid retired from the u.s. senate in 2016, after representing nevada for five terms, including 12 years as the chamber's top democrat. senator reid died from complications of pancreatic cancer on december 28. he was 82 years old.
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confirmed cases of covid continue to reach record highs as the surge from the omicron variant spreads. on average, the centers for disease control and prevention is reporting more than 600,000 cases daily. that is mo than triple the number two weeks ago. given the bottlenecks in testing and the increasing use of home tests, the actual number of infections is likely higher than the reported cases. community transmission is now high in more than 99% of u.s. counties, according to c.d.c. data. deaths and hospitalizations are not rising as quickly. vaccinations and boosters provide strong protection, and early studies show the omicron variant appears to cause less severe disease. but the surge is still overwhelming some health care facilities and causing disruptions because of worker shortages. in phoenix, two airport security checkpoints in the busiest terminal were closed this week because not enough transportation security administration agents came to work.
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and in chicago, negotiations between the teachers union and city officials continue this weekend, after a dispute around covid safety protols and remote learning options closed schools the past three days. in a joint statement late yesterday, mayor lori lightfoot and the head of the chicago public schools said, “the sessions remain productive, but must be concluded this weekend”" in australia, tennis star novak djokovic remains in quarantine as his lawyers prepare to challenge that country's decision to deny him entry, because he has not revealed his covid vaccination status. court documents filed today show djokovic tested positive for covid last month, and recovered, which would mean he has grounds for an exemption, according to his attorneys. when djokovic landed in melbourne this week ahead of the australian open, his visa was revoked. djokovic is a vocal skeptic of vaines. supporters and anti-vaccine campaigners continue to rally on his behalf. australian officials say the
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athlete is free to leave the country at any time. his court hearing is set for monday. >> sreenivan: for more national and international news, visit >> sreenivasan: the most powerful telescope ever launched into space made another succsful step on its journey to a point a million miles away from earth today. >> it's called a bat wing. >> sreenivasan: nasa engineers, working with a global team, sent the commands that unfolded the final wing of the 21-foot primary mirror, revealing its golden hexagons in a honeycomb- like structure. >> wow, just look at that! the-- the primary mirror is successfully deployed. sreenivasan: nasa scientists narrated the deployment process using a live animated visualization. ere are no monitoring cameras onboard the james webb space telescope. >> and, liftoff! >> sreenivasan: the mission began 14 days ago, on christmas morning, from french guiana.
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earlier this afternoon, as more steps in the process were being finalized, i spoke with npr science correspondent joe palca about the telescope, and its mission. joe, first question. how do you make something unfurl in a part of spacehat you can't see? you don't have a live camera feed of. how do you send instructions back and forth and get that feedback? >> the instructions go through something called the deep space network, which is this collection of giant antennas on earth. and the way you know what's happening is, this thing is festooned with sensors. and in some cases, they don't even need sensors. for example, they can tell the motor's running when they can see current is running through the motor. so they don't actually have to see that the motor is turning. they know that if it's drawing current, it's doing something, and if it wasn't, wouldn't be moving. >> sreenivasan: if everything goes right-- you know, fingers crossed, there's lots of steps still left in this-- what will we see?
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>> you know, this thing was built for one purpose, or originally conceived of for one purpose, which is to see light from the most distant galaxies and stars. and the reason you need this telescope, and not something like the hubble space telescope, is that those distant objects are moving away from us so fast that the light is being stretched out. it's in what's called the infrared. and so, you can't see it if you're looking at it. it's like night goggles, you can't see anything. but if you look through an infrared telescope? oh, yes, there, i see... a star, or a galaxy. and so, that's why they built this. but the crazy thing is, is that since they conceived of it, people discovered, "oh, there's planets orbiting stars outside our sor system, and we could look at those with this telescope. that's crazy. we can do that." they didn't design it for that, but now they can use it for that. the final thing i'll say about what they're going to find is, they don't know.
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( laughter ) and that's the cool thing. when you give scientists a new piece of equipment and say, check this out, see what you can do with it-- they're going to come up with interesting observations. and i was saying, the first example of that is galileo. like, he built the telescope. well, he was looking around. he didn't kn what he was going to find. he pointed it at jupiter and suddenly, he discovered moons around jupiter. i mean, he didn't build the telescope because he wanted to know if there were moons around jupiter. nobody knew. but, he built it and he found them. >> sreenivasan: you have been covering this telescope for years now. it has gone through so many different setbacks and project, kind of, delays. and to see that it's this close, i'm sure that the scientists that you're speaking to are-- pardon the phrase-- over the moon about this. >> well, there's two groups of people that are over the moon. one are the scientists, who have been thinking and planning and hoping and dreaming, and they
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have been coming up with ideas about how to use this for the last decade or more. but the other people who are just ecstatic are the engineers, because this is a really, really complicated piece of equipment. and, as you say, it went through a lot of iterations, a lot of setbacks. and a lot of this stuff that had to work exactly properly to unfold it, because it had to be folded up to fit inside the rocket that sent it into space-- the unfolding process had to work right. there was no way to fix it. and so, what do you do if you're an engineer? well, you test and you test and you test and you test. and then finally say, well, i think we've checked it out in as many ways as we can. let's see if it works. and then you do this-- which is obably not the official sign for engineers-- but i think there's a little bit of "i hope we thought of everything, because there's nothing we can do about it now." >> sreenivasan: so, you're one of the few reporters who've gone and seen this thing in person. put the scale of it in
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perspective for us who haven't seen it in person. what's ilike, standing in front of it? and, give us an idea of what that challenge is, to get all of these mirrors focused in on one specific spot. >> what you're first struck by, it-- it's about two stories tall, so it's about as tall as a school bus standing on its end. and i saw the mirror portion of it; it hadn't been attached to the sun shield, which is even a more complex thing. but what i was struck by was how perfect the optics are, because i saw it being-- it was lifted up into the air and turned. and as it turned, i could see things reflected in the mirror, and it was astoundingly clear. i mean, this is-- this is not your bathroom mirror. this is, like, the most fantastic mirror. and it's gold, which also adds to a certain cachet. so they put a gold coating on it because that happens to be good at reflecting infrared light.
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and so, it just really gives you a sense of size and majesty-- i would say that's a good word for it. >> sreenivasan: joe palca, npr science correspondent, thanks so much. >> you're very welme. >> sreenivasan: as the covid-19 pandemic ragedn in early 2020, u.s. immigration courts shut down. many of the 38,000 migrants held in federal detention centers at the time had their court dates canceled, with no indication of how long they'd be waiting. immigration and customs enforcement-- ice-- is not required by law to detain people with pending cases. but even with the threat of transmission of the virus, most remainein detention. by the end of may, ice had only tested abou10% of all detainees.
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but more than half those tested positive for the coronavirus. now, a new documentary called "the facility," which is short- listed for an academy award, shows the conditions inside one detention center during the pandemic. newshour weekend's ivette feliciano has more. >> reporter: in 2020, investigative journalist seth freed wessler used a pay-per-minute video-call app to make contact with dozens of immigrants detained inside the irwin county private detention center in ocilla, georgia. they were waiting for court dates to learn whether or not they could stay in the country, and the covid-19 pandemic had begun. . >> i began having these conversations, intending to write print stories. i wrote a series of ories,
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including for the "new york times magazine," about what was happening in irwin county detention center, and in ice detention in general, during the early months of the pandemic. ittruck me that there was this visual world that was emerging, that i couldn't really articulate in writing, i think, as effectively as i realized i might be able to through film. and so, i began to record all of these calls-- with their permission, of course-- on my desktop. . >> reporter: you've covered detention centers pretty extensively, and having this access, this inside view-- how was that different, in your experience? >> you know, i've been reporting on ice and immigration enforcement for years. and i think, the level of fear that people who are detained inside of ice detention centers were articulating is like nothing i've ever seen before, because people were being provided no information about
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what the virus, what this pandemic was, and meanwhile, offered no protections. detained people were not masked, and guards weren't masking. and so, i was watching a place that could not possibly have been safe. >> reporter: wessler used his recordings to make a film called "the facility," a production of the documentary website "field of vision," in partnership with the non-profit newsroom, type investigations. the film followshe stories of two detainees, andrea manrique and nilson barahona-marriaga, who were inside irwin county during the pandemic. . >> reporter: marriaga flew to the u.s. from honduras in 1999 left.tourist visa, and never in november of 2019, he was
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detained by ice and placed inside irwin county, where he claims conditions were unsanitary, and guards demeaned migrants and casually ignored their medical concerns. he was released by ice in november without explanation, he says, and is now waiting for a response to his green card application. . >> this country, the government is willing to go and fight wars overseas, you know, to defend people's rights. but here, the united states, human rights have been violated. you know? the truth is that without the pandemic, this is-- it was a horrible place. you wasn't treated like-- like a human being, you know? >> reporter: irwin county held a daily average of 754 migrants in 2020. ice reports a total of 146
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people there tested positive for covid-19 since it began testing in february of that year. a coalition of immigrant rights advocates in georgia say the number could be much higher due to what they call a lack of routine testing and reportinat the facility. in the documentary, marriaga and manrique are shown participating in a hunger strike inside irwin county, demanding better protections, including mask requirements and a promise to stop bringing in new detainees. manrique, seen here speaking to her lawyer, helped make a protest vio that went viral. ( translated ) >> reporter: the film alleges retaliation for the protests by the facility's staff, in the form of physical abuse and solitary confinement. the same day marriaga was released, manrique says she was also released, without explanation. she spoke with me via zoom from los angeles, california. >> ( translated ): i came to this country to ask for refuge and to be protected, but i felt even more threatened here. i said, they don't value my life here, either.
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my life is worth nothing here, as well. and that was hard for me to believe. >> reporter: manrique is still waiting for her day in immigration court to argue her asylum case, after spending 26 months in detention, 19 of them inside irwin county. >> ( translated ): seeing this documentary will open your eyes, and my intention by participating in it and allowing this to come out to the world is to show a reality that is affecting many people, thousands of people whose lives are being changed for good. before, we were people in crisis with problems, and today, we have many mo problems and more emotional scars. >> reporter: in may, secretary of homeland security alejandro mayorkas ordered ice to discontinue the use of irwin county detention center, saying: "d.h.s. detention facilitiesnd the treatment of individuals in those facilities will be held to our health and safety standards. where we discover they fall short, we willontinue to take action."
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the announcement came after a nurse whistleblower there alleged medical abuses, including unnecessary gynecological procedures on detained immigrant women, which prompted a federal investigation that is ongoing. journalist seth freed wessler hopes the documentary will shed new light on ice, and its policy of detaining immigrants. >> nearly nobody who's in ice detention has to be detained, as a matter of law. and so, during the pandemic, one of the things people who were held inside were saying is, let us proceed with our immigration cases from the safety of our homes. and ice could have made the decision to do that, and chose not to, for the most part, during the pandemic. and i think part of what i hope this film does is to raise the question about whether it makes sense for ice detention to be such a central component of the way that immigration enforcement proceeds in the united states. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday.
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>> 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 captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. e anderson family fund. the estate of worthiton mayo-smith. leonard and norma orfine. the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities.
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barbara hope zuckerberg. 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 om viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
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leslie: when people prepare themselves to go out in the world and they put on their jewelry, it's a way to signify their presence, their purpose, their meaning. the royals in britain, of course, have all of those colonialized gems. however, there are others who make their jewels out of a pebble or a rock or a piece of wood or animal bone. it's the humility of a single bead. these elements that were used to make what we call jewelry define and signify who you are, what your status is, what your relationships are, what your affinities, your communities, your geography is.


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