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tv   Amanpour Company  PBS  January 31, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour and company." here's what's coming up. venezuelas stage more protests, now maduro says he's ready to talk. with temperatures rising on the street, president trump voices support for the opposition leader. we get the lowdown. plus, temperatures plummeting across the midwest. more on the record-breaking polar vortex behind it all. and back to the future with cold war. oscar nominated director pawel% pawelkovski drops by to discuss his latest film. also, starving to study. why a 1/3 of college students
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worry about having enough to eat.
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welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. president donald trump upped the ante with venezuela today, personali personally calling the interim president to offer support. venezuelans are taking the street for people to put more pressure on what the u.s. now calls former president nicolas maduro. urging the all-powerful venezuela military to get on the side of the people while maduro is ratcheting up pressure on him, freezing all of his assets and barring him from leaving the country, but he's also leaving his door open for talks, telling russian media that he would negotiate with the opposition for, quote, the good of venezuela, for the world and its future, but just not about their demands for new elections. carlos vekio is the opposition's new envoy to the united states and he met vice president mike pence at the white house yesterday. he's joining us now from
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washington. mr. vecchio, welcome to the program. >> thank you very much for having me, christiane. >> so this is a really important moment. the president of the united states voiced support early on for him, and now he's actually picked up the phone or they've talked on the phone anyway and he's got support from president trump. can you tell me exactly what kind of support the president offered? >> i think the most important thing is to support our agenda, and that's what why y we have b talking with the united states and also latin american countries and the european union. our agenda is so clear, christiane. first of all, we want to end the power of maduro. then we want to move to a democratic system establishing a transitional government. after that we want to call for a free and transparent election, as soon as possible. this is our agenda.
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this is where we want to move forward and that's why we are requesting the support of the international community. and it is important to mention, i mean, this is not only about the united states. again, this is a fight between, you know, the free world against a dictatorship. >> i get it. i know you're saying this is a fight between dictatorship and democracy. just explain for people who are watching and they think, well, hang on a second, president maduro claims that he won the elections and he has not been elected president. describe how you're going to square that circle and resolve what many might have as a question mark. >> well, we have to keep in mind that maduro conducted a fake election last year in order to keep six more years in power. so that was declared by the oas as illegal, as an illegitimate
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election, and that's why he's no longer the president, he doesn't have the authority to conduct the presidency of venezuela. given that, we don't have -- a e president in the constitution order. following our constitution under article 223, the president of the national assembly has to assume the offices of the the president. that's why we're claiming the legitimacy of him as the interim president of venezuela. >> i understand you won't even be in a position to organize new elections for quite awhile. so given that and given that maduro says he's willing to negotiate with the opposition, only not over your demands for free elections. he says he's going to stay until 2025 when theoretically the current term he's embarking on
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expires. what is your plan "b"? what do you do if this continues and persists and maduro holds on to power? >> so, as i said, christiane, we want to continue with our agenda. if we don't stop the usurpation of power by maduro, the crisis will be even worse. we need to stop that. we are willing to negotiate our agenda, and they know that. so we need to put more pressure on the streets with our people. we have the momentum. we have the leadership. we have the institution of the national assembly in venezuela and we have the support opt international community, so i hope that we can conduct a smooth transition in order to establish a democratic government and stop the suffering of venezuela. >> so obviously we've seen pictures and know that people have come out and responded to his call. they're peaceful demonstrations so far. but everybody is looking at the venezuelan military. everybody says it is up to the guys with the guns, and they are mostly guys, to determine the
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course of this path that you've now embarked on. what more do you have from them? have they given you any assurances? they seem to be sort of standing firm for maduro at the moment. >> well, we have said to them that we have a new commander in chief th chief. they have to follow the order. they have to follow the constitution. we need them to restore democracy and we need them in order to conduct a smooth transition. so in my view, the majority of the military force are with us. they are just stopped by a small elite on the top of the military institution, but at the end of the day, they are venezuelans. they have families. they are suffering the same thing that we are suffering as our united people. so at the end of the day, in my view, with this pressure that we are putting on the streets from our institution of the national
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assembly and from the international community, i hope they can just be on the right side and support what our constitution says. >> i know you hope that, and so far we haven't seen any violent crackdowns, but what more do you think you have to offer the venezuelan military? because as you rightly point out, there is a layer of elite military at the top, the most senior, who have a lot of vested interests in being on maduro's side. they're engaged in massive sectors of the economy. they have all sorts of powers that they might not have in a normal democratic system. is your side, is he prepared to offer more than just a general amnesty? is there -- do they have to be promised certain positions in parliament? you know the way it's gone in latin america, as you've had transitional democracies. >> no, we understand that. i mean, the military, of course,
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is a key actor in this transition, especially to conduct as smooth a transition as we want. we are open to discuss with them, you know, what they have in mind, but at this moment in time, we have offered, as you said, an amnesty law. we are not including here a crime against humanity and we are just giving this amnesty to those who help us to restore democracy. and i think we can build that confidence among us in order to achieve what we want and to impose our agenda in certain ways. >> i brought up the u.s. record in latin america. you know it much better than i do. it's had a very checkered history for more than 100 years on your continent of interventions and coups and counter-coups and the rest. and, of course, president maduro is playing that up and he has said the following. he's issued his own sort of fiery sort of backlash to president trump. here's what he said just yesterday.
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>> translator: we won't allow a vietnam in latin america. if the u.s. intends to intervene against us, they will get a vietnam worse than they could have imagined. our country has the largest oil reserves in the entire world, and those who lead in the united states want to get their hands on our oil, just like they did in iraq and in libya. no, our oil belongs to us. >> you know, mr. vecchio, it is very interesting, he points out iraq, he points out libya, i mean, two highly controversial interventions by the united states. i mean, do you think he'll rally support by again blaming the u.s. and sort of doing that -- the kind of thing that he's been doing for awhile now? >> you know, in my view, he's trying to sell that to the rest of the world. saying that this is a fight between, you know, the maduro regime and the united states,
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and it's not that way. as i said before, this is a fight between the democratic world against a dictatorship. we have the most important latin american countries with us. we have the united states and we have also the european union. so, again, this is a fight, as i said, between democracy and dictatorship. the agenda that we have is so clear and we will continue to do that. what we have to keep in mind is that what we need to do is just not to invade venezuela, is to liberate venezuela, which is controlled not only by a dictatorship, but also controlled from cuba. that is something that we need to keep in mind. >> so, that's interesting that you raise cuba. obviously i'm -- i assume that vice president mike pence talked to you about what they call bad actors in venezuela, cuba, iran, the rest, and i wonder whether you discussed u.s. troops to venezuela. what is your position on that? >> we didn't discuss that point
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with the vice president, but i will tell you, i mean, i hope we can get to that point where we want is the smooth transition in venezuela. we need to stop the suffering of the venezuelans and we will keep our agenda. and i think if we keep our people on the streets and putting the pressure from the national assembly and get the right support from the international community, we can achieve it. so that's what we are promoting internationally. >> and i guess finally, i mentioned as i was introducing you that the maduro government has frozen his assets, has prevented him from leaving the country. how significant is that? i mean, what kind of assets does he have to start with and how significant is it for him to be prevented from leaving the country? >> no, i mean, this is a crazy measure that he has -- that they have taken against him. i mean, the president will remain in venezuela.
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he will continue leading this process with our people so that doesn't change anything about our fight. so what is important to mention is that the maduro regime is killing our people right now. since january 2nd, they have killed between 40 and 70 people right now. they are putting under arrest more than 800 people. and they -- the only tool that they have in this moment is just repression, and we need to highlight that point at this moment. >> and just for the benefit of our viewers, you know, we've seen so many pictures of desperate venezuelans over the last several years as the economy has collapsed since 2013. 3 million of them have left. you know, the hospitals are disintegrating and people are lining up for food and medicine that they can't even get. i mean, it's really a drama. just how difficult is it going to be and how do you plan while you're going through this to provide people, desperate people with the food, medicine and, you know, things that they need to
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survive? >> yeah, i mean, that's one of the most important points for us. we are beihave been requested r for a humanitarian aid to come to venezuela. we've announc we'll announce that in the days to come when that humanitarian aid will get to colombia. it's an international effort and we understand that the venezuelan people are suffering because of lack of food and medicine. maduro hasn't allowed for the food and medicine to get in. this will be a campaign that will start soon, and i hope we can get this humanitarian aid soon. we have been asking for the military force to allow that food and medicine to get into our country. >> well, we hope they will. perhaps that's an early signal of what -- how they intend to behave. let me just ask you this. you know, we didn't know who he was until about a week ago. he seems to have sort of stepped
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on to the global stage from sort of nowhere. just describe a little bit who this man is, his journey, you know, who is this guy that the whole world seems to be recognizing? or much of the world right now. >> well, he's a congressman. he was one of the co-founders of my political party. we did it together. he's a young person. he has courage. he has principles. he has values. he defends the democratic principles. and, you know, the story, you know, put him in this position. and now he's getting the support, not only from the national assembly, but from the people of venezuela. he's leading this process. he gets, you know, all the support of the international community. and we have done, you know, something that we never thought that we could do, so in my view, that reflects the spirit of change. i think venezuela is ready for a change and he is just getting
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that spirit from the people. that's why he's, you know, conducting this movement right now. >> carlos vecchio, thank you so much for joining us from washington. thank you. so, as things heat up in venezuela's power struggle, in the united states temperatures are literally plummeting to lows usually reserved for eastern siberia. a polar vortex forcing the midwest into intense cold, as low as minus 60 degrees, and that feels even colder with the wind chill. over the next few days, more than 200 million americans will continue to see temperatures at or below zero. that's around 70% of people on the continental united states. there are warnings about almost instant frostbite if not properly protected while outdoors. at least three people have already died and there are fears for the homeless, where sleeping rough will be a descentance. let's go straight to our supporter ryan young in chicago. ryan, welcome to the program. i kind of see you almost trying
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to dance and stamp your feet. how cold is it there now? >> reporter: well, one of the reasons why we stood out on this bridge is to give you an idea of how windy it is right now. when you talk about that wind chill, it's really bone-chilling cold. when you add the wind, it feels like needles against your face. you talk about the idea of frostbite. they're saying if you're outside for more than ten minutes at a time, you could be in danger of facing that. when you talk about the homeless, they have warming centers to make sure people can go inside to get warm. on days like that this is important. this is magnificent mile, beautiful chicago. you have the iconic river over here just to my side here as well. it looks like a sheet of ice at this point. normally this would be a bustling area. even on christmas it is packed. right now this is almost down to a standstill because of these temperatures. schools are closed. there is no mail delivery. i can honestly tell you they're
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even telling people to not breathe in too heavily because your lungs can freeze. it is a torturous process to be out here consistently. as you know, we work with a great crew, so my photographer has his hand around the camera and sometimes it freezes almost in the shape of his lens. so you can understand -- >> i can. >> what we're dealing with in terms of the temperatures at this point. >> i can. i really thank you for braving these temperatures. i see there is almost nobody on the street and very little traffic. we also have seen pictures of some people around the railways, you know, the operators burning and trying to set fires in order to keep the trains able to run around the railways. but tell me about, you know, again -- >> reporter: absolutely. >> yes. the hopeless and tmeless and th. you said they have warming centers. there are more than 5,000 in the chicago area who need to be off the street. do you think we'reoing to see deaths in the overnight? >> reporter: that is a great question. it's a scary thing when you
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think about it. look, on a day-to-day basis, you know in any city you live in, you sort of know the pockets that certain homeless people live in. we know a few as we drive into work every few days that live just along this riverside. in fact, we went down and around there this morning to see if some of the gentlemen we know were down there. they weren't there this morning, but they are so wanting to keep their stuff and their spot that sometimes they don't want to leave the bottoms of these buildings because it's -- some of the piping creates warmth down there. but you understand on a night like this you don't want to be outside. we haven't had any deaths on the streets so far. so it seems like there has been success, but this is the first day of that two to three-day cold snap that will be record-breaking temperatures. we to know people have been trying to do small fires and use their stove to stay warm, what we're hoping is we don't have those tragic stories with the large homeless population and pe people living in tents. that hasn't happened yet.
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the first of three days that could be record-breaking for the city. >> you're going to be reporting that a lot. get a little warm before you come out and start all over again. ryan young and your crew, thank you very much, indeed. >> reporter: thank you. so now let's get to the science behind this freak weather. richard ali is an award-winning climate scientist at pennsylvania state university where he is joining us from right now. richard ali, welcome back to our program. you know, you've seen a lot. you've studied a lot. tell us the science behind what's happening. is this just another typical chicago cold but just a little colder? >> essentially this is weather. and weather happens and weather has always happened and weather always will happen. this is actually just a little warmer than it would be if we humans hadn't been changing things. >> so tell me that. what do you mean? everybody is saying -- let me just play, i have to now read you president trump's tweet just a couple of days ago, on monday.
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in the beautiful midwest, wind chill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. in coming days expected to get even colder. people can't last outside even for minutes. what the hell is going on with global warming? please come back fast. we need you. is he right? is -- what's going on? >> right. so if you look at the big picture today, the antarctic is warmer than natural. the southern hemisphere is warmer. the tropics are warmer. the northern hemisphere is warmer, the arctic is warmer and we're freezing our once off. so there is weather, and the weather has been moved up to a higher temperature and it's been moved up to a higher temperature because we burn fossil fuels and release co2. >> right. >> the fascinating question is whether we made it more likely that this air that should be up in the arctic is now sitting over chicago.
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>> okay. that's what i was going to ask you about because we have heard some meteorologists saying precisely that, that the vortex, this polar vortex, which maybe you can explain for us, has been exacerbated by rising temperatures. and apparently the only other comparably cold place right now is the other part of the polar vortex in eastern siberia. >> yes. so normally the winds go screaming around the pole and the cold stays locked up inside. then we're a little bit warmer down here. and sometimes that weakens, it breaks up, it comes wandering down. there have always been cold snaps. there will be cold snaps, but when you raise the temperature of the earth, it doesn't just warm everything equally, it also changes other things. it changes where is the sea ice. it changes where the snow is and where the snow isn't. and the storms and the jet
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stream listen to those as well. and so when you start changing things in addition to the temperature, you can change how much of the time the cold is locked up in the north and how much of the time it comes out. and there is a fair amount of evidence that as we warm the world, this will change the frequency and the nature of the outbreaks. so there may be a little bit of a human thumbprint on this coming down. that is still in discussion. that we've warmed the world, that we're warming the world, that this affects us, that's not in discussion anymore, but how that affects where the storms go and how strong the wind is in chicago today is a -- is an area of great and fascinating research. >> yeah, and i guess an area of no discussion anymore is also the wild extremes. we're watching wild straextreme now, right? we've got this massive cold, deeper than it has been in some
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places ever in recent memory. and on the other side of the world, we've got massive heat. i mean, aencustralia is literal so bad the tarmac is melting. fruit bats are dropping dead out of the sky. wild horses are dying on the ground. >> yes. so we have made heat waves much more likely. when conditions are ripe to rain or snow, warmer air has more water so it can make more floods. every -- if you have a hair dryer, it has a heating element in it to dry your hair faster. i don't have enough left to worry about, but people do this. warmer air can dry faster. so you end up with more drought as well as more flood. so some of these extremes really do have a human fingerprint on it. so it's not just raising the temperature, it's also bringing other things. >> mmm-hmm. >> what we do know is that there are places that are so cold that when you make them a little bit
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warmer there are changes. it changes the traditional way of life. you can't do what you used to do, but you might in a warmer world have a -- have a bigger economy. for most of the world, for almost all the world's people, heat is more of a problem than cold, and if you warm the temperature, it tends to give you a smaller economy. >> so fascinating. we saw these horrible pictures of dead horses in australia. but i want to play something that has gone viral today. it is a father and son, i believe in wisconsin, they threw boiling water into the air and watched it freeze almost instantly. we're just going to play that. i don't know whether you've seen this, but it's been going around. give us a sense of where the debate is as we watch this. >> throw it right up in the air. >> let's have a quick look. here we go. throw the water into the air. and look at that. i mean, it pretty much demonstrates -- what more do you think people need to see and
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hear and know in order to get serious about, you know, trying to take real steps, concrete steps, which only governments can take effectively, to equalize, to combat this climate change in these extremes? >> right. i suspect that they need to see the opportunities and the options in dealing with it. the nobel prize in economics this year, co-recipient, was given to william nordhouse of yale for developing tools that allow you to choose where to put your investment and consumption to make more people better off, and those tools show that wise response to climate change, wise response on energy gives you a bigger economy as well as a cleaner environment. and the idea that we get more
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money, we get more jobs, we get greater national security when we deal with the environmental issues has not defused widely, but the nobel prize in economics says that we can use our knowledge to make people better off. and i think at the point where people see that dealing with this can help them and it can help them a lot as well as helping future generations and other creatures on the earth. i suspect that the conversation will really change. >> well, let's hope so. thank you for helping us understand. richard ali from the pennsylvania state university. now, from icy wind chill we turn to cold war. the new film by oscar winner polish director pawel pawlikowski. its protagonists victor and zula or musicians trying to make a life in post world war ii communist poland. their fiery relationship sees
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them split apart and reunite across the cold war. pawel calls it a story of both history and humanity around the world. it's broken records in polish cinema for being nominated for three categories. including best foreign film and best director. that is rare at the oscars. pawel pawlikowski spoke to me from los angeles about it. pawel pawlikowski, welcome to our program. >> thanks for having me. >> here we go again, pawel, another oscar nominated film. you obviously won one for "ida" a couple of years ago. this one takes on a more personal tone, doesn't it? your tragic romantic heros, sort of you use your own parents as the example. >> yeah, they were the starting point. their relationship became the inspiration for the relationship on screen and their story of
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love at first sight, betrayals, divorces, marriages, marriages to other people, remarriages and exile -- life in exile, that became the material with which i worked, but it's not literally their story. their story was much too chaotic and messy to make a film that would make any sense. so i had to actually reinvent them. >> so what it is -- >> they didn't do it because of them, you know? it's also -- it's also a way of showing europe's history as a very particular, very interesting time, which has some residents today -- >> okay. so let's talk about that. tell me what you were trying to capture. >> i was trying to bring history to life by showing two very lively characters, two complicated paradoxical characters who are kind of nasty but wonderful, who when one is up, the other one is up, who are protagonists of this story and antagonists to each other. and because they traverse europe
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from polish -- poland in stalinist '50s to paris in the mid-50s, the jazz world, the jazz period, back to poland in the '60s, more a shabby version of socialism, history always impacts on the relationship. history in the shape of, you know, authoritarian stalinist regime, but also history in the shape of separation, you know? they cross into the west separately and they miss each other. they kind of build each other's image up in each other's absence and then they end up together in exile, and suddenly in exile they look sort of very different people to each other. >> and it's complicated, as they say. it's -- >> it is very complicated. >> it is very complicated. but one of the things that i guess the cold war -- one of the emblematic issues about the cold war was the way the authoritarian dictatorial government managed to get people
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even in relationships and within families to rat on each other, to spy on each other. >> yeah. >> and i think that is one of the motives that you'fs that yoo highlight. and i'm going to play this clip. [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ] >> well, that finally woke him up. >> yeah. >> that is -- >> yeah. >> that is just a terrible thing that people had to live with during that time. what do you remember about that? i know you left early, but what do you remember about that? what were you saying with that
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clip, with that scene? >> well, that life is complicated. i mean, in the end, the viewer doesn't blame her for doing it. of course, victor, her lover, does blame her. he's shocked to discover, but to know where she comes from, what choices she had. she comes from the wrong side of the tracks and that was her only chance. i mean, you sort of -- you sort of forgive her. plus, as she specifies later on in the scene, she didn't do anything that would harm him. just the very fact of doing it is shocking. what i remember, i just remember kind of living this double life. having to say one thing at school and then being able to talk truthfully at home. i remember people did inform on you, we had a lady who came to cook for me when i was a kid who as it turns out was informing on us to the state security, and my mother had to go to the state security headquarters one day and almost -- almost fainted when she got the summons.
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so there was always the shadow of that threat. and you couldn't trust everybody fully. thank god it didn't happen within my family. that would have destroyed everything. but everything had a kind of double -- double flaw. it didn't stop people from falling in love and being wonderful people, too. >> yeah, but it's right, you talk about this double flaw or something that you grew up with that maybe stayed with you forever. i don't know whether it's ether -- or what. es of trust, >> i was traumatized by the exile, that's true. when i left at 14. but my parents, clearly i sensed the tension all the time. most grown-ups, you know, have to -- have to deal with it. >> so i want to talk about the trauma of the exile then. because the other clip we have is about exile. it's, you know, it takes place in paris and the gran dam is
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talking to your harreroine. she ends up -- let's watch. [ speaking foreign language ] >> i found that really interesting to watch. and then when you say the trauma of exile, it's summed up there, right? they don't want to admit that, you know, they had to flee or
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that they were in any way second-class citizens or emotionally damaged. >> yes, i mean, it depends on who you are, but zula, the character you just showed, she's a defiant one. she doesn't want to be patronized, especially by this pretentious intellectual who also happens to be the former lover of her great love. so she is defiant, yes. and i remember -- i remember when i first came to the west, people were trying to explain to me how a telephone works, as i had never used a telephone in poland. so there were these sort of moments, come on, you know, it's not so fantastic. it depends, of course, what your character is. zula, who you saw in that scene, she actually didn't really want to leave poland. she didn't have a good reason to leave. she left literally for love. victor, the male lead character, he really was suffocating in poland. he had no future there. he had no future. he had nothing to do. he was oppressed -- he felt
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oppressed by people spying around him, by not being able to do the kind of music that he wanted to do, whereas zula was actually okay in poland. >> i still want to go back to today a little bit because you're polish, obviously, and things are not great in your country right now, at least the government is, you know, cracking down on all sorts of the sort of the liberal world order that pols had gotten used to at the end of the cold war. you said something about the government and, of course, we know that hate speech is on the rise. the liberal mayor was stabbed to death not so long ago. you quoted, "the awful thing is that poland is a lively, democratic, varied society, and these people who were voted in by a mere 6.5 million out of a nation of 40 million are ruining the image of our country for all of us and for a long time." you know, you've been accused by this government of being
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anti-polish with your previous film. describe your role, what you're saying and you as a pol today. >> well, i tried to basically do my own thing, to make films which are not simplistic, which don't reduce history to a simple ideological narrative, which show how complicated life is, especially in historical conditions. how difficult the choices are that people make. so that goes against the grain of the kind of simplistic narrative of nationalists, of extreme nationalists who are now very vocal and in power. secondly, you know, i think poland, as i said there in that quote, is a very lively country. i don't think, you know, it's not all lost. it's a -- it's still a democratic society. people still go out into the streets to protest laws that are wrongheaded are withdrawn. there is free press. state television has been taken over by the governing party and it's become a tube for
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propaganda. there are other channels that haven't been closed down and hopefully won't be. so it's actually a very lively, healthy situation now. it's not all lost, and the elections are coming in a year. the municipal regional elections happened recently and they didn't go so badly for the democratic side. so let's not -- let's not exaggerate. let's not give up hope, you know? i think it's still there is -- time to play for. >> you're right. let's not exaggerate. i wonder if you can comment on something quite shocking. your own grandmother was killed in auschwitz. this weekend on holocaust remembrance day, we saw ultra nationalists parade through auschwitz. it's a sight that i can't imagine they were allowed to do that, but they were. i wonder what your reflexes are on that. >> no, that was horrible and embarrassing. it wasn't a big group.
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>> no. >> but the fact that they actually got there is outrageous. and i think, you know, a lot of poland is upset and there is a , listen, i don't want to say it's, you know, we're in a good place, but it really is not -- it's not hungary. it's not russia. yet. you know, there is life. there is political life. there is very strong political figures and cultural figures who are speaking out against it. there are people going into the streets. it's still a pluralist society. and we should bring that up, encourage that rather than demonize the whole country in a general way. >> indeed. and they should be proud that your film has three oscar nominations, which is a record in this instance. and pawel pawlikowski, thank you so much for joining us. director of "cold war." >> thank you very much for having me. for our final report tonight, we explored the price tag of a college education in
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the united states. rising debts, low waging and increasing livings expenses are forcing students to sacrifice the most basic necessity, food. it is an incredible situation and according to a new report by the u.s. government accountability office, it says 1/3 of students don't have enough to eat. sarah rabb sees this in her classroom every day. she's also paying the price and a professor of higher education policy at temple university in philadelphia. she spoke to this woman as part of our ongoing initiative which looks at poverty, jobs and economic opportunity in america called "chasing the dream." >> are people having to make the choice between eating and continuing with school? >> they absolutely are. there's really no question. we've done so many interviews and so have my colleagues over the many years now and we've seen students make those choices all the time. i will see students who will say, you know, i'm so short on money that in order to buy my
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books this semester, it means i'm going to miss rent payments. i mean, we estimate that almost 1 in 10 of american college students have been homeless in the last year. this is very serious and very common. it can mean that a student, for example, has a medical need and therefore does not have groceries for the month. there are so many competing pressures facing these students every day, some of which, you know ordinary americans are also very acquainted with, but it means that they're going to have to give up on their education. and leaving it partly unfinished, where they leave in debt with no degree is really consequential. >> this gets almost personal for you. i remember you telling someone about one of your own students reaching out to you and telling you what she considered a secret. >> yeah, i mean, i have had students for a long time who have had these challenges, but i was especially taken when i first arrived at temple university and an undergraduate came walking into my office. i thought she was there to ask
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for an internship. i mean, she looked, you know, very sort of put together. a very bright science major and she said to me, i really need to tell you something. and i said, what do you need to tell me? it's the first time that we've met. she said, i hear you know that you know know, that you understand there are things going on that we don't talk about. i said, well, what do you need to tell me? and she said, i don't have enough money for food. and she said, and i'm so embarrassed to say this, but i've actually started shoplifting at the local grocery store so that i can get enough to eat. and she said, and i was recently caught, and that means i can't do it anymore. so she said, so i don't know where to get food. and to be really frank with you, the woman sitting across from me was a white woman who looked very middle-class, and, in fact, is middle-class. she is the child of people who value education, who have worked very hard for pay for college but have struggled economically with a lot of ups and downs.
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as they helped her go through college, they started to run out of money. she's too rich to get financial aid and too poor to be able to actually afford college, and so she really found herself without enough to eat and very few options. >> at that point, so a whole group of people that seems to be missing from what little data that we do have, right? there is a gap in our perceptions of who might be impacted by this and who actually is impacted. >> that's right. i mean, we do tend to think about low-income college students when we think about this issue and when we think about financial aid generally. that is important. today's pell grant recipients are absolutely being left short in ways that are unconscionable, but there is a missing middle, too, and it's this middle class that almost 50% of americans believe they're a part of, but the middle class is not doing well. they're strapped. they're facing a lot of economic volatility. work is not paying the way that they would like it to and college prices are often beyond reach, and so they might think that they have it together and
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they get to college and then, again, they run short and they are mystified and, frankly, a bit stigmatized, you know, when it comes to asking for or accessing this help. >> give me a scale of the problem. how significant is food security for college students across the country? >> well, the first thing, and the gao does emphasize this, we don't actually really know at a national level because the federal government has never collected data on this in any systematic way. in fact, colleges and universities are also not required to collect data on this. so what we really know comes from surveys that we've done. one college at a time across the country. and myself and my team as well as other researchers around the country have amassed a large number of colleges over time in most states where we have done these surveys and the results seem to suggest that around 40 to maybe even 50% of the nation's college students are enduring food insecurity while they're in school.
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>> our general definition of who is a college student in america seems to be completely different, at least our perception of it versus what the reality is. >> there is a big disjuncture. we continue to think of college students as young people from reasonably wealthy families who value education and have sent their children off to college with savings in the bank, sent them to live in residence halls and to focus on this schooling, pursue one or two majors, attend lectures and extracurricular events and have a basically good time. only 13% of american undergraduates these days live on a college campus. 1 in in 4 has a child. almost -- more than 1/3, actually, are over the age of 24. they don't look the way we think they look and they don't get the support we popularly think they get.
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>> if 1/3 of students are going hungry, how is it that the price of tuition keeps going up? >> these things are not entirely connected. the price of tuition rising is ey're paying for higher ed.use so in the past, if let's say college cost $1, a state might say to a student, we'll put in 75 cents, you'll pay 25 cents and over time the state has begun to say, we'll pay 50 cents, you pay 50. we'll pay a quarter, you pay 75, but the food issue is really in many ways is being driven by the increase in living costs in this country. so the fact is, you know, as housing has gotten more essures on food. reated other >> so how do schools deal with this idea of kids who are in their classrooms -- not even kids, adults in their classrooms, there i am falling back into that trap, who can't figure out where their next meal is coming from. >> what has changed over time is that we have drawn more attention to the structural factors that are creating this problem at such a large number
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of colleges that no one college could be doing something wrong that would be causing this themselves. and as that's happened, it's enabled some colleges to be able to take more steps. so we see a growing number of campus food pantries. that's at least a charitable impulse that's being realized. we're seeing a growing number, especially at community colleges, that are starting to helpstudents access s.n.a.p. programs, which are food stamps. we're seeing some try out food programs like food scholarships. some are subsidizing those bigger expenses like housing. one of the reasons that people don't have money for food is because they can't pay their rent. so, for example, my team's been work with a couple of housing authorities in this country that are working to offer more support to the people who live in public housing while they're in college so that they can actually really live and eat and go to college and then, frankly, get out of public housing, become economically self-sufficient. >> because if they're not eating, they're not studying
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well, they're not performing well, they're not likely to graduate. >> they're not. you know, this is such common sense. there isn't a teacher in this country who is teaching an 8 or 9-year-old who thinks if that teacher hasn't eaten they're going to be active and engage in the classroom. we have no reason to believe that a 25-year-old or an 18-year-old would be any different. >> so you and your team have been looking at this for years now. you had a book out a few years ago. you were following 3,000 different students. i want to look at the longer arc here. are things getting better or worse? >> part of the reason that it's really hard to me to say is we were not tracking these issues in this way for a long period of time. i followed a cohort of at least 3,000 students. what it looks like in the first semester of college can be very different than the third or fourth or fifth semesters. there is a lot of volatility and fluctuation. are we worse off in 2019 than we were in say, 2017, or 2012 or in
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1982? we don't know. because these issues were not being examined. because we're looking now, i think over time we're going to be able to say, hopefully whether things are getting better or worse, but what i can tell you is that it is clear that higher education is getting in the public sector less resources per student than it ever has. we have more students from families with significant economic needs and we have students who are having a harder time getting work that pays during college and enough access to financial aid to make up for those financial needs. so the crisis really, frankly, should still be here. >> if it's underresourced like this, is that driving part of what this student loan debt size has ballooned to? give us some perspective how big that is now. >> you know, the student loan debt overall size matters to me a little bit less, frankly, than the number of borrowers who are unable to repay their loans. and those people really
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interestingly are not the ones who have the big debt. not what we would call big. they have like $5,000 of debt. the problem is they only got like a year of college education. so these are high school graduates walking around with the feeling of having dropped out of college and now owing loans. they have no economic ability to repay. many of them are taking loans they should never have had to take. they were pell grant recipients in college, which when that program began meant that nobody should take a loan. we never intended for people who were low-income when they come to college to have to take debt. they were supposed to get a grant. the pell program now covers barely 1/3 of public colleges and universities' total costs. >> that's different than when everyone started out. >> exactly. it's a major decline. it was supposed to cover 100%. we're down to 1/3. if they're going to be in college, they've got to take on the debt. but their chances of finishing are not that high. so they come out with debt and no degree. and now they're in potentially
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an even worse situation than they were in the first place before they went to college. >> somebody's going to say, look, what about work study? i had to go to school and get a job, work 15, 20 hours a week to qualify for benefits. >> that's a great idea. the problem is that work study in this country is so incredibly underfunded, that has more people have needed it over time. we have not increased the support for it. as a result, only 1 in 10 students in public colleges or universities are getting supported by the work study program. and, unfortunately, when we've pointed that out and noted that work study is immensely popular, it aligns with what people think should happen, you should work in college and work on campus. instead of that, this administration has actually tried to get rid of the work study program, rather than to grow it to meet need. >> are we approaching a slightly -- are we overvaluing college? meaning, is college right for everyone? >> look, i don't think to say
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that college should be affordable and accessible for everyone is to say everyone has to go to college. those are two really different things. but i think that one of the problems we have, college has become the place america loves to hate, partly because america thinks that what everybody's doing in college is pursuing a degree of some sort they don't find valuable. what they don't seem to realize is a lot of the services they now seek are performed by people who do have to get some sort of vocational or technical training, and that training is offered in college. community colleges and universities around the country are the places that people who do all sorts of things, everything from cosmetology to truck driver training, they do these things in college. now, colleges are the places they go to get them. so to say that college is unaffordable is not just to say, well, you can't get that philosophy degree. it's also to say you can't get the credential you need to be an
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automative technician. what kind of situation are we going to be in when we say, no, let's cut people off from those occupations? >> when you look at this from a 30,000-foot view, i mean, higher education was supposed to be this opportunity to move social mobility, move class, right? so it was -- community college infrastructure was supposed to be that alternate path. what's happened to our idea of what college is capable of doing, especially at a time where it seems that we're all socially asking for that credential? >> yeah, so i think that the fact is that the idea, the theory is right. education can do all the things you just described and it did do it in the 20th century. many of the things we all enjoy today, whether it's our iphones or the innovations that we have on the internet, were created by the expansion of education. education propels innovation, but the problem is that we never really actually all agreed to this at the policy level.
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and so while we, some of us set out to make policies to expand educational opportunity in higher education, the fact is that states really never did join in a full way the federal government in making college truly affordable. and over time, depending on the administration in charge in washington, they have undermined the financing behind the idea. so the idea has stood, the idea has been widely heard by the public, which has said, yes, we want college, but we did not build and sustain a financing system to actually back up that idea. and i think that's the task of the 21st century. it's time to figure out how to live up to the promise, how to get together and understand that this is not a mushy social justice issue. this is an economic issue. we're either going to have to rebuild a lot of social programs to support people who can't get a job, are living in poverty,
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are going to have high medical expenses, going to be, quote, unquote, on the dole, or we can give them a viable path to self-sufficiency, which we know runs through education. seems like the latter is probably the more cost effective thing to do and it's what each individual person is choosing for their children. the question right now is what they're going to choose for other people's children. >> thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> a shocking look there at the price of education in the united states for many, many people. that is it for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour and company" on pbs and join us again tomorrow night.
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