PBS NewsHour full episode, Aug. 10, 2021

PBS NewsHour full episode, Aug. 10, 2021

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Good evening, I'm William Brangham, Judy Woodruff is away on The NewsHour tonight about Andrew Cuomo to resign as governor of New York amid pressure from all sides following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Then the road ahead, the Senate passes a massive bipartisan infrastructure bill. We talk with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about the ways the proposal tries to tackle climate change. Plus, covid and kids parents nationwide wonder how to keep their children safe as millions of students return to the classroom. And on the fire line, California relies on prison inmates to combat the state's ever present wildfires, but often denies them the job upon release.

They already got the skills, the tools they were trained to state. And there is no pathway. No, you have and we don't want you. And that's not fair. All that and more on tonight's PBS NewsHour. Major funding for the PBS NewsHour has been provided by pediatric surgeon, volunteer, topiary artist Raymond James, financial adviser tailors advice to help you live your life. Life well planned. For 25 years, Consumer Cellular has been offering no contract wireless plans designed to help people do more of what they like are U.S. based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you to learn more.

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And with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions. This program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is out.

His decision to resign comes a week after the state's attorney general published a scathing investigation that found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, including a number of current and former state employees. Until this morning, the governor had apologized for making any women feel uncomfortable, but he remained defiant in the face of a pending impeachment inquiry in near unanimous calls to step down. While he said today that his instinct was to keep fighting what he called a politically motivated and unfair investigation. He said doing so would divert focus from the state's pandemic response. It is a matter of life and death.

Government operations and wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing, and I cannot be the cause of that. I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. In two weeks, Cuomo will formally leave office. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will succeed him, and she will be the first woman to lead the Empire State. To discuss all of this, I'm joined by Jodi Kantor of The New

York Times. Her reporting on the Harvey Weinstein saga helped usher in the Metoo movement. And Karen DeWitt, she's Albany bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, where she's been covering Governor Cuomo closely. Thank you both for being here tonight.

Karen, David, to you first. I wonder if you could give us a sense. Was this a surprise? I mean, I watched the Cuomo lawyer in her presentation before he made his announcement, and I thought, surely this fight is going to go on. I heard Cuomo at the initial part of his presentation and I thought he's going to continue fighting. And then the surprise came. Were you surprised by this? You know, actually, I was I mean, we knew that he couldn't win this political fight, and I think it was in the moment of his speech where he said, well, you all know me as a fighter. And I thought, oh, there's going to be a pivot here. And of course, there was. But he essentially said, I can't win this fight. I really thought that he would wait until the eve of when the assembly was going to draw up articles of impeachment, which they seemed on that road, and to try to make some kind of face-Saving deal.

But the Assembly speaker on Monday said there isn't going to be any deals. Absolutely not. And I think that the governor really at that point saw that there was no exit and this would be the time, the best time to leave rather than really face, you know, months and weeks of legal wrangling and just the relentless negative news cycles, Judy. Counter, the argument that the governor made is said this was biased and unfair, but he also seemed to make this argument that you hear from men of a certain generation, which is my behavior was misinterpreted.

I didn't mean anything by it. I'm a huggy, kissy, old fashioned kind of guy. And that surely everyone misread these signals in this era. Is that argument hold any water in light of these allegations? Well, to answer your question, I want to turn the page back a few years to the fall of twenty seventeen after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein came out, Governor Cuomo made a series of unequivocal statements over that fall the following months, the following year, about protecting the women of New York from this kind of behavior. He said things like the page has turned. This is no longer acceptable.

We have to work together to do better. Now, what we now know, thanks to the report, is very significant. How that timing is that not only were we at the kind of high tide of me, too, but that behind the scenes the governor was allegedly targeting these women in August of twenty nineteen. And one day he signed legislation that women had wanted for years, really serious sexual harassment protections into law.

And the next day, according to the report, he allegedly targeted the street that continued his targeting of the state trooper. So I think, you know, I think given that he himself said that it was a new era, given that he himself appears to have contradicted the message of leadership he was sending from the highest office in the state, it's very hard to know what to make of this excuse of, you know, and things have changed. I'm an old fashioned guy. I should have known better. And Karen DeWitt, as Judy is pointing out, he was to many progressives in New York, considered a real ally on marriage equality, on abortion and reproductive rights. And so was this seeming to to most New Yorkers to be a revelation that he actually turned out to be allegedly a predator behind the mansion of the governor's mansion? Well, you know, I still think it is a little bit generational. I've certainly talked to older people who say, yeah, I've witnessed events like this. You know, people behaving this way, it's not right.

But these things happen. It's not a crime. He said he was sorry. Let's move on. I don't think, unfortunately, people know all of the details, as Jody and I do, of how he seems very hypocritical when he signed a law with strong anti sexual harassment measures. But, you know, the younger people, they're not putting up with it. And they're the ones that are going to, you know, lead this country, lead New York and whose opinion counts. And they just find it completely unacceptable, the things that were in the attorney general's report, what he did.

Jodi Kantor, I want to read a little bit of this statement from a lawyer who represents two of the accusers. This is from Marian Wang. She writes in part, My clients feel both vindicated and relieved that Cuomo will no longer be in a position of power over anyone. They feel solidarity with all women who continue to be abused by men in power.

At least today, one of them has faced some consequences. You have reported on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases nationwide, including from many senior figures and popular figures like this. Does that statement echo the same thing that you have heard from other victims that as awful as what they allegedly went through, having the governor resign and step down is a moment of vindication for them? Well, what we've seen again and again with me, too, is that accountability is the engine because women come forward when they are more likely to come forward, when they believe that something of consequence will happen. Coming forward is a huge risk. It's really hard. It's still remarkable to look at this in retrospect and see that this might have all still stayed secret had Lindsay Boylan, the first accuser, not tweeted when she did.

And so I think seeing that other people care, that state lawmakers recognized what was happening, that the attorney general did this release of a report and that finally Cuomo had to resign means a lot. And also to your point about the discussion about this behavior and how bad it was, it's very significant that this scandal is not about sexual violence. Nobody is saying, God forbid the governor threw me against a wall, you know, did something that could land him in jail for many years on end, et cetera, et cetera. It's about sexual harassment and that's about the workplace and it's about

young women in the workplace and the fact that these were, in large part, the governor's own employees and a state trooper who was sworn to protect him and whether they could just do their jobs unimpeded into it. The governor has said in two weeks he will be formally stepping down as governor, but he's not out of the woods totally right. There is the possibility of criminal charges being brought, is that right? Yes, that's right. I mean, just because he's leaving doesn't mean that he can leave this

all behind. The Albany County sheriff is investigating a criminal complaint brought by Britney Comiso, who appeared on CBS News yesterday and was executive assistant number one in the report, saying that the governor sexually assaulted her. At least four other district attorneys around the state are looking at potential criminal charges. Don't forget, there's also a federal investigation ongoing about how the governor handled nursing home policy and whether he and his top aides concealed the true number of residents who died during the pandemic and also that he's being investigated for his five million dollar book deal, whether he inappropriately, improperly used staff to help him write and edit it so there could be criminal charges.

There's probably certainly going to be civil lawsuits. I believe at least one has already been brought. So this isn't going to go away for him just because he leaves office. But I don't think he's going to be the center of attention anymore. And that takes some of the heat off of Jodi Kantor.

Last question to you. We have seen so many of these major figures be snared in these allegations and have to face the consequences. And we keep saying, surely this will be the last one. Surely people will reckon with their behavior and knock it off. In essence, do you have any sense that this is the kind of event that lets people elsewhere in the world recognize that finally we have to stop behaving like this? Well, I don't think that I'm not sure how many people really thought that me too or the Harvey Weinstein story or any of the other big stories meant the end of this behavior. In some ways, it means that we're going to find out about it more, because part of what meta means is that women may be more willing to come forward. And so, you know, part of what you always have to think about at a moment like this is what don't we know? Right. We can address problems that we can't see.

And so the fact that these women can operate successfully, the fact that the governor resigned may just lead to the next chapter of ME2. Jodi Kantor and Karen DeWitt, thank you both for joining us. You're welcome. Thank you. To the next big story of the day, there was a major step on the road to passage of a massive infrastructure law, the more than one trillion dollar bill cleared the Senate today. It funds fixes to roads, bridges, railways, water systems and broadband networks, as well as address some climate related needs.

It now heads to the US House. This bill is a key priority for President Biden, and he lauded the milestone this afternoon. Today, I'm happy to mark the significant milestone on the road toward making what we all know are long overdue, much needed investments in basic, hard infrastructure of this nation. I truly believe that this bill proves voice of the people will be heard and then we can all come together to make a difference in people's lives. Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who was a lead GOP negotiator crafting the bill, was one of 19 Republicans who joined all 50 Democrats today in supporting it. He spoke on the Senate floor before the vote.

Is it exactly the bill I would have drafted? No, it's not exactly the bill any senator in this chamber would have drafted because it represents a true bipartisan effort. Each side made concessions to find that common ground. Among the Republicans who ended up opposing the bill was Indiana's Todd Young, though he'd previously voted to let the bill advance through the Senate process. In a recent statement, he said, We can't afford to continue to grow the national debt at this pace, particularly as our economy recovers from the pandemic.

We now get the latest from our Lisa Desjardins and Umesh Alcindor. Welcome to you both. Very big day, Lisa, to start with you. This was a very long, tough process to get to this day. It still has a long way to go. But how did the Senate get this job done? This was an unusual process.

And I wonder if this is going to be a template that we'll see them try again. This was not committee chairs coming up with this bill. This was a group of 10 senators trying to operate in good faith.

All of them thought they could do this. They formed a gang. Now, what's interesting is we've heard these gangs form before in the Senate, like on immigration, other issues. They've always failed until now that these were senators who put in the hard work and they were able to when something was nearing collapse, one senator would stand up and make a concession that got them through. The other key part of know you're going to talk about is the White House really put in the work on this to get it through a very tough and very narrow channel.

I have to say, I've been at the Hill a while and I haven't felt the kind of exuberance that I felt today from my sources in maybe a decade. They really felt like we did something difficult. We did it together.

This was obviously one of Joe Biden's this is how he sold himself during the campaign that I could be someone that can bring the parties together. And as Lisa is pointing out, we are getting a glimpse of how the president has been operating and a sense of what his agenda, what really matters to him. What have you been witnessing from your reporting at the White House? Well, President Biden today especially was taking a victory lap.

But as you noted, it's really about the Biden legacy. He wants his legacy to be about passing big bills and about bipartisanship, getting this done. So over and over again today, as he was taking this sort of victory lap, he was saying there are people, even when I was running who said you could never work with Republicans, you're never going to be able to get to the Hill and have White House aides bringing these two parties together. There's too much going on, too much animosity.

And he said, look, this is shows that American democracy works and that sense of joy that Lisa's talking about. It was definitely over on sixteen hundred Pennsylvania Avenue. You could feel the president almost levitating. There's a lot of, of course, things going on, a pandemic, so many things, so many challenges for this White House. But the president said this bill is fundamentally going to change American life.

He says it's transformational. And he also hit this theme that we've seen throughout his presidency, which is America is better for this on the world stage. I also want to point out those people that were going to the Hill, those White House aides, they're really, really critical in this because President Biden leaned into the idea that the White House should be involved in the details.

And I want to talk specifically about three people that are important there, Steve Ricchetti. He's the White House counselor to the president, Brian Disha, director of National Economic Council, the National Economic Council, and Louisa Terho. She's the White House legislative affairs director. Usually you see someone with Louise's title at the Capitol, but Steve Ricchetti, who is a trusted source for the president, something that is done a long time.

At one point he was holed up for nine hours with Republican Senator Rob Portman trying to iron out those details. So that tells you just how hands on the White House was. So while the president is still levitating, as he puts it, Lisa, what happens next? Because this is not a done deal, the football is still not over the final line. I think it's complicated. It's a little bit complicated. This was part one of two bills that are connected to each other politically. So as this bill moves out of the Senate to the House, the

Senate instantly moves to that next bill, the budget reconciliation bill. We've been talking about that three or four trillion dollars. That is the even larger bill that Democrats want to get through.

That is right. Now, step one of that is moving through the Senate tonight. Likely they will finish with that sometime in the wee hours overnight. But I want to explain to you, the house is going to be a tricky situation. So let me try and run through this as simply as I can. It's complicated. The infrastructure bill that just passed the Senate that is favored by moderate Democrats, especially.

They like that. They see it as a middle ground, the reconciliation bill, that larger bill that's favored more by progressive Democrats. That's something that's going to change health care, child care, community college, all of that. But getting up through a 50 50 Senate is going to be tricky.

So those progressives are nervous. They're not sure if this reconciliation bill can make it through the Senate. So here's Speaker Pelosi. She's holding on to the infrastructure bill that moderates like until the reconciliation bill that progressives want clears the Senate. I mean, it's sort of a Democratic kind of tit for tat situation here. There is a lot of pressure on her from all sides. There are a lot of sources now wondering if she doesn't cave in at some point on that. But will. Right now, she's holding holding firm to her word,

you mean what is your sense, given that you describe the full court press at the White House is done, do you think that they're going to keep this up to try to pass this last bit, as Lisa has been describing? Absolutely. The White House is going to be very, very involved in making sure that this goes through the house and that both of these bills land on the president's desk here, that the dance that they're going to be doing over at the House. President Biden says he has full confidence in Speaker Pelosi's approach.

So that tells you without saying particularly that the White House says, yes, both of these bills need to be working in tandem. Michelle Sándor, Lisa Desjardins, thank you both so much. Thanks so much.

In the day's other news, the surge in covid-19 pushed hospitals and medical staff to the breaking point in parts of the country daily, new cases are now averaging more than one hundred and sixteen thousand nationwide. And hospitalizations in a number of states with low vaccination rates are running higher than ever. Arkansas has hit records for two days running and Texas is now calling for health workers from other states to come assist. Facebook says it has taken down hundreds of accounts for trying to smear the Cuban vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. More than three hundred Facebook and Instagram accounts were linked to an advertising firm operating out of Russia.

Facebook didn't suggest any motive behind the postings, but Russia has been actively marketing its own vaccine around the world. President Biden today defended the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in the face of a swiftly moving Taliban offensive. The insurgents claimed they had captured Farah, the seventh provincial capital, to fall in a week. Afghan officials claimed government tanks and troops were still holding on. The president said he's watching developments, but that, quote,

they've got to fight for themselves. I think they're beginning to realize they've got to come together politically at the top. And we're going to continue to keep our commitment. But I do not regret my decision. Meanwhile, US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad warned Taliban representatives that they will face international isolation if they take power by force.

In turn, the Taliban said it is committed to negotiations. Six European countries are pressing to resume sending migrants back to Afghanistan. Despite the fighting there, the Afghan government has stopped accepting deportees for at least three months. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands say that policy will only encourage more Afghans to try to flee to Europe. Much of the northern Caribbean hunkered down tonight awaiting the arrival of Tropical Storm Fred. The system closed on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, carrying up to six inches of rain.

It's on track to reach the Dominican Republic and Haiti tomorrow and possibly Florida later in the week. In California, some 6000 firefighters work today to keep the state's largest wildfire away from more than a dozen small communities in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. But the Dixie fire burned most of the town of Greenville last week. Those who escaped are still struggling to cope. Everything is gone. And I don't even know.

I have no idea what to do, where to go. I'm kind of lost. And in my personal situation, on top of it, I'm just I'm overwhelmed. I'm completely overwhelmed. I'm doing my best to, you know, keep it cool and keep functioning anyway, because you got it. There's no other choice. You try to keep moving or curl up and die.

The Dixie fire is just twenty five percent contained. Crews are rushing to make more progress ahead of the scorching temperatures that are forecast for later this week. The Texas Supreme Court opened the door today to arresting Democratic lawmakers who left the state to block proposed voting restrictions. More than 50 Democrats flew to Washington last month to prevent a quorum in the Republican led state legislature.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott has vowed to arrest them, but a lower court issued a restraining order to shield them. Today's ruling overturns that order. In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Ivar's vetoed a series of voting bills passed by Republicans. They focused on absentee voting, requiring photo IDs and barring local officials from filling out missing information on ballot envelopes.

Evers called the bill's anti-democratic. Republicans argued they closed loopholes and prevent fraud. And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained one hundred and sixty two points to close at thirty five thousand to sixty four. The Nasdaq fell seventy two points. The S&P 500 added four.

Still to come on the news hour, how the White House sees the climate crisis with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Parents nationwide remain divided on mask mandates in their schools. How California relies on prison inmates to combat the state's ever present fire threats. Plus, much more.

This is the PBS NewsHour from WETA Studios in Washington and in the West from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. The bipartisan infrastructure bill that cleared the Senate today represents the largest investment in green energy in US history, but it faces a tough road ahead in the House of Representatives, where some progressive Democrats say it's not enough to address the climate crisis. We explore the Biden administration's plans to address climate change with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Secretary Granholm, great to have you on the NewsHour. I want to ask you about this UN report that came out yesterday. It stated unequivocally that humans are driving climate change and that climate change is driving these catastrophic effects that will only get worse if we don't act quickly. I just have to imagine that that report sets off

alarm bells within the administration. Is it? Well, it certainly is not a surprise. This was a it was a follow on to a previous report that was similarly alarming. But this is just makes it so abundantly clear, especially at a moment when we're seeing wildfires in the West and we're seeing historic drought. We're seeing wildfires all over the world. So it really is an exclamation point on the president's agenda, on to address climate and to to make sure that we capitalize as a nation as well, I would say, on making the products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. So so capitalizing both on the urgency of the moment, but also the economic opportunity of the moment.

As I mentioned, there are these there are two infrastructure bills being negotiated in the House and the Senate right now. And those will be some of the major tools that the administration would use to help fight climate change in those bills. What do you see as the most crucial elements and do you think that they will survive negotiation? We're very optimistic. I mean, the fact that we got 19 Republicans to join all of the Democrats in this bipartisan bill in the Senate suggests that there will be bipartisan support in the House. And then, of course, the second step is the reconciliation bill. So what's most important? Number one, the investments in the grid that were part of today's vote, that is very important.

The investments in the electric vehicle infrastructure that were part of today's vote, again, very important, the investments in the battery technologies that will allow for electric vehicles to be price competitive with the gasoline powered vehicles in the next step. The long pole in the tent really is the clean electricity standard. And that CBS is going to require that we get one hundred percent of our energy from clean sources by the year twenty, thirty five. There's a version that has we get the fact that we get 80 percent of our energy from clean sources by 20, 30.

Either one of those is a very strong statement about where we are headed as a nation and utilities and fuels will respond. And then when you couple that with the tax credits to incentivize the private sector to be able to build out the wind, the solar, the hydropower, the clean technologies and energy that we need, that is a game changer for us. It means that we really will be able to respond to that. That United Nations report separately under the Department of Energy, which you oversee, are there other particular elements, tools in your toolbox in particular that you think are useful in this fight that need to be deployed? Oh, for sure. I mean, we have 17 national labs in the Department of Energy. We are the solutions department. So when it comes to next generation technologies, whether it's for batteries, for the electric vehicle or for batteries, for storing renewable power on the electric grid, that's where we come in.

We have developed a series of what we call earth shots, which are big, audacious goals to reduce the cost of technologies that will enable us to have clean power, be even more cost competitive than fossil fuels as they I mean, right now, wind is free, sun is free, but we've got to make sure that we get it onto the grid and we reduce the costs associated with them. The technologies associated with hydrogen, for example, which could be a game changer in terms of being able to store and export renewable energy. All of those that's that's comes right out of the Department of Energy. So we want to do that, those advanced technologies we want and we want to deploy the technologies that we know are off the shelf and ready to go. I hear all the optimism that you're describing, but in the last eight years, since the last U.N. report, global emissions have only grown in the last five years. Since the Paris Accords were signed, emissions have only grown. It seems that we are tiptoeing towards substantive action when the science indicates that we need to be sprinting.

Yeah, we do need to be sprinting. And what the president's plan has put on the table is a big sprint. And in fact, we can't be exhorting other. When we're not doing you know, we're not taking care of our own business at home, so it's really important that we get that we make as a nation a commitment to 100 percent clean and renewable energy because we're going to be exhorting other countries to be doing the same thing. So when we go to the next version of Paris in Glass,

Glasgow in November, we want to make sure that we can lead with authority as a nation and that we can exhort others. And by the way, we've got all sorts of solutions, technologies, et cetera, that we can be partners with other countries on. So, yeah, it is a hair on fire moment. We should be acting with urgency. But the Biden administration, that's exactly why they are putting forward these historic investments in clean energy so that we can do what we need to do at home and exhort the rest of the world to to do it as well. I want to ask you about the argument that the Republicans and some Democrats in Congress and the Senate make, which is that the proposals that are being put forward by the administration in the billions, tens and hundreds of billions of dollars are too expensive. And that we will if we don't get China and India to

sign on, we're going to be bankrupting ourselves and putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage. I think they are completely misreading this moment. No. One, all of the countries of the world have signed on to reduce CO2 emissions. All of the countries of the world are going to need the products that

will get them there. So who are we going to allow other countries to take advantage of this? What will be a twenty three trillion dollar global market for the technologies and the products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions? We could stand by the side of the road and allow China to be able to do it, or we can get in the game. And that's what this president is doing. That's number one. Number two, if we don't do it, well, then what? I mean, we are spending one hundred and ninety billion dollars a year addressing these extreme weather events. So we can and that's only escalating in the 90s. In the 80s, we spent about 17 billion dollars a year.

Every year. It's gotten more and more expensive in responding as the climate has continued to grow, has continued to increase. So we need to address this with urgency that it requires.

And that's why doing nothing is not an option. Doing nothing is missing an opportunity in addition to saving the planet. US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, thank you very much for being here. You bet, thanks for having me on. Around the country, K through 12 schools are opening for another year of learning, but in many states, the controversy over whether students should be required to wear masks is anything but settled. Stephanie Sci. has the story.

As of last week, children represented more than 14 percent of all covid-19 cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And while hospitalization and death from covid is uncommon in children, cases have been increasing steadily in recent weeks. One means of protection wearing a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend any children age two and up, as well as all school staff wear masks indoors. But in states like Texas, Florida and Arizona, governors are banning mask mandates, including in schools, forcing school districts to make some difficult choices. Dr. Danny Benjamin is a distinguished professor of pediatrics at Duke University.

He says for students who can't get vaccinated, which is currently children under 12, masking is the next best protection. Dr. Benjamin, thank you so much for joining us. You were involved in a study looking at one million students and you concluded that masks are the most effective and efficient way to prevent covid transmission in schools. What proof do you have? Absolutely. So the thing that schools need to do in the midst of a pandemic is that

covid cases will come in to school property via children and adults. What we did was we looked at in the fall, in the spring and winter, how much within school transmission there is, how many children, in fact, other children, how many children, in fact, adults, et cetera. What we found was, despite having extremely widespread covid in the communities in North Carolina, if Universal Maskin is in place, the chances of one child infecting another is less than one percent. So are you advocating, based on this research for universal masking from K through 12, including those older students that are vaccinated? Well, remember that for older students that are vaccinated, only 20 to 40 percent of the population in high school is vaccinated right now. We know that from nationally. So we know that that will contribute to community spread and spread within the schools based on data from other countries and from the US.

Right now in the U.S., vaccination is running, say, 50, 60, 70 percent, and that's clearly not sufficient. So why would 20 percent in schools be sufficient for children in pre-K through eight? Really, the only preventative measure or the protection measure available to parents is Universal Maskin, because just telling a parent to, hey, mask your own child, I'm sorry, but respiratory physiology does not work that way. That's not protective.

You're not protecting that one child by giving that one child a mask. So clearly, unless you want a bunch of covid in your schools, then yes, you want a mask universally. Some schools, as you know, are making masks optional. Some don't have a choice based on states governors mandates against mandates. What evidence have you seen, Dr. Benjamin, that makes you feel voluntary mask policies are not enough? Sure, so having a voluntary mask policy is like having a no peeing section of a pool or a no smoking section on an airplane. That's absurd. Now, as far as what evidence there is, clearly this in North Carolina, the Wisconsin and the Los Angeles, the California, the now Nebraska, Georgia, Missouri, repeated studies that have shown extremely low transmission, about a second one percent secondary attack rate in the United States with universal maskin. And what we've seen in the unmasked setting is a 13

to 16 percent secondary attack rate, as evidenced by Israel. And it's also now one or two school districts that have opened up, unmasked and have within four or five days gone back to a mask policy. Universally, you cite in your article specifically schools in Missouri and North Carolina with voluntary policies on masking that did see increases in covid-19 cases. The other thing your study looks at is the covid risks

of participating in school sponsored sports. What is important for us to know about that? Absolutely, so transmission is going to be higher in the sports setting than any place else on school property, it's responsible for approximately 50 to 75 percent of the within school transmission for high school and middle school. What that's going to mean is that that's where all your transmissions occurring or a lot of it. And that's an area where you can put in policies to incentivize

vaccinating, for example, vaccinate as a condition of participation or vaccinate or undergo frequent testing. And Maskin schools can really do a good public service for their children if they'll incentivize good behavior via voluntary extracurricular activities. Dr. Benjamin, some parents may still be nervous about sending their children to in-person school, especially in those schools where masks are optional. What would you say to those parents? And if their child wears a mask, are they sufficiently protected? Sure. For children 12 and up, it's easy.

Just have your own child vaccinated, and that should be sufficient for children under 12. It's a tougher question if you've got a lot of resources at home, if you've got the ability to do education at home easily, that's a consideration to do education at home. But we know that most children remote education was a disaster last year, not only learning loss, but mental health, physical health, the ability for social connectivity. And so in those circumstances, families should ask for transparent reporting of covid infections to ask for quarantining when children are exposed across the school district and for school districts to monitor their own data as they did in school districts in North Carolina, and go back to Maskin, if indeed it does not work. Dr. Danny Benjamin with Duke University, thank you so much for joining the News Hour

with your expertize. Thank you. As the Dixie fire continues burning, California faces a shortage of firefighters, as I discovered on a recent trip. It's revealing a critical resource, prison inmates. This report is part of our series Searching for Justice. Well, they got it in the hills of the San Bernardino National Forest, the firefighters begin their ascent.

There are only three men on today's arduous journey. But in this tinderbox of a state with land scorched by drought, every set of hands makes a difference. They're clearing out the brush and branches that could be fuel for the next wildfire. The team is led by Royal Raymi. He co-founded a group called the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program, or FRP. They're going to be at those mile markers. It trains formerly incarcerated men and women

to become professional firefighters, especially with this dead stuff here. We spoke with Rehme, who spent more than four years in prison for a nonviolent offense at a property he was surveying for fire hazards. Is there something about people who were formerly incarcerated that make good firefighters, people that been incarcerated before, understand what it is to really embrace the right? Like that's the biggest one you've lived.

Hardship, right, is constant pressure. And the biggest thing in the fire service is dealing with pressure, dealing with stress for Raimy and many of those involved with his group. Firefighting began when they were locked up in what California calls conservation fire camps. There are dozens of them across the state. Low risk inmates can volunteer and receive weeks of training.

They're out there just being firefighters. Author Jimi Low recently wrote Breathing Fire, a book about California's inmate firefighters and in particular, the women doing this work. There are the crews that are right on the ground creating containment lines. They are in the communities clearing brush for fire roads.

When there are fires, they're doing the work of a regular fire crew. Inmates are usually paid just a few dollars a day. Before the pandemic, there were around 3000 people in the camps and they've made up about a third of the state's firefighting force.

It is physically and mentally taxing in a way that I think no one will ever understand unless you're actually inside of those fires. And these are the people that we're relying on to save the state of California and most of the Western states, actually. All right. We're going to get started for peace. Other co-founder, Brandon Smith worked at a camp in Southern California.

He served two and a half years for nonviolent charges. When you were incarcerated and someone first approached you and said, hey, there's this thing called fire camp where you can learn these skills and maybe go out and fight fires. What was your first reaction to that? No. Straight ahead, straight up, no, when my mom asked me what I wanted to do when I was a child.

I said, I don't know, but I do not want to be a firefighter. Come on. I've no, I'm serious. But when Smith found out he'd be stationed closer to home, that he wouldn't be in the cell, he'd be eating better and paid more. He signed up. I was in fire camp for about three months before I caught my first fire.

We got out there and it was literally like the Avengers movie. I swear. It was like you got people flying. You got all these different agencies, you got all these people doing all this kind of work. And you hop out the fire truck and your adrenaline pumps and it's like, let's go. And it was at that time I wasn't scared

or nothing anymore and I'm hooked. Smith remembers coming back from fighting fires and seeing grateful crowds with thank you signs and kids waving flags. And so when he was released in 2014, he assumed he'd be able to put his years of experience to use. I was coming home, going to every fire station like, hey, can I can you pick me up? Can you hire me? Can you hire me? They're like, no, no, no.

Sorry, you missed this. You don't qualify. I had no understanding of what I qualified for and what I didn't do. No matter your training, it can be hard to get professional firefighting jobs if you've got a criminal record. Many departments require full emergency medical technician certification, which by state law, a lot of felons can't access AB 21 47. But last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law to help the formerly incarcerated jump those hurdles. It allows Xfire camp inmates to petition to have their records expunged after they're released, which would open the door to that EMT certification.

But not everyone likes this change. The head of the union that represents Cal Fire firefighters opposes the law, saying that while the union believes in second chances, an inmate's participation in fire camps, quote, doesn't mean they're rehabilitated. If they're trying to expunge their record, they're trying to move forward as a firefighter. They're not trying to expunge their record to become a kingpin. One of FFR RP's graduates is Brandon Smith. No relation to the other, Brandon.

He did about three years at fire camp during a sentence for gun charges. Now, this husband and father of four works for FFP and the U.S. Forest Service. He says he eats, sleeps and breathes firefighting. It's a lifestyle. Every little thing that you do to your body due to your mind, everything counts. So if any of these people are spending enough time and dedication

to develop their brain and their bodies to do this type of job, to stop such disasters, let them support them. Despite the roadblocks, FRP has helped more than 125 people get jobs in different fire services. You say that we need firefighters. You're saying we need more firefighters. So if these folks, men and women, they already

got the skills, the tools. They were trained by the state and there is no pathway or no useful. And we don't want you. We want you when we want you.

We want you when it's convenient for us. Right. And that's and that's not fair. Now, the organization is launching its own 20 person crew to fight fires across the West. They call themselves the Buffalos, an homage to the African-American troops known as the Buffalo Soldiers who fought in the U.S.

Army and saved lives during raging wildfires in the 1980s. Rehme says its inspiration to beat the odds and to fight for a second chance for the PBS NewsHour. I'm William Branom in Southern California. There can be a lot more to a chair than just a place to sit. Jeffrey Brown explains for our arts and culture series Canvas, pull up a chair, maybe this one. Actually, these aren't for sitting just now.

They're part of an exhibition titled With Eyes opened at the Cranbrook Art Museum outside Detroit, where even the storage vault looks like a history of American design. Often in a story, we do what we call a stand up. I look straight to the camera, tell you where we are, give you some other information. For a story like this, though, I have to make it a sit down. We all use these things every day, all the time. But how many of us think about how they came to be the chair is just an archetypal thing, right? There's so many different kinds of chairs.

Museum director Andrew Blauvelt curated the exhibition. They're utilitarian, they're symbolic. They can be individual that can be shared. And you find it all across cultures around the world.

And so I think it's just one of those touchstones that is just a given that everyone has designed a chair. They certainly have at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the school being celebrated here for its influence on art and design, founded in 1932. This was and is a place that honors the act of using your hands to make things with a creative twist. The exhibition features work by its graduates over the years.

Giant Dearing's by Jeff Massee. Textiles, including the forecast rug by Mary and strangle sculptures by Nick Cave. And so very lifelike Duane Hansen. There's painting, photography and much more so. Above all, the school is known for its impact on American design, helping define the so-called mid century modern look.

I think Mad Men that influenced design to this day, it's kind of streamlined. Streamlined forms are very commonplace today. Sometimes, says Blauvelt, a chair is more than just a chair, the social and the emotional. So the social, emotional, the emotional to that.

That's the newest kind of revelation also happened here at Cranbrook, where you started thinking about the emotional register for so long, designers were obsessed with rational things like what is the proper size of the body and like how comfortable. And those are important things. But we realized that the average person connects with design on an emotional level. So behind me, there's the famous Eames lounge chair and

Ottoman, which is has the leather with the wood base. It's kind of the you know, if you're successful, that's the chair. You know, Frazier had one intelligence. Yeah. Yeah. Gonna be so easy for you, easy. This is killing me. Think I don't want to pick you up right now, carry you over to that

aims classic and show you why it's the best engineered chair in the world. In fact, most of us have seen or used stackable chairs, office and other furniture designed by Cranbrook luminaries such as Charles and Ray Eames, like the one I used for my sit down, or Florence Noal, who with her husband would found the novel furniture company Cranbrook first president. Finnish architect Elio Saarinen also designed the exterior and grounds. Here is even more famous. Sun Aero Saarinen designed the tulip chair and such renowned modernist buildings as Washington's Dulles Airport. A model sits in the Cranbrook Museum's vault.

Do you remember when this was just an idea? Yes, it was. When I was like a small paper model. I remember. Yeah, the hands on ethos here has been taken up by young students and graduates like Nina Cho, who was raised in South Korea. Her design for this chair began with a piece of paper. And I start playing with the paper, like folding it, like bending it or cutting the paper. And then I just I found this really interesting.

Like like how like this two-dimensional material paper mean just by simply folding it, bending, it becomes like three dimensional optics. I didn't think I didn't think I will be a tear. And so when did it become a chair? Oh, once I connect those X's today. Cho is an independent designer based in Detroit, working in both mass production and one off collectibles, including chairs. What I like about chair is is so iconic, you know, but what I don't like about it is everyone has to sit on it. So it has to be there. It has to be a very sturdy, but it has to be beautiful at the same time, has to be unique.

So there is a lot to consider when you're designing tear, that's for sure. Cho's former teacher, Scott Klinker, had fun showing us the many movable parts and creative ways his chairs can be used. But he well remembered his introduction when he was a student here. On the first day as a graduate student, my teacher asked me, what do you want to design? And I said, Oh, I want to design a chair. And he said, Well, what do you want a chair to be about? What do you want a chair to be about? Yes, interesting question.

And at the time, it had never occurred to me that every chair is about something. And so I think that question has stuck with me over over time today. Design is everywhere in our lives. And now, says Klinker, there's something else.

Call it a covid side-Effect covid has has made everyone so spatially sensitive. But then the conditions of remote work, the way that people are thinking about their homes and the furniture that they might need for their homes, or the way that they're using their spaces in their homes, you know, of all might be changing pretty radically as we move forward. And that's for today's designers to work on.

In the meantime, go ahead, pull up a chair for the PBS NewsHour. I'm Jeffrey Brown at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Laurie Teekay is a nurse practitioner who studies how loneliness can impact our health. Here's her brief but spectacular take on combating that feeling. I grew up in a very small town in rural Maryland.

I was a very young teen mother, so I understood the loneliness of being a teenage mother. I understood the loneliness of my grandmother, potentially, who lived over 20 years as a widow. And then I understand children, particularly in foster care. I've adopted eight children from foster care. And I understood when I met those children how lonely they were. And so it's just just many things and experienced in my life that led me to sort of study how human beings meet their need for love and belonging and strive to fit in and avoid feeling lonely, really.

You know, there's about 50 years of literature on loneliness and it goes back to about nineteen fifty five when we started to think that people who were lonely had poor psychological outcomes. And now we've learned that loneliness not only is a predictor for things like anxiety and depression, but it also is a predictor for things like cardiovascular disease, potentially stroke, diabetes. There's been multiple analyzes of large data sets from multiple countries that have linked loneliness to functional decline and mortality in older adults. We also know that loneliness is linked to suicidal ideation

and potentially suicidal attempts in younger populations. You might suspect that people who are by themselves all the time are lonely, but that's not necessarily the case. You can be lonely in a crowd of people and you can be not lonely when you're alone.

In some of my qualitative work, we discovered that there's a sense of shame associated with admitting that your lonely loneliness is an approved diagnosis in the nursing diagnosis codes and medical diagnosis codes. So we need to diagnose it and then develop treatment plans for it. I think it's been a particularly challenging year for people when we think about loneliness and social isolation. I think this year has given people a chance to explore the creative side. And we know that creativity and creative pursuits like music and art help people to be less lonely. If I had to give advice to people right now who are feeling lonely or who see others they think are lonely, I would say that they should bring this up to their health care provider. They should definitely ask for help and they should make an

active plan to deal with it. It's not something that we should keep hidden any longer and it's nothing to be ashamed of. My name is Larry Teekay and this is my brief but spectacular take on loneliness. And that's the News Hour for tonight. I'm William Branom. Thank you. Please stay safe and we'll see you soon.

Major funding for the PBS NewsHour has been provided by. Consumer, cellular. Johnson and Johnson. Financial services firm Raymond James. BNSF Railway.

Carnegie Corporation of New York supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement and the advancement of international peace and security at Carnegie. Doug. The Target Foundation committed to advancing racial equity and creating the change required to shift systems and accelerate equitable economic opportunity.

And with the ongoing support of these institutions. This program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you. You're watching PBS.

2021-08-11 13:45

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