tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS November 17, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
aptioning sponsoreby wnet on this edition for sunday, november 17th: impeachment inquiry hearings enter week two. a long-awaited project tt could help keep venice afloat. and, in our signature segment: efforts to save australia's koalas. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar wachenheim i. the cheryl and philip milstein family. rosalind p. walter, in memory of george o'neil. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided
by mutual of america, deomgning cued individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. ee additional support has byrovided by: anhe corporation for public broadcasting, a private eoorporation funded by the americane. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewe like yo thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at ncoln center in new york, karina mitchell. >> mitchell: good evening and thank you for joining us. week two of public hearings in the congressional impeachment inquirare about to get underway. scheduled testimony includes -ranking officials, some with first-hand knowledge of president trump's conversations about ukraine. yesterday there was more closed door testimony and the release of transcripts from earlier sessions. jennifer williams, an aide to vice president mike pence who listed to the call between niantrump and the ukr president on july 25, told investigators president trump's push for ukraine to open
esgations into former vice president joe biden and his son hunter was "unusual and inappropriate." mfoeanwhile, tim morrisonrmer senior director for russian affairs at the national security council, told investigators that ebauropean union ador gordon sondland spoke to a top ukrainian official about exchanging military aid for political investigations at the request president trump. both morrison and williams are exct to testify publicly this week along with six others including ambassador gordon in an interview today, house speaker nancy pelosi said she does not know when thiry phe will end. when it does, the house judiciary committee will decide whether or not to impeach the president. for more on what's ahead in the impeachme inquiry and the ntinuing showdown between congressional committees and the whitlye house, eazelon, a staff writer for "the new york times magazine," joins us now from new haven, connecticut.em y, thank you so much for being here. we're heading into the second wofeeestimony, but it comes
after some argue week one didn't really deliver the fireworks democrats promised from their tar witnesses. who do you think is going to be key to hear from this week in helping them to make their case for impeachment? like a mosaic, and each witness is filling in a different part of the picte for us. one really key witness that i think everyone is waiting to hear frin is gordon sondland. he is president trump's appointee tbe the ambassador for the european union. so, sondland had this conversation with president trump in which, according to sondland told prestrump holmes, that, no worries, ukraine was gointo do the investigating, the providing of, presumably false, information about the bidens that trump was requesting. so, i think 're gonna see sondland try to figure out how to hand a report of a phone call, which could get him in a lot of trouble because he omitted it when he testified before congress previsly. >> mitchell: do you think that
it's possible gordon sondland doesn't testify? he'll f definitely find hims the hot seat, as you say. >> it's possible that he could plead the fifth, as we say, because if he has lied to congress, that's a crime. j t saw another trump associate, roger stone, be convicted of that crime on friday. i would imagine, though, that it is in sondland's interest to try to clean this up. and e question will be, doe that mean that he further implicates president trum directly in this effort to pressure ukraine? >> mitchell: yeah, it will be hry interesting to see wh way he goes. how do you think transcripts released yesterday from tim moison and pence staffer jennifer williams, both set to testify on tuesday, tie into all of this case that the democrats are trying to make? >> you know, i think, with morrison and williams, what you see is dismay on the part of thesprossionals in the state department and the national security they're trying to run the regular, agreed upon policy in ukraine, a ty're getting a lot of interference and feedback farrom this irreg
policychannel that giuliani was running. and so they're filling in some of the details of this kind of end run around the policy making that the regular government was trying to pursue. >> mitchell: what do you think the endme for adam schiff and democrats is with all of this and the overarching role of congress here to instigate when the executive branch says it can't be investigated? >> well, the trump administration has taken a very unusual position in having a blanket refusal to allow anyone from the government to testify. now, obviously, we have nonetheless had a parade of ssese but all of those people are teifying, despite a direct order om the white house. and this very unusual decision by the trump admistration to try to block all testimony, that really flies in the face of nress's responsibilities and, and authority to investigate the brecutive ch. there are institutional interests at py here, congress versus the president.
and then there are partisan interests at play, republicans versus democrats, and we're seeing the republicans in congress seem to focus only on the partisan interests and not at all on their institutional prerog.ativ and that is weakening congress. >> mitchell: we'll see how the very busy week ahead plays out. emily bazelon, thank you so much. >> thanks for having me. l: >> mitchhe democratic governor of louisiana john bel edwa second rm last night. >> this campaign has taught us anything, it's that the partisan forces in washington, d.c. are not strong enough to break through the bonds thawe share as louisianans. >> mitchell: edwards is the only democrat to hold a governorship in the deep south. rowly defeated republica busine-man e rispo by
about 40,000 votes. rispone aligned himself closely with president trump, who held in recent weeks.r the republican iranian officials shut down internet access across the country today afteprotests erupted following the government's decision friy to ration fuel and hike prices by at least 50%. iran's supreme leader ayatolh ali khamenei backed the government's decision to crease prices. in a live speech on state television, he condemned protesters who set fires to banks and other buildings. authorities confm at least two people have been killed in the protests, including a police officer. a semi-official irian news agency said 1,000 protesters haeevearrested and 100 banks set on fire. the standoff between police and about 200 otesters occupying a university campus in hong kong es riot police used tear gas and water cannons to remove a group of protesters from outside the campus of hong kong polytechnic
university after issuing an ultimatum for them to disperse. protesters retaliated with police-media liaison officer in the leg with an arrow. me demonstratorsater retreated inside the campus before setting fire to alo footbridge tothe police pursuit. the fetormer defense sey of sri l gankaotabaya rajapaksa was elected as the country's new presint today. he pledged to restore peace and deliver uty to a country still recovering from islamic-state inspired attacks this past easter that killed 269 people. rajapaksa is popular among sri lanka's buddhist ethnic majority, but minority tamils and muslims view him as a populist strongman and vote erwhelmingly against him. record flooding continued in venice, italy today for the third time this week. water flooded st. marks square and officials closed the historic st. mark's basilica to the public, stacking sandbags
against windows to prevent water from entering the crypt. tourists waded through water and walked along elevated platforms and shop owners used flood barriers to stay open. city officials say it's the worst flooding in 50 years withi tes of $1 billion in damages so far. this week, italy's pri minister said the government will accelerate a project-- underway since 2003--to build a barrier to protect the city. charges of corruption and cost overruns have delayed the $6 billion project until at least 202 back in 2017, newshour weekend special correspondent chris livesay reported on the ambitious project.rt >> repo: the italian government does have a plan to protect venice. it's prcalled the mose ect. conceived in the 1970s, it's a series of 78 underwater gates secured to the coor of the vee lagoon. during especially high tides, they will be pumped with air and rise to the surface to block rising water from reaching the city.
four giant barriers across three lets are scheduled to be operational by 2019. is mose able to defend venice? >> yes, mose will be ab to protect the city of venice from exptionally high water. that means water that exceeds 3.5 feet above sea level. >> reporter: so this is what the gate looks like when it's down? >> yes, this is the gate when it is standing on the bottom of the inlet. >> reporter: dario berti is engineering androduction manager with the company building the mose project. construction began in 2003, testing, in 2013. if this is the first project of its kind, how can you be so sure that it's going to work? >> ( translated ): well, ts is thresult of years and years of planning and experiments on models, trials in tanks. it's been tested in all possible condions. so, we're certain it will work.
there hasn't been technical reviews about whether they are doing the right thing. and thai do find seriously alarming. >> executive director of a nonprofit group calledre here venice, which is trying to raise awareness of the challenges facing venice. >> so there a lot of concern among venetians that the work isn't being done properly. >> it's not just amongst venetians, articles have been published in national newspapers, international journals. they have a problem about sand building into the indentations ls the lagoon floor, whether paave to lie back down again. they found that the nges, they've started corroding much sooner than they thought they would. they also keep delaying when they say it's going to be ready. not a good sign. >> reporter: mose engineers say
they are addressing the issues of sand obstructing the barriers and of rusting hinges. but luca zaggia, from the institute of marine sciences nationearch council of italy, warns, assuming they work, there's a limit to how many times the defensive flood barriers can be oyed before they damage the lagoon. maho times can you raise the flood barriers in a year? >> we say 10 times a year is the maybe 15 or 20 but no more. >> reporter: but the climate is changing. the water level is rising. what happens 20 years fromow, 30 years from now g is that sting to be the case? >> no. sure. we will close more frequently. up to 100imes year. >> reporter: 100 times a year? what is that going to do to the lagoon? >> it will be a terrible stagnation first and then contamination and growth of microalgae. >> reporter: it sounds very harmful. >> yeah, it is. you can have massi deaths of fishes in summer. >> reporter: but the flooding is getting worse as the water level in the adriatic sea and venice lagoon rises due to climate change.
the sea level alone has risen 5.5 inches since 1900, according to city officials. which is why scientist luca zaggia is putting his faith in the mose project to save venice foruture generations. >> reporter: so the system must work. the alternative is what? >> the swetem must work. ave no alternatives at this point. it has to work. >> mouitchell: to watcentire report on italy's efforts to protect venice from flooding, visit www.pbs.org/newshour. few animals are identified as thoroughly with their home country as the koala is with australia. but loss of habitat and other factors have caused the koala population to plummet, and most recently, bushfires g on the country's east coast have killed as many as 350 of the animals. one ornization is trying to protect the koala population by startiive genome bank to tackle some of the biggest threat es to thestence. newshour weekend special correspondent kirsty johansen
has the story. >> reporter: australia is home some of the most diver natural landscapes. on the golcoast, a city in the state of queensland, unspoiled coastline meets native bushland, making it prime location for urban development. but as consequence, deforestation is increasing, destroying or leavin fragments the habitats of one of animal: the koala. well-loved >> they are in imminent danger of becoming extinct, becoming endangered. the population is doing this, it'not doing this, it's not doing this, the population is doing this and every day that goes by means there's one less koala. >> reporter: al mucci, from the dreamworld wildlife foundatinp, a norofit that supports conservation, research and education in the wild, has been working with koalas for more than three decades. he says over the past ten years he's seen the koala population 10,000 to less th00.indle from
it's that statistic that drove tcci to start a world-fi pilot program, the living koala genome bank project, that aims to address the increasing threat l local koala extinction due to habitats and disease and save the few koalas left for futurtie genes. >> when you've got five koalas here, ten koas there, a freeway, an industrial area, sports fields, golf course, housing. how do these koalas breed with these? they can't fly. the,need trees, they need he they need support, so we grab females from this population, males from this population, bring them into our captive breeding facility, see how serious they are with disease, clean them up and put them back into the wild with a joey in its pouch from an unrelated male. >> reporter: with their trees disappearing, koalaare spending more time on the ground in search of food and shelter moand this is when they'r vulnerable to being hit by
vehicles and attacked by dogs. another reason for their population declines the disease chlamydia, which is an epidemic among koalas. the stress of losing habitat can cause the symptoms of chlamydia to manifest, which can lead to blindness, severe bladder inflammation, infertility and ultimately death. over the past 6-12 months, eacci and hishave rescued 20 wild koalas and brought them into this quarantine facility. more than half have had to be euthanized because of illness. but the rest are being treated for camydia with antibiotics and will then be vaccinated-aga. while the goal is to release the koalas back into the wild, a lot must happen before that can occ'ur. s currently mating season, and for university of queensland associate professor stephen reproductive biologist on the proje.ect, this is crucial t he is utilizing new breeding and molecular technologies to map
the genetic variaon of wild koalas in different loations across the gold coast. >> we have wild animals, we have a wid male and a wild female and those animals may have been locations so we can bring those animals in together, into the same enclosur we can test for the genetics and again we can do the same thing. we can actually see in their offspring whether we've got a representation of those genetics or have we increased the diversity. >> reporter: the goal is to see whether captive koala populations could act as rervoirs of healthy gen to protect local wild koalas. >> i guess what we are tryi to do here in captivity is demonstrate that we can fine scale manage the genetics whichever way it might be, to either maintain a population, as a complete population or to bring new genes into that population to increase the genetic fitness. >> one way koalas are crousbred is thrgh artificial insemination.
johnston first stimulates the reproductive tract of a female called cinnamon. >> see, she's settling down now. >> reporter:ext, selected semen, w characteristics is delivered via a theter. the other way is more conventional. >> come on, handsome. >> reporter: a male calledhaully been picked as the best prospect to be taken to meet the females today. >> hey, lola. >> reporter: it's a proce.s first, he itroduced nose to nose. >> oh, not happy wi him? or maybe you are? >> reporter: the females get agitated before sully is released onto the ground to pick his favorite. but for poor sully it's not his day. >> so, it looks like sully was keen today. he was very keen. you could tell he was keen to introduce himself to all the girls in here.y, unfortunat all the girls were giving him the wrong signs though. they were vocally and physicall, rejecting which is a pretty strong sign they are not in
>> reporter: pinpointing exactly how many koalas are left in australia is a challenge for country's size ankoala'se nomadic nature. in april 2012, talhe ausn government officially listed koalas as vulnerable-- meaning numbers are in or at risk of steep decline-- the states of new south wales, queensland and the australian capital territory. deborah tabart is c.e.o. with the australian koala foundattin, an internaal nonprofit dedicated to the effectiv management and conservation of the koala and its habitat. m this year she announced koalas were functionally extinct-- meaning a specias' populatieclined so much that it no longer plays a significant role in the ecosystem. >> our research has shown that there's only 15% of the habitats of australia left and we are confident there's no more than 86,000 animals more likely half that. the australian government tong
enact a law called the koala protection act which is based on the u.s. bald and golden eagle the koala protection act says if there is a koapr tree on your erty you can't do anything until you prove your activity is benign, it's that simple.r >> repor: saving the koala is a personal mission for tabart but also economically crucial for australia. koalas are a major australian tourist drawcard and you can see why. national tourism figures show 75% of inbound visitors report they hope to see a koala when making the decision to travel here. >> reporter: australia institute research has found koalas areri estimated to in almost $2.2 billion annually to ia and generate around 30,000 tourism industry jobs. presidents, prime ministers, celebrities and regularolks all want toe photographed holding a koala during their visit. al mucci from the dre fworld
wildlindation says he doesn't want to ever see that change. his project already has a success story and we are going to look for him. >> the beeps are getting louder and a bit closer togeth, so that's good. i haven't seen our little fella for about a week so i'm getting excited. >> reporteryuhis name is el o, and he's the first koala that the project has successfully released back into the wild. what's el yungo's backgound? >> he was a koala in imminent danger of dying in the cooma area the gold coast through development. whn we brought him into the program he was riddled with chlamydia, so we've cleaned him up, vaccinated him, he's ed with some of our females as part of the program and now he's been released to another reserve so he is new genetics for this property here. >> reporter: el yungo wears a collar and can be gpacked using and vhf tracking devices. the ptracking devices canick up
a koala within 12 kilometers so it can sometimes be tough to nd their exact location, especially when they are perched athe top of the trees. >> aetlright the beeps are gng , so he must be in one of these trees. there he is, got him. yep, the collar is on him. that's el yungo and he's having a bit of a snooze. good on you mate, you are looking good. >ol> reporter: bycting el yungo's fecal samples each day the team are able to monitor his health and pick up any new risks of disease. >>vi mon is that the population stays stable. we've disrupted the bushland area so much now that we're not going to see this, we just need to make it stable. manang the genetics, managing the disease, it's intervention and this is the only way we are going to save them
>> this is pbs newshour weekend, sunday. >> mitchell: there's a long history of a brutal fur trade thinat led to the deand near extinction of australia's koala population in the late 1920s. it was then that public outrage over a queensland government- endorsed "open season" on koala hunting brought the practice to end. here's more from newshour weekend special correspondent kirsty johansen. >> reporter: recent research by the australian koala foundation vealed a large bulk of t wild koala population was wiped out bduring the fur traween 1888 and the late 20s. it's believed at least 8 million koalas were killed with their pelts shipped to the u.s., canada and the u.k. koala fur is werproof and was commonly used to make hats, gloves and to line coats. historicuction house records show more than 400,000 pelts alone were shipped from
adelaide, a city in the state of australia to the u.s. i 1901. in 1919, 2 million pelts were shipped from south australia to the u.s. followed by another 2 llion in 1924. the koala fur tradwas only halted when former u.s. president herbert hoover, then u.s. secretary for commerce, signed an order permanently prohibiting skin importation in 1927. the t killings wen banned in all australian states after a mas psilic backlash in what was thought to be the country's first large citizen conservation movement. the australian koala foundation believes president hoover saved koan las from early extinctt the population could never bounce back.
>> mitchell: newshour will have livk'e coverage of this w impeachment inquiry hearings online and on the air. rings are planned fo tuesday, wednesday and thursday. you can find a complete schedule on our website: www.pbs.org/newshour. that's all forekbs newshour end. i'm karina mitchell. thank you so much for watching. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by mediaccess group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz.
sue and edgar wachenheim iii. e cheryl and philip milstein family. rosalind p. walter, in memory of george o'neil. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutmeual ofca, designing custized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company.ti adonal support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american pple. and bycontributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
(jazzy muc) - as a kid i was so afraid of the stage and so afraid of talking to people and getting up there in front of the class for a book report or something. i hated it. i neveouthought that my life revolve around being in front of people all the time (chuckles). - [won emcee] twin cities, make some noise for dem atlas!e (crowding) (intense music)