PBS NewsHour full episode November 27, 2019


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: a clearer timeline. New reporting reveals the extent of Rudy Giuliani’s
business in Ukraine and more confirmation that President Trump knew of a government
whistle-blower’s complaint before releasing military aid. Then: injured on the job at Amazon and hidden
from view — the human cost of convenience at one of the world’s largest companies. Plus: Waste not. Shocking amounts of food never make it to
the table, and head straight for the landfill. But states like California are working to
change that cycle. LUIS YEPIZ, Food Forward: There is definitely
enough food in Los Angeles and in the local food systems that we are definitely able to
feed everyone in Southern California. The issue is not necessarily with the food
being available. It’s a distribution problem. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: A major storm dumped heavy snow across the Midwest
today, fouling travel on the day before Thanksgiving. As much as a foot fell in some places, delaying
flights at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, one of the nation’s busiest. A separate system slammed Oregon and California
with rain, snow and high wind, and transportation officials scrambled to keep roads clear. RICH ANTHES, California Highway Patrol: We
ran into some fog a little earlier, where — reduced the visibility substantially. Snow’s coming down, and it’s sticking. Caltrans is out in full force. They’re sanding. They’re plowing. They laid a brine solution down last night. We are going to try to keep it open. We are. That’s our goal, is to keep it open and keep
it safe. JUDY WOODRUFF: Utility crews in California
and Oregon also worked today to restore power to thousands. Explosions and fire at a chemical plant in
Texas have forced thousands of people from their homes tonight. The first blast hit the TPC plant at Port
Neches, 80 miles east of Houston, before dawn. A second explosion erupted this afternoon. It sent new fires racing through the site
and new clouds of smoke high overhead. There were no deaths, but some 60,000 people
within four miles of the plant were ordered to evacuate. President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani
is facing new questions about financial dealings in Ukraine, amid the impeachment inquiry. The New York Times and The Washington Post
report that Giuliani pursued contracts with Ukrainian officials as he was pushing them
to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals. We will take a closer look after the news
summary. In Iraq, security forces have killed six more
protesters and wounded 35 amid new unrest over corruption and economic distress. In Baghdad, crowds threw rocks over a barricade
today, braving live fire and tear gas. Some of the security officers were even spotted
dancing amid the debris. Later, protesters burned the Iranian Consulate
in Najaf, in a show of opposition to Iran’s influence in Iraqi affairs. Officials in Iran now say that 200,000 people
took part in protests over gas prices last week, and that 7,000 were arrested in a crackdown. Also today, the government reported nearly
900 banks, gas stations and official buildings were burned out during rioting. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told
a rally that it was all fomented by the United States. AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Supreme Leader of
Iran (through translator): It was a deep, extensive, and very dangerous conspiracy that
cost the U.S. so much money and effort. They thought that they had found the opportunity
and brought their troops to the field. This move was destroyed by the people. JUDY WOODRUFF: Amnesty International says
more than 140 protesters were killed in the crackdown. Iran has not reported any number of its own. Violence surged overnight in Lebanon, and
dozens of people were hurt. Riot troops were called out in Tripoli, as
supporters and opponents of the country’s president fought each other. The clashes left buildings damaged and fires
burning. Protests against the country’s political elite
began in mid-October. And in Colombia, several thousand demonstrators
marched in Bogota again today over economic conditions and a variety of other causes. The peaceful gathering came after nearly a
week of sometimes violent protests. Four people have been killed, and millions
of dollars in business have been lost. Back in this country, the White House says
that it will defend making immigrant visas contingent on proof of health insurance. A federal judge temporarily blocked the policy
on Tuesday. Opponents argue that it would bar nearly two-thirds
of all prospective legal immigrants. Meanwhile, immigration agents have arrested
some 250 foreign students who enrolled in a fake university outside Detroit, so that
they could stay in the U.S. It was part of a sting operation. Massachusetts today became the first state
to ban flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products. Most of its provisions take effect immediately. Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the
bill at a ceremony in Boston. And he urged more action from the federal
government. GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): A national policy with
respect to this stuff obviously can be far more effective than doing this one state at
a time. But I cannot understand why anybody would
think, given all the data and all the evidence and all the information that’s out there at
this point in time, that the right thing for us to do would be nothing. JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump has proposed
banning most flavors of e-cigarettes nationwide, but has not yet taken any concrete action. At least six companies that make or distribute
prescription opioid painkillers are facing a federal criminal investigation. The Wall Street Journal and others report
that the focus is their role in the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses. The drugmakers include Amneal, Johnson & Johnson,
Mallinckrodt, and Teva, along with distributors AmerisourceBergen and McKesson. On Wall Street today, major indexes finished
at record highs for a third straight day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 42
points to close at 28164. The Nasdaq rose 57 points, and the S&P 500
added 13. Former President Jimmy Carter was released
from a hospital in Atlanta today to head home for Thanksgiving. He had surgery two weeks ago to relieve pressure
on his brain caused by bleeding from a recent fall. Mr. Carter is 95 years old. And former Deputy Attorney General William
Ruckelshaus has died. He gained fame in 1973, when he refused to
fire the Watergate special prosecutor, as President Richard Nixon had ordered, and resigned
his post instead. He was also the first head of the Environmental
Protection Agency. William Ruckelshaus was 87 years old. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: the White
House’s pressure on Ukraine grows clearer; and we check in to see how impeachment is
resonating around the country; hidden costs of two-day shipping — the dangerous conditions
faced by Amazon’s warehouse workers; reversing mammoth amounts of food waste in Southern
California; and much more. Another day, another new handful of revelations
filling in our understand of how President Trump, his associates, and his administration
have been interacting with Ukraine. What was President Trump’s personal attorney
Rudy Giuliani doing in that Eastern European country? What did the president know about the government
whistle-blower complaint, and when did he know it? Here with me to walk through yet another day
of developments is our own White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor. So, hello, Yamiche. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Hi. JUDY WOODRUFF: Much to follow, as always. So, we did learn more today about Rudy Giuliani’s
involvements, dealings in Ukraine. What are we learning? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The key thing is that people
often say, you need to follow the money. And in this case, both The Washington Post
and The New York Times say they followed Rudy Giuliani’s money to show that he was trying
to really negotiate a lucrative consulting deal with the government of Ukraine while
he was, at the same time, urging the top prosecutor there to look into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. So what we know is that through documents
Rudy Giuliani was negotiating up to at least $200,000 to be paid by the Ukrainian government
to do work that would have essentially been him looking into whether or not Ukraine had
stolen money that somehow then ended up overseas. Rudy Giuliani says that he looked at this
deal, that he agrees that this was something that he was looking into, but he says that,
ultimately, he said, this was a conflict of interests, I thought it would look bad, and
I never made a penny off of this. Why this is important is because what we see
is Rudy Giuliani pressuring, essentially, or making Ukrainian officials look into this
claim that Joe Biden might have been a corrupt person operating in their country… JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: … at the same time as
he’s actually trying to benefit financially from it. So this is a very, very big deal and something
that people are going to continue to look into. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it raises questions again,
Yamiche, about the relationship between Rudy Giuliani and the president. He’s the president’s personal lawyer. But what’s happening in their relationship? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, it’s very interesting,
because the other thing to note is that this could be breaking the law. If Rudy Giuliani was operating in this way
in Ukraine, he could actually have been looking into possibly not registering as a foreign
agent here. And that is breaking the law, because you
would be essentially seeking to influence the United States government on the behalf
of a foreign country. The other thing to note is that President
Trump was answering questions about this, about whether or not he told Rudy Giuliani
to do anything in Ukraine. And here’s what he told Bill O’Reilly — Bill
O’Reilly. He’s a former FOX News host. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Well, you have to ask that to Rudy. But Rudy, I don’t even know — I know he was
going to go to Ukraine, and I think he canceled a trip. But Rudy has other clients other than me. No, I didn’t direct him. But he is a warrior. Rudy is a warrior. Rudy went. He possibly saw something. But you have to understand, Rudy has other
people that he represents. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Some people see this as
the president trying to put some distance between himself and his personal attorney
Rudy Giuliani, even though number of officials have said that President Trump leaned on Rudy
Giuliani to try to pressure Ukraine for this money. The other thing to note is that Rudy Giuliani,
at one point, said that he had insurance on President Trump, in case he tried to throw
him under the bus. But he’s since said that this is him being
sarcastic. His lawyer, though, has said that he told
Rudy Giuliani to call the president to reassure him that he was not trying to say anything
that would upset their relationship. But I want to read a quote to you from Rudy
Giuliani, because he’s really trying to make sure that he’s defending the president and
in the president’s good graces. He tweeted today: “Reality check. Democrats have now issued more subpoenas than
they have had bills signed into law. Their focus is not on bettering the lives
of everyday Americans. It’s about protecting their seats and remaining
in power.” And that, Judy, is really Rudy Giuliani echoing
the president’s complaints about this. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, so much to — so much
interesting there to follow. But, Yamiche, separately, there was some reporting
today about when President Trump learned of that government whistle-blower’s complaint. And what do we know about that? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: We long knew that White
House officials were facing pressure from Congress and from reporters to release this
$391 million in military aid to Ukraine. What we now know, based on the reporting by
The New York Times, is that the president was briefed on the whistle-blower’s complaint
some two weeks before that military aid was released. And why that’s really important is because
the president told the E.U. ambassador, the European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland,
that he didn’t want any sort of quid pro quo when they were talking before the money was
released. And this timeline essentially shows that the
president said this after he knew that there was a whistle-blower complaint that was talking
specifically about a quid pro quo. The other thing to note is that the White
House has really had this defense that everything was OK because Ukraine got the money and the
presidents of Ukraine and the United States eventually met. What we know now is that aid, again, was released
because the president knew about — or at least was in part because the president knew
about the whistle-blower complaint. The other thing to note is, the White House
meeting never actually happened. The two presidents met on the sidelines of
the year — of the United Nations. But the president of Ukraine has yet to ever
come to the White House and get what would really be a very diplomatic and big welcoming
at the White House. That’s much different than a sideline meeting. JUDY WOODRUFF: Coveted invitation. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Yamiche. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thanks. JUDY WOODRUFF: Here in the nation’s capital,
pretty much all the attention is on impeachment, but how is it being received in other parts
of the country? We turn to three public media reporters to
find out. Caitie Switalski is with WLRN. It is South Florida’s public radio station. Mary Lahammer of Twin Cities PBS in Minneapolis,
and Bente Birkeland of Colorado Public Radio. Bente joins us from Minneapolis as well, where
she is visiting for the holidays. So, hello to all three of you. It’s great to have you with us on the “NewsHour.” Bente, I’m going to start with you. I know your home is Colorado, and that’s what
I want to talk about. When you talk to Colorado voters about what’s
going on with impeachment, what do they say? How much attention are they paying? Are they interested in it? BENTE BIRKELAND, Colorado Public Radio: When
we talk to voters across the political spectrum, I was surprised how engaged people are and
how much they’re paying attention. A lot of people said they were going to watch
the public hearings live. Other people were planning to follow it closely
in the news. And people had a lot of opinions, but also
understood the nuance and were just very, very closely paying attention. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mary Lahammer, what about
you? I mean, your beat is Minnesota, the Twin Cities. Are people — are they following these hearings? MARY LAHAMMER, Twin Cities PBS: Absolutely. Minnesotans are always incredibly engaged
in politics. You know we lead the nation in voter turnout,
and we’re also politically divided. We have one of, if not the only divided legislature
in the nation. And we’re divided on impeachment too. The latest polls show not a majority for or
against it. So, Minnesotans tend to run independent. We have a libertarian streak. We know President Trump came close to winning
Minnesota, just a percentage point-and-a-half away. He visited here last month. He wants to be in contention. But those same polls are showing that as much
as 10 points down on the presidential race. May have a factor that we do have a Minnesotan
in the race in Senator Amy Klobuchar. JUDY WOODRUFF: You surely do. So, Caitie Switalski, President Trump came
to South Florida last night for a political rally. You were there. You went to the rally. And before I turn to you, I want to play for
viewers just a bit of what the president had to say about the Democrats who are running
this impeachment process. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
They’re pushing that impeachment witch-hunt. And a lot of bad things are happening to them,
because you see what’s happening in the polls? Everybody said, that’s really bull (EXPLETIVE
DELETED). (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Caitie, clearly a very
pro-Trump crowd. They appeared not to think much of the impeachment
process. But what did they tell you? CAITIE SWITALSKI, WLRN: So, I think one of
the interesting parts is that the Trump supporters that are really worried about impeachment
are worried about it from the perspective that their vote could potentially be suppressed
or taken away from the 2016 election, which was a really interesting perspective I hadn’t
heard before. But last night, by and large, people are aligning
impeachment just like they are from the Stormy Daniels scandal or the Mueller report. They’re kind of thinking that this is one
other thing, something new that is going to blow up — or blow over soon. JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about — staying with
you, Caitie, what about voters you talked to before this rally? I mean, you have been interviewing voters
over a number of days. What’s everybody — what is everybody else
telling you? CAITIE SWITALSKI: Well, so, last night, there
was a huge group of 19,000 to 20,000 Trump supporters in Broward County, which is a very,
very blue Democratic county, ahead of this rally, but there was also a counter-Democratic
protest. So I think South Floridians are worried about
a couple of things here, but they are engaged in the impeachment process. And one of the interesting things is, if they’re
not watching it live, they have been seriously following news recaps at the end of the day
to make sure that they at least know the gist. I have had a lot of people tell me they’re
really relying on recaps. JUDY WOODRUFF: Bente Birkeland, I want to
come back to you in terms of how people are following this. Do you find folks have their minds made up? Or are they still open-minded, waiting for
more information? What do they say about that? BENTE BIRKELAND: I think it’s a little bit
of both. Definitely, you have the pro-Trump supporters,
who feel like this is just a waste of time, and the government should move on, and people
have been trying to get Trump out of office since the day he was elected. And some Democrats, they know how they feel. They think there’s already enough evidence
for impeachment. But I was surprised how many people are in
the middle, who were waiting to get more information. I talked to a conservative woman who did not
vote for Trump in the last election. She voted third party. And she said how lawmakers conduct themselves
during this public phase will impact her vote, especially down-ticket. We have a very competitive U.S. Senate race. Republican Cory Gardner is facing potentially
a tough challenge. And she said that could impact how she votes
in the Senate race, when it moves to that phase, if it does. So it was — you know, not everyone is set
in their opinions on this. And we found that with unaffiliated voters
as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mary Lahammer, what about
the Twin Cities, and what about Minnesota people? Set in stone on this, or still looking for
information? MARY LAHAMMER: You know, I think there are
some looking for information. Our latest poll, Survey USA and KSTP, came
out with 45 percent of Minnesotans thinking there was enough evidence to convict, and
40 percent saying they’re not; 15 percent either don’t have an opinion or undecided. I talked to one independent voters voter today
who said he is still watching, watching everything closely, watching as much of the hearings
as possible, to make up his mind. He said he’s staying open-minded, really wants
to hear. Then I checked in with another independent
voter. We have a lot of them here. And that independent voter said they’re at
complete fatigue. They’re done. They’re not watching. They want to move on to issues. We are an issue-oriented populace here. And this voter want to hear about health care,
cares a lot about health care. We have major employers, the world famous
Mayo Clinic here, the largest employer in the state of Minnesota, many, many health
care companies, a lot of Fortune 500 companies. We care about business. We care about health care. It sounds like some have really kind of started
to reach a fatigue point on it. JUDY WOODRUFF: Caitie Switalski, back to you
in South Florida. What about this question of, across the board,
voters still open to new information, new facts, or pretty much set in their views? CAITIE SWITALSKI: I would say the voters I
have spoken with are set in their views one way or the other. I think, especially for Democrats, keeping
up with the impeachment hearings, a couple of voters told me, now we know that there’s
evidence. Now we see our evidence, vs. Republicans — I
think a lot of Trump supporters I spoke with are really, really convinced that there’s
not evidence. So I think both sides are seeing what they
want to see come from the impeachment proceedings, but they’re still paying attention, even though
they’re not necessarily coming across as open-minded. JUDY WOODRUFF: Bente Birkeland, I want to
come back to you on the question of, are people believing what they see and what they hear? Do they think the process is being — is being
conducted in a fair way, that it’s on the level? BENTE BIRKELAND: I think — well, that one
was a little bit more partisan. I think Republicans feel like the whole question,
in and of itself, is — is done in a partisan way, and it shouldn’t even be happening. And I think Democrats and more of the unaffiliated
voters thought, look, this information has come to light, and we need to get to the bottom
of this. To echo of what Mary said, there is a sense
of fatigue, even from Democrats who feel that the president should be impeached. They don’t want this to drag on too long. People are just really worn out and wary. And a lot of folks, it’s even hard to get
them to talk about this topic. People said they try to keep their opinions
to themselves because they know how volatile it can be and they know how divergent people’s
opinions are. So, in some sense, people are really interested,
but they also want to move on. JUDY WOODRUFF: Same thing, Mary Lahammer,
Minnesota. Do you find people believe what they’re watching? Do they think this is a — this is a fair
process? MARY LAHAMMER: I think it really depends on
where you come from. I think Democrats think it’s fair, and I think
Republicans don’t. I have noticed, looking at just my e-mail
inbox from our members of Congress, because we have a really interesting delegation — we
have a majority — five out of eight of our new members of Congress are new, and four
of them flipped seats. So we had two Republicans who flipped Democratic
districts, two Democrats who flipped Republican districts. And they’re all relatively quiet. I don’t even think our members of Congress
really want to be talking about this much. We even have an ad going now. We have our Seventh District congressman,
Collin Peterson. He is a Democrat who won in the biggest Trump
district. So he has a really tough challenger in a battle
with former Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach running against him. And there are ads right now trying to drum
on Collin Peterson about this. And he is one of only two Democrats who voted
against the initial impeachment proceedings. So we are incredibly divided. And those five new members of Congress are
under a lot of pressure on this issue. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when you add it all up,
Caitie Switalski, people feeling that we’re going to get to the bottom of this in some
way, or just — they just are writing this off? CAITIE SWITALSKI: Well, I had a couple of
voters tell me, look, impeachment is going to happen one way or the other, potentially. We don’t know if that equals removal, but
it doesn’t matter, because what’s next is the election. So I think Democrats are really, really trying
to look forward, figure out how to get out the vote, mobilize, organize ahead of the
election, despite whatever happens with impeachment, keep moving towards the election. JUDY WOODRUFF: So interesting to get these
views from around the country. Caitie Switalski, Broward County, Florida,
WLRN Radio, Bente Birkeland with Colorado Public Radio, and Mary Lahammer, Twin Cities
PBS, thank you very much. CAITIE SWITALSKI: Thank you, Judy. BENTE BIRKELAND: Thanks, Judy. MARY LAHAMMER: Thanks. JUDY WOODRUFF: Black Friday, two days away,
kicks off the peak of shopping season, and especially for Amazon. This year, the company is offering to deliver
some packages to its Prime members in one day. In fact, the retail giant announced that it
will hire 200,000 people for the holiday shopping season, double the number of workers it hired
a year ago. But many Amazon staffers say the demand for
greater speed is the leading factor harming warehouse workers. Like many other companies, Amazon doesn’t
make its workplace injury rates public. But Search Will Evans of Reveal from the Center
for Investigative Reporting was able to compile injury records from Amazon work sites across
the country for the first time, and has some sobering findings. WILL EVANS: It’s the beginning of peak shopping
season at Amazon. In a company video, this is how one manager
revs up his workers. MAN: One, two, three! WILL EVANS: Amazon is gearing up for a huge
spike in shipping. Last year, the online retailer says it sold
180 million items in the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. The company boasts of the speed, which is
the cornerstone of its business model. NARRATOR: Have you ever wondered how Amazon
gets your packages to you so quickly? The SLAM machine weighs, scans your box, and
attaches a label all in like one second. WILL EVANS: Candice Dixon has experienced
this push for speed firsthand, working at an Amazon fulfillment warehouse in Southern
California. CANDICE DIXON, Former Amazon Employee: I have
worked physical jobs. And it seemed OK at the very beginning. WILL EVANS: Dixon worked as a stower, loading
hundreds of products into storage bins, with a computer tracking her pace per package down
to the second. CANDICE DIXON: It should take 11 seconds or
less, if you can. But 11 seconds was the goal. WILL EVANS: Is that hard to meet? CANDICE DIXON: Yes. (LAUGHTER) WILL EVANS: If staffers don’t meet their quota,
they can get written up and fired. Dixon had to hit her rate no matter what package
came her way. CANDICE DIXON: I had a whole shift of all
heavy items. That’s what happened. I got injured. I pulled my back out. WILL EVANS: Her doctor told her to limit heavy
lifting, but she says Amazon sent her back to work, still dealing with heavy boxes, and
her injury got worse. She’s now out of work. She received a worker’s comp settlement, but
that money is running out. CANDICE DIXON: Doing dishes hurts. Preparing my food hurts. And so I don’t even know how I’m going to
survive financially. Am I going to have a home in a couple months
if I don’t have an income? Probably not. So I don’t know what to do. WILL EVANS: Amazon refused to let us film
inside any of its warehouses, but in online videos, the nation’s second largest private
employer touts its culture of safety. WOMAN: Safety is always the number one priority. MARLA CORSON, Director of Safety, Health and
Environment, Amazon: We want it to be the most safety-centric organization in the world. WILL EVANS: Amazon, which is not unionized,
closely guards records of serious injuries like Dixon’s. But federal regulations say the company must
provide workers with the injury logs from their work sites. So, with the help of Amazon employees around
the country, we were able to obtain official injury records from 23 warehouses across 14
states, representing about 20 percent of Amazon’s fulfillment centers. At these warehouses, we found that, last year,
workers got seriously injured at more than double the industry average. In some facilities, it’s four or even six
times that average. Serious injuries are those for which workers
need to take time off or be restricted from certain tasks. Amazon declined to be interviewed, but in
an e-mail stated the rates are high because it diligently reports injuries, saying: “Amazon
encourages the reporting of every incident, regardless of how small.” It also said that rates of lost work time
are high because Amazon takes an abundance of caution in not placing employees back at
work before they are ready. We showed our findings to a former Amazon
safety manager, who asked us to hide his identity. He said last year’s injury rates at Dixon’s
warehouse were much higher than they should be. MAN: Four hundred and twenty-two reportable
injuries. That’s a significant amount of injuries. That shouldn’t be happening. WILL EVANS: Overall, the injuries we found
ranged from lacerations to concussions. Most were labeled strains and sprains. About a third of the injured workers had to
take off more than a month to recover. MAN: We have looked at how we can get packages
to the customer in a day. But we haven’t figured out how we can get
packages to the customer in a day without hurting people. WILL EVANS: He says the high injury rates
are linked to the extreme production quotas that Amazon workers must hit every shift. Are they just going too fast? MAN: I think that’s where it lands. It doesn’t afford for what the toll on the
body is. People might be making those numbers, but
what are they sacrificing to make that number? CHRISTINA VAN VORCE, Amazon Employee: This
is the shirts that they gave everybody. WILL EVANS: Christina Van Vorce worked at
the same warehouse as Dixon. CHRISTINA VAN VORCE: And then this is the
million unit club. WILL EVANS: And that means you ship out a
million units in a day? CHRISTINA VAN VORCE: Yes. WILL EVANS: She saw the overwhelming pressure
to get packages out the door as fast as possible, especially during peak shopping season. CHRISTINA VAN VORCE: It’s intense. It’s very, very intense. Think of Santa’s workshop. From the time you punch in to the time you
punch out, you’re, like, going a million miles a minute. WILL EVANS: In early January, Van Vorce was
working the night shift, when she and her co-workers smelled gas. Her manager told her to keep working, but
she felt she had to call 9/11. CHRISTINA VAN VORCE: Hi. I’m calling from Amazon building. I’m one of the associates here. And I believe that there is a gas leak here. There was two associates that I know for sure
that were vomiting. One girl almost completely passed out. WILL EVANS: She says management wouldn’t stop
operations, for fear of not meeting their quotas. CHRISTINA VAN VORCE: I have already said something
to them several times, like, everyone’s sick and you’re not letting people go. Like, they’re trying to tell us, you have
to use our personal time if we want to leave. 911 OPERATOR: OK. CHRISTINA VAN VORCE: They’re worried about
getting fired or losing their hours or losing their pay. And that’s not something that they should
be worried about when there’s a gas leak. You should be worried about your life. WILL EVANS: Workers who left their shift that
day were docked for personal time, though Amazon eventually reversed that after workers
complained. CHRISTINA VAN VORCE: When they sit there and
say that all they care about is the safety of their employees, well, obviously not, because,
if they cared about the safety — if safety was first, then everybody would have been
evacuated from that building. And they weren’t. WILL EVANS: In its statement, Amazon refuted
this, saying: “Within minutes of being alerted to the smell of gas, all associates in the
immediately affected area were removed. The site shut down for about one-and-a-half-hours. Associates are to remain on site, so we can
resume operations once the situation is resolved.” But Van Vorce and three other workers told
us there was no site-wide shut down. Amazon says it is doing what it can to make
warehouses safer for workers, like by adding more robots to the warehouse floors. WOMAN: We’re constantly striving to be a leader. There’s many things that we have actually
changed in our operations through the use of technology that actually helps speed things
up. And, at the same time, it makes it safer for
our associates to do. WILL EVANS: But, in fact, we found that, in
our data, many of the highest injury rates were from warehouses with robots. The former Amazon safety manager saw this
firsthand. MAN: If you go to the Amazon robotics sortable
buildings, you’re basically going into the lion’s den. There’s more automation. There’s more places for me to interact with
a process where I can get hurt. WILL EVANS: And it’s faster? MAN: It is. It’s faster. The pace in that building is blistering. WILL EVANS: He says robots increase the pace,
to the point where humans just can’t keep up. Have the robots basically pushed humans past
their limits? MAN: I think you’re seeing that nexus where
we’re like, man, humans are tapping out. WILL EVANS: He hopes that Amazon workers will
not pay the price for even speedier deliveries this holiday shopping season. MAN: You know, when you order something from
Amazon, and you have worked inside Amazon, you wonder, like, hey is it going to cause
some sort of significant injury or illness or something like that? If I order one-click ship, what’s the effect
that it’s going to have on somebody’s life? WILL EVANS: This is Will Evans for Reveal
and “PBS NewsHour” in Eastvale, California. JUDY WOODRUFF: On Friday, in the second of
our series, Will investigates a death at an Amazon fulfillment warehouse that raises questions
about how government officials deal with potential safety violations at the global company. Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: the threat of
rising water — an entire village in Alaska moves. For many of us, the Thanksgiving meal is one
of the most beloved culinary traditions of the year. But that feast usually ends with plentiful
leftovers, and then some. That extra some, so to speak, often ends up
in the garbage and adds to the much larger problem of food waste in this country. That makes it a good time to look at the burgeoning
movement to rethink our attitudes and approach about all of this. Special correspondent Allison Aubrey of NPR
showed us the depth of the problem in previous reports. And she’s back for a special series this week. Allison, welcome. ALLISON AUBREY: Hi there. Good to be here, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s good to have you back. So, the numbers are staggering. Something like 30 to 40 percent of the food
we produce never makes it to the table. ALLISON AUBREY: That’s right. And when these numbers were first documented
several years ago, the reaction was, how could this be? This is insane, right? Now, two years later, there are all kinds
of solutions being tried all over the country. For instance, we visited farmers in Massachusetts. They are taking food waste, streams of food
that can’t be eaten, and turning it into electricity, into renewable energy. Now, we start the series in California. That’s because the state is really leading
the way. I traveled with producer Mary Beth Durkin
around the state. And here’s what we found. When we first came to Salinas Valley four
years ago, we saw walls of leafy greens being tossed away. And it’s still happening. On peak days, up to 200 tons of produce is
headed to this dump. It’s all surplus from nearby farms and packaging
facilities. One reason these greens end up here is because
they weren’t shipped in time to give grocers enough shelf time to sell them. But it was these plastic bags that really
frustrated Cesar Zuniga. He’s the facility’s waste manager. CESAR ZUNIGA, Operations Manager, Salinas
Valley Solid Waste Facility: It’s sad to receive all this material and not put it to better
use. The plastic makes, it hard to compost as well,
because you shred the plastic with the organics, it contaminates the compost. ALLISON AUBREY: All this used to be tossed
in a landfill, where it would rot and emit methane, a greenhouse gas. But Cesar Zuniga says there’s a new solution. Look at all that lettuce. And it’s all in plastic. CESAR ZUNIGA: Yes, it’s all film plastic. This is the same stuff we saw four years ago. Now we have this machine, the debagger, which
separates that film plastic from the lettuce. ALLISON AUBREY: All of that bagged lettuce
goes in here. CESAR ZUNIGA: As you can see, it’s being separated. ALLISON AUBREY: Oh, yes. CESAR ZUNIGA: The plastic is coming out here. And if you walk around the corner here, you
will see the organic materials coming out on this side into this container here. ALLISON AUBREY: Whoa. Look at that. It’s like a slurry. CESAR ZUNIGA: We call it a salsa. ALLISON AUBREY: Oh, so a salsa of wasted lettuce. So here is where you take all that lettuce
slurry and turn it into something more valuable? CESAR ZUNIGA: After we debag the material
and get the slurry out of it, we will mix it with the material that’s behind us and
compost it. ALLISON AUBREY: So, you’re turning into compost
and then selling it back to farmers? CESAR ZUNIGA: Yes. We sell it back to farmers, and they place
it back on the agricultural lands to grow more produce for us. ALLISON AUBREY: So it’s a real reuse, recycle. And composting can reduce or prevent the release
of methane as these greens break down. This is beneficial because methane is a significant
contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and a factor in climate change. In addition to composting, recovering edible
food before it makes it to a landfill is another effective way to prevent food waste. In the coming year, California will roll out
new regulations that require food businesses, like grocery stores and wholesale distributors,
to donate their edible food waste. By 2022, if they don’t comply, businesses
could be fined. DANA GUNDERS, Next Course: Right now, the
easiest thing to do is to just throw whatever food you have out. So, with this new law, it’s forcing people
to take that extra effort. And that exercise, in itself, helps people
to reduce the amount of surplus they’re creating. ALLISON AUBREY: That’s Dana Gunders, who helped
put the issue of food waste on the map back in 2012 with a report that documented just
how much goes to waste. The state of California is also expanding
grants to nonprofits to recover all of this surplus food that may have just gone to waste,
in order to feed hungry people. RICH NAHMIAS, Food Forward: Millions of pounds
of produce a year. ALLISON AUBREY: One group leading the way
is called Food Forward. It’s run by Rich Nahmias. Collecting food donations is nothing new,
but what you see here is taking it to a whole new level. RICK NAHMIAS: It’s the quantity that’s kind
of amazing. We have got melons, kale, watermelon, corn
in the back. It’s like a supermarket. ALLISON AUBREY: Thanks to a $500,000 grant
from the state, Nahmias bought this warehouse equipped with a refrigerator that can hold
up to 150,000 pounds of produce. All of this will double the amount of food
he can recover. RICK NAHMIAS: People just don’t understand
the scale of overproduction. And there is no one in, let’s say, fruit and
veggie land control tower figuring out exactly where the stuff should be going and coming
from. So, the result is waste. ALLISON AUBREY: He’s out to change this. Food Forward has developed a sophisticated
system to match the wholesalers who have surplus produce to give away with the people who need
it. And, this year, they will distribute food
to 1,800 hunger relief agencies in Southern California. A lot of the surplus comes from farms, farmers
markets and right here, the L.A. Wholesale Food Market. We woke up at 5:00 a.m. to check it out. Do you have any deals yet this morning? LUIS YEPIZ, Food Forward: Yes. Right now, we just got offered eight pallets
of peaches, 14,000 to 15,000 pounds of peaches. ALLISON AUBREY: Whoa. That’s a lot. LUIS YEPIZ: Yes. ALLISON AUBREY: Luis Yepiz is part of the
Food Forward operation team. And his job is to nag vendors who are getting
ready to toss stuff out. By 6:00 a.m., Yepiz has recovered close to
80,000 pounds of produce. So, why would any of these vendors be offering
you donations? What’s wrong with this produce? LUIS YEPIZ: A lot of the produce that gets
donated gets donated mostly because there’s minor imperfections. ALLISON AUBREY: And that’s not the only reason. LUIS YEPIZ: They told me it was these pallets
right here, that pallet, this pallet, all these pallets right here. ALLISON AUBREY: Wow. All going to waste? LUIS YEPIZ: They haven’t been sold yet. And they have a new shipment of peaches coming
in. So they want to get rid of them before they
have to throw them away. The issue with this particular box of peaches,
that there is some decay. ALLISON AUBREY: But some of them are good,
so you don’t want to throw away the whole box. LUIS YEPIZ: Unfortunately, this particular
company is short on refrigerated space. They want to donate them. ALLISON AUBREY: By 10:00 a.m., these peaches
and all the other produce are loaded onto this truck. First stop, Resurrection Church in East L.A.
Families are lined up waiting. Back at the wholesale market, I asked Yepiz
if he’s worried about not having enough food. LUIS YEPIZ: There is definitely enough food
in Los Angeles and in the local food systems that we are definitely able to feed everyone
in Southern California. The issue is not necessarily with the food
being available. It’s a distribution problem. ALLISON AUBREY: Getting it to the people in
need. LUIS YEPIZ: Yes. It’s just a logistics problem. So, you got to create the bridges between
the abundance and the people in need. ALLISON AUBREY: A logistics problem that Nahmias
has a fix for. He’s got new software to help track the enormous
amounts of produce they’re moving in and out. RICK NAHMIAS: We’re able to track food in
real time, we’re able to see where the trucks are at, what is on each truck, where it’s
coming from, where it’s going. And it’s allowed us to scale. ALLISON AUBREY: And that scale is what’s needed. California is not the only state taking action. Five states and five cities have restrictions
aimed at diverting food waste from landfills. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Allison Aubrey
of NPR News in Los Angeles. JUDY WOODRUFF: This week has brought another
alarming milestone. Global greenhouse gas emissions hit a record
level again last year. As those heat-trapping gases increase, the
Earth warms, melting even the thick ice in the Arctic that’s supposed to remain permanently
frozen. As a result, rising seas could threaten hundreds
of millions of people worldwide, including in a small Alaskan village. Stephanie Sy has the story of that village
and its efforts to adapt. It’s part of our series on the Leading Edge
of science, health and technology. STEPHANIE SY: More than two decades ago, the
Yupik of Newtok, Alaska voted to move to a new land. With the Earth warming, the permafrost their
village sat on was melting, while rising seas were making the Ninglick River rise and erode
the riverline and coastline, on average, 70 feet a year. In early October, the first Yupik started
moving to their new town, Mertarvik, located along a hillside of a volcanic island from
where the Ninglick meets the Bering Sea. The new place is close, only nine miles away,
but the journey was long and, as relocation coordinator Romy Cadiente describes, arduous. ROMY CADIENTE, Newtok Relocation Coordinator:
Getting all of the material, equipment, people, food, everything that’s associated with construction,
the whole logistics, the whole planning of this move was really challenging for everybody. STEPHANIE SY: Without a federal policy for
relocating people affected by climate change, the Yupik sought various funding sources,
and the military helped build some of the houses. The first prototype house was erected in 2016,
and 17 families have now moved into new abodes. They are improvements to what they and many
other rural Alaskans have had, with proper running water and sewage, replacing the so-called
honey buckets that made living in Newtok less than sanitary. The community collaborated with outside groups,
including the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, to design and engineer a village
that would continue their culture of subsistence living off the land. Cadiente says the fishing is better near Mertarvik. ROMY CADIENTE: The folks didn’t want to get
integrated into another village or move, because they have been around this area for hundreds
of years. They know where to fish, when the fish is
running. They know where to hunt, when it’s that time
of the year. So, just keeping their subsistence livelihood
intact, together with their culture, we wanted to keep that alive for them. STEPHANIE SY: The houses are more sustainable,
harnessing renewable energy, and, with them, the Yupik enter a new future, one that they
hope is healthier, and safer. ROMY CADIENTE: It’s heartbreaking to see a
home, you know, that is almost being lost to the river, just scared families that don’t
know or don’t — and then you keep their tradition. You keep their identity. STEPHANIE SY: Climate refugees, they have
been called, but also survivors, and, in a way, pioneers. The resettlement of the Yupik people has drawn
in local, state and federal agencies from different fields and is far from over. One of the organizations helping to manage
the relocation effort is the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Gavin Dixon is the community development manager
for that group and joins me now from Anchorage. Gavin, you were in Mertarvik recently. Give us an idea of how people are settling
in. GAVIN DIXON, Development Manager, Alaska Native
Tribal Health Consortium: We have got about 18 families moved in out there. And people are settling into their new homes
and, you know, getting used to more space in a new location. And I think people are starting to embrace
their new home. STEPHANIE SY: How long will it take to fully
relocate and resettle the entire community from Newtok? GAVIN DIXON: It depends a little bit on when
investment comes for additional housing and infrastructure in Mertarvik. But we’re forecasting, by 2023 relocating
the entire population of Newtok to the new site. STEPHANIE SY: There are communities around
the country and the world, as you know, facing tough questions about whether to stay in flood-prone
areas or relocate. Where do you see that Yupik relocation model
fitting into the national conversation? GAVIN DIXON: Well, I think Newtok is a community
that’s moving early, and doing it in advance of the impacts of erosion. They’re not the only community in rural Alaska. There are many other communities, at least
12 other communities, that are likely to face either a partial or full relocation due to
the impacts of flooding and erosion. But there’s a lot more people in this country
and all over the world that face the same threats. And it’s not easy to move. And it’s not just the challenges from a personal
level are very serious. The challenges from a technical design and
construction level, especially in the Arctic and especially in rural Alaska, are very complicated. STEPHANIE SY: What other challenges came out
of this process of relocation that would be informative to other communities facing the
same fate with climate change approaching? GAVIN DIXON: I think some of the decisions
that have been the most challenging are, how do you relocate, and then — and how do you
plan for something that happens slowly? A lot of times, when a community faces a disaster,
it’s an event. It’s a tornado. It’s a hurricane. It’s an earthquake. And the effort to rebuild is based on that
specific event. But what happens when it’s a slow-moving disaster,
like erosion or persistent flooding? And how do you plan for addressing a disaster
like that? And so Newtok has put a lot of effort into
planning on a long time scale, what it’s like to relocate the community, how they do it,
what’s the highest priority. STEPHANIE SY: How much did the people, the
Yupik people, contribute to building this new community? GAVIN DIXON: An incredible amount. More than half the construction crew has been
a local work force out there. And the community has also put every dollar
that they can — they can scrounge, from every funding source they can imagine, including
their own tribally generated revenues, into building more housing for their people. STEPHANIE SY: How much time do the folks that
are still in Newtok have to relocate before their homes disappear into the sea? GAVIN DIXON: In 2019, seven homes would have
gone into the Ninglick River, if they had not been demolished in advance of the advancing
erosion. Those homes, those residents have already
relocated to the new site, but more homes lie in the way of the erosion that’s encroaching
about 60 feet a year. The folks closest to the erosion have less
time than others. We expect there’s about four houses that could
be potentially impacted in 2020. We expect that the school, which is really
a central pillar of the community, will be impacted as soon as 2021 or 2022. And the airport, which is the community’s
primary transportation access, would be impacted by 2023. One of the core tenets of the culture in Newtok
is adaptability. And I think that’s a really important value
that their community and their culture maintains to deal with a threat like climate change,
a changing environment. STEPHANIE SY: Gavin Dixon, the community development
manager with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Gavin, thank you so much. GAVIN DIXON: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight’s Brief But Spectacular
features performer Adrienne C. Moore, an actress best known for her role in “Orange Is the
New Black.” She opens up here about pulling characters
from her upbringing in Atlanta and the impact her father had on her. This is part of Canvas, our continuing covering
of arts and culture. ADRIENNE C. MOORE, Actress: What I love about
acting and being in front of people is, honestly, seeing their expressions. My first production that I can remember was
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in Nashville, Tennessee. I had no lines, just the little chorus parts. But that gave me a chance to look at every
single person in the audience during the show and seeing them smile, and laugh, and have
feelings and emotions. And from that moment on, I said, I want to
do this for the rest of my life. “Orange Is the New Black” came about just
like any other audition. They called me in for Black Cindy. Immediately, when I read it, I said, oh, my
gosh, I know this girl. To me, she represented a lot of girls that
I had run across when I’d moved to Atlanta, just very fiery and speak their minds, and
pop their fingers, and roll their eyes, and roll their heads, and just tell their truth. And so, when I read her, I said, I think I
could embody her pretty well. Of course she ain’t smiling. She got screwed by me, by — by everybody. Suzanne, everything is broken and life is
unfair. When are you going to learn that? The play that I did in Shakespeare in the
Park was called “Taming of the Shrew.” I got to work with Phyllida Lloyd, who is
a phenomenal director. And I was always afraid of Shakespeare, iambic
pentameter, and just going up on a line and all that kind of stuff. But she really taught me how to own the language
and, in that ownership, how to own the character. And once I got past that fear, I had the most
amazing time. What was so revolutionary about that experience
was that I lost my dad literally in the same time that I was doing that show. And so I was experiencing incredible highs
and incredible lows at the same time. But one of the things that my dad taught me
and told me before he passed was happiness. And so that’s the thing that I always try
to embody in my work and in my life and in who I am. I feel like, when I’m in the pocket with something,
I will sometimes hear this little chime or this a little ding somewhere off in the distance,
and I feel like it’s my dad being like, you got it. You’re on the point, girl. My dad was very proud of me, of his children,
because one of the things he always said was, do what makes you happy. And a lot of times, when I get in very confusing
places in my life, and I don’t know what choice to make, I always think about what he said,
which is, do what makes you happy. And so that’s how I make my decisions. I don’t question. I just go inside of myself. And I say, well, what will make me happy in
this moment? Because that’s what my dad taught me. My name is Adrienne C. Moore, and this is
my Brief But Spectacular take on all the characters of my life. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch additional
Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. Tonight, the “NewsHour” has a special report
airing on PBS, “The Plastic Problem.” Our “NewsHour” reporting teams spent more
than a year examining how our global dependence on plastic has created one of the biggest
environmental threats to our planet. Amna Nawaz hosts the program. And here’s a quick look. AMNA NAWAZ: The oceans are swimming in it. Rivers are choked with it. Coastlines are collecting it. Landfills are clogged with it. Our trash bags are filled with it. And it’s even floating in the air we breathe. MAN: Imagine spreading out nine billion metric
tons evenly. We could cover an area the size of Argentina
or of California six times over. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s plastic, the material we
can’t seem to live without, that also lasts longer than a lifetime. Plastic can take hundreds of years to break
down, and even then only into microparticles. It’s hurting animals. It’s in our food chain. Plastic is everywhere. JUDY WOODRUFF: “The Plastic Problem” airs
on PBS tonight at 10:00 and at 9:00 Central. And two news updates before we go. Late this evening, President Trump signed
into law two bills backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The move allows the U.S. to sanction human
rights abuses, and it bans the export of tear gas and other crowd control munitions to Hong
Kong. It comes despite China’s objections and amid
ongoing talks to end trade tensions with Beijing. And in an opinion piece for The Washington
Post, former U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer speaks out, three days after being fired following
a dispute with President Trump over how to handle a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes. Spencer writes, in part — quote — “The president
has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically
or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices” — end quote. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” have
a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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