tv KQED Newsroom PBS February 20, 2016 2:00am-2:31am PST
. welcome to kqed "newsroom." on our show, california's secretary of state alex padilla talks about why californians aren't voting. what do changes on the supreme court bench mean for some key cases that will affect california? and, we get a preview of upcoming arts events around the bay area. but first, a tech giant takes on the federal government in a fight over access to cell phone data. on tuesday, a judge in southern california ordered apple to help the fbi unlock an iphone belonging to sayeed farook, 1 of the 2 terrorists who killed 14
people in san bernardino in december. security features on the implt phone have prevented the fbi from searching the device to see if farook and his wife communicated with other terrorists before of the attack. apple's ceo tim cook said the company will fight the order calling it an overreach by the government that could cost millions of americans privacy and security. joining us now, npr's digital culture correspondent, laura seidel. laura, we're talking about one phone here. but why is apple saying that unlocking this phone would open this whole pandora's box that would compromise everybody's right to privacy? >> it is a complicated question. what apple is saying is that in order to unlock this phone -- which basically apple phones have this feature where if you try to get the password more than ten times, it erases what's on the phone. what the government wants apple to do is to help those get rid of that so they can go in and just get the passwords and get
into the phone. apple would have to build special software in order to do that. apple's saying once we do that, once we build that key, it will be applicable to lots of other iphones and as a result, once you build it, even if you do it in secret at apple, things get out. you know? god forbid, somebody offers $10 million to one of the engineers that worked on it or something like that. it gets out. so apple's saying if you make us do this, you will make millions of customers less secure. so they're fighting it for that -- that's the core of the reason they're fighting it. secondly, they're also saying it sets a legal precedent that if we say yes to this once, we will have to say yes to this time and time again, every time the government comes and tries to break in to your phone essentially for -- yes, i mean it has to go through due process to get there. but still, they would have to comply. >> it sounds like this battle has been brewing for quite some time. in fact in new york, the d.a. said that there are many iphones
sitting in the crime lab that they're unable to crack. >> that is true. apple has not wanted to help. i should say that previously apple -- well, i should say two things. one, apple has helped with things like accessing the cloud data that was associated with this phone. they just don't want to break the encryption on the phone itself. so that is something in the past they did. i think the revelations that came forward that edward snowden brought to the world about how the u.s. government was working with tech companies made all of the tech companies -- apple, google, facebook -- a lot more aware of how the public was perceiving them when it came to protecting their information. and so apple kind of shifted. and with regard to those phones, this is the manhattan d.a., cyrus vance jr., has talked about these phones, but he has not pointed out how it has actually thwarted an investigation not to get whatever is on those phones. that's i think another important point here. we don't know if whatever is on those phones would be helpful or
not. >> i was reading that police are often very happy to find a cell phone on a crime scene. so they are used to getting information from phones. what kinds of information did they used to get from phones that weren't this type of iphone? >> well, think about it. what we do on our phones. in 2014 the supreme court held in kelly versus california, they actually found that phones today are nots the same as phones used to be. they saw that what we have on a phone now is where we are, our health information, banking. if you want to find out a lot about someone, if you've got -- i'm like a -- i carry my phone around with me everywhere. it can tell you where i've been, it can tell you how many paces i've walked. that's why. it is a treasure trove. >> ultimately what's at stake for other tech companies? >> you know, i think the same thing, as to whether the government can force them to break their own encryption. i think an important point here is what apple is saying, we sold
this phone, we created this stuff, but it is not our problem anymore. and to some degree apple does not want to be the third party in here. they're like, government, do what you want with that phone but don't call us in. i think the tech companies are kind of trying to say, hands off here. i think for apple, in particular, an important point here is i think tim cook is laying down the gauntlet on privacy and saying my company is about privacy and this is as much about positioning apple as a company that consumers feel safe with as it is about defying the u.s. government. >> now apple is one of the wealthiest companies in the world. would -- were we talking about another company, another phonemaker, would they even be able to take this stance? >> you know, that's always a hard question. certainly it is much harder for anybody to fight a legal fight if you don't have the money and the resources. so, yes, it would probably be harder in that respect. but some people might do it,
some people might not. hard to say. >> how likely is it that congress will get involved? >> well, i just -- actually just before i got here saw that there was subcommittee in congress that wants stim cook to come tak to them. i think given how high-profile -- even donald trump is weighing in on this saying he's going to boycott apple products, i think you're going to see congress probably try and weigh in. but let's be realistic, we have a congress that doesn't do much these days. even if they try to weigh in, will they do anything? hard to say. >> you've been on a lot of media outlets today talking about this. i think it is a big story. >> i think it is a huge story and it is really important. we are living in a world in which the technology is shifting a lot of issues. in the past, if say brinks made a safe or they wanted to break down a door, they'd break down that one door. they didn't have to go and ask for a key that would open a million other doors. right? so i think this makes it extremely important.
plus, the fact that so much information is on our phones. and so we've never had a device quite like this. so we need to decide, how important is it to let the government in. >> laura seidel, thank you. >> you're welcome. the public paid its respects to justice antonin scalia at the supreme court today ahead of his funeral this weekend. a political battle is brewing over who will replace him. during a visit to california this week, president obama acknowledged the difficulties of getting a nomination past republican senators. >> there are a lot of republican senators who are going to be under a lot of pressure from various special interests and various constituencies and many of their voters to not let any nominee go through, no matter who i nominate. >> there are also questions about how scalia's death will affect the cases pending before the high court. we're joined now by rory little, professor of law at u many c hastings.
professor little, president obama says he will make a nomination. if that's true, do you think that will happen? >> i think he'll nominate somebody, and i think the nomination will come pretty quickly so that the republicans have no objection based on timing. and i think the republicans will be pressured to have a hearing. will that result in confirmation? probably not. we certainly don't know at this point. >> meantime, we're mid session, and many cases are looming. the california teachers association is involved in one of them. what is that case about? >> that case is about whether the public employees union can require everyone covered by the bargaining unit to pay, even though they don't want to pay to join the union, even though they may not agree with all the union's positions. it goes back 40 years to an old case called abboud. the question is will that be overruled. justice scalia's absence could make a big difference on that one. because most people think it was internally 5-4 and about to be
decided. that five justice majority now disappears and if it's 4-4, it's affirmed, the lower court decisi decision, which was in favor of the union. >> what does that case mean for unions in general? >> well, so first, it's public employee unions. would it extend to private unions is a much bigger question. two mean that they would get less money from people that they bargain for. what the effect of that would be on unions, would that reduce their power, would that reduce their ability to negotiate, remains to be seen. unions ofourse are very unhappy with the idea of losing a certain percentage. federal government doesn't require unionized employees and they only have about a 30% membership rate. so reduction from 100% to 30% would be a significant financial problem. >> are there other cases californians in particular should be watching? >> you know, this term doesn't have a lot of california-based cases on it that just dice scal
will make a difference in. but there are certain issues we care about. abortion case. a religious contraception case. a redistricting case. all of these cases could go 4-4 when we thought they might be 5-4. then the lower court decision is affirmed whichever way it came out. so this might be good oso bad depending on what your view is. >> when was the last time we saw a major shift on the court in terms of ideology? >> well, that's a very good question. so a lot of people see the appointment of clarence thomas as having really shifted things because he replaced thurgood marshal, one of the most liberal justices in the court's history for one of the most conservative. so that's a big shrift. it depends how many. if you have more than one -- richard nixon totally transformed the court when he got to appoint four justices in about 2 1/2 years. >> who do you think president obama will nominate? million dollar question. >> million dollar question. well, he's got to nominate
somebody who's willing to take it, because the nominee may not be confirmed. a lot of people are betting on loretta lynch, the first african-american to serve as our attorney general. she would be of benefit to the democrats, whether she is confirmed or not. but there is a lot of candidates. president obama likes to do things that are first. he's not going to nominate somebody who's an obvious radical leftist because that would be a non-starter. >> i want to go back to the issue of the court only having eight members now. that's not unprecedented, is it? >> it's not unprecedented. every now and then a justice gets sick and is gone for a couple of months, has some surgery and cases go 4-4. they could also set cases for reargument if they want to. but they usually don't unless they know when there will be nine justices. right now we don't floknow. it might not be for a couple of months, it might not be for over a year. the supreme court used to only have five members.
it's not only been nine justices, but it has been for about 150 years. >> the idea of re-arguing cases sounds like it adds more to the work load of the current justices. how might that change the whole judicial schedule? >> well, they can set argument whenever they want to. but if they were to set it for reargument, most likely they would set it for next fall, or even next spring. so it doesn't really add to their work load much. it would just be one of their cases. let's face it, they only do about 70 cases a year. a lot of lower court judges just laugh and say what work load? that's not close to what i've got. >> final thoughts? >> well, i think it's a very important historical moment and it is largely unprecedented. so we're in the middle of making history here. >> rory little, thank you. >> thank you. with the june primaries ahead, get out the vote campaign is in full swing. in california there are close to 7 million people who are eligible to vote but are not registered. and the majority of them are
latino and asian-american. california's secretary of state alex padilla spoke with us about the barriers people face when it comes to voting. scott schafer has that interview. >> secretary padilla, thanks for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> you bet. so 2014 was not a good year, a record low turnout for voters. why aren't people voteing? >> i think there is a lot of reasons why people who are eligible to register haven't register and people who are registered voters haven't turned out to vote. there are studies, surveys and polls and it is a combination of factors. a lot of disconnected from government, does my vote really make a difference. but believe it or not, there are a lot of mechanical reasons for why people don't vote. a big part of the voter universe out there isn't aware that election day is coming up because they aren't watching cnn. they're not getting all the
mailers in the mailbox. even if they do know an election is coming up, they may not be paying close enough attention to know where their polling place is or things of that nature. >> i know you're taking some steps to change some of those things. but if you look at the 6 million-plus people who are eligible to vote but aren't registered, they're disproportionately latino and asian-american. how much of that is a language issue, cultural issue? >> the estimate is 6.7 million eligible unregistered californians. you are absolutely right, disproportionately communities of color, disproportionately younger people and disproportionately working class families. so what are the reasons for that? here's a quick story that i think captures some of it. for some people, if they're immigrant to this country, new citizens or their kids, they may not come from a history of participating in democracy. depending on where they come from. they may not come from a life experience of a democratic
society. and so in the course of my work i try to visit as many colleges and high schools in particular and talk to young people about the importance of registering and the importance of voting. i'll hear a principal or local mayor talk about when i was growing up, i went with my parents to the polls every november -- >> they were used to doing that when they were young. >> and that's great if that's their experience. that was not my experience. my parents are immigrants to this country. they didn't take me to go vote. not because they didn't want to, but because they weren't eligible. i can imagine the millions of california children who are growing up without that experience. all the more reason we have to get out there, increase ed ka igs in our schools. >> california is the very last state to have a state wide database of voters. what difference is that going to make and what's the timeline for getting that up and running? >> a little bit of bad news. we'll be the last state in the nation to come into compliance with a federal mandate to have a centralized statewide voter
registration database. good news is we are on track to come online with that this june. that will not just modernize how we conduct elections in this state, but from a voter perspective, allow you to go on and register to be able to verify the status of your registration. lot of times when people move, we forget where we registered or if there is a name change, that can easily be done. where your polling place is. requesting a vote by mail ballot. or after the fact, verifying that your vote by mail ballot was received and counted. if not, why not. you could have a signature mismatch issue that you aren't aware of after so many years. same thing with provisional ballot. it is going to be very user friendly and hopefully empowering for voters as well. >> that will enable us to do this motor voter automatic registration when people go to the dmv? are those two things related to each other? >> having the system we call vote cal in place will enable a lot of the other election modernization reforms that we've been working on.
people have asked what about same day registration. that bill was passed, it was signed in to law but it is contingent about vote cal being in place. so now we envision that within the year. same thing with the motor voter. this automated registration through the dmv. it is contingent upon vote cal being in place. again we're seeing that come online sooner rather than later. >> if you think about the way we vote now, it is still fairly antiquated. you can vote by mail but we still have polling places all over the state. oftentimes you go on election day, there's no unwith -- no one there. we can do so many things online, banking, appointments, medical records. why can't we vote online? >> i think there are two reasons why voting online isn't in our near future. one, most people will guess -- security. right? we hear about a data breach far too regularly in the news and what's more at core of our country and democracy than the election. we cannot compromise that.
the second reason equally important is our privacy. we have a secret ballot in this country to prevent bribery, prevent coercion and the internet is not really built that way. whenever we hear about the hack we know what the message said, we know from which account and which device it was sent. there is a lot of technology to afford people more options in when, where and how to cast a ballot. i'm sponsoring legislation could bring to california a new vote model where every voter automatically gets their ballot mailed to them. have you options on how to deliver that ballot. you can mail it back, you can drop it off at a number of ballot drop boxes or drop-off stations throughout the county. but utilizing technology to modernize polling places as we know them today to turn them into vote centers that afford early voting -- >> counties complain all the time that they're told to do things by the state and there is no money for that. >> we believe there has to be money to pay for that because the equipment we have today,
even without any changes in how we conduct elections, the equipment we have today is at or beyond its life expectancy. we need new equipment no matter what. so my argument is, instead of just buying a brand-new iphone 2, let's look at what technology today enables and invest in something that's much more user friendly, meaning voter friendly, while maintaining the security of our elections. >> quickly looking ahead five, ten years, how are elections and voting going to be different? >> again, i envision a model where every voter has a ballot mailed to them. many people will choose to mail it back. many people will want to drop it off in person. for some reason if you lost it, made a mistake and need a replacement ballot you can walk into any vote center in your county -- not just a polling place clothesest to where you live. maybe where you drop your kids off at school, where you work, by the shopping mall, and be able to have your questions answered and your custom ballot prepared there. >> secretary of state padilla,
thanks for coming in. it is going to be a busy year. >> don't forget to vote! >> okay. that was kqed's senior politic and government editor, scott schafer, talking with california's secretary of state, alex padilla. the bay area is brimming with arts and entertainment options. right now and in the weeks ahead. from a unique jazz meets opera production, to an interactive technology-driven art exhibit, there's something for everyone. kqed's senior arts editor chloe v sech veltman has picked out some of the highlights. seems apropos berkeley is producing something about political ambition run amok. >> that's right. we're talking about macbeth. it features two major actors. an oscar winning access, francis
mcdermott. she was in "fargo," and she's also the best thing in the new coen brothers movie, "hail caesar." she's taking on lady macbeth. it's one of shakespeare's most ambitious plays. this production is directed by daniel sullivan who's a really eminent shakespeare director in this country. he's actually from the bay area. he's taken his work to broadway. he's a very experienced shakespeare director. he's working with two actors who don't have so much shakespeare on their resume, though they do have good theater chops, west end, broadway and so on. it will be really interesting to see what happens. >> moving on to a much lighter, much light-filled art exhibit down in silicon valley, take us down to menlo park.
>> that seems like a strange place for a major contemporary art gallery to put a space, but pace gallery which is based out of new york. it's been going since the '60s. they have spaces in places like beijing and london, and they chose recently to open a menlo park facility. now it is the ideal space to be showing art that's related to technology. here we have an exhibition. it's so beautiful. full of lights. and this particular place you get to walk through and use an app to manipulate these beautiful lights, these strings of lights. it is like a forest. yeah. >> who are the artists? >> so the artists is a team lab. a japanese collective of about 400 artists, designers, engineers based out of tokyo. this is their largest exhibition to date. >> why did they think of menlo park? >> it is really the ideal place of exhibitions that are all about technology. plus there is a lot of money there. i gather some of the pieces have sold for quite a bit.
>> let's move on to san francisco where there is always something happening. you've got something that has a little bit of a mix of jazz and opera, which is an unusual combination. >> it is an unusual combination. now this is what's called an opera in jazz. it's called "champion." and it's all -- it's a boxing story, actually. it takes -- it's cued from history. about emeal griffith, a famous welterweight boxer who had a fight in 1962 with benny parrot. what ended up happening with these two, griffith kills parrot in the ring. he didn't intend to kill parrot but parrot made some homophobic remarks at if i hagriffith befo bout began. griffith was a bisexual and he
just pummeled him. it is a collaboration between essex jazz and opera parallel which is a contemporary opera company right here in san francisco. we will see that bout and the life of emeul griffith brought into this dramatic retelling. >> we also have a rather funny group that's coming in to the san francisco jewish community center, too. >> that's right. so there is a really popular podcast right now called call your girlfriend. it is the work of three different people. ann friedman and two others. they're coming to town and doing a live podcast record being at the jewish community center. this is a podcast that treats pop culture in a really smart way. puts a feminist slant on it.
they're all going to be in town, these ladies. there is going to be an audience gathered. they're going to be covering all sorts of topics. one of the things that i've found that they've done really well, some of these topics to do with weight loss. there is one in particular about an overweight barbie that i think is really thoughtful and funny. >> we have a clip of that. let's take a quick listen. >> if you would make a fat barbie, like that would be representative of a lot of little girls and they would get to see themselves in barbies. >> i would show up. i would show up for fat barbie. >> i would buy a fat barbie in a heartbeat. >> so what is that experience like being in the audience of a podcast? >> yeah. i mean it's -- you know it's interesting. i think a lot of radio shows, podcasts, are now going on tour. we've seen radio lab live. it is american life live. i think it is really like going to a theater in some ways. i think radio producers, podcast producers are getting very good at having conversations on stage and also weaving in interesting
sound. so i mean this event -- unfortunately, it sold out. one great thing about it, you don't even have to be at the jcc to experience it. you can just go online and see the action which is pretty great. >> finally, there are some kids in oakland who have won the lottery sounds like when it comes to opportunities to perform. >> yeah, this is a delightful story. so the oakland school for the arts has been selected out of -- i don't know how many different youth organizations -- to basically be the first organization to get the amateur rights to perform the hit musical "school of rock." many people know this from the jack black movie of a few years ago. it's been made into a musical. andrew lloyd webber, famous composer of "phantom of the opera" and "cats." they'll perform at the beautiful
historic theater right in san francisco, normally used for these big, splashy broadway shows. the kids will get to put on their production "school of rock." and this is the kicker -- andrew lloyd webber is coming to town and i gather he's turning up for the kids' dress rehearsal on march the 2nd. he really cares about arts education. >> chloe, thank you so much. >> it is a real pleasure. that's it for tonight. i'm stephanie martin taylor. thanks for watching. for more of kqed's arts coverage, please go to kged.org/arts.
man: it's like holy mother of comfort food.ion. kastner: throw it down. it's noodle crack. patel: you have to be ready for the heart attack on a platter. crowell: okay, i'm the bacon guy. man: oh, i just did a jig every time i dipped into it. man #2: it just completely blew my mind. woman: it felt like i had a mouthful of raw vegetables and dry dough. sbrocco: oh, please. i want the dessert first! [ laughs ] i told him he had to wait.