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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  January 23, 2022 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, january 23: two years on, covid cases continue to spike and ebb globally. a check-in on venezuela where hopes for democracy wane. and darryl mcdaniels of hip hop group run dmc on his children's book “darryl's dream.” 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.
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the rosalind p. walter 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. atutual 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 badcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributns to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> sreenivasan: good evening and thank you for joining us. today marks two years since the novel coronavirus led to an unprecedented lockdown of the central chinese city of wuhan. as the world enters the third year of a pandemic that has killed more than 5.5 million people, life in some places at least resembles a time before covid. even in the midst of a new variant-fueled wave, here in the u.s., the development of vaccines has provided some protection from many of the worst fears: unavailable i.c.u. beds, strict lockdowns, and death. but despite its widespread availability, nearly 20% of americans approved to get a covid vaccine have not received a single dose according to centers for disease control and prevention data. and there has been significant opposition to vaccine mandates. today, thousands marched to the lincoln memorial as part of an anti-vaccine mandate event. many speakers struck an anti- vaccine message. >> healthy children should not
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be forced to subject to vaccinations. ( cheers ) >> sreenivasan: the m-r.n.a. covid vaccines are among the most effective in history. even against the new omicron variant, studies show that, particularly after a booster, they are effective at protecting against severe disease and death. is weekend there were also protests against vaccine mandates in the u.k., spain, france, canada, and belgium, where today, police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protestors. and in new zealand, prime minister jacinda ardern announced new covid-19 restrictions that go into effect on monday after nine cases of the omicron variant were detected on in a single family visiting for a wedding. that country's so-called "red setting" includes requires mask wearing and limits on gatherings, and is disrupting the prime minister's own wedding, which was to have taken place next weekend. secretary of state antony blinken is amplifying america's warng to russia against a possible invasion of ukraine. appearing on cnn's "state of the union" earlier today, blinken
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stressed any mement of russian soldiers into its western neighbor's territory is unacceptable. >> if a single additional russian force goes into ukraine in an aggressive way, as i said, that would trigger a swift, a severe, and a united response from us and from europe. >> sreenivasan: the secretary's statement echoes a similar warning from the united kingdom, where the government has blicly stressed that russia will face severe economic consequences if it installs pro-russian leadership in ukraine. the announcement earlier today from a senior u.k. minister comes after a report from british intelligence that russian agents had been in contact with a number of former pro-russian, ukrainian politicians as part of moscow's potential invasion plans. >> we want putin to step back and realize how damaging this will be for him, let alone for ukraine and the international community. >> sreenivasan: russia has denied the accusation from british intelligence, which comes as more than 100,000 russian troops have been
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deployed to the ukrainian border in recent weeks. american officials warn that russia may invade at any moment. a taliban delegation arrived in norway earlier today as part of three-day session aimed to ease the unfolding humanitarian crises in afghanistan. the closed door talks between the taliban and western officials, including the united states, will also include members of the afghan diaspora, women's rights activists, and human rights groups. the meetings come as the united nations continues to warn of a dire situation in afghanistan, where as many as one million afghan children are in danger of starving. for more national and international news, visit >> sreenivasan: two years since the first pandemic lockdown in cha, there have been great strides to combat the covid-19 virus, but confusion and questions remain. from vaccinations and testing to masking and how many days to
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isolate, when it comes to covid recommendations, there hasn't always been clarity. joshua sharfstein is a public health professor at the bloomberg school of public health ajohns hopkins university and a former principal deputy commissioner of the food and drug administration. he says more communication between this country's major governmental health agencies, the c.d.c. and f.d.a., could help. he joined me yesterday from baltimore to discuss why. joshua, on the one hand, you've got a regulatory agency, and on the other hand, you've got one whose primary mission is public health. give me an example how during the pandemic these agencies that should have been kind in lockstep because their services were all called for didn't work together as efficiently as they could have? >> well, i think people know that there was aig challenge with testing at the beginning of the pandemic that we didn't have enough tests. but behind that is the intersection of, well, how big a problem is this going to be? what does the nation need and
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e actual technology of the tests? it was a big disconnect between the c.d.c. and the f.d.a. between the approach of what the country needed to fight the pandemic and the tools that we might have to use. so, f.d.a. was approaching testing in a certain way based on some historical precedents thinking about what might needed for diagnosis with the state public health labs needed. and c.d.c. was really thinking about the entire pandemic, but they never really came together. the idea that we needed many, many tests very quickly, that could have emerged if c.d. and f.d.a. had gotten together and said, well, what does the country need to fight covid? and i think that would have led to changes both at the c.d.c. and f.d.a. instead, they kind of went about it in their own way. and only later when it became clear this was such a crisis, both of them had to scramble. >> sreenivasan: you also point out that the different type of messaging from these different
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agencies has led to confusion from us, the consumers. >> right? well, there's certain products, certain situations wheboth f.d.a. and c.d.c. are communicating to the public, for example, on booster shots. f.d.a. is assessing whether booster shots are safe and effective, and c.d.c. is kind of deciding well, where and when are they needed? and those are slightly different questions. and the system that's been set up is for f.d. to make its announcement and c.d.c. to have a discussion and make its announcement. but the net efct for the public is on monday, tuesday, wednesday and thursday there can be different headlines about booster shots, and it seems very confusing. i think it's important for the agencies to work together to consider both safety and effectiveness on the one hand and need on the other together. get input, have discussions. people can disagree. but then when they comforward with this is what's going to happen. it can be a coherent explanation across both of their agencies jurisdictions. >> sreenivasan: if this does not
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happen, if these agencies don't inspire trust, i mean, is there the inverse a possibility that we start losing trust in these institutions? >> an important point for me is that i think both the agencies have done a lot of really important work during the pandemic and have saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives in this country, because this could have, believe it or not, been much, much worse without safe and effective vaccines, without really good advice on how people can protect themselves. what i'm trying to say is that by working together, you can get hopefully to a stronger level of understanding of what needs to be done and a stronger level of action for people to do things that make sense to protect themselves. otherwise, we're stuck where we may feel like we're watching a little bit of a ping pong game and really have this sense of, you know, uncertainty, you know, when there's scary news out there about hospitals filling up, we want to hear what the
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tools are that we have to protect ourselves and how to use them to do that as well as possible. it requires these two agencies and their great scientists to come together. >> sreenivasan: josh sharfstein, vice dean at the johns hopkins bloomberg school of public health and also a former deputy commissioner of the food and drug administration. thanks so much. >> thanks so much for having me. >> sreenivasan: the rail corridor that connects boston to new york to washington, d.c., serves millions of americans, and is a crucial driver of the u.s. economy. but there's a ten-mile stretch of it linking newark, new jersey, to new york city, traversing beneath the hudson river, which is slowly falling apart. in october, we reported on the gateway project, a proposed $30 billion infrastructure project that would provide a major upgrade. this week, the long-delayed project reached a major milestone and its proponts are
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seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. before the pandemic, about 200,000 people everyday rode through the tunnel under the hudson river between new york and new jersey, but almost none of them got this view. i'm in the rear of an amtrak train to see how a tunnel built in 1910, 111 years ago, is holding up. my guide is craig schulz from amtrak. am i still seeing some of the damage from super storm sandy on the ceilings and the sides? >> millions of gallons of saltwater inundated the tubes. the salts and chlorides really left behind by that saltwater have infiltrated the concrete and are essentially eating away at the infrastructure from the inside out. and so, what we have to do basically is essentially gut the tunnel right down to the concrete liner and essentially rebuild it from the inside out. >> sreenivasan: on thursday, the federal transportation administration upgraded the tunnel project to "medium high," meaning it would now be eligible
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to receive federal grants. undethe trump administration, the project had been deemed less of a priority, and federal officials had disagreed with how much new york state and new jersey would contribute. the nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, signed into law in november will also help foot the bill for the upgraded tunnel. the tunnel portion of the project will cost an estimated $10 billion, and includes building new tunnel next to the existing one, then a years- long shutdown to overhaul the crumbling original one. in october, amtrak chairman anthony cosciaold us waiting for there to be an acute problem wasn't an option. >> sreenivasan: you know, infrastructure is inherently unsexy. people can't see the result right away, right. and it's, how do you convince people to make a ten-year investment to prevent a problem that might come, right? >> will infrastructure ever be a sexy topic, that i really couldn't comment on, but i have to tell you that people who wait on delayed trains, people who
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sit in traffic, people who are concerned about the quality of the air we breathe, i think that number has grown to a point where it's a pretty loud audience that i think right now is pounding its fist and saying, we want to see these things get done. >> sreenivasan: it's been three years since opposition leader juan guaido was deemed the winner of venezuela's presidential election. but despite international support for guaido, president nicolas maduro continues to lead the embattled country which is undergoing a shrinking economy and a growing humanitarian and refugee crisis. for more on venezuela i spoke with cynthia arnson, director of the wilson center's latin american program from washington, d.c. where are we now? i mean, maduro is still in power. >> maduro is definitely still in power. the popularity of juan guaido has plummeted since the high level that he had in january of 2019. the opposition thought it would be able to effect a rapid transition to democracy, and that hasn't taken place.
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the economic crisis continues. the opposition is not unified in terms of its view of how to achieve democratization going forward. and all of these things have made guaido's popularity plummet to about 16%, which is pretty much the same as nicolas maduro. >> sreenivasan: so, what's life like for people on the streets in venezuela in these past couple of years? >> life is very difficult. the poverty rate is over 95%. about 75% of people live in extreme poverty. there are shortages of food, of drinking water, of medicines. inflation last year was down to 700%. it's less than it was at 3,000% the year before, but inflation is still very, very high. >> sreenivasan: so, how does a government function here? is it able to provide services? is it able to pay security
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forces, armies, police departments on a state level, local level? >> the government pays government workers in local currency, and i think what has happened and what you see all over latin america and the caribbean now, is the number of venezuelans who just are leaving the country. about six million venezuelans have fled in a very short period of time, really in less than seven or eight years. you know, venezuelans in many ways continue toote with their feet. and there's a huge difference between those, particularly in urban areas in the capital of caracas who have access to dollars. and one of the things that maduro has tried to do to stabilize the levels of inflation in the currency, you know, is to allow for trade internationally in dlars. but it helps people that have
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access to that kind of currency, and it doesn't help those who don't have access to things other than the local currency, the bolivar. >> sreenivasan: so, ms. arnson, has the economy in venezuela hit rock bottom? >> well, i think it has hit rock bottom and it's arting to rebound in some small, but nonetheless significant, ways. venezuela is principally an oil exporting country, and its oil production because of mismanagement, because of corruption, because of u.s. sanctions, had plummeted to about 350,000 barrels per day just as recently as 2020. and now the government claims that that's up to a million barrels per day. most independent analysts don't say it's quite a million, but even so, it's pretty much doubled. and when you couple that with the high price of oil now in international markets, it has given a boost to the venezuelan economy. and critically, even though
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there are primary as well as secondary nctions in place against the venezuelan oil sector by the united states, other regimes that are similarly sanctioned by the united states are helping venezuela in expanding oil production. >> sreenivasan: cynthia arnson, director of the latin america program at the wilson center. thank you again. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: a new picture book meant to build confidence in kids was released earlier this month. it's called “darryl's dream” and its author is darryl mcdaniels. you might know him better as dmc, of the legendary hip hop group run dmc. the path from rapper to children's book author may seem an unlikely one, but in mcdaniels' case, there were hints along the way. newshour weekend's christopher booker has our story. >> i'm dmc in the place to be.
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i goo st. john's university. >> reporter: since his earliest days on the mic, dmc, the co-founder of what many consider to be the greatest rap group of all time has offered countless rhymes and tales about what it was to be a kid from queens who wore big glasses, loved reading books and learned above all else, the importance and power of being yourself. >> when you listen to all my rhymes it's almost like you open up a book, you see this guy on a cover with a microphone looking like thor and you open it up and the first words in the book is, "i'm the king of rock. there is none higher. sucka m.c.'s should call me sire! to burn my kingdom, yomust use fire, but i won't stop rocking until i retire!" that means you could burn down this physical kingdom, but nobody determines who and what i will be in this world. >> reporter: it was the power of the lyrics and storytelling from dmc, along with reverend run and jam master jay, that announced to the world that a new cultural
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force had arrived. ♪ ♪ ♪ for dmc, this power was born from a childhood spent with a nose in books and nagging feeling that he didn't fit in. >> i got teased, bullied and picked on for wearing glasses. i got teased, bullied and picked on for always being on an honor roll, but what got me through those things was, you know, reading up "the peanuts," and i would always love the part when linus and charlie brown would go to the wall-- the fritz wall-- and its that scene where linus says to charlie brown, "a lot of people go through those things, you just have to," linus would always give him these words and also it was comic books. i was reading these comic books and, you know, peter parker, awkward kid trying to make it through life, but he was spider-man! you know what i am saying? the only time i saw powerful beings who were geeky, nerdy and very smart like meas these superhero guys.
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so, that was a lot of my, that was the influence that gave me confidence. i can be like charlie brown. i can be like linus. i can be like peter parker. reporter: so, how does linus and peter parker then result in dmc, the rapper? >> so, all of this stuff is going in, but there's no way for it to come out because when was a little kid, you know, marvin gaye and al green and james brown and the beatles and stuff like that that's what my moms and pops thought was still cool, so i didn't have a music. i didn't have a musical outlet. i heard all the songs, but then this thing called hip hop comes over the bridge from the bronx and queens and so i said, "i got it!" all of this imagination and education and information in me, i can tell stories over music just like the books that i've been reading. well, my name is dmc, the al time great, i bust the most rhymes in new york state. reporters cry--
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>> reporter: while run dmc's contribution to musical history and culture has long been solidified, and mcdaniels has spent years meeting and speaking to students of all ages about his life and career, in recent years he has been working to weave his m.c. talents and insights into a collection of children's content. >> what's the word? what's the word? we're going to learn something new that you may have never heard! what's the word? >> reporter: voicing the new short form series "what's the word" on noggin, nickelodeon's interactive learning service for preschooler and earlier this month, mcdaniels released "darryl's dream." having already penned two memories, this book, co-written with educators shawnee & johnny warfield and adam padilla, is dmc's first in series of children's books. the book tells the te of a young, shy darryl and his struggles with adding his name to a list of kids entering a school poetry contest in the face of taunts and dismissals from some of his schoolmates. did you go into this thinking, "i want to write something that addresses self-doubt." and if so, how much of a challenge was that? that's a heavy concept. >> that's a real heavy concept.
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when you're dealing with self- doubt, you've got a figure a way. what is the right way to do this? what is the most effective way to do this? i mean, the bottom line is how do i show kids that not only is it cool to believe in yourself-- see, that's the thing you got to get over. is it cool for me to do this? is it cool for them to believe in themselves? and does believing in myself get me the results that i want? in one example, that shows that it does is when darrell crosses his name off the board, he immediately felt something, he immediately realizes. "this is not what i want to do, but i'm only doing this because they teased me." so, right then and there, if he didn't know exactly know what it is or what it was, but he realized there's something wrong. prior to him doing that, he was okay.
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i don't want a kid to not be able to fulfill his or her purpose and destiny. what i mean by that is, a kid that wants to be a scientist or there is boy that wants to be a ballet dancer, buthey won't do it because they think the other kids will think that ain't cool, what they think about themselves. so, one of the reasons that i wrote the book is the desire and the feeling or the thing that they have to want to be the thing-- that's okay. and even if you're afraid, you got anxiety, you aren't sure about yourself, you have in the way who you are, what you are, what you like, the way you look, you have everything necessary for you to succeed in life. >> reporter: is this sending a message to your younger self about how it all plays out? >> yes, it is. everything that i thought was wrong with me, my glasses, being a nerdy, geeky kid, everything
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that i thought was wrong with me was actually the power, the confidence to self-esteem and enthusiasm about myself that i didn't think was worth anything which allowed me to become darryl “dmc” mcdaniels. that third guy and run-d.m.c. the same way that 18-year-old dmc got up there, talked about college and family and christmas time in hollis queens. i can tell stories about what e kindergarten kid went through. ♪ this speech is my recital i think it's very vital ♪ to rock a rhyme that's right on time ♪ it's tricky is the title here we go ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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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. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-smith. leonard and norma klorfine. the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural
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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. 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. you're watching pbs.
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