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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  November 16, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the u.s. and china-- president biden meets with china's president xi amid rising tensions and an uncertain future between the two nations. then, inflation fears-- as prices on everyday goods surge, former tasury secretary larry summers has advice for washington policy makers. we hear from him. and, searching for justice-- why older people face larger hurdles and health challenges upon their release from prison. >> all up in the air at the same time. but it's even more difficult for older adults. people have been apart from the
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community for longer. >> woodruff: all that and >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: a raymond james financial advisor 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. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you. to learn more, visit >> bnsf railway.
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>> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> 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. >> woodruff: there's a new advance tonight in the long
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struggle with covid-19. the drug maker pfizer has requested federal authorization for its pill to treat the virus. trial data shows it greatly reduces hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk adults with early symptoms. pharmacies could be selling the pills within weeks if the f.d.a. approves emergency use. president biden hit the road today to push his new infrastructure package and social policy agenda, in the face of falling poll numbers. he traveled to woodstock, new hampshire where an aging bridge now stands to be repaired. and, he touted the social spending and climate bill still awaiting action. >> i am confident that the house is going to pass this bill, and when it is passes it will go to the senate, i think we will get it passed within a week and it is fully paid for. >> woodruff: house democrats are divided over the $1.8 trillion package, with moderates demanding a full cost analysis. meanwhile, senate majority
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leader chuck schumer said today he hopes for senate action by christmas. the jury in the kyle rittenhouse murder trial began deliberating today in kenosha, wisconsin. rittenhouse shot and killed two people and wounded a third during racial justice protests last year. in an unusual move, the judge let the defendant himself draw numbered slips to select the jury. that determined which 12 out of 18 potential jurors will actually deliberate. the state has rested its case in the trial of three white men accused of murdering ahmaud arbery, in brunswick, georgia. they say the men assumed arbery was a burglar, chased him down and shot him. the defense says they acted legally under a citizens' arrest law. in political comings and goings: democrat michelle wu was sworn in as the new mayor of boston. she is the first asian american
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and woman to have that job. and california congresswoman jackie speier announced she will not run for an 8th term. she is the 14th house democrat to decide on retirement at the end of next year. record rainfall and extreme winds eased today across washington state and oregon, but left widespread damage. interstate 5, the west coast's main north-south highway, was partially reopened near bellingham, washington. but, heavy flooding covered vast tracts of land, and 14 counties in western washington were under a state of emergency from floods and mudslides. >> the water just came in fast. way faster than we were expecting so our house is in about four feet of water. downstairs is all flooded. thankfully we had a loft room that we were all hunkered down in. >> woodruff: the same storm system trapped some 300 people on a highway in british columbia late sunday night.
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most were helicoptered to safety. one person was killed in the slide. russian officials denied today that they endangered the international space station with a missile test that destroyed an old satellite. it generated more than 1,500 pieces of space debris, but moscow said there is no threat to the station. nasa said the crew, including two russians, now face four times the normal risks. in myanmar, the state election commission announced it's prosecuting ousted leader aung san suu kyi for alleged election fraud. her party's sweeping victory last year triggered a military coup. meanwhile, american journalist danny fenster returned to new york, after six months in a myanmar prison. he'd been accused of lying about the military regime. and, back in this country, industrial production and retail sales bounced back last month, rising more than one and a half percent.
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while, on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 54 points to close at 36,142. the nasdaq rose 120 points. the s&p 500 added 18. still to come on the newshour: former treasury secretary larry summers on what policymakers need to do about inflation. why aid organizations stay in afghanistan to help those struggling under taliban rule. the major hurdles facing older prisoners once they win release. plus much more. >> woodruff: president biden and chinese leader xi jinping held their most significant talks last night, to discuss
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everything from taiwan to trade to nuclear weapons. here's nick schifrin. >> schifrin: the two leaders spoke virtually for three and a half hours, and both sides described it as an attempt to ensure "competition does not veer into conflict." the u.s. said president biden reiterated no change in u.s. policy toward taiwan. chinese state media said president xi described attempts by taiwan to gain u.s. support for independence was "playing with fire. whoever plays with fire will get burnt." the two sides agreed to continue coordinating on issues including climate change; increase dialogue and the u.s. says they agreed to discuss china's expanding nuclear weapons capacity. so did the meeting advance u.s. interests? for that we get two views. susan thornton had a 28 year career as an american diplomat focusing on asia. she's now a visiting lecturer at yale law school. and john mearsheimer writes extensively on strategic issues and is a political science professor at the university of chicago. welcome both of you back to the
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"newshour". john mearsheimer, let me start with you. do you believe the meeting served u.s. interests? >> no, i don't think so, nick. i think biden's basic goal here was to dampen down the intense security competition that exists now between china and the united states and actually permeates every dimension of the relationship -- ideological, political, economic, military -- and the great fear here, of course, is that this will eventually lead to a major confrontation. now, did he succeed in doing that? no. and my argument is it's impossible to achieve that goal. the fact is that the united states and china are destined to engage in a serious security competition, in effect another cold war, for the foreseeable future and the reason for that is very simple -- china is bent on dominating asia, it's bent on
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controlling the south china sea, taking back taiwan, and dominating the east china sea. the united states has no intention of allowing china to achieve any one of those three goals, and there's no way you can work out a solution that makes both sides happy. so the end result is we're going to be in each other's face for the foreseeable future, and we're going to live in a very dangerous world in east asia. >> reporter: susan thornton, is the cold war inevitable and did this serve u.s. interests? >> i think john is far too pessimistic. certainly i do think this meeting served u.s. interests. one to have the main impetus for the meeting is to the get communication with the two biggest economies in the world on track and have a dialogue to talk about things and try to resolve problems. i don't think that there's anything inevitable about u.s.-china tensions leading to a conflict. i think president biden doesn't think so, i don't think any
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president thinks so, and i think we can certainly foster these kinds of communications. biden said they're going to have some follow-on discussions about, you know, managing tensions in the security area, follow-on discussions about signaling on taiwan to make sure we get clearer communication, and i think, in the era of kind of nuclear weapons among major powers, we certainly have to believe -- and i believe very strongly -- that our governments, our leaders and our peoples have agency to keep the two countries from having a conflict, and that's what this meeting was about. i think it was a start. it didn't produce a dramatic list of outcomes, but i think it sets the tone back for kind of a constructive and business-like dialogue. certainly the u.s. and china also need to work together on planetary issues in a world where we are definitely interconnected globally, our
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trade is increasing, even amid these tensions, and we are definitely entangled with china and we must find a way to co-exist with them. neither one of us is going anywhere, and, so, i think it certainly is possibled to continue to compete with china, but also to work with them where we need to, and certainly to avoid conflict. >> reporter: so let's zoom into some of the main issues discussed. susan thornton just mentioned nuclear. the pentagon says china is going to quadruple the number of its nuclear weapons by 2030, changing its nuclear posture, but today the u.s. says it will discuss nuclear weapons in the future. so john mearsheimer, what's your response to the u.s. announcement? >> well, the fact is they can talk about nuclear arms control, they can talk about trying to tamp down the nuclear arms race that's now started, but they're not going to do that. it's not going to have any effect. the fact is, the united states and china are going to be engaged in a major arms race at
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the strategic nuclear level just as the soviet union and the united states were during the cold war. both sides will be looking for advantage, not only at the nuclear level but at the conventional level as well. >> reporter: susan thornton, is that arms race inevitable? >> well, i don't agree with the focus of the competition. i think the u.s.-china competition is mainly in the economic and technological realm, it's not really a military competition and there's not really -- i mean, there will be arms racing going on and there is an arms race going on, but i think those are things thatan be both mitigated and they're not the central feature to have the competition. so i hope they will have stability talks, i think we can have some productive arms control discussions but, again, i hope that we don't get overly focused on this area because i don't think that's where the competition is, and if the u.s. puts a lot of resources into that facet of the competition,
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we may take our eye off the main ball. >> reporter: quickly addressing taiwan, the u.s. has reiterated its official policy multiple times, walking bag ambiguous comments by president biden over the last few days about coming to taiwan's defense. beijing answered with a threat during last night's call. for about 45 seconds, that's all we've got, john mearsheimer first, do you believe the administration is pursuing the right taiwan policy? >> wing we are pursuing the right taiwan policy, but the point i would make to you, going back to susan's comments about the importance of communication, it's not just communication that's important. there has to be some sort of possible deal that the united states and china can work out over taiwan. this is an exceedingly dangerous situation. but i see no deal that can be worked out. china wants taiwan back and the united states has said, you can't take taiwan back, and we now have a vested interest in
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keeping it as an independent entity, and this is a prescription for really serious trouble that can't be solved by communicating or by talking. >> reporter: susan thornton, prescription for trouble? >> well, i think it is a very tense, dangerous situation, but we have managed to keep taiwan's status quo the same for the last 40 years, since the diplomatic normalization of china. i think it's one of the great successes of u.s.-china relations, and it shows that we don't have to be destined for conflict. the fac that we've managed this very fraught situation, and i think keeping the status quo for as long as possible has and will continue to serve all sides going into the future. >> reporter: susan thornton, john mearsheimer, thank you very much to you both.
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>> woodruff: americans are increasingly feeling the sting of inflation, whether at a gas station where the prices are at a seven-year high or the grocery store or paying the rent, inflation is taking a bite out of people's paychecks, particularly for middle and lower-income americans. inflation is up more than 6% compared with a year ago. we look at this and more now with larry summers. he was treasu secretary for president clinton and director of the national economic council for president obama. and he joins me now. larry summers, welcome back to the "newshour". yours was one of the few democratic voices saying at the beginning of this year that inflation was going to get worse. what were the main miscalculations that policy-makers in washington made back then? >> people underestimated how much demand was going to be created by all the fiscal stimulus in the recovery act and all the expansionary monetary
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policy and, at the same time, they overestimated the economy supply potential because they didn't recognize the damage that was going to be done over the medium term by covid. so, when you add too much demand and not enough supply, it was predictable that that would produce a lot of upward pressure on ices, and that's what we're seeing. now it's threatening to become a spiral as higher wages lead to higher prices, and higher prices lead to higher wages, and, so, i think we have a situation that will be challenging to manage the more we delay in managing it, the more challenging it will be. >> woodruff: after first denying inflation was going to be a long-time worry, you now have administration officials acknowledging it will be. treasury secretary janet generally said a couple of weeks ago, she said it's obviously a concern, it's worrying, but we haven't lost control.
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as we make further progress on the pandemic, i expect these bottlenecks to subside. is she right that this is connected to the pandemic? >> as i emphasized, the aftermath of covid involved reduced supply, so, yes, it is. but i don't think it would be right to think that, on the current policy path, we're likely to bring inflation down to the 2% target. i think, on the current policy path, we're likely to have a substantially expanding economy colliding with limited capacity to produce. already, we have a higher rate of vacancies than at anytime in the country's history. we have a higher ratio of the number of vacant jobs to the numberof unemployed people. we have a record number of people quitting their jobs. we have wage inflation accelerating very substantially, and price inflation even faster,
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leading to declining real wages. people's wages aren't keeping up with the cost of living. so that's an inflationary psychology, and you see it in the market, you see it in the surveys. so i think we need to be moving quickly to do something about this inflationary psychology, and i'm not sure that that's currently in trajectory without further actions, particularly by the federal reserve. >> woodruff: well, and i want to ask you about what should be done because that's on the top of everybody's mind right now. first, we know president biden, the democrats are pushing this $1.75 trillion build back better bill, with more money for education, for childcare, to combat climate change. but you have -- larry summers, you have republicans like mitch mcconnell, they are citing you as one reason to vote against it. they are saying, you know, you've spoken about inflation, this bill is going to make
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inflation worse. you even have key democrats like joe manchin in west virginia worrying about inflation. yet, as i understand it, you're saying build back better should be voted into the law. >> i'm for build back better. i'm for it because to have the environment and what it will do for society. i don't think it's going to have a meaningful impact on inflation. it spends less money over ten years than we spent just last year. it's spending is -- its spending is largely offset by tax increases, and it includes measures that will actually increase supply. so i think any impact on inflation is likely to be negligible precisely because unlike last year's stimulus, which i oppose, it is small and paid for in the macroeconomic
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scheme of things. so i support it not because i think it's going to reduce inflation but because i think it's the right thingto do for the country's long-term economy, and it's not going to have much impact on inflation one way or the other. >> woodruff: before i ask you about the federal reserve, i do want to ask you about that -- another question about that build back better bill. you said it's paid for but if the congressional office comes out in the coming day with the score which is their view of whether it does pay for itself, and if they say it doesn't, should that matter? >> judy, i don't tnk it's a light switch here. if the c.b.o. credibly said that it was going to lead to massive deficits, then it shouldn't happen. whether in an economy that's over $20 trillion a year, figures of less than 1% of that, i'm not sure those should be decisive in anybody's judgment.
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>> woodruff: and back on the federal reserve, as you know, president biden has to make a decision in coming days about whether to reappoint jay powell as chair. another name mentioned is lao brainerd, you know both of them. what do you think president biden should do? >> i think they're both terrific people, and whatever choice he makes i'm sure will be a wise one. what's most important is that the fed reengage very seriously with the inflation risks because if the fed allows inflation to accelerate from here, thenneth going to be very expensive and costly to put the inflation genie back in the bottle. i'm less worried about the inflation than the substantive choice. we need monetary policies focused on stopping inflation than the ones we've had so far. >> woodruff: what's the next thing you're looking for the fed
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to do? >> i'd like to see the fed to accelerate the so-called taper, that is to stop buying up a large quantity of bonds, and then i would like to see them move interest rates off the zero floor, and i would like all that to be completed sometime late winter or early spring. >> reporter: so quickly. quickly. much more quickly than is now in the calendar because i think if we do less sooner, we won't have to do more painful contraction later. >> woodruff: larry summers, former secretary of the treasury, thank you very much. >> thank you, judy, for having me. >> woodruff: winter has come to afghanistan, and with it skyrocketing need for aid to millions of desperate afghans. international humanitarian
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groups are working to stave off widespread hunger, while providing other services under a taliban regime widely considered a pariah. from kabul, and with the support of the pulitzer center, special correspondent jane ferguson reports. >> reporter: it could be easy to mistake kabul's red cross center for a depressing place. but instead it's one of the most heartening in the afghan capital. a place of hope for a country and people facing enormous challenges. here, the war wounded and sick learn to walk agn. soldier, child, talib-- each fighting their own personal battle. remarkably, the center makes high quality, free prosthetics in its own factory staffed entirely by former patients. dr. roberto cairo, who now runs the center, has worked here for 30 years.
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in that time he has helped countless disabled afghans live better lives. >> ( translated ): there is a moment when they fit the prosthesis the first time it's a very difficult moment. because they have a hope to be able to walk again, and they will, but not in the same way. it's hard, it's tough, and some people, especially those with double amputation, they give up. >> reporter: not six year old haibatullah. it has been only six months since the war stole his right leg,nd today marks the boy's first day walking without crutches. finding his balance on the new prosthetic takes practice, but his father is always there for him. adbullah khan says haibatullah was playing in the street when shrapnel hit him. >> ( translated ): i was at work and got a call to tell me he was injured. when i came home he wain the hospital and very seriously injured. he was playing at the front of the house. >> reporter: for a parent in a
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country with no safety net, the fear felt for a disabled child's future can be crushing. organizations that can help in te absence of the state are a lifeline. >> ( translated ): this place is very important. it's good we can bring in him here because now he will be able to walk and rely on himself. if this wasn't here, he could have been disabled his whole life, having to stay at home. >> reporter: dr. cairo is the longest-serving international aid worker in afghanistan, first the new taliban government is the fifth regime to have come to power in his time here. he's undeterred. and when the fighters swept into town, he was here, continuing his work. >> the humanitarian organizations they have to stay, they have to work. if they leave, who stays? >> reporter: yet, he is to some extent the exception. when the government collapsed and the taliban seized power in august, aid agencies and international aid workers largely left the country. the taliban has attacked, kidnapped and killed both afghan
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and international aid workers throughout the war, rarely respecting their impartiality and non-combatant status. for the charities still working on the ground, securing the safety of their staff is still a major concern. they need the taliban's cooperation to be able to work in the country. something the world food program country director mary mcgroarty, say is, so far, happening. what's it like working with the taliban? >> they are not a homogenous group. we have to engage with them, we need access to the people in need. it's based on the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, operational dependence and of course humanity. they have to deal with us, we have to deal with them if we want to reach the people in need and that's really our main goal. they are giving us access. they are facilitating the access. but still, we are still only 2.5 months in to our new reality in afghanistan so we are not sure
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how it will be going forward. >> reporter: the taliban insists it is allowing the equitable distribution of aid and welcome international organizations helping alleviate hunger. >> ( translated ): we are in touch with international n.g.o.s we attracted their assistance and lots of aid has arrived and they is being distributed transparently. >> reporter: while 14 million afghans face famine as a result of the economic collapse, a major issue impeding support for them are sanctions against the taliban. they are still considered a terrorist group by most governments around the world-- sending them money to distribute would not only break the sanctions, but help the group consolidate power. before the collapse of the afghan government, much funding was directed through the authorities in kabul, helping them pay for things like salaries for school teachers and doctors. but international aid to the government of afghanistan, now controlled by the taliban, is developmental aid. humanitarian aid is separate. agencies like the world food
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program stress that their food and money goes directly to the people, bypassing authorities. >> the humanitarian financial pipeline is very different from the on-budget support. the humanitarian funding comes directly to organizations like w.f.p., f.a.o., unicef, so we work directly with the communities. we work with a whole host of n.g.o.s to get aid directly out to the people, like these people here, and we don't go through the authorities. and i think it's important for the international community to remember, which must come now, independently of the politics. >> reporter: sending the money could also end up sacrificing a vital source of leverage over the taliban, to pressure them into softening some of the most repressive elements of their rule. girls over 14 are not able to access education fully, and protests or any dissent is harshly put down. but the w.f.p. says the 14 million people right now who
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need emergency food to prevent widespread starvation, could rise to 22 million in the next few months. in his decades on the ground in kabul, dr. cairo has never seen such widespread desperation. >> definitely people should not waste time. afghanistan must be helped now. the rest will come later, but now, especially at the beginning of the winter. something must be done. hospitals are running without drugs. people have no salary. people have no food. every day i receive so many patients coming, and after the physical rehabilitation they come and say ¡please help me, because i have nothing at all. i lost my job, i don't have any future in front of me'. so this is something that the international community should look at now, forget the rest. >> reporter: while afghanistan continues to struggle to cope with the collapse of its government and the international isolation of living under taliban rule, desperate efforts to keep millions from the worst
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suffering continue. both afghans and those remaining international professionals continue to fight on, in the face of enormous challenges. how do you keep going, despite the setbacks here? >> the work. it's the work that is keeping me here. it's the best work in the world. it's so rewarding what we are doing. you see people coming sometimes they are crawling. and they leave here walking again with dignity. >> reporter: afghanistan has been embraced, occupied and then abandoned by the wider world before. this time, its people find themselves struggling to survive the collapse of u.s.-led efforts there. while the humanitarian crisis grows, and the world struggles to decide how to react, time is running out. for the pbs newshour, i'm jane ferguson in kabul, afghanistan.
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>> woodruff: the cuban government successfully thwarted plans for a nationwide pro- democracy demonstration yesterday. the communist-led regime targeted organizers of the event; detaining some, surrounding the homes of others and waging a media campaign to discredit them. john yang has more on the rising tensions on the island and the impact here in the u.s., less >> yang: judy, yesterday's planned demonstration was to build on this summer's pro- democracy protests. those were some of biggest cuba had ever seen and led to a swift government crackdown and reports of thousands of arrests. recently, newshour producer ian couzens spoke with cuban americans across the united states about what this democratic push means for them, their families and their community. >> my name is bertha level, i am 35 years old, i live in miami,
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florida. i was born in cuba, so i am a first-generation cuban. >> my name is raymond adderly, 17 years old, and i'm a third- generation cuban-american. >> name is dr. marlene batista. i am 49 years young. i am a first-generation cuban- american. my parents came from cuba and my brothers and i were all born here in the united states, thankfully. >> norberto santana, junior. as a cuban-american, it was an amazing thing to wake up on july 11 and watch the virtually the entire island of cuba hit the streets. it's something in cuba that is extremely risky for people to do. they're very scared of whoas listening when we talk to them. they're like everything's fine, don't worry, and we're seeing >> we were allowed political refuge because of my mom's political prisoner history.
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when she was 18, she tried escaping cuba province and she was jailed for two years. i 100% stand with the cuban people that are demanding their freedom and protesting and being jailed for it. >> my friend's cousin told her, that she's been keeping her two young boys there in their late, late teens, early 20s in the house, because the government, is, if they see the kids on the street, they're scooping them up and bringing them over, giving them sticks and things to hit the protesters. and so these poor kids, they don't have a choice. so she's keeping her kids inside >> i think what the cuban people need right now more than anything, is access to food, access to water, access to medicine and vaccines, access to doctors. and so, however, the united states can facilitate the cuban people getting that those resources. i think that is the main concern right now. >> my thought on president biden's response has been cautiously optimistic throughout. in the beginning, i was extremely glad that he did not join this chorus of people from
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the left arguing that the culprit of all of this is the u.s. embargo. >> what i want to see from biden's administration is continued pressure, all eyes on cuba, not letting that dictatorship get away with the human rights atrocities that they have for 62 years, and most importantly, internet. >> we need to allow them to speak their voice, to continue to have that access to the outside world so that they know >> my only hope for cuba is democracy. >> i wish they would simply open up and allow human rights monitors, journalists and others to walk around. >> to have their liberty and to have freedom. cuba has never been free. >> yang: the voices of cuban- americans. now we're joined by lillian guerra. she is a professor of cuban and caribbean history at the university of florida. talk a little bit about how the government was able to sort of squash yesterday's planned demonstration. they didn't just crack down on demonstrators once they hit the streets, they prevented them from hitting the streets in the first place. >> they definitely had in the planning using their security
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forces in lead with the committees for defense of resolution which are local watch committees, they exist on every block. for about 30 years now they have been pretty passive, but in the last few years, they have been taken command of doing things like going out and cord thing streets which they did yesterday, also staking out the homes and keeping people under house arrest, not just for a 24-hour period but for months at a time. they taught the victims inside, they intimidate all the neighbors. so we have about 200 incidents of that yesterday, and it's not expected that any of the activists who organized this will be released from their house arrest anytime soon. >> reporter: tell us about these activists. how organizationed are they and who are they? >> well, certainly a lot of them are artists and intellectuals who have been in the game of protesting now for two years. this particular group that called for this protest was relatively new. it came out of the july 11 protest, called arch pel go.
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35,000 members, started on facebook and internet based, 17,000 of them are in cuba. in particular, you have certain ladders of this including a playwright called junior garcia, who has a long history of being a student activist and protested the government leadership to its face years ago, somebody photographed him standing on his balcony. he tack out a white rose, a symbol from the white century in the great national writings of peace, accord and harmony and the need for consensus and negotiation. so these are folks who are very committed, and i think that the people who are registered to protest themselves in various cities in cuba with arch pel go several weeks ago, also very committed, but they couldn't leave their homes. >> what are the conditions that triggered the protests in july and plans for yesterday? >> well, in the long term, it's been the total absence of democracy and the inability of
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cubans to have choices over their lives, and that has gotten incrementally worse, not just with poverty rising and the economic isolation to which cuba's been subject, thanks to the sanctions to have the trump administration, but it's been rising in part because people can't leave the island at all. i mean, the u.s. has not been supplying any consular services, the ability to get out of there has really changed the nature of the game. in 2016, we ended this sort of automatic refugee status that we granted cubans from 1956 to 2016. so you have a pressure cooker there, and you don't have the safety valve of exporting dissent and disconsent that the cuban state has relied on to get rid of vocal and talented opponents. >> reporter: what is the biden administration and should they. do they put out statements supporting efforts for democracy
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but what else can and should they do. >> we have just offered words. taking the side to have the protestors changes little. we need a statement of policy. we have need to have a presence in our embassy, being there providing consular services and ending the isolation. bringing americans to cuba, in any capacity, will change the game there because they bring information, knowledge, goods, they give access and inspiration to entrepreneurs as well as to activists, and this is the kind of thing the cuban government cannot control. it cannot control the internet no matter what it tries. all it can do is discredit those who use it and try to demonize and criminalize their use. >> reporter: lillian guerra, the university of florida, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: returning to society after incarceration is challenging for anyone.
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but the difficulties only multiply for older men and women coming out of prison. amna nawaz reports on the many hurdles these individuals can face after decades behind bars. it's part of our ongoing series, searching for justice. >> hi, how are you doing? >> i'm good, dr. savit. >> nawaz: at the transitions clinic network in san francisco, dr. shira shavit's first patient of the day is melvin malcolm. >> so how's the fatigue been. are you still pretty tired? >> yeah, i am. >> nawaz: malcolm is 74 years old. he suffers from degenerative rheumatoid arthritis and prostate cancer. >> i'm just going to take a quick listen to your heart. >> nawaz: diseases he developed while serving 38 years in pron for murder and robbery. he was released just three months ago, and so far, life on the outside hasn't been easy. after 39 years in prison what are some of the challenges you're facing day-to-day? >> handling things on your own, generally incarcerated, everything is handled for you.
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your medication is brought to you. you're told when to eat, when to sleep. things are more or less programmed for you. once you come out, you have to do things on your own. and it's pretty hard to get used to doing that. >> go head and relax your arm please. >> nawaz: he says the healthcare he's getting now is much better than what he got in prison, but nearly four decades behind bars has taken a toll. >> i have the degenerative rheumatoid arthritis, as you can see from my hands. and i think im gonna have to have knee surgery. and you know, my feet are really, really bad. >> did anything else come up in your visit? >> nawaz: dr. shavit says malcolm is a typical patient here at transitions, a national network of nearly 50 non-profit health clinics that serve people post-incarceration. >> our practice here, 66% of people have done 30 or more years in the state prison system.
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and what we know is that there are health impacts of incarceration that people age more quickly when they're incarcerated. and so when we think of older adults, we actually think of people who are 55 and older who have been in the system. >> nawaz: 20 years ago, people 55 and older made up just three percent of the u.s. prison population. today that's grown to more than 10%. one major reason: tough on crime policies dating back to the 1990's that led to longer prison sentences. >> so when peoplcome out of prison or jail, everything's kind of all up in the air at the same time. but it's even more difficult for older adults. people have been apart from the community for longer. they have less connections in the community, less social support and have more challenges in addressing some of their needs. >> nawaz: the team here at transitions tries to step in and meet the most pressing needs...not just medical. >> that's why you have t little phone icon. >> nawaz: there's technology training... >> how you doing? >> nawaz: getting i.d.'s and documentation... >> they didn't put my middle
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name on my i.d. card. >> nawaz: and access to food. >> we also got some chicken. >> yeah, chicken is fine. >> nawaz: a key part of this team? people whonow what re-entry after prison is like. people like 58-year-old ron sanders. he battled addiction and was in and out of prison during his 20s on drug charges. >> so imagine somebody's been locked up for 20, 30, 40 years. it's good to have somebody to help you guide you along. >> is this your first time going to walgreens to get medication? >> no, but it's the first time i'm going to get a refill. >> nawaz: he's been working at transitions for 15 years as a community health worker, and spends a lot of time building connections and trust, with patients often skeptical of the system. >> why do you think they trust you? >> because, you know, they know i came from the same place they came from. i've been in those shoes before, and i know also, i know how scary it is just getting out, you know, and especially when you get out and you don't have
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any family support or anything. >> nawaz: but for older adults exiting prison, this level of support is rare. few clinics like this exist across the country and the ones that do are often located in urban areas. for people who need longer term medical care, the options are even more limited. >> being away for a while, i was really scared. >> nawaz: leticia is a 67 year- old woman who suffers from mental health disorders and lymphedema, which causes swelling of the arms and legs she served 17 years in prison for murder. she asked us not to use her last name. >> i have p.t.s.d. and i had deep depression and i was very, very disturbed. >> nawaz: in 2019 she was released from prison, and discharged to 60 west, a privately-owned nursing home in rocky hill, connecticut with 95 beds. opened in 2013, 60 west is funded mainly by the state of connecticut and its medicaid system-- many residents here are
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formerly incarcerated. >> being able to look anyone up and find out what their history is very easy now in our social world. >> nawaz: administrator jessica dering says nursing homes are often reluctant to accept residents who've committed serious crimes. >> certainly the person could be the picture of nursing home appropriate. however, traditional nursing homes weren't giving tm a chance to be a part of their community. so that's why 60 west was created so that we could provide an environment of stigma free living. >> nawaz: if this place wasn't here, where would you have gone? what were your options? >> i don't know. i don't know. probably a shelter. >> nawaz: leticia's story is not uncommon at 60 west. after 33 years in prison for murder, mike jarrett landed here in 2016. he's now 70, battling clinical depression and diabetes. his right leg was amputated from a systemic infection he got while in prison. >> this place is ideal for me
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because it helps me get my social security straightened out, find a place to live, get all my medical supplies taken care of. i didn't know how much of benefit this place would be. but it's a fantastic benefit. >> nawaz: people will look at a facility like this and think, why should taxpayer funds go to people who have committed very serious violent crimes? what would you say to them? >> the only alternative to me being here is being left off in the streets. so i'm kind of blessed that way, but it's not going to last forever. eventually, this place is going to fill up again. >> nawaz: jarrett's now navigating his next hurdle. >> there's nothing. i'm stuck, my hands are tied. >> nawaz: where to go now that he no longer needs this level of care. his bed is already in high demand with more older parolees. >> the only reason why i am still here for the last three years is because i can't find an
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apartment and i can't find an apartment because they apply and it says, i have a police record and they won't accept me. i am trying hard to get out of here. and i certainly don't want to take up anybody else's space. >> nawaz: and jessica dering says because the cost of care inside prisons is so high, this is a more cost-effective approach for the state of connecticut. we focus on care so we can do it in a much more. >> nawaz: 60 west says several states are exploring ways to replicate this model as the nation grapples with how to care for this aging population. for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz in rocky hill, connecticut. >> woodruff: our searching for justice series continues tomorrow with a look at one woman's fight to overcome her
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past, and her background check. >> woodruff: a new exhibit in southern california showcases an integral part of korean-american history that was only uncovered a few years ago. stephanie sy shows us the decades-long path to discovering the nation's first "korea town." part of our arts and culture series, canvas. >> sy: edward chang, a professor of ethnic studies at the university of california at riverside says the accidental discovery of america's first korea town began with a little map from 1908. if you look closely at the tiny script... it says “korean settlement” where you did not know there was a korean settlement. is that like striking gold? >> yes, it is. it's just amazing to find out
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that actually was korean settlement in riverside in the early 1900s. >> sy: it turns out, it was the largest enclave of koreans on the u.s. mainland at the time, way before korea towns sprung up in los angeles and san francisco. chang knew that early korean immigrants to e u.s. had worked in riverside's once bountiful orange groves-- including korean independence leader ahn chang ho, also known as “dosan,” but he had no idea that ho, had founded a whole community of korean immigrants here. he credits two graduate student interns for their translation of old korean newspapers to confirm what historians had previously overlooked. you find a newspaper article where it actually describes this korean village in riverside as the first korea town in the united states? >> yes. sinhan minpo article, october 14, 1910.
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it said "riverside, pachappa camp" is the first korean settlement in the united states. >> sy: newspaper articles, archival photos, and a few precious records are on exhibit at u.c. riverside's art museum through january. they are the only physical evidence of the unique community calle“pachappa camp.” >> in not only korean settlements, but a majority of asian american settlements at the time, they were known as a bachelor society, whereas in the pachappa camp it was a family based community with women, children and working side by side with their husband. >> sy: chang says up to 300 people lived in pachappa camp in the early 1900's. what also made it different was that the founder wanted it to be a “model community”-- with an emphasis on so-called “positive virtues.” >> all the women have to wear a white dress like that. and the men were forbidden from
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drinking, smoking, gambling. >> sy: dosan hoped to garner respect in a society hostile to asians. >> you know, back then, the asian american immigrants, their life was, you know, second class citizen. it was legal to discriminate against asians until the 1960s, civil rights movement. >> sy: pachappa camp was also, critically, a living experiment that coincided with the growing movement in korea and among korean americans to calling for independence from japan, which ruled korea startingn 1905. >> it was experimentation of a democracy truly representing for the people, by the people. >> sy: in his research, chang found the gravestone of the community pastor whom he learned was also a pro-independence activist. in fact, korean immigrants were
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organizing for independence right here in riverside, california, another piece of history, long-buried. a photo from 1911 chang found showed political delegates gathered for a convention. riverside's gage canal is in the foreground-- proof chang says of the location's significance in the independence movement. >> at that convention, they passed 21 articles of governance. >> sy: one reason historians may have previously overlooked the pachappa camp is that it was short-lived, lasting less than 15 years. a deep freeze hit the orange trees of riverside in 1913, and most of the citrus workers fanned out to other california farming towns in search of work. but the previously unknown significance of the pachappa camp may also have to do with the erasure of asian americans' contributions in u.s. history. it's why chang calls this research the most important of his career.
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why was it gratifying? >> because it fill the void of a vacuum of a korean american history, modern korean history, asian american history, uncovering the buried past of our legacy. the city of a riverside designated this area as a point of a cultural interest. >> sy: pachappa camp may have been a blip in history, but chang says, a pivotal one. i have to say, as an asian- american, there is something empowering about seeing some of these photos. did you get that sense when you discovered this? >> yes! despite all these hardships, they were willing to not only devote themselves for the betterment of their community they belong to, but also independence of korea.
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>> sy: chang says the exhibit has attracted the interest of korean scholars who are nore- examining their nation's early independence movement. for the pbs newshour, i'm stephanie sy in riverside, california. >> woodruff: and online right now, we're answering questions about the covid vaccine for kids on our instagram feed. find those, plus a link to more of our coverage, at: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> the landscape has changed, and not for the last time.
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