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Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
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August 1, 2021 11:56 am

CBS Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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August 1, 2021 11:56 am

 In our cover story, Luke Burbank examines how Butte, Montana, is overcoming a century of environmental damage from its mining industry. David Martin interviews retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against President Trump during Congress' impeachment investigation. Weijia Jiang explores the history of anti-Asian racism in America. Chip Reid visits the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building, reopening after nearly 20 years,

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I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. There's gold in the hills surrounding Butte, Montana. Gold, silver, and especially copper. Starting way back in the 1860s, those riches lured thousands of workers who dug up and mined the earth. It made Butte wealthy, but as Luke Burbank will tell us, it left behind a problem.

A toxic problem. Montana is known for its big skies and big personalities. And in the case of the town of Butte, the biggest superfund site in the country.

That is the moniker we got to get rid of. We are a model of what can be done when a citizenry is active and informed and educated. It's a butte of a tale ahead on Sunday morning. The Little Engine That Could is a classic children's tale. Now there's a sequel of sorts.

All aboard as Lee Cowan gives us a closer read. We all know the story of the Little Engine That Could. She thought she could, and she did. We need the American dream. We need people to believe in themselves that they can make it and they can do anything.

But at the same time, we also need to understand the other things that are necessary for helping people succeed. The man who put the Little Engine That Could on a new track coming up on Sunday morning. David Martin talks with Alexander Vindman, a decorated veteran who fought his biggest battle right here at home. Weijia Zhang examines the wave of hate crimes against Asian Americans and its roots in our past. Plus, MTV turns 40 and more. And more on this Sunday morning, the first of August 2021.

We'll be back in a moment. In Butte, Montana's heyday, copper was king. But when the mines closed, the city was left with a toxic mess. Now, as Luke Burbank shows us, Butte is finding its way back. At the top of the Continental Divide, under the watchful eye of Our Lady of the Rockies, sits the town of Butte, Montana. And I love that it's a trail system. Raylan Brandl grew up here, riding bikes like local hero Evil Knievel.

Oh, I love it. On what was once called the richest hill on earth, thanks to Butte's incredibly productive copper mines. It was wonderful. It was absolute freedom. We rode our bikes everywhere. We built trails.

Brandl's childhood was in many ways idyllic. But what she didn't know was that she and her friends were playing on piles of toxic mine waste. Mining in Butte started in the 1800s. And so these waste piles were always part of our lived experience. So dirt, you know, to me was this yellow, orange, granitic sort of stuff that didn't grow anything.

I didn't know that, you know, dirt naturally was stuff that grew things. These tailings, as they're called, were the remnants of a boom and bust mining economy that during the boom had Butte boasting one of the most productive copper mines in the world, the Anaconda. At one time, Butte was the largest city between Chicago and San Francisco.

Montana's largest city is Butte, the copper metropolis of America. But then came the bust, or more accurately, a series of busts. The final nail being the closing of the Berkeley copper mine in 1982. It was very abrupt.

And I was little, you know, I was a sixth grader, I think. And I remember thinking, what's going to happen to my friends? And then it didn't just affect the mine. Of course, it affects all of the other industries that supported the mine. So everybody's jobs were in jeopardy.

I remember feeling like, just sad. In fact, CBS Sunday Morning visited Butte back then and produced this cover story. The very first union that miners had in America was founded here in 1881. With the mine shut down, the Berkeley pit filled with toxic water, rich in heavy metals, and Butte was left to try to repair the damage of years of resource extraction. And the town earned the dubious distinction of being one of the largest Superfund sites in the country. The scarlet letter of being a Superfund site led Butte to become the butt of jokes.

The soon to open Toxieland will wow you with the exciting pesticide. It didn't help that the Chamber of Commerce decided to charge admission to see the Berkeley pit, which had become an eerily beautiful toxic lake. If you wanted a two-week vacation package in Butte, you know, one stop on your tour would be to see the Berkeley pit. John Sesso appeared in that Daily Show story, much to his chagrin.

The citizens and all the families that grew up in this town are very proud of their heritage. Being from Butte, you know, the Superfund thing, it's like, oh, Jesus, the biggest Superfund site in the United States. That is the moniker we got to get rid of because it's not true anymore. Last year, Sesso, who's Butte's former Superfund coordinator and a state senator, helped negotiate a plan to clean up the final section of Butte's Superfund complex in a 900-page consent decree, the result of a whopping 30 years of negotiations between Atlantic Richfield, the county, and the EPA. It's been a very long road for our community, but we are finally at the point where we see light at the end of the tunnel. If you walk Butte today, you'll notice the hillsides are no longer barren, and attics in Butte's old homes are being cleaned for centuries worth of toxic dust, the cost of being the nation's leading copper producer.

We call it pennies from hell. You know, we paid our dues, and we see now what happens if there are no environmental laws. If the almighty dollar takes precedent over taking care of the globe, taking care of your environment, it has to be in balance.

And I would say our citizens are much more attuned to that reality than, you know, others. And yet, despite its complicated history, mining is still taking place in Butte by a company called Montana Resources that claims it's found ways to extract the earth's riches safely. It's also Montana Resources' job to dissuade migrating waterfowl who tend to want to visit the Berkeley Pit, something they do with sound cannons and even high-tech drones. We've, you know, essentially fixed a city. In an ironic twist, many of Butte's mining jobs have now been replaced by jobs aimed at fixing the environmental damage.

Raelynn Brandl has one of those jobs, running the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program, which teaches children about the environment and conservation. When we bring students out here and we show them, we point to this grassy hillsides that you see everywhere, used to be yellow dirt, just like the mining property. They're like, no way. We're like, yes.

It was exactly like that. Through tireless work and dedication to this rugged piece of the Mountain West, Brandl and so many other Butians, as they're known, are looking to prove there's still a lot of value, even all these years later, in the richest hill on earth. We are a model of what can be done when a citizenry is active and informed and educated and willing to do the work and stays with the topic. You know, it took 30 years.

People have, you know, invested their entire careers in making that happen. And that's what I think the story of Butte is. All aboard as Lee Cowan shares a story of perseverance and giving back.

Connecticut's number 40. She's more than 100 years old, still with a fire in her belly, that has her chugging her way through the Connecticut countryside to this day. Now, that's determination. She's not unlike the little engine that could. That train in the children's classic that for more than 90 years has been teaching us that believing in ourselves can get us up and over life's rough spots. But let's back down that mountain for a second. While the mantra, I think I can, I think I can, worked pretty well for the little blue engine, what about those who think they can't?

Working hard and believing yourself makes achieving your dreams possible, but not always probable. Bob McKinnon is an author and adjunct professor who teaches classes on social mobility. And he's just written what he sees as a companion to the little engine that could, called Three Little Engines. The station master called the little blue engine, you're up first, are you ready? Yes, ma'am, she replied and off she went.

Yes, ma'am, she replied and off she went. In his telling, the little blue engine does what she always does. Up and up the little blue engine climbed chugging, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. But her friends, the fierce and confident yellow passenger engine, and the strong and fiery red freight engine don't have it as easy. They each encounter trouble on their tracks that through no fault of their own forces them to stop. In the early parts of my life, I was the engines that got stuck.

Like I literally had things that would fall on my track or the winds that were blowing me in the face and I just got too tired to move on. McKinnon grew up poor, raised by a single mom. No one in his family had ever been to college.

McKinnon was the first, graduating from Penn State in 1990. But it was bittersweet. I felt more guilty and more angry when I would look back and I'd see friends or family members that were struggling. I was angry at the system. I was angry at like how can we as a country that affords opportunities for some kids or some people and you know to do well, let so many down.

And so I was, I was frustrated that they were still struggling. Granted, social mobility is a pretty weighty issue for kids. But McKinnon hopes to ease into the topic by teaching them that they each have their own rails to follow.

They're not always equal. But accepting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. You at one point actually sat down and made a list of all the people that had helped you along the way and it ended up being a pretty long list. Yeah, I can't tell you how good that made me feel and how lucky and how blessed.

Have you ever been on one before? First time. Welcome aboard. Thank you. Thank you very much. The whole Horatio Alger idea that grit and good moral character can improve our circumstances is as old as the transcontinental railroad itself.

What's often overlooked, he says, is the role empathy and compassion play in success too. I guess if I had one wish, I would want people just to use it as an opportunity to really reflect on their journey. McKinnon wrote the first draft of his idea in a pretty fitting place, a notebook his own children used for coloring and doodles. This is the very first iteration of it. Yep.

Pardon my chicken scratch. And you did this all in one city, one city. Finally, all three engines came rumbling down the mountain. Sorry, spoiler alert, no tears here. There is a happy ending. All three made it up and over the mountain. I liked how all the trains had their different personalities.

The plot twist, the little blue engine went back to help her friends. The gesture that had these little critics. Two thumbs up and a smiley face.

That's pretty good. We should all blow our own whistles whenever we get up and over a mountain. But real success is giving others that head of steam so that they can do it too. It would be a very natural thing to just go like this and I'm going to move forward. And what I would hope we would do is to do this and to look around and see, all right, I'm okay, but how's everyone else doing?

Simple as this, huh? It happened this past week, the passing of a man who could sell anything and did. Ron Popeil, King of the infomercial, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. Born in New York City in 1935, he got his start hawking his father's invention, the chop-o-matic. Soon he was inventing and selling his own seemingly inexhaustible supply of must-have gadgets and gizmos people never knew they needed.

Whether it's three o'clock in the morning or noon time on a Sunday afternoon, I will be there with one of my inventions. His biggest splash came with Popeil's pocket fisherman. It's the fishing invention of the century. There's never been anything like it.

Which he demonstrated for our Bill Geist back in 2000. And the next thing you know, whoa. To use one of his catchphrases, but wait, there's more. There was the food dehydrator, Mr.

Microphone, the spray-on bald spot covering, and of course, the inside the egg scrambler. Popeil may be gone, but chances are somewhere out there, someone is slicing and dicing, spraying and scrambling, or perhaps trying their luck with a pocket fisherman. All thanks to Ron Popeil.

He was 86. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount Plus. It's been a trying time for Asian Americans, with hate crimes against them surging. We asked correspondent Weijia Jiang to take a closer look at the nation's long and troubled history of persecution against its fellow citizens. As the United States struggles to open back up, Asian Americans remain anxious. Women and the elderly are taking self-defense classes. Others are arming themselves for protection. Even parents are wondering if they should keep their children out of schools.

What are you doing in this country? There are 23 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. And ever since the pandemic, a new poll suggests one out of every three fears they will be attacked. And thanks for giving my country COVID. Hate crimes overall increased last year by 2 percent, but hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander population rose by 146 percent. Many blamed the previous administration's use of racist rhetoric for the rise in violence.

I would like to begin by announcing some important developments in our war against the Chinese virus. What comes out of the mouth of the leaders, especially the president, matters. Here at the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, D.C., Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii points out we're witnessing history sadly repeating itself.

He didn't create this kind of discrimination and indeed hatred, but I think that he called to the fore the kind of thinking that some people in our country have. We have always been deemed the other, the perpetual foreigners. It's not just the pandemic. There's an economic crisis in our country.

There is a political crisis in our country. Unfortunately, because of the high visibility of Asian Americans being associated with the virus, they become the targets. Associate Professor Laksu teaches Asian American studies at University of California, Berkeley. She says a battered economy has always been one of the root causes for scapegoating Asian Americans.

You can see this happening as early as 1870s with the conclusion of the railroad construction. You have spikes of just outraged white workers who are claiming that Chinese are taking over jobs and therefore need to be gotten rid of. As a result, anti-Chinese rioters burned down and even wiped out Chinatowns across the nation. And in 1882, the U.S. government made anti-Asian racism official with the Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting all immigration by Chinese laborers. It was the first federal act of its kind, barring a specific ethnic group from entering the United States, an act that was legal for 61 years until it was repealed in 1943, right around the time that Japan became America's enemy. This day will unleash a fury on Japan. War will also unleash a deep racial hate against all things Japanese. 120,000 people of Japanese heritage were forced to give up their homes and into internment camps. Most are American citizens by birth.

There is no proven guilt, not even a proven military need. After World War II, Japanese Americans struggled to regain stability. When some eventually did, their success stories led to an enduring stereotype. We tend to have this misconception that Asian Americans have made it, right, that we are model minorities.

Model minority, two words that may sound positive together, but Sue explains the phrase is often used as a wedge. What it has done in the past is really pitted Asian Americans against other racial ethnic groups on the premise that somehow, because they have so-called the right cultural values, whatever they may be, they've been able to achieve. The idea that Asian Americans fared better played out in the 1980s, when Michigan's auto industry was heading to the scrap heap. The scapegoat for many, Japanese imports, as in its cars and its people, sparking a new wave of anti-Asian discrimination.

If we could just imagine back in 1982, you know, a time when Japan was the enemy, everything wrong with America was being caused by Japan. Journalist and activist Helen Zia was working in a Detroit auto factory, the same time a 27-year-old Chinese American's name would become a rallying cry. Many people don't know who Vincent Chin is. Who was he? He was not your model minority. He hadn't gone to college. He was taking night classes. He worked as a draftsman and he worked part-time at a Chinese restaurant as a waiter.

He was really your all-American, Asian American, Chinese American kid. June 19th, 1982, two men, a father and his stepson, a foreman and a laid-off auto worker, beat Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat outside a McDonald's after an argument at the nearby bar where Chin was celebrating his bachelor party. One of the bar workers said she heard what the stepfather said to Chin.

He had made the remark about yeah, because of you, we're out of work. Chin's death didn't make national news. The sentencing of his assailants did. The charge, second-degree murder plea bargain to manslaughter. The sentence, a $3,000 fine each, three years probation, no time in prison. Is it because you're Chinese? Is that what you think?

I think that's what it is. Discrimination. They were given fines of less than what a used car would have cost that they could pay off at $120 a month and the judge said these are not the kind of men you send to jail. We want justice! We want justice!

We want justice! As nationwide calls for justice grew louder, both men were indicted on federal charges for violating Chin's civil rights. They were eventually acquitted. Vincent was very much the American story, the American immigrant story and all of that was just shattered, you know, in a climate of racism. In 2012, the father apologized for killing Chin, but insisted it was never about race, something the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has heard again. He does claim that it was not racially motivated.

And again. Back in March, a gunman shot up three Atlanta area spas. Among the eight killed, six were women of Asian descent.

On Tuesday, the killer pleaded guilty to four of the murders and was handed four life sentences without parole. While prosecutors in one county charged him with a hate crime, those in another one did not. What do you say to critics who argue these are not crimes motivated by hate? These are just crimes of opportunity.

I say to them, they're not paying attention. The bill as amended is passed. In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Congress recently passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act introduced by Senator Hirono and Representative Grace Ming. They hope it will make reporting a hate crime easier and give federal oversight to expedite the review process.

The law is largely seen as the first step. Journalist and activist Zia says the nation needs to go much further. History shows that this is going to be more than a moment. There are renewed demands across the nation to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander history in schools in the hopes that people will see beyond the perpetual foreigner, the model minority, or the scapegoat.

There really has to be a concerted, thoughtful effort to try to to teach what America really is so that we can build a country that everybody feels like we're part of it. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is a decorated army ranger wounded in combat in Iraq, but we may know him best for his most recent role in the Trump White House. National Security Correspondent David Martin has his story. I was the driving force behind this whole thing.

I'm getting some chills thinking about it right now. Alexander Vindman is talking about the impeachment of President Trump. Resplendent in his army uniform, he was the star witness against his commander in chief. This is America. This is the country I've served and defended, that all of my brothers have served and here right matters.

And that is the title of his memoir, A Coming to America Story, which began in 1979 when his widowed father Simon packed up Alexander, his identical twin Eugene, and their older brother and fled Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. I know that for my children, it is no future, bright future there. That's why it is time to go in the free country. So what did you expect to find when you came to this country? I expected freedom. Did you find freedom here?

Yes, I found freedom, more freedom than I expected. I grew up in Brooklyn, speaking Russian at home while Simon made $20 a day moving furniture. An immigrant family with rambunctious twins who didn't learn discipline until they joined the army. Alexander became an infantry officer and earned a Purple Heart in Iraq. It was an ambush with an improvised explosive device Well, what were your injuries?

I took shrapnel, which I still have in my leg, my shoulder, my back. Using his Russian language skills, Alexander went to work for then Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford and accompanied him to meetings with Russian Chief of Staff, General Valery Gerasimov. When Chairman Dunford introduced me as of Ukrainian origin, Gerasimov joked that no wonder relations between the U.S. and Russia are so bad. Then on the day of Donald Trump's summit meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, it's kept us separated.

There was no collusion at all. Alexander reported to the White House for his dream job on the National Security Council staff. The job that had been trying to get to the heart of government, the belly button for everything that was going on. Eugene, an army lawyer, became the National Security Council's chief ethics officer. I never expected that they began working in the White House. The best people working in the White House, both of them twins.

It is unusual. One year later, Alexander took notes as Trump held his now infamous phone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. What did it sound like? He was distant. He was morose. He was reluctantly conducting this phone call. Only when they came around to this discussion of the Bidens did he kind of engage and perk up. According to the transcript, Trump asked Zelensky to do us a favor, open an investigation into then Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter's dealings in Ukraine.

What Alexander did next made the name Veneman a household word. I'd go straight upstairs into the legal suite and my twin brother's office is almost as soon as you walk in. I go in, close the door, and I tell him, Eugene, if what I'm about to tell you becomes public, the president will be impeached. Did you want the president to be impeached? I had no thoughts about this ever becoming public. We may not have known all the consequences in that first five-minute conversation, but our mind was very quickly made up about what actions we would take and what our duty was. For their father, accusing the president of the United States of impropriety was unthinkable. Tell him, stop.

Don't do this. What did you think would happen? I lived in Soviet Union 47 years. If he tried to do this in Soviet Union, he immediately go in prison without question for a long time.

In the study, he maybe lived three days only and they shot him in prison immediately. On this vote, the yeas are 229, the nays are 198, present is one, article two is adopted. The Democratic majority in the House voted to impeach. It is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby acquitted of the charges in said articles. But the Republican majority in the Senate voted to acquit. And the Vindman twins were banished from the White House.

The Senate trial ends, I believe, on a Wednesday. I was let go on Friday. And they fired your brother? They fired my brother for good measure. We were in the middle of an enemy camp. I was surprised that it took till Friday before we were both marched out.

What did you think about that? They not deserve to go from House. They honest people, they serve in the House. They serve in the Army, 21 years. He fight in Iraq.

He protected our freedom. They were both still on active duty in the Army, and the Commander-in-Chief tweeted that Alexander had been very insubordinate. I'm not happy with him. You think I'm supposed to be happy with him?

I'm not. Very, very quickly, I discovered that the Department of Defense wanted me out of sight and out of mind. Alexander had already been selected to attend the Army War College, a plum assignment that carried with it a promotion to colonel. It looked good on paper, but senior officers privately warned him he had no future in the Army. The best I could expect to do is to ride out a career as a colonel and do some fluff assignment somewhere else.

Where's the fluff assignment? I could have ended up in a radar station in Alaska. Eugene stayed in and was promoted to colonel, but Alexander hit send on his retirement papers and left the Army to become a historical footnote.

How many officers in the United States Army can pinpoint exactly the moment they made the difference? And that seems like a small price to pay, a small sacrifice for my nation. You remember how you ended your opening statement?

Of course. Dad, do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. What are you fine?

It didn't look great. And I was deeply concerned about, you know, taking care of my family, meeting my family's needs. But I also had the confidence that I'd be able to start over like my father did. That's why I bring you here. This is for your country.

You can do what you want. The president has indeed infused his authority, and he has indeed obstructed his authority. And he has indeed obstructed justice. For much of this country, the impeachment of President Trump was a political circus.

Then he runs off to the lawyer, the same lawyer who said in January of 2017, the coup has started against President Trump. With the Vindman family, it was a coming to America story like no other. A good voice. I like this voice.

It is very nice. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning.

out in the world because, well, I need it. And maybe you do too, from the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits. Also, we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and we're not able to do in daytime television, so watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts. It's your good news on the go.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 06:57:27 / 2023-01-29 07:09:12 / 12

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