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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  September 25, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, september 25: haiti faces a new challenge, as the u.s. sends thousands of migrants back home. >> michigan's maps were a poster child for political gerrymandering and partisanship. >> sreenivasan: and, how one state is trying to take the politics out of political redistricting, using new 2020 census data. next, on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and plip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-smith.
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leonard and norma klorfine. the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and tricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. barbara hope zuckerberg. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connect. we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our u.s.-based customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your
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pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thank you for joining us. the rder between del rio, texas anciudad acuña, mexico is scheduled to partially reopen by this evening. the international bridge there was shut down for more than eight days after an influx of mostly haitian migrants crossed into the u.s. the department of homeland security is continuing flights returning some of those migrants back to haiti this weekend. for those haitians who did not make it to the border, some have stayed in mexicoconsidering applying for asylum there, hoping to remain and work. the camp at the u.s./mexico border, that once held as many as 14,000 people, most of them haitians, is now empty. more than 2,000 haitians have already been flown back to haiti, according to d.h.s. in a pre-recorded speech at the u.n. general assembly today, haiti's prime minister called for nations to address the root causes of migration, including povert and, he condemned e scenes of
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haitian migrants being corralled by u.s. border agents on horses. >> ( translated ): we do not wish to challenge the right of a sovereign state to control the entry of foreigners into its territory or to send back to their country of origin those who entered a country legally. however, we believe that many countries which are prosperous today ve been built through successive waves of migrants and refugees. >> sreenivasan: for more on the conditions in haiti and how the u.s. decision to return thousands of mrants is affecting the country, i spoke with widlore merancourt, a journalist and editor in chief of ayibopost in rt-au-prince, haiti. widlore, were you able to speak to some of the haitians that have been deported from the united states and have been landing in port-au-prince? what are they thinking right now? >> yes, i was on the ground to speak to some of these people who, you know, came freshly from the u.s. and, it's a very difficult situation, actually, because if you talk to these people,
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some of them, you know, spend the little economy that they built outside of the country sometimes, you know, in chile and brazil. and these people took a very dangerous journey. they, you know, recount to you horrific stories. and these people, when they finally reach the u.s., they said, you know, their suffering was over. but, well, guess what? it was not over, because one woman told me, you know, she was treated, you know, worse by u.s. authorities, by u.s. agents, than, you know, what she experienced on the road, what she experienced actually in chile. and, you know, these people were shipped back from the u.s. to haiti. and this is in a citthat is in a very dire situation. and this is where they need to find out what's the next to do. >> sreenivasan: i want to ask, what are these people returning to? i mean, haiti is still recovering from a massive
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earthqua, a hurricane, political upheaval. so when these people get off the plane, what are they seeing? what are they getting? >> well, here is a quick thought for you. just yesterday, ten people were kidnapped in port-au-prince. the kidnapping is rising again since the assassination of the prident on the 7th of july. so, this is a city ruled by gang leaders, and these gang leaders, they ransacked neighborhoods, they conduct massacres, and they are effectively running the city. in the south part of port-au- prince, you have this neighborhood called martissant. this neighborhood, this one neighborhood, actually, is controlled by gangs. a clash between these gangs, since the first of june, caused more than 20,000 people to leave their homes, to flee, because of this gang violence. and it's a city that is, you
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know, in the same situation as the rest of the country. you have more than 4.4 millions of people in haiti who are in severe, you know, needs, and urgent needs of humanitarian aid. and this was before the earthquake that we witnessed in the south part of the country. and right now, the u.n. said more than half of the people in this area that was hit by the earthquake have not received any aid whatsoever. and n.g.o.s that i talked to said the needs are high, and the aid that we are receiving is not enough. >> sreenivasan: did what happened in the united states over the past several days convince any haitians that perhaps their window of opportunity to get to the united states has closed, that it's not worth taking this perilous journey? >> well, i talked to some people. some have desired to stay in haiti. others have desired to go back to where they came from, mainly
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chile and brazil. but a few of them want to come back, actually, to the u.s. and if you talk to political analysts and if you talk to historians, they will tell you that, you know, what is happening right now is, in part, in part, a consequence of u.s. policies in haiti. remember, the two past administrations were supported by the u.s., and this is under this administration that the situation in the country worsened. and i talked to experts who told me there is a gun trafficking problem in the u.s. that is causing chaos in haiti. and this, because of these traffic, that, you know, lots of people lose their jobs and they can't,ou know, stay in the country. so it's a never-ending cycle. >> sreenivasan: widlore merancourt, joining us from port-au-prince tonight. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: a federal
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appeals court judge has blocked a vaccine mandate r new york city public school employees, just days before it was set to go into effect. a group of teachers is challenging the rule that would require nearly 150,000 employees of the largest school system in e u.s., including all educators and staff,o be vaccinated, starting monday. the case was referred to a three-judge panel, and a spokesperson with the new york ci department of education said she expects the mandate to be upheld, possibly within days. new york mayor bill de blasio announced the mandate last month, which includes no option for employees to opt-out and submito regular covid testing. more than 82% of employees have already been vaccinate according to the department of education, though unions have warned that schools may face staffing shortages if the mandate takes effect. a top executive of chinese tech giant huawei has returned to china after nearly three years in canadian custody. and in exchange, two canadians returned home after china released them from prison.
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meng wanzhou, huawei's c.f.o. and daughter of the company's founder, was released from house arrest in vancouver, canada yesterday, where she had been held under a u.s. extradition order since her arrest in 2018. the u.s. justice department charged meng with fraud for misleading the h.s.b.c. bank about huawei's business dealings in iran. her release from canada was secured as part of a deal with u.s. authorities. meng arrived in shenzhen, china to a crowd of supporters waving chinese flags and singing patriotic songs. earlier this morning, canadian prime minister justin trudeau welcomed home michael kovrig and michael spavor, who were arrested in china shortly after meng's arrest in 2018. their arrests were widely seen as retaliation against canada for cooperating with the u.s. kovrig and spavor's release was secured via diplomatic negotiations between canada, china, and the u.s. german chancellor angela merkel made her final campaign appearance today, just one day
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before the election that will see her step down after 16 years in office. at a rally in the german city of aachen, merkel endorsed her center-right christian democratic union party's candidate, armin laschet. this year's election will be one of the largest in germany's history, with more than 70% of its 83 million citizens eligible to vote. merkel's union bloc is in a tight race with the center-left social democrats party and their candidate for the chancellorship, olaf scholz. >> sreenivasan: for more national and international news, visit >> sreenivasan: every ten years since 1790, the u.s. has embarked on a constitutionally-mandated count of its population. 2020 was no different. despite a pandemic and extended litigation over what questions should be asked, there is now new data on who lives where. tonight, we begin a new occasional series on that data,
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part of the massive trove of economic and demographic statistics produced by the u.s. census bureau. we begin with a look at redistricting, the process by which states use population counts to redraw congressional and state legislative districts. states have wide latitude in how they go about is process. the vast majority rely on politicians to draw districts. but since 2010, a growing number of stas, including michigan, have created independent commissions, designed to take this process out of the hands of politicians. in a state that's deeply divided politically, it's a radical experiment in trying to create more fair legislative districts. newshour weekend's christopher booker repts. >> the motion to amend the resolution-- please raise your has and say aye. >> reporter: drawing legislative maps is a process that h traditionally been done behind closed doors, in proverbial dark, smoke-filled rooms, by the very politicians who will run in those districts. >> the motion to amend the
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resolution is adopted. >> reporter: but for the first time here in michigan, redistricting is happening under bright fluorescent lights for anyone to see, in person, or anywhere in the world online. and the process is entrusted to 13 ordinary michiganders, chosen by lottery from a pool of nearly 10,000 that applied. >> aye! >> reporter: four democrats, four republicans, and five unaffiliated voters-- this is michigan's independent citizens redistricting commission. i sat down with three of the commissioners: douglas clark, a republican; rebecca szetela, who's unaffiliated; and m.c. rothhorn, a democrat. one of the primary quests, if not the primary quest of this process, is to take the politics out ofhe process. from where you stand, is that possible? and, does it remain possible as the process continues to unfold? >> i think one of the reasons that we're doing this process in a transparent way is because we are trying to show people that it's possible to do something fairly and have
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people, citizens doing it. you don't need these professionals, so to speak. the policy, the professional politicians. >> reporter: the commission needs to draw 110 state house distris, 38 state senate districts, and 13 congressional districts-- one fewer than there is right now, meaning at least one congressional incumbent will be without a seat in 2022. did you believe the prior process was oken? >> yes. >> i'll say yes. >> yes. >> i believe so. >> one of the comments we hear all the timis, "start from scratch, get rid of the old maps." we hear it every place we go. >> michigan's maps were a poster child for political gerrymandering and partisanship. >> reporter: democrat jocelyn benson is michigan's secretary of state, the chief elections official and the administrator for the commission. >> this commission is charged with listening to people. they're taking everything into consideration. but they've also been explicitly charged with not taking partisanship into consideration. >> reporter: before this
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redistricting cycle, the maps in michigan were drawn by the legislature itself. in 2010, that body was controlled by republicans, and the resulting maps were heavily tilted in the g.o.p.'s favor. >> we were very good at playing by the rules, and using the rules to our advantage. "we" being the republicans. >> reporter: jeff timmer is a former executive director of the michigan republican party, and he was a consultant to republican legislators in 2011 as they drew legislative maps. even in 2018, where democratic gubernatorial candidate gretchen whitmer won a ate-wide vote by nearlyen percentage points, democrats failed to win control of the state house, the state senate, or aajority of the state's 14 congressional seats. >> we were able to draw maps that were effectively wave proof,errymandered them in a way that was able to withstand a wave election like 2018, nearly a decade later, that should have swept democrats into control in lansing.
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>> reporter: timmer argues that it's not just that republicans put their thumbs on the scale. the way that people have sorted themselves naturally benefits the g.o.p., with democrats more likely to live in denser urban areas, where they win with big margins, and republicans more likely to live in rural areas, evenly spread throughout the state. but that urban/rural divide doesn't explain some of the oddly-drawn maps of the last redistricting cycle. take the 11th and 14th congressional districts, for example. following the 2010 census, legislators separated this city of farmington from the surrounding community of farmington hills, putting farmington into a different congressional district-- even though the two communities still send their kids to the same schools. on the map, farmington looks like a mushroom-shaped blob, carved out of the 14th and added to the 11th. >> it's obvious that we are all together, and we educate our kids together. so there's no reason that our neighbors shouldn't be in the same congressional district we are. >> reporter: aimee ergas is a longtime resident of farmington
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hills. after the 2016 election, she was part of a grassroots campaign to change redistricting in michigan, collecting signatures for a ballot proposal to amend the state's constitution. what was your pitch line? how do you explain to people political maps? >> well, really, for us, all we had to do is show them a picture of it, because our districts here are so crazy. i mean, they literally are the definition of gerrymandering. they wind around each other, you know, like this, for no apparent reason other than politics. >> reporter: in 2018, more than 61% of voters approved proposition 2, making michigan one of 21 states with a redistricting commission responsible for drawing legislative maps. but crucially, it's one of only four where the commission includes no politicians or political appointees, and is not subject to review by the legislature. there is another unique aspect to michigan's process. after ensuring districts are equal in population, follow fedel laws like the voting
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rights act, and are contiguous, the next priority is that "districts shall reflect the state's diverse population and communities of interest," which is defined as including but not being limited to "populations that share cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests." >> the term "communities of interest" is inherently subjective, and it's inherently defined by the people in that community. >> reporter: and communities around michigahave been making their case. >> well, hi, everyone. welcome to kalamazoo. >> reporter: in town hall meetings around the state, and in hundreds of maps and comments submitted online, citizens have articulated a wide range of reasons for why they believe they should be grouped together; whether it is a shared watershed, an economic anchor like an airport, or area disproportionately impacted by pollution from trucks. there are also cultural concerns. >> we have enough people to, you know-- you know, pick our own representation. but we cannot do it, because we are split in four different districts. >> reporter: sumon kobir and jabed chowdhury are two of the
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leaders of the bangladesh association of michigan. they've helped lead an effort to mobilize their community around redistricting. >> put all of us in one particul map. >> reporter: in june, kobir helped organize more than 50 members of the bangladeshi community to speak at a redistricting commission meeting. >> it would be a good idea to put all bangladeshi community members together. >> reporter: the commission has also heard from people that believe their community needs to be reunited. >> the 2011 maps sliced through greater west bloomfield to such a degree that even theost attuned voter struggled to remember which district they li in and who represents them. >> reporter: 26-year-old noah arbit testified before the commission in june, bringing a visual aid to show how his suburban community was divided in 2011. he brought me to a corner in west bloomfield, to show how this heavily democratic area s separated, allowing a republican to represent part of the township in the state legislature. >> this is the 39th district, the 39th house district; 40th district, same town,
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west bloomfield township. there is no reason that it should be divided this way. >> reporter: arbit is an avowed democrat. he's worked for statewide campaigns, founded the michigan democratic jewish caucus, and is an aspiring politician himself >> we just can't afford to wait for the same old politicians to get their acts together. >> reporter: he recently announced that he was running for the michigan state house of representatives next year, in a yet-to-be finalized district, believing it will likely be more democratically-leaning than it is now. do you have any concern that your voice, which is a partisan one, taints the independent commission at all? >> no! >> reporter: they know that you are susceptible to criticism from the right, that says this is just a ploy by the left and the democrats to change the game. >> well, here's what i say. as someone who has worked on partisan political campaigns for candidates, i was ineligible to serve on the commission. and i think that that was an important safeguard, to make sure that partisans of either side were not running roughshod over this process. but, you know, it is my right to
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be able to talk about, you know, how i feel my community has been harmed by the, you know, partisan redistricting that we saw in the 2010 cycle. >> reporter: secretary of state jocelyn benson says she hopes the process michigan has put in place can be a national model, that truly does not advantage either political party. is there a hope or belief that this will somehow turn the temperature down a little bit on partisan politics? >> we can't forget that what this commission is doing is what is typically a very politicized partisan process. and the ecosystem that surrounds it, this political ecosystem, that is very toxic, is still a part of our discourse. but i think the bottom line is, what's going to emerge out of this commission is a demonstration that citizens can get it right, even when politicians try to stop them from doing so. and i think we can learn lessons from that in other areas of our democracy as well. >> had i known in 2011 what i know today, i would have walked away and, you know, screamed bloody murder. >> reporter: former michigan g.o.p. executive director
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jeff timmer has rethought his own role in the process. he's become a fierce critic of former president trump, and the direction of the current republican party, serving as a senior advisor to the lincoln project. >> gerrymandering alone doesn't explain the rise of extremism in our politics, but it certainly is a contributing factor. and when you have a greater number of districts, where republicans or democrats only have to answer to primary electorate voters and not have to moderate their positions in order to attract a majority in november, you get extreme polarized politics. >> reporter: but timmer believes that no matter how hard the commission tries to be neutral, there's no way to take politics out of a political process like redistricting. >> i think what they're going to produce will certainly not advantage the republican party in michigan the way the maps have for the last 20 years. but this attempt to de- politicize redistricting, i don't think will actually do that. it will just be politics of a different kind.
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>> so, now, let's take the rest of dearborn, so, making a new district. >> reporter: the commission already missed its first mapping deadline and is racing to finish proposed maps by midovember. but, even if they reach consensus, it doesn't mean its maps are in the clear. the commission already survived a 2019 federal court challenge by the michigan republican party and several republican- affiliated plaintiffs, and, as with redistricting efforts all over the country, more litigation is almost certain. end of the day, do you think you will receive political attacks based on what you create? >> yes. i think there are powerful interests that have a lot at stake in what we're drawing. >> reporter: so, no matter what you do? >> correct. >> yes. >> yes. but i think that's actually clarifying for us, because we're not letting it drive us. we're not letting the concern about what particular political group thinks drive us. instead, we're focused on the process being fair, being transparent, and listening to people who come and-- and gi us opinions about where they want the lines drawn.
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>> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> sreenivasan: finally tonight, in a city in northwest greece, there was a successful test flight of a medicine-delivering drone. it's part of a project to create more environmentally-friendly transportation systems, that comes with an added benefit for remote populations. the test drone flights took to the air from the city of trikala, ta small village less than twoiles away. drones landed near a pharmacy and in a farmer's field, demonstrating a solution for supplying remote areas in greece that are often cut off in the winter during heavy snowstorms. ( applause ) >> ( translated ): technology can give real solutions to real problems that we have today. today we transported medicines to a pharmacy nearby; tomorrow it could be to transport medicines to some emergency. the future is here, as long as
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we have courage. >> sreenivasan: the test is part of a european union-funded program called "harmony." nine countries are participating in an effort to develop more low-carbon, less resource- intensivtransportation systems. project officials say densely- populated and congested cities are the source of more than two- thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. the harmony program will experiment with drones and autonomous vehicles in six cities of varying sizes through next year. in the city of trikala, pharmacies will now use drones to deliver medications to people with disabilities, to isolated villages and during emergencies. >> ( translated ): i believe we are one step closer to the future. at some point, all these methods will be adopted and implemented to make our lives and citizens' lives easier.
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>> sreenivasan: that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. for the latest news updates, visit i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. stay healthy, and have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue d edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-smith. leonard and norma klorfine. the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural
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differences in our communities. barbara hope zuckerberg. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. additional support has been provided by: consumer cellular. and by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
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