tv Matter of Fact With Soledad O Brien NBC August 18, 2019 5:00am-5:31am PDT
soledad: right now on "matter of fact" -- paradise lost. >> everything we had built up all our years together and it's all gone. soledad: a lifetime wiped out in minutes. when one of the worst fires in american history raced through this town. >> its gonna take years before this area is populated again. soledad: but they promise to return to paradise. plus -- do you mi politics? >> why former governor jerry brown says he's busier now than ever. and it's the love story you've probably never heard. alexis: she becomes pregnant and he's deported after the war. >>how an african-american nurse fell in love with a soldier in hitler's army.
soledad: i'm soledad o'brien. welcome to "matter of fact." when one of the deadliest wildfires in history raced through the tiny town of paradise, california, last november, it killed 85 people and burned nearly 15,000 homes. the town lost about 90% of it's population in the aftermath. it was once home to 26,000 people. now it's estimated between just 2,000 to 3,000 remain. so the question is now -- is paradise lost forever? our correspondent jessica gomez traveled to paradise and found a community of people resilient and ready to rebuild. >> i mean, everybody has seen a burnt down house, no one has seen a burnt down town. >> i think if you watched a movie about the end of times, that's what this town feels to me like now. >> like the apocalypse happened.
it's just -- horrific. jessica: paradise, california, a town stopped in its tracks last november 8. the sounds of charles and rachel rogers life, crunching under their feet. like most here, they lost everything. >> wow, the ipod. jessica: with no renter's insurance, they're starting from scratch in yuba city. charles: it's the simple things now. our walls are bare, we have no pictures, we have nothing. jessica: most here now are clean-up crews. from above, their work seems insurmountable. miles and miles of ash and rubble. six months after the fire, fewer than 4,000 of the 11,000 properties have been cleared, and that's just the first step. daniel: you have to clean their property, you have to sample their soil, you have to make sure they have water, that their sewage system is still operating, they've got power, before we can even think about putting people back on their
property. >> there is my old sleeping bag. jessica: maureen curtis, finally moving into a new femailer a nearby campground. she's one of the lucky ones. hundreds more are on the waiting list. maureen: imagine moving 14 times in four months when you have lived 23 years in the same spot and you have nothing because everything burned. debbie: coming up here again today, it's not easier. it's devastation. it's heartbreaking. jessica: woody and debbie stearns say they don't have the time to wait for the remains of their dream home to be hauled off. they've already bought a new house in red bluff. woody: i couldn't live here again just surrounded by those memories and the way it used to be, because it's not going to be there anymore. jessica: for those left behind, daily struggles. the water in paradise, still not safe to drink.
tammy spillock's home was destroyed. her mother's, one of just a few in her neighborhood untouched. tammy: i call it being in the bubble. but as soon as you go outside, reality hits that you know this is where we live now, so it's difficult. jessica: tammy, a realtor, bought the burned-out lot behind her mom's house and plans to build there once it's cleared. the state says that could take up to 18 months. tammy: it takes nine months to build a home. so 18 months plus nine, so we are at 2 1/2, three years, that's a long time to be in limbo. >> number one is safety, they want it safer. jessica: at town listening sessions, concern those who want to move back, won't be able to afford the cost to rebuild. surveys, permits and talk of new, safer building codes, many here were underinsured. >> you have to keep going. you have to. jessica: but mayor jody jones acknowledges, paradise will never be the same. mayor jones: we are trying to
do everything we can, but we can't build people's homes for them or give them the money to build their homes, and i know that is hard. very hard. not everyone will come back to paradise. jessica: jones says the town is applying for federal grants to help subsidize some of the rebuilding costs, and every day, more paradise businesses are re-opening. thomas sinclair's auto body shop is up and running. thomas: as long as i can pay the bills and not go under, i will stick it out. jessica: sticking it out. surrounded by reminders of what was lost here and finding optimism in what paradise could one day become. when you think about this two-bedroom place you're going to build right behind your mom, do you feel hopeful and optimistic that paradise will come back? tammy: i think it will come back one home at a time. it will be beautiful again. and i think if you, you know,
have a little hope, you'll see it. jessica: in paradise, california, for "matter of fact," i'm jessica gomez. soledad: california fire investigators say the state's largest utility provider pacific gas and electric's powerlines sparked the deadly fire. >> next on "matter of fact" -- a dire warning for our way of life. governor brown: we've got to stop the global warming or else it's going to be the end of civilization as we know it. >> jerry brown led the nation's fight against climate change. is anyone listening now that he's retired? plus, with the world at war their romance was unthinkable and illegal. alexis: he approached her and said you should know my name. i'm the man who's going to marry you. >> how this african-american nurse and german priso nurse and german priso ♪upbeat musieverything was so fresh in the beginning. [sniff] ♪ dramatic music♪ but that plug quickly faded. ♪upbeat music luckily there's febreze plug. it cleans away odors and freshens for 1200 hours.
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got a wake-up call about climate change. a call it didn't answer. the california energy commission issued a report saying the build up of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere would likely bring more droughts, more floods, more fires, more heat waves to the state. fast forward 30 years and those projections feel prophetic. former governor jerry brown became a force fighting climate change during his time in office. and since leaving office in january, he says he still plans to bring awareness to the issue. i recently had to chance to sit down with the former governor. so governor brown, nice to have you. governor brown: well, really nice to be here. soledad: nice to see you. many years ago, i think it's 25 years ago, we ran around lake merritt like jogged. you and i when i was a reporter in oakland and you were a fast runner and i was not. it was a very short run for me at least. you were the youngest governor the state elected at age 36 in the 1970s. and also you've left the oldest governor and state. people sometimes refer to those different eras as jerry 1.0 and
jerry 2.0. what did jerry 2.0 know that jerry 1.0 didn't know? governor brown: well, here's the key point. if you live long enough and you're making decisions you can see a decision five, 10, 20, 30 years later. so it gives you a sense what works and what doesn't. so i had a more sure sense both of seeing problems finding solutions and picking people early picking people to work with me but also knowing how to treat people, get along with people. well, i can tell you this 16th year as governor, i knew a hell of a lot more than the first year. it's just it's just a fact. soledad: you've been out of office since january. what do you do with your free time? governor brown: well, it's all free time supposedly. well, i have a ranch. i've built a home off the grid. and we're planting corn and
tomatoes and cucumbers and i have an olive orchard. we're getting ready for our third harvest of olives to make olive oil. it's called mountain house olive oil. so i'm doing a lot and i was also working on the nuclear threat initiative and the bulletin of atomic scientists to try to get russia and the united states to reduce their nuclear arms and forge some intelligent agreements and i'm working on climate with china. china and the university of california. so between climate change and nuclear -- soledad: and your tomatoes and olives. governor brown: my tomatoes, and my corn and my olive oil. actually it's busier than being governor. soledad: do you think a progressive stance on climate change impacted the economy in california in a big way? governor brown: in a positive way. well, we have renewable energy , renewable solar and wind and other renewable sources of
electricity, power over 30% of our homes and our businesses. it will go to 60% in 10 years. so we have to help california but whatever the impact on other states, we've got to deal with climate change or the rising temperature, the increasing disruptive storms, the fires, the infectious diseases will be far more costly both in human suffering and just in plain old ordinary business failure. soledad: california today has a much bigger surplus, is doing far better than we were doing in the 1990's. governor brown: the side of our economic growth is the affordable housing. there's so much money circulating around in so many different ways of getting a mortgage that people bid up the price of housing. so it's off the charts. now having said that, we've funded our schools so we direct more funding to lower income schools, and i would say the high-speed rail, that that will happen. it may take a couple years.
we may have a few more bumps in the road. well, when people wake up to the fact that america is going down a path of being a second-rate country that can't build renewable energy facilities and high-speed rail, we have to clog our freeways with gas guzzlers, people i think will wake up in california's effort at trying to build this thing for the last 40 years will be fulfilled. soledad: do you miss politics? are there days on your farm that you're like, you know what, i'd like to put a suit on and go into sacramento and have some meetings and me running stuff? governor brown: i didn't mean to put this suit on, i did it for you. soledad: we appreciate it. you don't miss it, not one minute? governor brown: no. but we are facing existential threats the danger of nuclear blunder, accident catastrophic. the same thing is happening with climate change. we've got to stop the global warming or else it's going to be the end of civilization as we know it. the big threats are bigger than ever. their probability is not by any
means zero. so it's real. now, are we going to get through it? i think it's a hell of a challenge. it's very exciting and i'm working on various aspects of it. so i get a very good one. a lot of energy. let's get at it. soledad: governor brown, nice to see you. >> when we come back, enemies in love. an african-american nurse and a german p.o.w. could their illegal love last a lifetime? plus, is this government approved design for new airplane seats really an upgrade?
soledad: today one in six newlyweds marry someone outside of their race. that's a steep rise since 1967, which is the year the supreme court legalized interracial marriage in the landmark case loving vs. virginia. but two decades before that,there was another forbidden love story that would test the boundaries of america's tolerance. elinor powell was an african-american and a nurse during world war ii. because of her race, she pulled a second-class assignment, which was working at a german p.o.w. camp in arizona. army leaders put the black nurses with the p.ow.s to avoid the risk of romance. they didn't think the prisoners would find the african-american nurses attractive, but an unlikely love story did unfold. frederick albert, a soldier in hitler's army, fell in love with elinor. journalist and author alexis clark uncovered this story. i sat down with her to talk about her book, "enemies in
love." it's so nice to have you with me. alexis: thanks for having me. soledad: so how did they meet? alexis: they met in the mess hall at the prisoner of war camp and frederick was a cook at the time and this was during one of the lunch or dinner. and so elinor enters and frederick said that it was like he was under a spell. he approached her and said you should know my name. i'm the man who's going to marry you. soledad: so you write about this book and one of the things that's so strange and that's very, very romantic. but let's remember frederick is fighting in hitler's army and elinor is a black woman and we're talking about the 1940s, so sort of everything is wrong about this in every which way. was frederick not ideologically aligned with the nazis? alexis: so he just was a soldier drafted like anyone else who had to be drafted. so he didn't hold those views. soledad: how did they grow their romance and their relationship while one is a
p.o.w. and one is working under pretty not great conditions? alexis: he was kind and they basically started to fall in love when he volunteered in the hospital and through their own flirtations or sometimes he held classes, baking classes, she would attend. and he made her feel very desirable and wanted. and they actually just fell in love and then would be together in secret. apparently word got out that he was seeing her and he was punished severely, beaten. so that was the irony. that it really wasn't about that he was being with an american. he was being with an african-american. soledad: once the war ended. they were able to make their relationship, uhm, struggling for the word because it's not really official, because -- alexis: of course not soledad: interracial marriage would be illegal until 1967. alexis: correct. she becomes pregnant and he's deported after the war ends just like all the germans,
p.o.w.s, they are sent back. and so she returns to her native town of milton, massachusetts, as an unwed mother pregnant with a german prisoner of war's baby. but that was their plan because they knew he'd have a greater chance of being able to return to support his child. and that's exactly what happened. soledad: eventually they moved back to germany. alexis: yes. yes. soledad: why? alexis: he was the son of a very prominent engineer who had a company. so he was being positioned and groomed to take over. and because they struggled for housing, to find jobs as a mixed race couple -- soledad: in the united states. alexis: in united states. so they moved back to germany and his parents. large, beautiful home. and it was a terrible experience soledad: i was going to say elinor was not welcomed. by his family. alexis: by his family and just even the town at large. they just were so unfamiliar
with blacks in general. i mean they saw the black g.i.'s who were, you know, in the occupation. but as far as this white german from a very wealthy family bringing home a black wife, i mean, it was just unheard of. soledad: the book is a great look at that chunk of time in american history. it's called "enemies in love: a german p.o.w., a black nurse and an unlikely romance. alexis clark, so nice to have you. alexis: thanks so much for having me. >> coming up next -- is the education department breaking the law when it comes to student loan debt? plus, can this seat
soledad: now to a weekly feature we like to call "we're paying attention even if you're too busy." more than 180,000 applications for loan forgiveness are piling up at the education department, and no one is doing anything about it. back in 2016, the obama administration announced a program to forgive the loans of students who attended fraudulent for-profit schools.
the rule was supposed to take effect in july, 2017, but by then president donald trump was in office. his education secretary betsy devos repeatedly pushed back the repayments and rejected about 99% of applications. and the few applications she did approve were already deemed forgivable under the obama administration. so she included a note to the borrowers that she approved the cancellation of the loans with, quote, extreme displeasure. last year, a federal judge ruled the delays were illegal. but still, no borrower has had their request approved or denied in more than a year. so what's the hold up? education department officials say lawsuits are slowing down the process. last month, the american federation of teachers filed a lawsuit against devos for mishandling the program and violating borrowers' constitutional rights by rejecting applications without due process. there's no timeline yet for
when the department of education will start reviewing the 180,000 pending applications. >> when we return -- standby for an upgrade, to the middle california phones offers free specialized phones... like cordless phones. - ( phone ringing ) - big button, and volume-enhanced phones. get details on this state program. visit right now or call during business hours.
- ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program visit right now or call during business hours. soledad: finally, you may get a little more elbow room if youre stuck with a middle seat on your next flight. the f.a.a. recently approved a design featuring a wider seat. a startup in colorado called molon labe is behind the s-1 space seat. instead of being side by side, the seats are staggered. with the middle seat a few inches lower and slightly behind the aisle and window seats. the company says this arrangement will give passengers about three more inches of space. oh, three whole more inches. doesn't sound like much, but the seat offers more elbow room because people in the middle row use the back end of the armrest while folks in the aisle and window seats use the front end. of the arm rest. the f.a.a. approved the upgrade to the middle seat in june.
but will have to sign off on how each carrier incorporates the seats into its cabin. the company says one airline has already placed an order, and it's in negotiations with two other airlines. they're not disclosing the names. so we're on standby -- get it -- for the news. that's it for this edition of "matter of fact." we'll see you next week. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
♪ robert handa: hello and welcome to "asian pacific america." i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. today we are featuring some fun entertaining events that celebrate the diversity of our bay area community. we start with a unique global event happening here in the bay area. check out this combination: the world buddhist women's convention, partnering with the yerba buena gardens festival present american bon dancing. those of you who have been to a bon festival know what kind of dancing that we're talking about. the event also celebrates the introduction of bon dancing in the us 88 years ago by reverend yoshi iwanaga and today his daughter-in-law, bay area obon dancing legend, reiko iwanaga, will join us. and then we go on to the big upcoming silicon valley pride