PBS News Weekend full episode, Dec. 24, 2022
geoff: Looking a controversial facial recognition technology used at some airports this holiday season. Then, holiday wine and spirits, we get recommendations on the perfect drinks this season for every price and palette. Grand adventure, my conversation with a grandmother and grandson about their goal of visiting every national park.
>> This desire to make sure the sunset of her life was filled with memories. Geoff: All that and the day's headlines on tonight's pbs news weekend. >> Major funding is provided by. >> For 25 years, consumer cellular posture he is goal -- we offer a variety of plans to find one that fits you.
Visit consumercellular.com. >> With the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions. And friends of the newshour. ♪♪ this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station by viewers like you. Thank you. Geoff: Good evening.
It's good to be with you on this Christmas eve. As we come on the air, a massive cold weather system is marching across much of the country. Many Americans will see their coldest Christmas in decades as it falls below ten degrees in some areas, with wind chills bringing some temperatures below zero.
At least a dozen states, so far, have declared states of emergency. From upstate New York across the midwest, blizzard conditions and near-zero visibility have made driving dangerous. Vehicle pileups are responsible for nearly a dozen deaths on the roads. With high winds bringing down trees, over one million homes and businesses are without power east of the Mississippi. Nearly 6,000 flights were canceled yesterday, and thousands more were grounded today.
In the news overseas, Russian shelling in the southern Ukrainian city of curse on has killed at least five people and left dozens more wounded. Today marks exactly ten months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started. Regional authorities released grisly images from the blast, scorched cars and blown out windows, trails of blood on the streets and sidewalks. President volodymyr zelenskyy has warned that Ukraine may experience increased Russian attacks over the Christmas holiday. Hong Kong's leader today announced that China has agreed to ease border pandemic restrictions with the mainland, starting in mid-january. That's as China grapples with a wave of covid infections that are leaving many hospitals outside the capital beijing overwhelmed.
The Chinese government, though, has only reported seven covid deaths since loosening its restrictive zero covid policies in the last month. The world health organization warns that the Chinese are likely undercounting. Thousands gathered on the streets of Paris today, in protests that, at times, turned into violent clashes with police. Many of the protestors are ethnic kurds, calling for justice after their community was rocked by a shooting at a cultural center yesterday that killed three people. Authorities say the accused attacker has a history of racist violence.
The clashes are happening at a time of increased concern about hate crimes in France, since a number of far-right voices have gained prominence there. In Afghanistan, the taliban-run government has banned women from working for foreign and domestic non-governmental organizations until further notice. A Taliban spokesperson says it is because some women have been breaking strict dress codes. This past week, Taliban rulers banned female students from attending universities, a move that drew protests and criticism.
Still to come on pbs news weekend, recommendations on which wine and spirits to try out this holiday season. And, a grandmother and grandson take on the national parks. >> This is pbs news weekend. From Washington.
>> If you are traveling during this busy holiday season, you may come across a new component of airport security. The transportation security administration is now testing facial identification technology at 16 major airports across the country. William brangham looks at the complexities and controversies around this new technology. Reporter: The TSA plans to expand nationwide next year, but many believe the technology is too risky to trust. For more, I am joined by a columnist at the Washington post to health readers navigate the world of technology.
Help us understand, what is this technology? >> It's trying to figure out whether you are an imposter. Maybe you need some further inspection. The possibility is the technology could do a better job of detecting whether you are a bad person. A computer algorithm can spot a fake better than a human. That's the theory. There is some hope by the TSA and others who want to use facial recognition and others to make them more efficient, but the current program is not really doing that because they are having humans at those podiums giving the final ok.
Reporter: Any traveler would welcome anything that speeds up the process. You have reported there are significant concerns about this technology. What are the issues? >> Number one on the list is, does it really work? Particularly with people with darker skin.
The algorithms from 2019 found people with black or Asian ancestry could be up to 100 times less accurately identified than white men. That raises all kinds of questions in the context of air travel. Might the systems be leading through imposters? Another one is, could we need people of minorities to have unfair treatment at the airport? Are people with darker skin going to be sent to special lines for extra inspection? There are a lot of fears. Another concern is this is a slippery slope. Today, the TSA is not using facial recognition technology to go after criminals, they could try to expand it further.
Reporter: What does the TSA do with the scans? Do they safeguard our privacy? >> The next level of concern is once an image of your face or data has been collected, that means it can also be stolen. We only get one face. If someone steals the database, they have the keys. That might sound extreme, but this is already happening.
There was a breach contractor. One big thing is anytime data is collected, it can be taken. Reporter: Let's say I go to the airport. Can I opt out of this? >> When I wrote my column, I spent a lot of time talking to the TSA about this. They said we have the ability to say no thank you. And I said I would just do the check.
Since my column came out, they followed that, went up to the podium and got pushed back. They said there is always somebody like that. That does not give you confidence that agents are doing and trying to take seriously. Reporter: Do you think people will give up their privacy? >> We don't spend the time reading thousands of words in the policy and then after the fact, we regret what we gave up. Facial recognition can be another one.
You want to get through security, but there are other places that want to scan your face. Airlines want to scan your face to replace your ticket. You want to make sure there are places not putting us at risk. Reporter: Thank you for walking us through this.
Geoff: The holidays are when most Americans spend more on wine and spirits than at any other time of the year. Whether you are giving a gift or looking for the perfect drink to pair with your holiday feast, Brian freedman has a recommendation for every palate and price. He is a wine, spirits, food, and travel writer, and author of the book crushed, how a changing climate is altering the way we drink.
Brian, it's great to have you back on the program. >> Thanks for having me, geoff. Geoff: So, let's get right to your recommendations, starting with a red from Argentina. Argentina, when they're not winning world cups, apparently they're producing lots and lots of wine.
They're the biggest wine producer in South America. And you have recommended a catena malbec. Tell us more about this. >> Yes. So, the catena malbec comes from a producer that is near and dear to my heart.
I, uh, I write about them in my book. You know, they're really leaders in the environmentally friendly growing of grapes and production of wine. And they're really trailblazers in the world of South American wine and wines of Argentina in particular. This one I love because this is sourced from higher altitude grapes.
So we're getting that great sense of concentration and expressiveness, very, very food friendly, and it's under $25. And, this one proves that you can find wonderful value and wine that is still expressive of where it's from and at the same time is not going to break the bank, which frankly just means that you can open up a second one with impunity. And that's what the holidays are about, right? Geoff: [Laughter] So, if we opened up a second one, tell us about the blue quail, because that one, as I understand it, you say, is another pretty good value. >> Yeah. Very similar price point.
And this one is interesting because I'm sure you've heard about wines that on the label they say old vines, right? And what does that mean? You know, there's really no specific legal definition on the book for what old vine means in the United States. So it's really sort of the honor system. But in this case, this vineyard was planted in 1971. So these vines are over 50-years-old. So what does that mean? Why are we supposed to care? Well, older vines, they tend to produce less fruit, but more concentrated and expressive fruit. They tend to have deeper root systems as well.
So they're going to express that patch of planet Earth in a more accurate and often effusive way. And this particular one, I think the blue quail, old vine zinfandel, it really sort of bucks the trend of what a lot of old vine zinfandels tend to be, right? I mean, oftentimes they're higher alcohol. They are quite concentrated. This one is really showing that more elegant end of the spectrum. So this one, with a holiday roast, with brisket, this is going to work well. But you can also pair this, I think tonight actually, we might be enjoying this with a little bit of barbecued salmon, before that crazy cold front comes through.
Geoff: The vitkin grenache blanc. Why did that one make your list? >> Vitkin grenache blanc. This is this is a wonderful producer in Israel. The grapes for this are coming from the upper galilee. And I think a lot of times there tends to be this this sort of unnecessary bifurcation when it comes to how we classify our white wine drinking lives. Right? You're either a chardonnay person, or you are a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio person, right? You either like heavier whites, or lighter and more crisp whites.
But, the truth is some of the most interesting ones exist in that sort of gray area in-between. And, grenache blanc is one of those grape varieties that is going to have plenty of energy. It's going to have plenty of mouth-watering acidity, when grown well, like vitkin is doing. But at the same time, there is this sort of silky, plush texture that will allow it to pair with richer foods, and be great just on its own. Geoff: So, for people who can't consume alcohol or choose not to consume alcohol during the holidays, we've got some nonalcoholic wine options on the list.
These are proxies. And, I will say, they don't taste much like wine. I guess they're not really supposed to.
>> Yeah. I think they're taking sort of a playbook from the world of very complex tea. And I think, you know, a lot of times when you do have non-alcoholic wine replacements or spirit replacements, one of the areas that they tend to fall short with is in the area of texture, right? I mean, so much of when we drink wine is that textural component.
And, when it comes to pairing these with food, that I think is what makes them so compelling, because so much of of pairing wine and food is not just about the flavor and aroma, but it's also about the texture and how that interacts with the food itself. It's one of the reasons, geoff, why you go to a steakhouse and there's like 9,000 pages of tannic reds and 3 sad pinot grigios by the glass up front. It's not that they would taste bad with the steak, it's that they probably wouldn't taste like much at all, because texturally they'll be overwhelmed. So, the texture of these and the range of flavors that they're incorporating in these, I think, is very interesting.
But, you're right, I think there's a lot of crossover here in the world of tea. Geoff: We've got a splurge option here on the list. This is a wine that retails for nearly $200 and the label is inspired by the pictures taken by the James Webb telescope. Is that right? >> You're right, this is this is, I believe, the carina nebula, if I'm not mistaken, on the on the label there. And this is interesting. Like you said, this is a splurge option.
But if you're having a large group of people over, a magnum, which is essentially the same volume of liquid as two bottles, right? This is a great option. This is fascinating, because this is from 2014, but it was just released now. And this spent seven years on what we call the Lees. So after that second fermentation was done in the bottle, that's how the bubbles get there. That yeast sort of died effectively once it no longer had any more sugar to ferment and convert into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
And it sank to the bottom of this magnum here. So, those seven years that the liquid sat on those leaves, it's giving it all these wonderful toast and brioche notes. This is mostly chardonnay.
About a quarter of it is pinot noir. It's incredibly complex. The French actually have a saying the first time I went to champagne and one of the winemakers said to me, Brian, I firmly believe that a magnum of champagne is the perfect size for two people to share as long as one of them isn't drinking. And I think that's, uh, good, good life advice.
Geoff: And, we've got a spirit on the list. This is the boondocks bottled in bond. It's a rye whiskey.
I usually swear by uncle nearest when I'm consuming bourbon. >> I love uncle nearest. Geoff: But, this is good. It's drinkable.
It's smooth. >> Yeah. This is a wonderful producer.
You know, boondocks is actually being made by Dave scheurich, he was the wine enthusiast, I believe he was the wine distiller of the year. He's won all kinds of awards. And this is a wonderful example of why rye is such a food friendly option for this time of year. It's wonderful on its own. You can certainly drink this neat, or on the rocks. I love rye in classic cocktails, right? In an old fashioned, in a Manhattan that spice that we get in this rye is really going to be a great counterpoint to the sweetness that we're adding to those cocktails.
And, very important here, bottled in bond. This was an act created in 1897, and it was a way to just, sort of, stave off fraud in the world of whiskey. So, when we say bottled in bond, that means that there's a whole set of regulations it has to follow. It has to have been aged for a minimum of four years in a government bonded warehouse. It has to be 50% alcohol or a hundred proof, and it has to be the product of a single distilling season from a single distillery.
So this really is an artisanal craft whiskey. I think they're just hitting it out of the park with boondocks. Geoff: Brian freedman, I always learn something new when I'm speaking with you.
Thanks for the recommendations. We'll put them on our website and happy holidays. >> Thanks, geoff. You too.
Geoff: A grandson and her grandma have -- the road trip started on social media. This started them on the trip of a lifetime. They join us now.
It is great to see you both. The idea was back in 2015. You have both been steadily chipping away.
What prompted this idea? >> There is this desire I had to make sure there were as many memories to pack in. Because she has a lot of adventure left, we went on the first trip climbing mountains and camping, all of the things that blew me away. We had all of these ideas, what would it feel like if she saw all faithful, the redwood trees? I was seeing all of these places for the first time. Geoff: How did you react? >> I said yes. Geoff:geoff: Ready to go. Did you know it had camping involved? >> I am willing to try anything once.
>> We did not know what we were getting into until we were thrown into it. It was 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, never did anything other than what we needed to do to make sure we were comfortable and cozy, we had ramen noodles. That was nothing but joyful. Geoff: How has this changed the relationship? >> You can't leave any stone unturned when you are on the road for this many miles.
I always tell folks, it's helpful in healing, nature is that equalizer that allows you to create a new beginning. Geoff: Of the national parks you have visited, what has been your favorite? >> It's hard to pick one. I had never seen a whale in my whole life. When we went out to California, one jumped up right in front of me and it was an oracular's. Geoff: I saw a picture of you in Alaska. You can see place >> -- You could see glaciers in the distance.
>> It was an exciting trip. Geoff: If there are others who want to try something new, what would you suggest? >> If you want to visit the park, every part has access to handicapped people. Anyone who wants to go can go. >> People think of it as one thing. The truth is, there are thousands of different experiences so you can sit on a cruise ship and watch whales, you can see amazing overlooks, we should not think of it as one thing.
As long as you are focused on the possibilities, you will find there is an adventure to have. Geoff: Your last visit was American Samoa. >> It's a national park that most people are surprised to learn about exists.
American Samoa is a U.S. Territory. We have met a lot of national park hoppers since we started posting our journey online, and I think that is the final four most people because it is so remote. 6700 miles from where we live, there are no direct flights from the mainland.
You want to want to get there to arrive in American Samoa. They get 8000 visitors a year. >> How has this traveling change your perspective, how has it changed you as a purpose? -- Person? >> I have lived in the same house for 67 years. It's hard to imagine the beautiful, wonderful things you can find outside. It has been miraculous. I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Geoff: [Laughter] It has been a real joy to speak with you both. I wish you all the best. After your trip, I hope you will come back and tell us all about it.
>> Then we are on to Canada. Geoff: That is our program for tonight. For all of us, thanks for spending part of your Saturdays. >> Major funding has been provided by. And, with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions.
This program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions by viewers like you. [Captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.]