PBS NewsHour Weekend May 12, 2019

PBS NewsHour Weekend May 12, 2019


CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOUR PBS STATION FROM VIEWERS LIKE YOU. THANK YOU. FROM THE TISCH WNET STUDIOS AT LINCOLN CENTER IN NEW YORK, HARI SREENIVASAN.>>Sreenivasan: GOOD EVENING, AND THANKS FOR JOINING US. THE UNITED STATES AND IRAN ARE CONTINUING THEIR TENSE STANDOFF OVER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AND TEHRAN’S THREAT OF STEPPED UP URANIUM ENRICHMENT. THE U.S. IS SENDING THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER “U.S.S. ABRAHAM LINCOLN” TO THE PERSIAN GULF AND ADDITIONAL B-52 BOMBERS TO COUNTER WHAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CALLS “CLEAR INDICATIONS” OF STILL UNSPECIFIED THREATS FROM IRAN. IRANIAN MEDIA QUOTED A SENIOR COMMANDER OF IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD TODAY SAYING THAT THE PRESENCE OF U.S AIRCRAFT CARRIERS IN THE PERSIAN GULF IS NOT A THREAT BUT AN OPPORTUNITY AND THAT “IF THE AMERICANS MAKE A MOVE WE WILL HIT THEM IN THE HEAD.” LAST NIGHT SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO SAID THE U.S. IS POSITIONING MILITARY FORCES AS A “DETERRENT.”>>OUR AIM IS NOT WAR, OUR AIM IS A CHANGE IN THE BEHAVIOR OF THE IRANIAN LEADERSHIP. WE HOPE THE IRANIAN PEOPLE WILL GET WHAT THEY FINALLY WANT, AND WHAT THEY SO RICHLY DESERVE.>>Sreenivasan: JOINING US NOW FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. FOR ANALYSIS OF THE GROWING TENSION BETWEEN THE U.S. AND IRAN IS SUZANNE MALONEY– DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE FOREIGN POLICY PROGRAM AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE.>>Sreenivasan: MS. MALONEY, WHY IS ALL OF THIS HAPPENING?>>I THINK WE ARE SEEING A PERIOD OF INTENSE SIGNALING BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND IRAN. THIS COMES COINCIDING WITH THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DECISION TO EXIT THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL, AND WITH THE DECISION TO RAMP UP PRESSURE ON IRAN WITH AN EFFORT TO TRY TO DRIVE IRAN’S OIL EXPORTS DOWN TO ZERO, THERE APPEARS TO BE AT LEAST A VERY PUBLIC EFFORT TO TRY TO BOLSTER THE AMERICAN TROOP PRESENCE, BUT I THINK IN REALITY, THIS IS VERY MUCH IN LINE WITH OUR STANDARD POSTURE AND REALLY WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THE PUBLIC SIGNALING THAT IS GOING ON, RATHER THAN THE MILITARY MANEUVERS.>>Sreenivasan: IN THAT SIGNALING, YOU KIND OF SEE AN ESCALATION OF RHETORIC BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES. IS OUR INTELLIGENCE IN A REGION VERY GOOD? ARE WE PRETTY SURE THAT THESE ARE AT LEAST THREATS THAT WE ARE HEARING ABOUT AND WE ARE PREPARING FOR ARE LEGITIMATE?>>WELL, THEY ARE REAL CONCERNED VOICED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND OTHER GROUPS IN WASHINGTON ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS TRYING TO HYPE THE THREAT FROM IRAN. I THINK REALISTICALLY WE KNOW THAT IRAN HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR A NUMBER OF ATTACKS AGAINST AMERICAN PRESENCE IN THE REGION OVER THE YEARS, AT LEAST 1,000 TROOPS IN IRAQ HAVE DIED AS A RESULT OF IRANIAN PROVIDED IEDS OR IRANIAN ASSISTANT TO SHY A MY, SHIA MILITIAS THERE, THERE IS SUPPORT FROM TERRORIST REGIONS AND A REAL EXPECTATION THAT AFTER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WALKED AWAY FROM THE NUCLEAR DEAL THAT, IN FACT, IRANIANS MIGHT RETALIATE, SO THERE IS REASON TO BE SKEPTICAL ABOUT WHAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS PUTTING OUT THERE IN TERMS OF THE THREAT PERCEPTION, BUT THERE IS ALSO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE IRANIANS ARE PREPARED TO MAKE THE UNITED STATES PAY A PRICE FOR THE PRESSURE THAT WASHINGTON IS EXACTING ON TEHRAN AT THIS TIME.>>Sreenivasan: NOW, DOES THIS POSTURING PLAY TO THE REGIME’S BASE? BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING THAT UNIFIES PEOPLE LIKE A SHARED THREAT, AND SEEING, YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU COULD BE PERCEIVED AS A BULLY OR WHATEVER OR LOOK AT THESE GUYS. THEY ARE STANDING RIGHT ON OUR SHORES. WE HAVE GOT TO COME TOGETHER AS A COUNTRY.>>WELL THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SUGGESTS THERE WILL BE A RALLY AROUND THE FLAG EFFECT AS AMERICA PUTS PRESSURE ON IRAN BUT LET’S BE REALISTIC, THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO RESENT BOTH THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT AND THE GOVERNMENT THAT IMPACTS THEM DIRECTLY IN THEIR POCKETBOOK. I THINK WHAT WE ARE SEEING AT THIS TIME IS NOT A MOVEMENT TOWARD THE SYSTEM ON BEHALF OF THE POPULATION. WE ARE SEEING SOME CONSOLIDATION OF THE POLITICAL ELITE, BUT WHAT WE ARE REALLY SEEING I THINK IS A PERIOD IN WHICH THE IRANIANS HAVE VERY FEW GOOD OPTIONS FOR PARRYING THE AMERICAN PRESSURE THAT HAS BEEN APPLIED, PARTICULARLY THROUGH THE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS.>>Sreenivasan: AND FINALLY, WHAT HAPPENS, DOES IRAN WALK AWAY FROM THE EXISTING PARTNERS, ALL OF THE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES THAT ARE STILL A PART OF THIS NUCLEAR DEAL?>>THE IRANIANS HAVE BEEN VERY CAREFUL IN THE WAY THEY HAVE TRIED TO CALIBRATE THEIR RESPONSE TO AMERICAN PRESSURE. THE IRANIANS RECOGNIZE THAT THERE IS VERY LITTLE THEY HAVE TO GAIN FROM BLOWING UP THE NUCLEAR DEAL, SO SO TO SPEAK BECAUSE IT WOULD ONLY PUT THEM UNDER GREATER PRESSURE FROM EUROPE AND OTHERS AROUND THE WORLD WHO MIGHT BE IN A POSITION TO HELP SUPPORT THEM AND IT WOULD ELIMINATE OR AT LEAST REDUCE THE SENSE THEY HAVE SOMETHING OF A MORAL HIGH GROUND, WHICH OF COURSE IS A RARITY FOR THE IRANIANS. SO THEY HAVE BEEN MOVING VERY CAREFULLY, BUT IT IS NOT INCONCEIVABLE WE ARE GOING TO SEE OURSELVES ON A SLOW ROAD TO A MUCH MORE INTENSE NUCLEAR CRISIS WITH THE IRANIANS, EVEN AT THE SAME TIME THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH SOMETHING SIMILAR WITH THE NORTH KOREANS.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT. SUZANNE MALONEY, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.>>THANK YOU.>>Sreenivasan: WE WILL HAVE MORE NEWS LATER ON IN THE BROADCAST. A PSYCHOLOGIST FOUND THAT MORE THAN A PSYCHOLOGIST FOUND THAT MORE THAN 25% OF AMERICANS SAY THEIR MOTHER IS THEIR NUMBER ONE HERO. READ HIS ANALYSIS ON OUR WEBSITE AT pbs.org/newshour.>>Sreenivasan: THE POLITICAL STRUGGLE BETWEEN VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO AND THAT COUNTRY’S OPPOSITION PARTY SHOWS NO SIGN OF ENDING ANY TIME SOON, AND THE U.S. HAS BECOME ENTANGLED IN THAT CRISIS. PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS RECOGNIZED OPPOSITION LEADER JUAN GUAIDO AS VENEZUELA’S INTERIM PRESIDENT AND SLAPPED SANCTIONS ON DOZENS OF PEOPLE IN THE MADURO GOVERNMENT. BUT THERE’S ALSO A VENEZUELAN STORY MUCH CLOSER TO HOME. VENEZUELANS FLEEING THEIR COUNTRY HAVE FILED MORE THAN 70,000 ASYLUM PETITIONS IN THE U.S. OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS. MANY HAVE SETTLED IN AREAS THAT ALREADY HAVE LARGE VENEZUELAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITIES. NEWSHOUR WEEKEND CORRESPONDENT IVETTE FELICIANO HAS OUR STORY FROM TEXAS.>>Reporter: BEFORE MOVING TO THE HOUSTON SUBURB OF KATY, TEXAS, CARLOS LOZANO AND HIS FAMILY LIVED IN MÉRIDA, A VENEZUELAN CITY IN THE ANDES MOUNTAINS. LOZANO AND HIS WIFE RAN AN IMPORTING BUSINESS THERE. BUT THEIR PEACEFUL LIFE WAS INTERRUPTED IN 2013, AS THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMY COLLAPSED DUE TO HYPERINFLATION. LOZANO AND HIS FAMILY WERE SUPPORTERS OF VENEZUELA’S OPPOSITION PARTY. AS THE ECONOMIC SITUATION CONTINUED TO DETERIORATE, THEY PARTICIPATED IN ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS, WHICH WERE OFTEN MET WITH VIOLENT RESISTANCE BY PRO-GOVERNMENT FORCES. LOZANO SAYS POLICE AND PARAMILITARIES TARGETED HIM FOR POSTING VIDEOS OF THE VIOLENCE ONLINE. ONCE HE WAS EVEN SHOT.>>( translated ): WHEN WE ALL RAN OUT, I HEARD SOMEONE SAY, “THERE GOES LOZANO!” THAT’S WHEN I WAS HIT BY A BULLET HERE AT WAIST LEVEL. EVERY PEACEFUL PROTEST WE HELD BECAME PRACTICALLY A WAR WHERE WE HAD TO HIDE FROM THE POLICE AND GOVERNMENT FORCES.>>Reporter: BUT HE SAYS HIS BREAKING POINT CAME IN 2016, WHEN PRO-GOVERNMENT INTRUDERS VANDALIZED HIS OFFICE.>>( translated ): THEY CAME TO OUR BUSINESS AND TOTALLY DESTROYED IT. THEY LOOTED IT, THEY BROKE THE GLASS, THEY STOLE ABSOLUTELY ALL THE MATERIAL, YEARS OF WORK. THEY DREW GRAFFITI OF WEAPONS ON THE WALLS THAT SAID, “WE’RE COMING FOR YOU, WE’RE COMING FOR YOUR FAMILY, WE WANT YOU DEAD AND THAT’S IT.” I KNEW THAT I COULDN’T STAY IN THE COUNTRY WITH MY WIFE AND CHILDREN ANYMORE.>>Reporter: IN 2016, LOZANO, HIS WIFE, AND TWO CHILDREN WALKED NEARLY 150 MILES TO CROSS OVER INTO NEIGHBORING COLOMBIA. TWO DAYS LATER, THEY BOARDED A FLIGHT TO HOUSTON, TEXAS.>>( translated ): WE LEFT ALL OUR FAMILY, WE LEFT OUR HOUSE, OUR APARTMENT, WE LEFT OUR FRIENDS AND THE BELONGINGS THAT WE STILL HAD LEFT. THEY REMAINED IN OUR HOUSE. EVERYTHING.>>Reporter: LOZANO SAYS THEY DECIDED TO COME TO THE HOUSTON AREA AT THE URGING OF A FAMILY FRIEND WHO LIVED THERE.>>( translated ): HE TOLD US THAT THERE WAS A HISPANIC AND VENEZUELAN COMMUNITY HERE, THAT VENEZUELANS HAD BEEN COMING TO HOUSTON AND HAVE BEEN LIVING HERE FOR YEARS.>>Reporter: SINCE THE 1980s, VENEZUELA– THE WORLD’S LARGEST OIL RESERVE-HOLDER– HAS HAD BUSINESS TIES WITH HOUSTON’S ENERGY SECTOR. FOR OVER 30 YEARS, ITS STATE-RUN OIL COMPANY OWNED CONTROLLING SHARES IN THE HOUSTON-BASED OIL COMPANY, CITGO. A FAILED 2002 OIL WORKER STRIKE IN VENEZUELA LED TO THE FIRING OF NEARLY 20,000 HIGH-SKILLED OIL EMPLOYEES. MANY OF THEM TOOK LUCRATIVE JOBS IN HOUSTON’S OIL INDUSTRY. DR. LUIS DUNO-GOTTBERG CHAIRS THE LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT AT HOUSTON’S RICE UNIVERSITY. HE SAYS A SECOND WAVE OF IMMIGRANTS CAME TO HOUSTON AFTER 2013.>>EVERYTHING HAPPENS MORE OR LESS AT THE SAME TIME. MADURO COMES INTO POWER, AND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS THAT WAS, OF COURSE, BREWING BEFORE, EXPLODES. WITH THAT EXPLOSION– YOU HAVE LARGE AMOUNTS OF PEOPLE, LIKE THE LARGEST AMOUNTS OF PEOPLE HAVE LEFT AFTER 2013, AND 2015, EVEN INCREASED FURTHER.>>Reporter: WHILE ABOUT THREE-MILLION PEOPLE HAVE LEFT VENEZUELA IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS, HOUSTON’S VENEZUELAN POPULATION HAS GROWN. ACCORDING TO THE MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE, MORE THAN 23,000 VENEZUELAN IMMIGRANTS HAVE SETTLED IN THE HOUSTON AREA SINCE 2010. IT’S NOW THE SECOND LARGEST VENEZUELAN COMMUNITY IN THE U.S., BEHIND THAT OF SOUTH FLORIDA. THE HOUSTON SUBURB OF KATY– WHERE THE LOZANOS NOW LIVE– HAS RECEIVED SO MANY VENEZUELAN IMMIGRANTS THAT LOCALS HAVE DUBBED IT “KATY-ZUELA.” DR. DUNO-GOTTBERG– WHO WAS BORN IN VENEZUELA– NOTES THAT THIS LATEST WAVE OF IMMIGRANTS IS MORE ECONOMICALLY DIVERSE THAN THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE THEM.>>YOU HAVE PEOPLE FROM– AN– ANY SOCIAL STRATA LEAVING VENEZUELA, AND GOING NOT ONLY TO HOUSTON, BUT EVERYWHERE. AND YOU START SEEING THEM IN– IN COFFEE SHOPS, AND– AND DOING NOT– NOT ANYMORE THE OWNER OF THE PLACE, BUT SOMEONE WORKING IN– IN THE COFFEE SHOP, MAKING THE COFFEE.>>Reporter: LIKE THE LOZANO FAMILY, MANY OF THE NEW ARRIVALS HERE APPLY FOR ASYLUM– CLAIMING POLITICAL PERSECUTION. THEN THEY FACE A 150-DAY WAITING PERIOD BEFORE THEY CAN EVEN REQUEST A WORK PERMIT. IN THE MEANTIME, MANY VENEZUELAN IMMIGRANTS HAVE TO RELY ON WHATEVER SAVINGS THEY HAVE LEFT AFTER THE EXPENSE OF COMING TO THE U.S. THE LOZANO’S ASYLUM PETITION HAS YET TO BE HEARD. AFTER NINE MONTHS OF WAITING, THEIR WORK PERMITS WERE ONLY APPROVED THIS PAST APRIL. UNTIL NOW, THEY’VE BEEN LIVING OFF THEIR SAVINGS AND THE PROFITS FROM PERSONAL BELONGINGS THAT FRIENDS BACK IN VENEZUELA SOLD FOR THEM.>>( translated ): EVERY MONTH THINGS BECOME A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT, BECAUSE WE HAVE PRACTICALLY NOTHING LEFT BUT AN EMPTY HOUSE. BUT WE’VE GOT A LOT OF HELP THROUGH MANY PEOPLE.>>Reporter: THOSE PEOPLE INCLUDE MEMBERS OF HOUSTON’S VENEZUELAN COMMUNITY WHO HAVE ORGANIZED TO HELP NEW ARRIVALS GET SETTLED. DIANA MENDT CAME TO HOUSTON IN 1998. SHE SAYS THAT UNLIKE THE LOZANOS, MANY OF THE MORE RECENT VENEZUELAN IMMIGRANTS SHE’S MET HAVE NO MONEY AT ALL WHEN THEY GET TO HOUSTON. TO SURVIVE, THEY MUST FIND “UNDER-THE-TABLE” JOBS– LIKE CONSTRUCTION OR DRIVING TAXIS.>>I DON’T THINK THEY COME WITH>>SO NOW THEY COME WITH NOTHING, YOU KNOW. THEY JUST COME LIKE THIS AND SEE IF SOMEBODY CAN HELP. THEY ARE ESCAPING.>>Reporter: MENDT IS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF SOCIAL ACTION VENEZUELA, A VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION WHICH DELIVERS DONATED GOODS TO VENEZUELAN IMMIGRANTS.>>IT’S INCREDIBLE HOW MANY PEOPLE CONTACT US DAILY. WE HAVE FIVE, SIX FAMILIES CALLING FOR HELP. MOST OF THEM, THEY– TRY TO FIND A DECENT JOB AND TO PAY THE BILLS, AND– AND ACTUALLY– WE SUPPLY THINGS FOR THE HOUSE. SOFAS, TABLES, DINING– DINING SETS AND STUFF LIKE THAT.>>Reporter: MENDT AND OTHERS HAVE TURNED THEIR GARAGES INTO COLLECTION AND DISTRIBUTION CENTERS FOR FOOD, CLOTHES, AND OTHER HOUSEHOLD NECESSITIES. HER GROUP IS AMONG SEVERAL ORGANIZATIONS THAT ACCEPT FURNITURE DONATIONS AND DELIVER THEM TO NEW ARRIVALS LIKE CESAR GARCIA AND HIS FAMILY, WHO JUST ARRIVED HERE IN MARCH.>>( translated ): EVERYTHING YOU SEE AROUND HERE HAS BEEN THROUGH THESE DONATIONS. WE ARE ENORMOUSLY GRATEFUL. I NEVER IMAGINED THAT AT THIS TIME IN MY LIFE I WOULD BE HERE, LOOKING FOR HELP TO LEAVE MY COUNTRY. ♪ ♪ ♪>>Reporter: OTHERS ARE TRYING TO MAKE VENEZUELAN IMMIGRANTS FEEL MORE AT HOME THROUGH RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL EVENTS. VENEZUELAN-AMERICAN LAURA CELIS BLACK ORGANIZES VENEZUELAN-STYLE MASSES AND CONCERTS WITH HER HUSBAND THROUGH THEIR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, WHICH IN ENGLISH IS CALLED “VIRTUAL VENEZUELAN PARISH.” SHE SAYS THESE GATHERINGS ALSO SERVE AS OPPORTUNITIES TO COLLECT MORE DONATIONS FOR NEW ARRIVALS, WHICH HELPS THOSE STILL IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY.>>WE BELIEVE THAT THE BEST WAY OF HELPING VENEZUELA IS TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE IN THE DIASPORA. BECAUSE THOSE WHO LIVE HERE, EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT WORKING LEGALLY, ALL FAMILIES BUY A BOX, THEY FILL IT WITH FOOD AND MEDICINE, AND THEY SEND IT WEEKLY TO VENEZUELA. SO IF YOU HELP A VENEZUELAN OUTSIDE OF VENEZUELA SURVIVE, THEY WILL HELP THEIR FAMILY BACK HOME.>>Reporter: BUT SHE AND OTHERS ALSO BELIEVE THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO GRANT TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS– OR “T.P.S.”– TO VENEZUELAN REFUGEES SO THEY CAN LIVE AND WORK LEGALLY IN THE US. BILLS GRANTING T.P.S. TO VENEZUELANS HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE, BUT NEITHER HAS BEEN VOTED ON. IN MARCH, 24 SENATORS– 23 DEMOCRATS AND ONE REPUBLICAN– SENT A LETTER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP, ASKING THAT HE GRANT T.P.S. TO AN ESTIMATED 72,000 VENEZUELAN ASYLUM SEEKERS. THE WHITE HOUSE HAS NOT RESPONDED. NONETHELESS, MANY IN HOUSTON’S VENEZUELAN COMMUNITY– WHETHER RECENT ARRIVALS OR LONGTIME RESIDENTS– APPROVE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S HANDLING OF THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN VENEZUELA; PARTICULARLY IN HIS RECOGNITION OF OPPOSITION LEADER JUAN GUAIDO AS INTERIM PRESIDENT AND HIS SANCTIONS AGAINST THE MADURO REGIME.>>( translated ): PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN VERY RIGID AND HAS APPLIED MANY SANCTIONS, MORE THAN ANY U.S. PRESIDENT HAD EVER APPLIED AGAINST VENEZUELA. IT IS DIFFICULT, BECAUSE THE TYPE OF ECONOMIC BLOCKADE THEY ARE CARRYING OUT ON THE COUNTRY IS AFFECTING THE PEOPLE AS WELL. THEY SUFFER. BUT WITH THE PEOPLE I HAVE SPOKEN TO IN VENEZUELA, THEY ARE VERY HAPPY THAT THIS IS HAPPENING, BECAUSE IT IS A WAY TO GET THE GOVERNMENT TO LEAVE AT SOME POINT.>>Reporter: MEANWHILE, LOZANO SAYS THAT THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR HIS FAMILY IS RECKONING WITH THE LOSS OF THE PLACE THEY ONCE KNEW AS HOME.>>( translated ): NO MATTER HOW MANY GOOD PEOPLE YOU GET TO KNOW, WE ARE NOT IN OUR COUNTRY. WE DO NOT MEET WITH OUR PEOPLE OR WITH OUR FAMILIES. AND EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE MET VERY GOOD PEOPLE EVERY DAY SINCE WE CAME, WE ALWAYS TRY TO FORGET WHAT WE’VE LEFT, BUT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, BECAUSE IT IS ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS, OUR HOMES, OUR FRIENDS. ALL OUR FRIENDS IN VENEZUELA HAVE EMIGRATED TO OTHER COUNTRIES.>>Sreenivasan: PERHAPS NO INSTRUMENTS ARE MORE PRIZED THAN THOSE CRAFTED BY ANTONIO STRADIVARIUS. ONLY 650 STRADIVARIUS VIOLINS, CELLOS, AND OTHER STRINGED INSTRUMENTS ARE ESTIMATED TO HAVE SURVIVED. BUT WHILE THE FAMED VIOLIN MAKER HAS BEEN DEAD FOR NEARLY 300 YEARS, THE FOREST WHERE HE SOURCED HIS LUMBER IS STILL ALIVE AND PRODUCING TONEWOOD FOR THE AGES. SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY AND VIDEOGRAPHER ALESSANDRO PAVONE HAVE THE STORY. ♪ ♪ ♪>>Reporter: IT’S RARE TO PLAY AN UNFINISHED CELLO. ♪ ♪ ♪ BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT MADDALENA WALDNER IS DOING, TO SHOW US THE VERY SPECIAL WOOD OF HER INSTRUMENT MADE RIGHT HERE IN THE ITALIAN ALPS, IN A PLACE CALLED THE FIEMME VALLEY, PRIZED OVER THE CENTURIES FOR ITS EXCEPTIONAL LUMBER. ♪ ♪ ♪ BUT BEFORE IT SOUNDED LIKE THIS, THIS CELLO SOUNDED MORE LIKE THIS: ( SLAPPING WOOD ) THIS SPRUCE IS RIPE FOR BECOMING AN INSTRUMENT, SAYS MARCELLO MAZZUCCHI, THE FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE LOCAL FOREST SERVICE. IT’S NO ACCIDENT THAT WE’RE IN THE SAME CORNER OF THE ALPS WHERE FAMED RENAISSANCE LUTHIERS STRADIVARI, GUARNERI, AND AMATI HANDPICKED THE TREES THAT WOULD BECOME SOME OF THE WORLD’S FINEST INSTRUMENTS THANKS TO A SERENDIPITOUS COMBINATION OF THE ALTITUDE AND CLIMATE, THESE HAVE COME TO BE CALLED “IL BOSCO CHE SUONA,” THE MUSICAL WOODS.>>( translated ): THIS IS A SUPER TREE. I’D SAY THERE’S A BEAUTIFUL VIOLIN INSIDE JUST WAITING TO COME OUT. YOU’RE IN THERE, AREN’T YOU?>>Reporter: MAZZUCCHI SAYS HE OFTEN TALKS TO THE TREES. MORE THAN JUST A RETIRED FOREST RANGER, HE’S ACQUIRED AN UNCANNY KNACK FOR SPOTTING TIMBER THAT’S IDEAL FOR INSTRUMENTS. IN THESE PARTS, MANY CALL HIM “THE TREE WHISPERER.”>>( translated ): IT’S A BEAUTIFUL NICKNAME, ISN’T IT? THE TREES TALK IF YOU SIT AND LISTEN TO THEM. SOMETIMES I EVEN HUG THEM. LOOK CAREFULLY AND THEY’LL TELL YOU THEIR LIFE STORY.>>Reporter: HE WEAVES FROM TRUNK TO TRUNK, CROSSING FLAWED CANDIDATES OFF HIS LIST. SO, THESE TREES? HOW ARE THEY?>>( translated ): THIS ONE IS TOO CURVED, AND HAS TOO MANY BRANCHES.>>Reporter: UNTIL HE SETTLES ON A TREE THAT ONCE WOULD HAVE BEEN WORTHY OF A STRADIVARIUS.>>( translated ): THIS IS A NICE ONE.>>Reporter: THIS IS A GOOD ONE?>>( translated ): THIS IS A NICE ONE.>>Reporter: WHY IS THIS A GOOD ONE?>>( translated ): EVEN THOUGH IT’S NOT THAT BIG, IT SHOOTS UP PERFECTLY STRAIGHT. IT’S VERY CYLINDRICAL, NO BRANCHES AT THE BOTTOM. IF YOU ASK ME, THERE’S A VIOLIN TRAPPED INSIDE. IT’S ABOUT THREE CENTURIES OLD. THAT MEANS STRADIVARIUS WAS HERE WHEN IT WAS A SAPLING.>>Reporter: OH, WOW. TO TEST ITS QUALITY, MAZZUCCHI TAKES OUT A MANUAL DRILL AND TWISTS IT LIKE A CORKSCREW THROUGH THE BARK. MAZZUCCHI LISTENS CAREFULLY AND PULLS OUT A CORE SAMPLE. SO, GOOD NEWS? BUONE NOTIZIE?>>( translated ): EXCELLENT NEWS! LOOK AT THE RINGS. EVERY RING TAKES ONE YEAR TO GROW. BECAUSE NATURE TAKES ITS TIME TO DO THINGS WELL, WITHOUT RUSHING.>>Reporter: AFTER MAZZUCCHI HAS CHOSEN THE WOOD, HE VOLUNTEERS THAT INFORMATION– FREE OF CHARGE– TO A LUMBERJACK, WHO THEN CHOPS DOWN TREES LIKE THIS ONE AND CARTS THEM TO A LUMBERYARD, RIGHT HERE IN THE FIEMME VALLEY, WHERE THE SPRUCE IS MILLED INTO SECTIONS. ( HEAVY MACHINERY ) WOOD RETAILERS THEN SELECT THE HIGHEST-QUALITY LUMBER AND CUT IT INTO BLOCKS THAT ARE SOLD TO INSTRUMENT MAKERS THE WORLD OVER, AS WELL AS LOCALS LIKE CECILIA PIAZZI.>>( translated ): IT’S MAGNIFICENT WOOD. WE USE IT FOR MAKING THE TABLE, THAT’S THE BEAUTIFUL PART ON THE FRONT OF A VIOLIN OR CELLO, WITH THE SOUND HOLES ON THE SURFACE. FIRST I ROUGHEN THE WOOD. IT NEEDS TO BE LIKE A DRUM SKIN, SO THAT IT MOVES AND VIBRATES WHEN PLAYED. THE WOOD FROM THIS FOREST IS PERFECT FOR THAT– STRONG, YET FLEXIBLE.>>Reporter: IT TAKES MONTHS TO COMPLETE A SINGLE INSTRUMENT, WHICH CAN COST OVER $10,000– A BARGAIN WHEN YOU CONSIDER A STRADIVARIUS THAT CAME FROM THE SAME FOREST CAN GO FOR OVER $10 MILLION. IT’S AN INDUSTRY THAT’S BEEN DRIVING THE LOCAL ECONOMY SINCE THE RENAISSANCE. BUT THIS PAST FALL, TRAGEDY STRUCK: A STORM WITH WINDS TOPPING 120 MILES PER HOUR CRASHED THROUGH THESE WOODS. PIERA CIRESA IS THE CO-OWNER OF ONE OF THE MAIN WOOD RETAILERS IN THE VALLEY.>>( translated ): OUR BUSINESS TOOK A BIG HIT. IT WIPED OUT OUR WOOD SUPPLY FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. NOW WE’RE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO STOCKPILE. I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT.>>Reporter: LOCALS SAY IT CAME CRASHING DOWN LIKE A HURRICANE AND FLATTENED ROUGHLY ONE MILLION TREES IN THIS UNPRECEDENTED CALAMITY. BUT NOW, THANKS TO THE SURPRISING COLLABORATION OF FOREST RANGERS AND INSTRUMENT MAKERS, THESE MUSICAL WOODS OF STRADIVARIUS ARE SPROUTING ANEW.>>( translated ): IT WAS A HORRIBLE DISASTER. BUT ALL ISN’T LOST. JUST THINK: THIS ONE PINE CONE HAS 200 SEEDS INSIDE.>>Reporter: FOREST WORKERS ARE NOW RUSHING TO COLLECT THE FALLEN TREES. IF THEY PICK THEM UP BEFORE THE SUMMER HEAT, THEY CAN STILL BE USED TO MAKE INSTRUMENTS. AND THE CLEANUP ALSO MEANS MORE SPACE AND LIGHT FOR NEW GROWTH.>>( translated ): BEAUTIFUL MUSIC IS BORN OF THREE ARTISTS. THE FIRST ONE IS NATURE THAT GIVES US THIS MAGICAL WOOD. THEN THE INSTRUMENT MAKER, WHO AWAKENS THE MUSIC. THEN THE MUSICIAN WHO SETS IT FREE. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪>>THIS IS “PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND,” SUNDAY.>>Sreenivasan: SRI LANKA’S CATHOLIC CHURCHES HELD THEIR FIRST REGULAR SUNDAY MASS TODAY THREE WEEKS AFTER SUICIDE BOMBERS KILLED MORE THAN 250 PEOPLE AT EASTER CHURCH SERVICES AND AT LUXURY HOTELS. ARMED MILITARY TROOPS AND POLICE PATROLLED THE STREETS, SEARCHED CHURCH GOERS, AND STOOD GUARD OUTSIDE OF CHURCHES THIS MORNING. THE ISLAMIC STATE CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ATTACKS AT TWO CATHOLIC AND ONE PROTESTANT CHURCH AND THREE LUXURY HOTELS SRI LANKAN AUTHORITIES SAY WERE CARRIED OUT BY LOCAL RADICALIZED MUSLIM GROUPS. AFGHANISTAN’S MINISTRY OF DEFENSE REPORTED TODAY THAT THE TALIBAN’S INTELLIGENCE CHIEF IN THE NORTHERN BAGHLAN PROVINCE WAS CAPTURED ALIVE BY AFGHAN AND U.S. FORCES. HAJI MOHAMMAD RAMIN IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR LAST WEEK’S ATTACK ON A POLICE HEADQUARTERS THAT KILLED 20 OFFICERS AND WOUNDED MORE THAN 50 POLICE AND CIVILIANS. AND IN KABUL YESTERDAY, TWO UNIDENTIFIED MEN ON A MOTORBIKE SHOT AND KILLED MINA MANGAL– A FORMER TELEVISION JOURNALIST AND ADVISER TO THE AFGHAN PARLIAMENT. MINGAL WAS ON HER WAY TO WORK AT THE CULTURAL AFFAIRS COMMISSION AT THE TIME OF THE ATTACK. SOUTH AFRICA’S PRESIDENT VOWED TODAY TO PURGE HIS AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS PARTY OF “BAD AND DEVIANT TENDENCIES.” PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA’S A.N.C. PARTY WAS DECLARED THE WINNER OF NATIONAL ELECTIONS LAST NIGHT WITH 57% OF THE VOTE ACCORDING TO THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION. IT WAS THE WEAKEST SHOWING FOR THE PARTY OF NELSON MANDELA SINCE THE END OF APARTHEID 25 YEARS AGO. MANY SOUTH AFRICANS REMAIN FRUSTRATED BY CORRUPTION SCANDALS WITHIN THE A.N.C. THAT FORCED FORMER PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA TO RESIGN LAST YEAR. HEAVY RAINS THIS MORNING IN NEW ORLEANS FLOODED STREETS, STRANDING CARS AND SHUTTING DOWN ALL STREETCAR AND BUS SERVICE. OVERNIGHT MORE THAN FIVE INCHES OF RAIN FELL AND AT ONE POINT MORE THAN 11,000 PEOPLE WERE WITHOUT POWER. A NEARBY SPILLWAY REMAINS OPEN AS CITY OFFICIALS TRY TO PREPARE FOR A RISE IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS.>>Sreenivasan: FINALLY TONIGHT, IN GERMANY TODAY THOUSANDS GATHERED TO MARK THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF THE SOVIET BLOCKADE OF WEST BERLIN IN 1949. ONE OF THE GUESTS OF HONOR WAS 98-YEAR OLD U.S. PILOT GAIL HALVORSEN, ONE OF THE MANY ALLIED PILOTS WHO AIRLIFTED SUPPLIES TO THE ISOLATED CITY FOR 15 MONTHS UNTIL THE SOVIETS GAVE UP. HALVORSEN BECAME KNOWN AS THE “CANDY BOMBER” BECAUSE HE ADDED CANDY WRAPPED IN HANDKERCHIEFS TO HIS SUPPLY DROPS FOR WEST BERLIN’S CHILDREN. THAT’S ALL FOR THIS EDITION OF“ PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND.” I’M HARI SREENIVASAN. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. THANKS FOR WATCHING. Captioning sponsored by WNET Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org>>PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND IS MADE POSSIBLE BY: BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ. SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III. SETON MELVIN. THE CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY. DR. P. ROY VAGELOS AND DIANA T. VAGELOS. THE J.P.B. FOUNDATION. ROSALIND P. WALTER. BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG. CORPORATE FUNDING IS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA– DESIGNING CUSTOMIZED INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP RETIREMENT PRODUCTS. THAT’S WHY WE’RE YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY. ADDITIONAL SUPPORT HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY: AND BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING, AND BY CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOUR PBS STATION FROM VIEWERS LIKE YOU. THANK YOU. BE MORE. PBS.

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