Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  September 15, 2021 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

6:00 pm
judy: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, countering china. tensions rise in asia as the u.s. partners with australia and the united kingdom to address beijing's ambitions. then, system flure. u.s. gymnasts testify before congress about the fbi's botched investigation of sexually abusive doctor larry nassar. and, fentanyl frontier. the u.s. struggles to contain the flow of the high-powered opioid across the border amid an addiction crisis. >> if addiction is always gog to be with us, then let's treat
6:01 pm
it like the illness that it is. when we bring people back to healthy lives, the demand for the product goes away. judy: all that and more on tonight's "pbs newshour." ♪ ♪ >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- ♪ >> moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> consumer cellular.
6:02 pm
johnson & johnson. financial services firm raymond james. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems. skoll >> the lemelson foundation, committed to improving lives through invention in the u.s. and developing countries. supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. ♪ and with the ongoing support of these institutions. ♪ this program was made possible
6:03 pm
by the corporation for public broadcasting, and back contributions to your pbs station from viewe like you. thank you. judy: this evening at the white house president biden joined by , the prime ministers of the united kingdom and australia , announced a new partnership in the indo-pacific region. chief among the announcments, an effort to build nuclear-powered submarines for australia. the one issue not mentioned by the three leaders, but clearly driving th move, a rising china. our foreign affas correspondent nick schifrin is here with me now. nick, tell us what it was that th president and the two prime ministers announced. nick: so this is what they called a landmark defense and security partnership. it is about sharing technology, sharing defense industries, and cooperatingilitarily. they talked about defending shared interests, but as you said, they didn't mention china.
6:04 pm
this is about defending shared interests against a rising china. take state president biden at the australian prime minister scott morrison at the white house. >> donations will update and enhance our shared ability to take on the threats of the 21st century just as we did in the 20th century, together. our nations and orgreave fighting forces stood shoulder-to-shoulder for literally more than 100 years through the trench fighting of world war i, the island hopping of world war ii in korea, and the scorching heat of the persian gulf. >> a partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defense forces, are all working together to deliver a safer and more secure region that ultimately benefits us all. nick: this is a giant strategic step for australia. i asked alan tidwell at
6:05 pm
georgetown, how significant it was for australia to decide this, and he said it was the most important announcement, most important decision australia has made since the early 50's, since the australia-new zealand, u.s. treaty. >> this is a significant upgrading of the alliance between the u.s. and australia, and a significant statement about the role that australia envisions for itself and for the united states in the region. nick: and increasingly that role is a united one -- the u.s. and australia against china. for australia the u.s. becomes closer to them, the alliance with the u.s. becomes more resilient, and the u.s. gets an ally that is more capable of deterring china on its own. judy: how is the united states doing that militarily? nick: this is the announcement, nuclear powered conventionally armed submarines for australia. some of the u.s.'s most secret technology.
6:06 pm
the u.s. historically has refused to provide this technology to anyone, including its partners. the only time the u.s. ever shared this technology was with the uk more than 70 years ago. australia currently has diesel electric submarines, so it is a big investment to switch to nuclear powered submarines. they will allow them to deploy further, more stealthily, state in strategically more important areas like the southeast china sea, and even as far as taiwan that china has been using territorial claims in that region, as tidwell said. >> so it could be that one day china decides it wants to curtail shipment of australian ships or other vessels in that region, and australia has to protect those vessels. what better way to do it than with a submarine? it is based upon in part on chinese behavior in the south china sea.
6:07 pm
they have created a problem that is leaving australia with very few choices about how it proceeds in the future. nick: china has not only expanded its claims in the south china sea, it is trying to punish australia for steps it has taken to block chinese 5g from, australia, and, two, for calling into an investigation into covid. china is australia's number one trading partner. and today is clearly a sign that china is strategically deciding that the future is with the u.s. to counter china. judy: and this is a big move. one of the people you talked to said they expect -- what do they say they expect china to do in response? nick: theyill not respond well. this will only reinforce what china believes is happening, which is that the u.s. is trying to contain china using would china cause gangs, as in the u.s. and its partners getting up on china. but the china experts also
6:08 pm
pointed out that the chinese-australia relationship is already bad. china's wrath may be pointed to london. prime minister boris johnson was part of this announcement. china has not punished london economically yet. even though the experts say that this is a response to chinese behavior, that the uk and australia are creating this land in order to counter chinese behavior, there is no sign that china has any intention of changing its own behavior. judy: significant developments. nick schifrin reporting on all that. meantime, our yamiche alcindor was at the white house, in the room where the president spoke, and she joins me now. so how does this announcement, this set of steps feeding with all the other international challenges the president is facing right now, in particular, afghanistan? yamiche: at the president is facing challenges on the foreign and domestic front. he had the spirit of optimism,
6:09 pm
this idea that this new agreement would be him turning the page and focusing on what he wants to talk about, which is working with u.s. allies. he didn't mention china, as nick just said. and also focusing on how to compete better with china. that said, afghanistan did not come up, but there were questions shouted as president biden walked away. so it tells you that while the president wants to talk about this new agreement with lyrica and australia, chief in people's minds is still of canister and and the chaos. on the domestic front, the president also sat down with the two senators who democrats are eyeing closely, senator manchin as well as senator sinema. from west virginia and from arizona, two democratic senators who democrats want to get on board of this reconciliation bill. it is what they have been calling a human infrastructure package. a $3.5 trillion deal. the president really trying to get them on board.
6:10 pm
so we will see what happens. the white house tells me they're also really focused on covid and talking about that. this shows you that the white house doesn't want to be talking about afghanistan, but of course, it is top of mind. judy: a lot on tap today. thank you, yamiche alcindor. nick: thanks. ♪ >> i am vanessa ruiz in for stephanie sy at newshour west. we'll return to the full program after the latest headlines. china's embassy in washington reacted late today to president biden's pact announcement. the embassy said the united states, britain and australia should shake off their cold-war mentality and ideological prejudice. in other news, the nation's top military officer, general mark milley, drew support for his actions during president trump's final weeks in office. a new book says he reassured china that then-president trump would not order an attack, and that if he did, milley would give advance warning.
6:11 pm
president biden said today he has great confidence in the general. the pentagon also defended him. >> frequent communication with 2 countries like russia and china is not atypical at all for a chairman of the joint chiefs. and those communications, they are routine, they are staffed, they are coordinated. and they are transparent, as transparent as they can be the fmr. pres. nixon: some republicans charged milley overstepped his authority and called for him to be fired. the two koreas traded missile tests today, amid rising tensions. south korea fired its first ballistic missle from a submarine, with president moon jae-in looking on. he called it a deterrence against the north. earlier, north korea launched 2 ballistic missiles into the sea. french president emmanuel macron announced tonight that french military forces killed islamic militant adnan abu walid al-sahrawi, leader of the islamic state in the greater
6:12 pm
sahara. the group is known for its violence against civilians and attacks on security forces. the u.s. had a $5 llion bounty out for abu walid for the killing of four u.s. soldiers in niger in 2017. pakistan is warning it cannot take any more afghan refugees. the national security adviser says his country already hosts 3 million displaced afghans. members of the afghan women's soccer team along with coaches and families have crossed into pakistan. they'll seek asylum in other countries. president biden brought his campaign for covid-19 vaccinations to major u.s. corporations today. he met with officials of walt disney, kaiser permanente and others, and said many are moving to mandate shots, including one, in particular.
6:13 pm
>> vaccine requirements work. even companies are instituting them. it is interesting that they have stepped forward and done that as well. vanessa: to date, just over half of the u.s. population has been fully vaccinated. some 665,000 nationwide have died from covid, about one out of every 500 people in the country. california's democratic governor gavin newsom will stay in office after defeating a republican recall bid. returns from tuesday's voting and mail-in ballots showed him leading by nearly 30 points. he addressed supporters last night and said it's a win for him, and for the people of the state. >> i humbled and grateful to the am millions and millions of californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote and expressed themselves so overwhelmingly by rejecting the division.
6:14 pm
vanessa: we will look at the recall and its wider implications, later in the program. boston voters have chosen 2 women of color for a mayor's runoff. michelle woo and anisa asibi george finished first and second on tuesday acting mayor kim janee lost her election bid. she's the first woman and first black person to hold the office. remnants of hurricane nicholas stalled over louisiana today, dumping more rain. rooftops torn open from hurricane ida last month left people exposed to new downpours. flash flood watches stretched to the florida panhandle. still to come on the "newshour," what president trump's continuing grip on the republican party means for elections. why the u.s. struggles to contain the flow of illegal fentanyl across the southern border. a new parenting book draws criticism for its counterintuitive advice, plus much more.
6:15 pm
>> this is the pbs newshour from w eda studios in washington and in the west from the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. judy: the senate judiciary committee today heard damning testimony from 4 elite u.s. gymnasts about the fbi's mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against former usa gymnastics doctor larry nassar. each criticized the agency and pressed lawmakers to demand further accountability for those who enabled nassar. amna nawaz reports. >> what is the point of reporting abuse if our own fbi agents are going to take it upon themlves to bury that report in a drawer? amna: today on capitol hill, four of america's top gymnasts recounted their abuse by former team usa gymnastics doctor larry nassar, and the fbi's failure to investigate.
6:16 pm
>> this was very clear, cookie-cutter pedophilia and abuse. it's important because i told the fbi all of this and they chose to falsify my report. >> usa gymnastics and the usa olympic and paralympic committee and the fbi have all betrayed me and all those who were abused by larry nassar after i reported. >> the fbi made me feel like my abuse didn't count and that it wasn't a big deal. i remembr sitting there with the fbi agent and him trying to convince me thatt wasn't that bad. it has taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter. >> to be clear, i blame larry nassar and i also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. amna: simone biles, the lone nassar assault survivor on the 2020 tokyo olympics squad, said
6:17 pm
pushing for accountability is part of why she kept competing. >> the announcement in the spring of 2020 that the tokyo games were to be postponed for a year meant that i would be going to the gym, to training, to therapy, living daily among the reminders of this story for another 365 days. one thing that helped me push every day was the goal of not allowing this crisis to be ignored. that has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry. amna: more than 250 women and girls accused larry nassar of sexual abuse. he was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in 2017. should he outlive that, nassar faces up to 175 years in michigan state prison. lawmakers berated the fbi's botched probe, including failing to properly investigate allegations of abuse, first brought to their attention in 2015. >> dozens of young women lay before larry nassar and he did
6:18 pm
with them what he wanted with trauma and terror that will last a lifetime. that pain was preventable. it was needless. >> if the fbi did so little in the investigation that involved world-class athletes, what hope could an average american have? amna: the fbi's failures were laid out in a july report from the justice department's inspector general. it found fbi field offices failed to formally document a july 2015 meeting with usa gymnastics when the fbi first received allegations against nassar, waited five weeks to conduct a phone interview with one of the athletes who was abused, and failed to reach out to others altogether. and that the special agent in charge made false statements and omitted material information in an attempt to minimize errors made by the indianapolis field office.
6:19 pm
the special agent in charge went so far as to seek out a potential job opportunity with the u.s. olympic committee. fbi director christopher wray called the fbi's inaction, unacceptable. >> when i received the report from the inspector general and i saw that the supervisory special agent in indianapolis had failed to carry out even more basic parts of the job, i made sure he was no longer performing the functions of a special agent. and i can now tell you that that individual no longer works for the fbi in any capacity. amna: still, questions remain about what justice looks like for these women, and the hundreds more who say they were abused by nassar, and failed by the system. >> all we are asking for is that when a child goes into gymnastics or goes to school or does spared abuse. anything, that they can be spared abuse. and the fact that we've been treated like adversaries by so many organizations and our abuse has been diminished, we've been
6:20 pm
victim-shamed online over and over again, we've been gaslit, we've been made to feel that we don't matter by these organizations, and i never want another child to feel that way again. amna: for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz. ♪ judy: californians have voted overwhelmingly to keep democratic governor governor newsom in office until the end of his term, this in a recall election where covid and homelessness were big concerns. ballots are still being counted, but newsom improved on his share of the vote from his first election 3 years ago. to discuss the resul and any lessons they hold for next year's midterm elections, we turn to two writers who both contribute columns to the "washington post," perry bacon,
6:21 pm
who's in kentucky, and gary abernathy, who's based in ohio. it is great to see both of you, welcome back to the newshour. perry baker, let me start with you, how do you describe gavin newsom winning? >> california is a very blue state. joe biden one thereby a lot, and now gavin newsom has. but there was an important thing that happened during the campaign, which is that gavin newsom really lean into the idea that larry elder, the top republican in the recall, would be kind of a donald trump figure for califora, particularly in terms of not supporting vaccinations and mask-wearing. once it became a race about who takes covid seriously and whether larry elder is kind of like a donald trump for california, that is what drove up the note on the recall, and make sure newsom stayed in
6:22 pm
office. judy: gary abernathy, what is your sense of why larry elder didn't do better? he looked more formidable at one point in this campaign. >> yeah, but i think perry is right. as soon as possible able to make it a one-on-one race, and not just a recall, not just a referendum on the governor, but which of these people do you want, and then able to paint elder as a trump surrogate. in california, the answer to that is clearly no. part of me, frankly, is a little bit happy with the way it turned out, because i am just not a big fan of interrupting people and trying to undo the will of the voters before a term is up, whether it is a recall election or whether through impeachment or some other means. we need to start accepting election results and understand that people have a chance to weigh in again when that person is othe ballot again, at the end of the term. judy:. , you talked about the role of
6:23 pm
covid and some other issues in this campaign. what lessons do you see for democrats coming out of this recall, for next year in the returns, one president trump will not be on the ballot? >> i think they are going to put him on the ballot. . don't mean directly so, that i think if you look at this race, would newsom talk about trump, that is why in his numbers went up in the recall. so i think the lesson here is, california is liberal, but there is still plenty of swing districts. the house is particularly important. who does well in california? one in eight americans live in california, so it is important what happens there. in 2018, 2021, when the democrats ran trumpism broadly, in 2018, 2021, i think that has worked. at least in this case, what did not work, newsom has a pretty
6:24 pm
good record, from my point of view, in terms of accomplishing policies. but he didn't really run on those. it was better that he didn't run on those, and kind of ran a negative campaign mostly. that seems to have worked. judy: gary abernathy, pick up on that in terms of whether democrats try to make whatever can paydays try to inject -- whatever campaign it is, to try to inject the trump into it. >> it will depend on the state. in california, having trump as your opponent ll be successful. he is not popular there. in a lot of other states, it will not work so well, although i believe republicans need to come to terms with the fact that donald trump is not going to be a winning factor for you in a general election. he may do well for you in a primary situation, but when it comes to general elections, a lot of moderate and swing voters are not going to come back to
6:25 pm
trump, more, in my opinion, should they. as you know, i used to be a trump supporter, but his actions after the election, his refusal to accept joe biden's presidency, his role in the january 6 incursion, disqualifies him. but trumpism will continue to be a popular philosophy with a lot of voters. . but you can't have trump leading it. judy: so how do democrats thread the needle, the fact that yes, donald trump himself may not be as popular, but there is still this philosophy that has got a hold on many republicans. >> i tend to think it depends on the issues a bit. i think republicans, if the election were this year and republicans were running, being skeptical of vaccinations and masking, which i think are pretty popular with writing of voters -- popular with a majority of voters, if they are running skeptical of vaccines and mask-wearing, that is not a
6:26 pm
great place to be in. if you are talking about immigration and other issues, that is where it is more popular. so it depends on where you are. but right now in this moment in california or, i think in other places like virginia, it is better to be the pro-mask, pro-vaccine candidate, and then that republicans are in a week place right here. in 2022, i don't know if covid will be the big issue. that may not be the issue this time next year, but right now, sort of following the trumpism into anti-vaxism is not smart. judy: and gary, i want to expand on -- would like to ask you to expand on what you said earlier about former president trump hurting himself after the election. how many republicans do you think you're coming to grips with this? >> i think more and more very, very slowly, judy, are coming to
6:27 pm
that conclusion. we still see polls say trump has 90% report about republicans still. but think about it this way, that's 10% that have broken away from him. and that is a lot of votes. he needs every last vote if he himself on the ballot. he will lose more as time goes by. it will be a sw process, but i believe it will happen. judy: and we are waiting to see whether he will run in 2024. gary abernathy and perry baker, good to see you both,. >> thank you. >> you too. >> good to see you both. ♪ judy: tonight, the second part of our series on the ravages of the synthetic opioid, fentanyl. last night we took you to mexico to see where illegal cartels make it. tonight, the deadly cost of the
6:28 pm
drug just across the u.s.-mexico border, in arizona. again, with the support of the pulitzer center, special correspondent monicaillamizar and producer zach fannin report. monica: a tall stretch of border wall separates no goess, arizona from its sister city, nogales, mexico. despe the heavy security measures this area is a main smuggling route for fentanyl and other illicit drugs both above, and below ground. rder patrol agent kevin hecht gave us a rare peek at subterranean tunnels designed a century ago to catch water runoff from mexico. in recent years, the tunnels have also been used by drug smugglers. >> they can tunnel through the floor in here or tunnel through the wall and dig into a house or dig into a drainage pipe in the u.s. and then they come out of the pipe and they might go into a car, they might have another short tunnel to the bottom of a
6:29 pm
car. where the reflective yellow is, that's the border fence. monica: hecht also showeus this more cramped, training tunnel, where his agents learn how to navigate the land below nogales. he says smugglers connect their illicit tunnels to the existing ones. >> if they know there is a big, long pipe, why not use this? so they will conceal it the best they can. like if they cut this out they'll glue it back in or seal it back in. they will only open it when they need it. and then they will crawl this. to the next point where they don't have any more pipe and then they'll dig another illicit tunnel. monica: so far in 2021, hecht and his team have not intercepted any drugs in the tunnels. the vast majority of drug interceptions including fentanyl are caught by officers at us ports of entry like this one in nogales. guadelupe ramirez is the director of field operations for customs and border protection's tucson sector. >> years ago, they would make a
6:30 pm
compartment in the gas tank so half that gas tank had gas and the other have had narcotics. then they started going to the tires. now they are using driveshafts, transaxle's, transmissions, even inside the motor. i guarantee you, if you can imagine it, it has been tried. monica: from august 2019 to july 2020, ramirez and his officers seized just over 1100 pounds of fentanyl. during that same piod of time this year, they seized twice that amount, almost 2300 pounds. 80 miles to the east, sargent tim williams works in a specialized unit for the cochise county sheriff's department that tracks smugglers crossing a rural area of the border. >> my main strategy is using this little camera. it is called a back i. these things allow us to get real-time information about what is crossing and what is not. we see what we call military males, between 20 and 30 year old males crossing across the
6:31 pm
border. monica: the team was launched in 2017 and has caught over 400 drug smugglers so far. their cameras have captured groups of drug mules crawling on the ground, and even this man with an automatic rifle. just down the road, the border fence ended. >> where we are standing right now is where, in cochise county, the fence officially ends on our western border, and it doesn't start again until roughly around nogales, which is about 70 to 80 miles away. monica: after president biden was sworn in earlier this year, he signed an executive order that stopped the construction of former president trump's border wall. today scattered pieces of wall and construction equipment dot the u.s. side of the southern border, along with lo stretches of fenceless border. arizona state senar christine marsh's 25-year-old son landon was one of last year's 90,000 overdose deaths. since fentanyl is so inexpensive , it has made its way into virtually every illicit drug. fentanyl is now found in cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and even the painkiller
6:32 pm
percocet. marsh says her son took a percocet that was laced with fentanyl. >> he had one wild night with a childhood friend, and that resulted in his death. i contend that one wild night shouldn't be a death sentence, and he didn't have a habit of taking anything. . i unfortunately know that, because i am the one that went through all of his stuff. there was no evidence of any type of drug use. monica: after her son's death, marsh discovered that these testing strips, that can tell users if fentanyl has been added into other drugs, were illegal in arizona. >> he was the kind of kid who was prepared for everything. i have no doubt that had the strips been available, he would have used it. monica: earlier this year, marsh brought a bill to arizona's state senate floor that proposed the legalization of these fentanyl testing strips. it was signed into law weeks
6:33 pm
ago. >> the law was side on the one-year anniversary of landon's death. a very grateful that there was that tiny bit of, we are going to turn around and save some other lives on landon's death date. >> next semester will be researched, and then i have to do two comprehensive exams monica: this is danielle, she didn't want to give us her last name. she is in her 30's and is currently a graduate student at a university in phoenix. >> i am supposed to produce a dissertation prospectus, defend it, then i will get my fancy little cap and i'll be a doctor. monica: danielle is probably not the image most people think of when they picture a heroin addict who's been using for over a decade. >> i think there is a reason at people kind of scapegoat the most visible type of struggling person that they see. monica: just over a decade ago, danielle hid her addiction from
6:34 pm
her employer. the result was so graphic, we are blurring our footage. >> i would try to avoid injecting my arms or somewhere visible. i would inject my legs. i wasn't aware that even if i wasn't sharing syringes, reusing dull needles could traumatize the circulation in my legs. monica: first, she got a skin infection. she says over time that her tissue damage progressed. >> part of what you see is like venous insufficiency now. so without that blood flow there to bring oxygen, the soft tissue dies, and then it doesn't heal, ever. if someone had just been like, hey, if you are going to continue to inject drugs here are some things you can do to prevent this from becoming a lifelong issue for you. monica: danielle wishes she could have received transparent information about how to use heroin as safely as possible. she said she had to suffer because drug users are often stigmatized.
6:35 pm
>> all drug users are pretty much routinely despised, hated, and feared in our society. monica: danielle's friend christopher abert, who is also a drug user, is the founder of the southwest recovery alliance. despite having the word recovery in the group's name, their main focus is to help decriminalize drugs in the u.s., and help drug users reduce harm. >> the idea of focusing on the drug itself is the problem. and it is not the conditions of concurrent illnesses that accompany some people's drug use that are actually the root of the pblem. so if you focus on this idea of this chaotic drug user who is dangerous, then you lose the picture of the fact that, you know, human beings have been doing drugs for a millennium and doing them without what is ailing our society like right now. death, disconnection, destruction, disease. monica: the group also laments that fentanyl has flooded the illegal drug market and has made heroin harder to procure.
6:36 pm
>> i can inject heroin, and eight hours later, i will start coming out of that high, and then eventually, withdrawal will set in and i will start again. but with fentanyl, it's about four hours after i dthe shot, so people are having to use more and more and more as well. me personally, i would much prefer heroin. monica: miles south, in tucson, 115 the newly electedemocratic county attorney laura conover is changing how the criminal justice system treats drug users. today that means passing out food aid to her constituents. >> we are in and out of neighborhoods that have been decimated by the war on drugs. what we want to look at is a new way forward in making sure that we are not continuing to attempt to incarcerate our way out of substance use disorder. monica: at the new jerusalem baptist church conover is trying , to personally connect with this black and latino community that's been disproportionately
6:37 pm
affected by the war on drugs, to get the word out that her office is not prosecuting all drug offenses. >> we are talking about simple possession, because there is a substance use disorder. we are looking to make sure we are moving those people back into the medical and behavioral health realm where that belongs. monica: however, conover cautions her office is not legalizing the sale of narcotics. > we are talking about high-level distributors. those who are making a profession of causing harm in our community. we have the resources and we are ready to hold them accountable and prosecute them. monica: for the past 50 years, the demand for drugs in the united states has proven insatiable. >> if addiction is always going to be with us, then let's treat it like the illness that it is. when we bring people back to healthy lives, then the demand for the product goes away.
6:38 pm
monica: from crack to heroin, to methamphetamine to the most deadly illicit opioid america has seen, fentanyl. for the pbs "newshour," i'm monica villimizar in arizona. ♪ judy: schools around the country are largely back in person for class, there has been a jump in the number of students quarantined, and some places are allowing distance-learning again. all too often, parents are facing difficult choices. stephanie sy has the story of an economist who's trying to help parents navigate. [siren wailing] stephanie: amid the chaos of life with young kids parents , face an endless stream of decisions. >> what we let them watch, what we let them eat, what we let them do. >> what are their interests outside of technology? i don't really know anymore.
6:39 pm
>> we kind of joked over the summer that she would learn how to be social again. stephanie: enter parenting guru to the data-obsessed millennial mom, emily oster, an economist by training. her new book "the family firm," employs business strategy for parenting choices. start with the big picture, she says. >> write down what are the like the 3 top priorities and for your family. that is a very simple thing that could potentially b moving you forward. stephanie: for the most important decisions, oster suggests the 4 f's. >> the idea is to start by articulating exactly what your question is. stephanie: frame the question? >> frame the question, think about what yr concrete options you're trading off. second thing is what i call fact finding. and some of that is about collecting data, but it is also about kind of collecting information he family needs about the logistics around those choices. stephanie: kineta sanford's big question, whether to move so that her daughter could attend a
6:40 pm
smaller public school. >> i really wanted her to be in a place where she would have the support that she needed, so is there a better school environment that we could put her in? stephanie: fact-finding included weighing the benefits to her daughter of both choices. >> thinking about what are some of the opportunities that one might have in a bigger school district? you know, do they offer more sports? they offer more classes, things like that. but i do think the school district we are in now, where the schools are smaller, class sizes are smaller, it really is conducive to her learning. stephanie: oster's 3rd f is to make that final decision. the 4th f? follow-up. >> talk about is again in a year, in three months, whatever it is, there to see if you want to make a different choice. stephanie: in the book, oster looks at data studies about fraught issues like school choice and what to feed your kids. but unlike for toddlers and babies, the research provides less obvious answers for school-age children. in a few areas, data is clear
6:41 pm
, however, sleep is one of them. even relatively small manipulations of sleep can matter for kids' behavior and for their sort of memory and cognition. so we've done experiments where they just reduce sleep for like 4 days by an hour. so it is small. and it made a huge difference. the huge negative difference. the other thing is when kids watch screens the hour before bed, that is not good for their sleep. stephanie: but, is all screen time bad? janelle spence has 5 sons. >> when my oldest child was an only child, he did not watch television until he was after two years. i was in the hospital delivering my second son before my parents ever put him in front of a tv. i was, like,, tv is so bad, that's what all the experts say. as i had more kids, it was impossible to keep them away from the television. as that happened, i am, like,
6:42 pm
why is it so bad? stephanie: it is a question many parents have grappled with, especially during covid lockdowns. >> everyday is a constant struggle of, went away get my ipad? went away get to watch television? can i turn on youtube? stephanie:he has three kids. >> we've all been inside together for the past 18 months and with 3 kids at home and two during virtual school, you know, trying to keep one of them quiet while the other one is on a zoom call, things like that, i've definitely been handing them a device more often than i would like. stephanie: oster says the data offers one simple central insight. >> when your kid is watching screens, they're not doing something else. and that is that is the reason to limit screens. but also most of what we we , maybe people think they know about, y know, violent video games make your kids violent. you know that literature is not very good. there isn't a lot of reason to think that the content per se is problematic, and it has become much harder in the pandemic. we a all trying to work from home and have a job and
6:43 pm
everybody's kids use a lot more screens. i think one way to think about that is the is the choices there felt very much like it screens , or is it me yelling at you to get out of the office? stephanie: which is not good for kids. >> which is also not for kids. right. and so i think it's much better. screens are better than me yelling at you. this was this was the best use of time under those constraints. stephanie: again, it is about the big picture. kerry peterson has encouraged her kids to play sports to get them away om screens. >> we try to keep them active. it's a balance between how many evenings a week do i want to spend shuttling kids to different activities versus how else am i going to fill the time in the evening when they're at home? if they're just sitting at home, are they going to just be begging for an ipod? stephanie: for janelle spence, the decision to let her son do travel baseball was a no-brainer, despite juggling four other kids. >> he loves it. it is more a decision of how arbery going to get them there rather than if he's going to , play. stephanie: what does that mean for the family? >> it means a lot of days at the
6:44 pm
ball field. kinetta sanford's daughter plans stephanie:kinetta sanford's daughter plans to do lego league in addition to the running group shjoined during the pandemic. >> it was really about getting her to connect with kids outside of her school day where they are on video all day long. stephanie: that is a key reason to join activities, says oster. >> some people think about extracurriculars as like a way to, like, achieve your or like a path into college. enrichment of some nature. but in fact, when you look at the literature, the big benefits to the extracurriculars are this kind of sense of belonging. ♪ stephanie: better as the delta variant causes covid cases to search, decisions about extracurricular activities are again taking a backseat, especially for parents of children under 12, who cannot get vaccinated. as the new school year begins, covid is top of mind for kineta sanford.
6:45 pm
>> will we be able to stay in school for the entire year? stephanie: kerry peterson is optimistic about her childns' return. >> we are pretty confident that our kids will be safe in school and also the fact that they just really need to get into some kind of a routine. stephanie: as kids return to t classroom, oster thinks mitigation measures will be key. we saw schools operate safely >> last year with mask, with ventilation, you know, with with teacher vaccinations by the end of the year with some testing. and i think those are all the kinds of things we want to be layering in. and i think we've increasingly learned how important in-person school is and that really pushes it in the direction of making it happen for everybody. stephanie: throughout the pandemic oster collected data on , schools and vid. many parents turned to her for information. but she also faced backlash for arguing against school closures last fall. >> is a policy intervention that is really, really costly for kids and families and doesn't seem to have a lot of public health benefits. i try to be thoughtful about this, i believe that what i'm saying is reflecting the best evidence that we have. but,oy, wouldn't it be better if there was a more concerted
6:46 pm
centralized effort to collect some of this information? stephanie: in your case, it led to a lot of scrutiny, and even criticism, people saying emily oster is an economist, she is not an epidemiologist, she's not a public health expert or a public education expert. how did that land with you? >> in the space of covid and schools and trading off risks and benefits and thinking about data, you know, those are things that i am trained in. in the space of commenting on covid and schools, most of this time i was running the database with the most data on that. so it felt like, on the one hand, i am not an epidemiologist, by the idea of additional perspectives is very valuable, and i am not sure we should say that our decisions will be made best if we listen to only one kind of expertise. stephanie: the issues parents face these days are complex. but oster, believes different perspectives and data can help them make their own best
6:47 pm
decisions. for the "pbs newshour," i' stephanie sy in providence, rhode island. ♪ judy: a pregnant poet confronts private pains and public and public strains, home and history. jeffrey brown has the story for our arts and culture series, canvas. jeffrey: more than 20 years ago, the poet rita dove and her husband fred viebahn took up ballroom dancing. it was originally an escape, a bit of joy after a fire had damaged their charlottesville, virginia home. soon, it took on new importance after dove was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997. >> i basically had to regain my balance. i lost feeling in my fingers and my toes. luckily my husband and i do
6:48 pm
ballroom dancing, and that helped me because i learned a different way of feeling pressure on the floor. ♪ it's trite to say, you know, life hands you a lemon, you'll make lemonade. but that is what i was doing, making a lot of lemonade. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome rita dove. jeffrey: dove is one of the nation's best known poets, former poet laureate, winner of the pulitzer prize, professor at the university of virginia, editor of an anthology of american poetry. but she'd kept her condition private until now. in a new volume that explores both her personal health and our collective well-being. it is called "playlist for the apocalypse." >> it's an idea of how to live with a group of poems, have them accompany you through life. so when i was putting together this book, i thought, you know, what are we all doing in this pandemic? we are trying to find ways to live through it.
6:49 pm
and so these poems were meant in a way as a kind of an accompaniment. jeffrey: and get the idea of the "playlist." but, "for the apocalypse?" so you mean the pandemic, you mean our political situation? >> all the above. but also i would say that the word 'apocalypse' can mean the end of the days, but it also can mean a revelation or, you know, a resurrection. so there is a bit of hope in their, too. jeffrey: the pandemic helped slow her down, she says, to hear this playlist of the everyday, and of the nation's history. >> surely, there must be something beautiful to smile upon. the umbered blue edge of sky as it fades into evening, the brusque green heave of the sea. jeffrey: the poem "beside the golden door," begins a section titled "a standing witness" of verses on key figures and moments from the last decades of american history, up to the present. it ends this way --
6:50 pm
>> truth would say these are arrogant times. arrogant times. believers slaughter their doubters while the greedy oil their lips with excuses, and the righteous turn merciless. the merciful, mad. the poem itself is a lament, in no way, but it is also a kind of a plea. it is a plea for, let's come together. i still believe that we listen more closely to a whisper than to a shout. but in the middle of everything that has happened in the past 5, 6, 7 years, and the pandemic, this kind of rage was bubbling up in me, and at such a point i decided it was unhealthy toold it in and i better let it out. jeffrey: tell me how you think of history as a poet and, how you speak to it.
6:51 pm
>> ielieve that poets,s i think all artists, you are rely connected to the world and to life, and as a black woman, from a very ear age i understood that there was a history and there was history, in fact, that mainstream history did not include me or did not look at me as i thought of myself. jeffrey: also there now, the effects of an illness that have prevented dove from playing her viola da gamba and cello, she's a great lover of classical music. it also forced her to relearn to write by hand. that's how she'd always written her poems. now she uses a computer much of the time. >> no reason for it. i just find myself on pause. paused for longer than is proper. if i were more seasoned, i would ignore it. jeffrey: in the poem, "blues,
6:52 pm
straight," dove addresses head-on some of the pains of daily life. >> the cup of plenty runneth over, ruins my hands. i've scrubbed them, but they won't come clean. strange, i know, to wish for nothing. a day to live through. a scream. jeffrey: dove says she has learned to manage her illness, and feels incredibly lucky. and her lovef language and its music abides. she writes in one poem of loving every minute anjostling syllables, and then each word caught right. >> i wish i could explain the mystery of that moment where everything sparks anstarts to come together. but what i love to do is to wrestle with the language, because language is what a writer has. it is our tool, it's our clay. and it sounds terrifically nerdy. but, i will sit there and debate comma or dash and, but it has
6:53 pm
something to do with the music of the words, too. jeffrey: you have spent a life as a very public poet, really making a case for poetry out in the world. i wonder how you are thinking about the future. important is it for you still to be out there in public, talking to people about poetry and reading poetry for them? >> it is really important for me, because what we still don't have in this world, at least in this country particularly, is a sense of true communication. when you sit down and read a poem, what you feel inside is all yours. [laughs] and yet you can feel that everyone around you is also feeling it. what an incredible feeling. so, yes, i am ready to come out again. ♪ jeffrey: a feeling we all share. for the "pbs newshour," i am
6:54 pm
jeffrey brown. ♪ judy: week-low's tonight with a dramatic reopening. last night broadly was back performing for the public after largely being dark for a year and a half before the pandemic. before the curtains were raised for fully vaccinated audiences, cast members from the musicals "hamilton," "wicked" and "the lion king" celebrated, on the street with this rendition of "new york new york." ,♪ [singing] >> ♪ start spreading the news i am leaving today i want to be a part of it, new york, new rk. these little town shoes are longing to stray, right through the very heart of it, new york, new york ♪ ♪
6:55 pm
♪ judy: so great to have something to celebrate. that's broadway. and that is the "newshour" for tonight. i am judy woodruff. please stay safe and we will see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has into provide wire service. our u.s.-based customer service team can help you find a plan that fits you. to find more, visit consumer ♪ >> johnson & johnson. bnsf railway. financial services firm raymond james. the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the
6:56 pm
frontlines lines of social change worldwide. 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. ♪ >> this is p
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm
7:00 pm
lidia: buon giorno. i'm lidia bastianich, and teaching you about italian food has always been my passion. i want to taste it. assaggiare. it's all about cooking together... hello. i re-create childhood memories... good to the last drop. classics, and new family favorites. isn't that everybody's favorite part? whatever you're baking, lick the spoon. tutti a tavola a mangiare. venite! announcer: funding provided by... announcer: at cento fine foods, we're dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of authentic italian foods by offering over 100 specialty italian products for the american kitchen. cento -- trust your family with our family. announcer: grana padano -- authentic, italian, rich in tradition yet contemporary.