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June 20, 2021 10:58 am

In our cover story, NPR's Allison Aubrey looks into how mRNA technology is being used beyond COVID vaccinations. Rita Braver sits down with late-night TV host Seth Meyers. Kelefa Sanneh talks with Malcolm Gladwell about his latest book, "The Bomber Mafia." Imtiaz Tyab interviews the producer and stars of the acclaimed British TV series, "It's a Sin," and Mark Whitaker looks at the issue of reparations to address the racial wealth gap. Jane Pauley hosts "CBS Sunday Morning."

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Let's partner for all of it. Learn more at Good morning and happy Father's Day. I'm Jane Pauley and this is Sunday morning. Mother's Day was established back in 1914.

It took another 58 years for America's dads to catch up when Richard Nixon made Father's Day official in 1972. It's a special day for many, as we'll be hearing throughout the morning. Though not for all, we'll tell you about that too. But to begin, a story of hope and possibility. Allison Aubrey looks at a biotech company's revolutionary plans for the future of vaccines. New vaccines are helping to put the pandemic behind us. Now Moderna has big plans to tackle cancer and other diseases using its breakthrough technology. You have developed a delivery system for all kinds of different medications that prevent medications or therapies. It actually is just a new way of making medicines. It allows us just to send information to your body so your body can work by itself to either treat or prevent a disease.

Ahead on Sunday morning, the promise of mRNA technology. Like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest, if a comedian tells a joke without an audience, is it funny? As Rita Braver will show us, if the joke's told by Seth Meyers, it certainly is. You want to check out if you're like... I look good. Seth Meyers gets lots of cool guests on his late night talk show. Cheers to my humiliation I guess. Do you pick up the phone and call the guests or do you have people that do that for you?

I used to but then it became very clear that they had given me the wrong number on purpose. Later on Sunday morning, Seth Meyers on the serious business of being funny. Hasn't aged a day. 40 years ago as AIDS began its deadly rampage, the response or lack of one was front page news.

That era, as MTS Taib will tell us, is now the subject of a hit miniseries. Why do I need all these? I mean, cancer's not infectious. It's to protect me, not you. Oh, idiot. After Neil Patrick Harris starred in It's a Sin, Elton John became an early supporter of the AIDS drama. What did Sir Elton say to you? He just saw it and loved it.

All of a sudden I'm getting texts from him and it just keeps FaceTime, FaceTime requests. What all the attention is about coming up on Sunday morning. Caliph Asane is in conversation with best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell. Mark Whitaker looks into the case for reparations for the legacy of slavery. A story from Steve Hartman and more on this Sunday morning, June 20th, 2021.

And we'll be back in a moment. This past week, the pharmaceutical company Moderna announced that the US government has purchased 200 million additional doses of its COVID vaccine. And as NPR's Alison Aubrey reports, fighting COVID could be just the beginning. Back in January, just one month after Moderna's vaccine was authorized for emergency use. Mutations of the virus known as variants not only spread faster than the original virus, they may also be more deadly. Fears about a more contagious strain began to grip the nation. The variant of COVID-19 first identified in South Africa has now been found in the US.

And scientists at Moderna immediately realized this could be a threat. We didn't think we had time to wait. Dr. Stephen Hogue is president of the company. We thought if we don't start now, then by the time we get to the fall, we won't have an updated vaccine in case those variants really become a significant concern to start re-infecting people. As millions of doses rolled off the manufacturing line at their facility here in Norwood, Massachusetts, Hogue's team got to work to retool the vaccine. And within a week, you had designed a new vaccine. We designed that vaccine really overnight and started manufacturing and had it and moved it into clinical trials within a month. It can take years to make a new vaccine, so this was a breakthrough.

How is that possible? It has to do with our technology. So we use something called messenger RNA or mRNA for short. It's really just an instruction molecule, kind of like a software program for your cells. It just sends instructions about what the virus looks like to your immune system. So just like a software program or a Word document, we can simply edit something, change it, and then manufacture it very, very quickly.

He makes it sound so easy, but it's taken more than a decade of research and many technological hurdles. Now the company has some big plans. We've had an incredible year using messenger RNA to fight a pandemic, but we think we're just starting in the infectious disease space. And so there's a large number of other vaccines we're bringing forward. Their research pipeline includes everything from an HIV vaccine to heart disease treatments to vaccines for different kinds of cancer, including lymphoma and melanoma. Connie Franciosi is already participating in one clinical trial. When were you diagnosed with melanoma? I was diagnosed in May of 2020, so just about a year ago. She's a two-time cancer survivor, and after surgery to remove the melanoma, her doctor had some troubling news. He did indicate that they had found melanoma cells in my lymph nodes, which meant that I would need to have further treatment. So you were at high risk of relapse? Yes, I was considered high risk for melanoma again. She started on a cancer-fighting immunotherapy drug, and she was offered the chance to get the experimental messenger RNA vaccine designed to prevent a relapse.

When you weigh the possible benefits from something like this, I just had to go for it. It's definitely too soon to say. I'm optimistic, but the jury's still out.

Dr. Ryan Sullivan of Massachusetts General Hospital treats Connie. He says the idea is that the vaccine can help generate the right mix of cancer-fighting immune cells. The best case scenario is that a combination of an mRNA vaccine plus a standard immunotherapy is shown to reduce the risk of relapse.

And if we see that happen, it will change the way we treat patients in the future. It will take several years to determine this, but in the meantime, Moderna's CEO, Stefan Bonsel, thinks messenger RNA technology can revolutionize a shot millions of us already get each year. Let's talk about the flu vaccine.

Everything is wrong about it. The very process of making it makes no sense. Currently, flu vaccines can take months to produce. To make the shots, scientists actually inject flu virus into eggs. It's a decades-old approach, and Bonsel says it's part of the reason they're not always very effective.

You have to start very early on. So you have to guess which strain will be in the U.S. next year. So his plan is to change this. Moderna aims to start a clinical trial later this year. And if it turns out COVID boosters are needed, Moderna wants to combine its coronavirus vaccines with a new flu shot. So we're going to just throw everything out the window and give you a good high-efficacy vaccine every winter. And then we're going to combine it with a COVID vaccine booster so you can have a nice winter.

That's his vision for the future. It's not clear how this will turn out, but what is clear is that Moderna, which grew from a tiny startup to a household name over the course of one year, is betting on the speed and versatility of mRNA technology. So basically you have developed a delivery system for all kinds of different medications or therapies. That's really the promise of the technology.

It really is the same system every time. Just like we updated our vaccine in January for the new variants of concern in SARS-CoV-2, we can actually update it to go after all of the other viruses that we're looking at just as quickly. And that really allows us to advance medicines across a wide range of diseases, both in cancer and in vaccines. Meanwhile, Connie Franciosy says she's back to living a busy life. It seems like you have a lot to live for. I do. There are certain things I can't change. Can't change my age, can't change my DNA. The fact that I've had cancer.

But I can change my attitude toward it, the opportunities that have been presented to me to do everything I can to avoid having a recurrence. And participating in the mRNA research trial also makes her feel like she's giving back. I feel very fortunate. I feel very fortunate indeed to have this opportunity.

Because you're helping humanity, you're helping people down the road, people you'll never meet. It's not exactly about fathers, but we think Steve Hartman's story is just perfect for Father's Day. Judge for yourself. For 14-year-old Caleb Pruitt of Jacksonville, Florida, who has Down syndrome, exercising anything other than his thumbs was never a passion. He could barely cross a pool, couldn't ride a bike without help, and saw the treadmill as little more than a novelty.

Karen is his mom. So triathlon wasn't on your list of things for Caleb to do? It was not on our list, no. At least not until Caleb met 21-year-old Chris Nikich. Did you like him when you met him?

Yes, I did. What did you like about him? Super cool. Super cool, he said.

And you can see why. Last year, Chris competed in that grueling, 140-mile swimming, biking, and running race known as the Ironman. The first person with Down syndrome to ever cross the finish line. If there was a poster with Chris on it, it would be in Caleb's room. But what Chris did next was even more Herculean. He took this young fan under his wing, became a mentor, worked out with him, worked out with him, and planted a dream. Just the fact that he was so warm and inspiring helped Caleb realize that these are things that I could do too.

Can and did. Last weekend, Caleb finished his first mini triathlon. He is believed to be the youngest person with Down syndrome to ever do so. I've been selected. He also received an invitation to compete on Florida's Special Olympics Triathlon Team. The same team Chris is on. Do you want to be like Chris? Yes. You know what? What?

I think you are like Chris. What? Yeah. Oh my God. Yes. Is that like the best compliment you've ever received? Oh yes.

Heroes come in many different shapes, sizes, and abilities, but they all have the same superpower to lift the hopes of others. On this Father's Day, a story from David Begnaud about tough love and a man who found the tools for forgiveness. Did your dad ever tell you he loved you? No. Not once. I wanted him to so badly. And I felt like if I was the first one to say I love you, that somehow maybe it would be worth less. Dad and I would just head off across the prairie.

Trent Pressler says that his hardscrabble life, growing up on a cattle ranch in Faith, South Dakota, was made tougher because of his relationship with his father, Leon, a former rodeo champion and a Vietnam War veteran. And one day you're hammering some cans because you'd take aluminum cans to make money. Right. Right.

So you're hammering these cans and you end up destroying some bricks that are a part of the patio. Yes. And next thing you know, as the story goes, your dad punches you in the face. Yes, he did. Only one time. But you never forgot it.

Never forgot it. What did it do to you? Well, it made me afraid of him. It made me kind of question my place with him and that I was trying so hard to live up to my dad's expectations and it made me feel like maybe it would never be possible that I could.

In 2000, his sister Lucy, two years older, died of a rare illness at the age of 25. After your sister's funeral, you come out to your dad and he says what to you? We ain't never going to talk about that again. And we didn't. He wasn't kidding.

Fast forward to 2014. Trent was living in New York and had gone nearly a decade estranged from his father when his mother asked him to come home and visit for Thanksgiving. Trent's dad was very sick. When I visited him in the hospital, the last time I saw him alive, when his cancer had flared up again, I leaned in to give him a hug on his hospital bed and he gripped me so tight, I mean, I could feel his hands like digging into the back of my shirt. And I thought maybe that would be the moment, finally, when my father said, I love you.

And he didn't. So the last words my father said to me were, drive safe, okay. In life, Trent was sure that he had very little in common with his dad. But that all came crashing down when I saw him lying in his casket. I looked at his hands and I thought, oh my God, I have the same hands as my dad. And, you know, my mom always said that your father could build anything. And it was that moment when I thought, well, if he could build anything with his hands, maybe I can too.

I have his calipers. In his workshop is the only thing his father left him, his toolbox. After his father's death, Trent spent the year obsessed and teaching himself how to shape, refine and finish, of all things, a canoe. And this is not just any canoe. This is a canoe made by his own hand. That his buyers around the world wanting him to build more at a price point of $100,000 a canoe. So, it was almost like dad saying, I'm going to give you just enough to get you on the road.

And then you got to figure the rest out yourself. Is this a business or is it a hobby? Well, I'd say it's both, but it has become a business. I've sold two boats.

I have a third boat on commission now. And the great part about it is that it still feels like a hobby. It still feels like a passion project.

So, after it gets the cork and the capsule, then the bottle comes in here, it gets the front label. By day, the 44-year-old is CEO of a winery on the North Fork of Long Island. And in April, his memoir, Little and Often, was released. It's about his journey, growing up the son of a cowboy in South Dakota.

And how building a canoe from scratch led to some self-doubt. I realize now that I think maybe he knew that when he knew he was about to die, because when that moment came to say goodbye, he didn't hold back a single ounce of his love, whether that was just saying, you know, drive safe, or if that was saying, here, take my tools and make something of yourself. That was all he could give. Finish this line for me. I wish I would have told him that. Finish this line for me. I wish I would have told him. I wish I would have told him that I loved him.

And I wish I would have thanked him for all the lessons that he taught me growing up. Little and Often, the title of your book. Yes. Means what? Well, it means that extraordinary things can happen if we just focus on doing little ordinary tasks every day. And building this canoe with my dad's tools kind of beat that lesson into me, where it was like, no, no, no, this is the only way it's going to happen.

You can't do this any other way. Dad's way is the Little and Often way. I'm thinking about the title of the book.

What I'm thinking is, to love on this Father's Day, little and often is good enough. It sure is. Malcolm Gladwell is a man of many talents. Writer, podcaster, and all around big thinker.

But for our California, Malcolm Gladwell is a colleague and they run into the most interesting people. I think maybe the last time I saw you, we were both on the set of the Jim Gaffigan show. Oh, yeah. Hey, Jim.

How late's your interview? Thanks. You're a giant. It's been five years since Malcolm Gladwell and I have been in the same room. What books have you been reading, Jim?

Don't you know how to read? We were playing ourselves, playing New Yorker writers in a scene on that show. But that's just his day job. You have a lot of titles, magazine writer, best selling author, media mogul. The one that's most impressive to me, if I'm being honest, hit country music songwriter. Wait, I wrote a country music song.

You did. It's called 10,000 hours. By Dan and Shay featuring Justin Bieber.

Went to number one on the country chart. Okay, technically Gladwell didn't write it, but the song was inspired by his observation in his third book, Outliers, that it takes 10,000 hours to master something difficult. There's this notion we have you can burst out of the gate and be fantastic at something complicated at a very young age is just not true. What was it like for you to watch this concept of 10,000 hours, break free from the chains of this best selling book you'd written and just be everywhere? It's always fun to see your ideas out in the world, even if they're not in the form that you would necessarily intend.

But that's the goal, right? When you write a book is you want your book to be talked about. His talked about and best selling books have made Gladwell an industry and an international phenomenon who can make up to a quarter of a million dollars for giving a speech. Well, I have infamously said I would rather be interesting than correct. And I think that's right. Judgments about correctness are made after the fact. So a writer who is concerned with always being right would never write. So I think a writer's job is to be interesting.

That is to say, to raise questions that need raising, to give people the tools to think through difficult subjects. He also thinks through some of those difficult and not so difficult subjects on his top rated podcast, Revisionist History. This episode is a continuation of my investigation into the hoarding habits of art music. Art museums.

Which is beginning its sixth season this week. Revisionist History treats ideas as things that are worthy of our time, our effort, our consideration. Good ideas to me are like beloved friends. You want to hang out with them. You want to have conversations with them. You want to argue with them. You want to go for walks with them.

I think we need more of that in the world. Now, he's rethinking the audio book. The audio book historically was an afterthought. Right. You just read your book into a microphone.

But our thought was, that seems crazy. His latest, The Bomber Mafia, is produced by his own audio production company, Pushkin Industries. There's so much more possibility in audio. Let's use sound effects. Let's have musical scoring.

Let's make it an experience. Chapter eight. The first super fortress reached Tokyo just after midnight, dropping flares to mark the target area. The Bomber Mafia explores the fire bombing of Tokyo, which led to the end of World War II. I went to this little museum that commemorates the night of March 9th, 1945, when the US Air Force napalmed Tokyo. Burned 16 square miles of Tokyo down in a matter of hours. And I was just so moved by this museum, that I wanted to know, how did the United States come to the point where they dropped tons and tons of napalm and burned tens of thousands of people alive?

He learned about an effort, beginning in 1930, to prevent wartime mass killings and destruction. The story is about this group of people who think they can reinvent war. They can use technology for the first time in history to drop a bomb with precision.

It could be a little more surgical, a little more precise. Yes, exactly. But the Bomber Mafia weren't just interested in being better bombers. They were interested in being better people, because they said, look, if I can drop bombs with unerring accuracy, I don't have to bomb civilians anymore.

And that was their dream. The military spent billions in today's dollars building a precision bombing machine. Now the bombardier's moment. The entire massive operations high point nears its climax.

And there's only one problem with this device, right? Doesn't work. The Air Force gave up on precision bombing in favor of brute force. So there is this idea that war can be more humane. This idea fails.

The Air Force decides to basically just set Japan on fire instead. What's the moral of this story? I don't think that this book is about deciding who was right. I want people to appreciate the impossibility of the choice.

Well, why now? Well, because we're pretty quick off the mark these days to judge others, whose situations we don't entirely understand. I thought it'd be really useful to force people not to do that.

Force people not to make quick judgments? That may surprise anyone who remembers his 2005 bestseller, Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Is it wrong of me to perceive in this a kind of an anti-blink approach? You're the guy who wrote The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

Well, now wait a minute. Blink was a book that was intended to showcase the power of snap judgments for both good and ill, right? Blink argued there are certain times and places where your snap judgment is useful, but it's probably a pretty short list.

What they didn't understand was that the very thing that was the source of his apparent strength was also the source of his greatest weakness. He says he's comfortable with what he calls thinking in public. There's a group of people now who I think understand what I'm doing, who are my audience.

They like the experience of thinking along with me in public. Are you cancel-proof? Well, no. I'm not immune from people being angry with things I say or write and wanting me to go away, but that's been true for a long time. Malcolm Gladwell has gone from magazines to books to podcasts. For him, the best way to stay interesting is to stay a moving target. Do you still think of yourself as someone who wants to sort of shift phases every decade or so? Well, I don't know. I'm running out of shifts. I'm not sure you are running out of shifts.

I'll do this for a while, but I do love the feeling, you know, that feeling of reinvention is a very important one, and that idea that you're waking up to do something that's new. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can usually figure it out. What people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation, is not being matched up with what we're doing. Follow Intelligence Matters, wherever you get your podcasts. It was 40 years ago this month that the CDC issued its first report about five young gay men suffering from a disease that would come to be known as AIDS.

A new miniseries looks back at those turbulent early years of the epidemic. MTS-TIAB offers us a closer look at It's a Sin. I don't suppose there's a girlfriend waiting back home in Wales, is there? Perhaps a boyfriend? No.

But would there be, if you could? You don't have to worry about me, I'm not remotely interested. For American actor Neil Patrick Harris, all it took was an email from Welsh screenwriter Russell T Davies for him to say he was interested in a role in Davies' new series. I am entranced by him. He has an uncanny ability to create characters that you want to know more about immediately. You want to keep talking with him for hours. I want to go on a road trip with Russell T Davies. He's kind of miraculous.

The five-part drama It's a Sin airs in the US on HBO Max. You gonna have tonight? Yeah.

What a nice room off to. I don't know, anyway. USA Today called it easily the best series of 2021 so far. But some of the British TV channels that were first pitched the idea weren't convinced the series about the early days of the UK's AIDS crisis could bind an audience. But there's a problem with the drama about AIDS.

That's a tough sell when you can go and watch a detective drama and have a good time, you know? Have you seen this? As the show's writer and producer, Davies didn't only want to explore the impact of a once mysterious and deadly disease had on a generation of gay men, but also the shame that surrounded it. So you're not gay then? No.

Oh my god, no. When did you realize this was a story you needed to tell? Well, I lived through those years. I was 18 in 1981, just like those characters.

So in a way, the story's been ticking away ever since. I've lived through those decades and seen those experiences. Based loosely on the people in his own life, Davies imagined a group of gay men and their closest friends.

Silencio, I would like to give you a song. Living carefree days and nights in London as the epidemic starts spreading across the world in 1981. Given all we know about HIV AIDS today, it's easy to forget the ignorance and fear rampant in those early days.

Davies reminds us people simply had no idea. Because it sounds so incredible, a disease that affects only gay men. Only gay men who are having sex. You can't have a gay flu and no one dies of flu anymore. They're dying in San Francisco. My friend said it's a plague.

Don't be ridiculous. That would be all over the news. HIV and AIDS rarely makes the headlines today, which may explain why It's a Sin has sparked conversations across Britain and beyond, like never before. It's fascinating, isn't it? I was not expecting that. But the big shock to me were the people who were there at the time who had no idea that it was happening on this scale with this ferocity and with this maliciousness. To see people being shocked was shocking in itself. I've talked to people who said their takeaway from It's a Sin was that they knew nothing about this at all and it has encouraged them to learn more about it. Why do I need all these? I mean, cancer is not infectious.

It's to protect me, not you. Idiot. It's a Sin also made an impact with audiences in another entirely unexpected way. Shortly after it first aired, HIV testing soared across the UK.

They say the testing quadrupled and that's amazing. One of the biggest fans and most vocal supporters of the series is legendary musician and AIDS activist Elton John. He just saw it and loved it. All of a sudden I'm getting texts from him. He's trying to FaceTime me. I'm doing interviews for the show and it just keeps FaceTime, FaceTime requests. What's it like FaceTiming with Elton John?

So weird. Harris, who came out as gay in 2006, acts alongside a largely LGBTQ cast. All the gay characters are portrayed by gay actors. Important to you? It's very important to me right now in life in the world. Not always, but right now, 2021, that vibe is kind of one of authenticity. Anyone disagreeing with me will say, but it's acting, it's just acting.

To which I say yes, visibly. Because if you're casting someone, you're casting them to be honest and true and real. So why not cast the gay person?

You are already 10 steps closer to the truth. All of the boys are just so beautiful inside and out. And yeah, they were all just so perfectly cast.

Still, the emotional glue that holds the friendships of the gay leads together is a straight character called Jill, portrayed by London-born actor Lydia West. I think we kind of balanced this dreadful, dark depiction of a period. Because it was such an amazing time as well of just fluidity and color and openness. And that's what we wanted to show, we wanted to really just shine a light on these amazing lives that burnt so brightly way too soon. What's going to stop it spreading?

What's going to save you? The series sees Jill morph from carefree best friend to caregiver and formidable ally. She's not perfect.

She kind of goes through stages with her friends where she gets really annoyed at them and she wants them to grow up and be smart. Because there are boys dying all over the world from sex. And I want to know why. For those familiar with Russell T Davies' work, It's a Sin may seem like a logical step. Among many programs, he is known as the creator of the original Queer as Folk series.

Alfred's the name of Batman's butler. Marvelous. And also for the revival of the legendary Doctor Who science fiction show. So, in terms of the things that I love, there's Gay Men and Doctor Who.

They are both vast in my life, yeah. And it's when I write well, frankly, I write them well. For Russell T Davies, If It's a Sin has accomplished anything, it's to shine a light on a dark chapter that's been fading from memory and to give a voice back to those lost far too early. One of the most beautiful reactions to the show is that a lot of families have come forward rewriting their past saying, my uncle who died of cancer in 1985, that was an AIDS death and we're proud of him.

It's been the most moving thing. Thursday, at a White House ceremony, Juneteenth became our newest federal holiday. June 19th, 1865, was the day enslaved people in Texas were the last to learn they'd been freed by President Lincoln. We thought it was the right time to explore the growing debate over reparations.

Here's Mark Whitaker. The Stagville Plantation was once one of the largest plantations in North Carolina. 30,000 acres, with more than 900 enslaved people working the land. When you come to a place like this and you know that you have your own family, your own ancestors who lived under these conditions, what do you think? I don't know that you're ever prepared for it fully. Walking into the slave quarters can be an emotional experience.

Oh, I'm getting ready to cry now. I didn't see that coming. Even for those all too familiar with history. I mean, it's just extraordinary to me. The kind of daily abuse, not having control of your life, not being able to control and educate and nurture your own children. I just can't imagine what that was like. So these are the people who initially were owned by the Richard Benahan family.

A. Kirsten Mullen is a folklorist and arts consultant. Her husband, William Darity, is an economics professor at Duke University. They say when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, ending slavery, those newly freed were left with nothing. So the former slaveholders were back in control of the properties that they previously had held. And that meant that at a location like Stagville, the land was not distributed to the folks who had worked here. The federal government famously promised those formerly enslaved 40 acres and a mule.

That promise was broken, as were many more to come. Mullen and Darity have become leading voices for the argument that, to this day, this country owes a debt to Black Americans. Reparations. We've even argued that if the 40-acre land grants had been given, we wouldn't need to have a conversation today about reparations for Black American descendants of U.S. slavery. There are a lot of people, when they hear the debate about reparations, they think, this was a long time ago.

What relation does it have, not only to my life, but to today's economy? So we think of slavery in some ways as the first affirmative action program for white people. Free labor.

How about it? As whites acquired wealth, Blacks were repeatedly shut out. Largely denied land by the Homestead Act of 1862, which gave settlers territory out west.

Then, terrorized by Jim Crow. Later, discriminated against when it came to the GI Bill after World War II, or Social Security benefits, and by redlining and other practices which prevented home ownership. Our case for reparations is anchored on the cumulative impact of racial injustice in the United States, and they're manifest in a number of atrocities that continue to the present moment, including mass incarceration, including police executions of unarmed Blacks, including ongoing discrimination in employment, credit, and housing markets. Exactly how dramatic is the racial wealth gap?

It's pretty dramatic, Mark. The most recent data we have, 2019, shows that Blacks have about 12 cents in wealth for every $1 held by whites. Ray Boshara is a senior advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, where he studies inequality. The median white household has $184,000 in wealth, while the median Black household has less than $23,000. Wealth acquisition is cumulative. It happens over generations. So explain how that is different in Black America versus white America. Wealth begets wealth. That's the most fundamental principle here. In order to have wealth, you have to either get it from your government, or from your family, or from both.

And the difference is this. Our government, over the course of several centuries, was very active in determining who gets to build wealth and who does not. Black Americans, particularly those who have ancestors who were enslaved in the United States, constitute about 12% of the nation's population, but possess less than 2% of the nation's wealth. This leads us into what we think is the appropriate target for a reparations project, which is to bring the Black share of wealth into consistency with the Black share of the population. And we estimate that this would require an expenditure somewhere in the vicinity of $11 to $12 trillion. That's more than twice the entire current federal budget, and Darity estimates it would come to just under $300,000 paid to every eligible Black person in the country.

It's a big, big price tag, and polling this year shows almost two-thirds of Americans aren't buying. One of the great accomplishments of the civil rights movement was to get the government to stop picking winners and losers based on race. Reparations would be a step back in that direction. It would be a step backwards. Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He looks back to the anti-poverty programs more than 50 years ago under President Lyndon Johnson.

We've tried this before. What was the Great Society? If simply redistributing wealth addressed inequality or addressed poverty, we would have solved those things a long time ago. For the last three decades, a bill has been introduced in Congress every year to form a commission to study reparations. This is the first year it could be headed for a full House vote.

It has not attracted support from Republicans. I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living or responsible, is a good idea. Senator Cory Booker is the sponsor of the Senate version of the reparations study bill. All you're calling for is a commission. Why can't you even get the votes for that?

Nothing that is worthwhile is easy. In the meantime, Senator Booker is pushing a plan designed to narrow the wealth gap across all races for future generations, so-called baby bonds. Here's how it would work. So you're born in America, the richest nation in the world. You get $1,000 in an interest-bearing account. And then every year, based upon the wealth of their family, they get money deposited into that. The lowest-income kids are going to get the full $2,000 compounding. The wealthiest kids, the children of Bill Gates, get nothing. So what do economists say? How much of an impact over what period of time would that have on wealth? So by the time kids are 18, the lowest-income kids will have about $50,000 to invest in wealth-building things. Economists say that you will literally, for that generation of children, close the racial wealth gap.

We do ourselves no favors by pretending none of this ever happened. President Biden has indicated his support for a reparations commission. But meanwhile, his administration is working on several tracks, announcing programs aimed specifically at Black Americans, including Black farmers and business owners, but also anti-poverty programs that are race-neutral. President Biden went further than any president has ever gone in talking about the racial wealth gap and its historical roots. But he didn't mention the word reparations.

Why not? Well, I think the president has said since day one that one of the things that he wanted to do as a priority was to tackle systemic racism and barriers and address the wealth gap. And we're doing it.

Cedric Richmond is a senior advisor to the president. How long will it take for the proposals that you're talking about to actually have the effect of allowing Black families to pass on wealth to their children and grandchildren? Well, I think the first thing you have to do is decrease poverty right now, continue to invest in education, prevent discrimination in home ownership and access to capital. And we think that that is the first meaningful step so that this generation will have the wealth to pass down to the next generation. Or maybe the solution to the racial wealth gap is all of the above.

Ray Boshara of the St. Louis Fed. It's what do you do looking back, what do you do ongoing right now, and then how do you look forward? And you have to really be working in all three of those areas if you want to make a meaningful dent in the racial wealth gap. So paying off the historical debt doesn't necessarily, in and of itself, guarantee closing the gap. Meanwhile, closing the gap wouldn't necessarily mean resolving the debt. This is a problem that has accumulated for centuries. You can't just solve the problem with just one payment, as robust as that might be. There's the financial reckoning, but also a moral reckoning. Call it reparations or not, Senator Cory Booker believes it's more than a matter of dollars and cents. We are a nation that is still suffering self-inflicted wounds because we have not dealt with that original sin of slavery and how it still affects us today.

It is to all of our self-interest to get at this. Seth Meyers has had a uniquely tough year. In his case, telling jokes from home with no audience to laugh along. But our Rita Braver found him on the road back. These days when Seth Meyers works with his writing team, it feels like it's been done a thousand times.

Most of them are on Zoom. But at least he's back in the studio. New York is back, you guys.

It's beautiful out and the CDC just said rats don't have to wear masks. Minus the audience and live band, of course. Still, he's feeling grateful. It is very empty, I will say that. But it is also my heart is full. Empty studio, full heart.

After all, when we spoke to him last summer, he was hosting late night from his vacation house in Connecticut. Welcome back to the attic crawl space, everybody. I'm doing my own, you know, lighting, sound, makeup. And thank you for the compliment.

I do think I look young and healthy. Wonderful. Fabulous. Could you please tell me why you always have a copy or almost always have a copy of the Thornbirds by your side?

I mean, I think it's very hard to find an attic space in the northeastern states that doesn't have a copy of the Thornbird. I've tried to get rid of it. It just sort of shows back up. And speaking of showing up, how about Seth's kids? Wait, who let you out? Who let you out? Oh, not you two.

They're loose. His family has long been part of the show. Such amazing pictures here, starting with when your wife came on the show bringing the dog.

Yeah, he's a very good sport and a very handsome woman. Even his parents and brother are semi-regular guests. Dad, when Josh and I were little, what would you call us when it was time for us to take a bath?

Uh, dirt ball one and dirt ball two. Cassandra, that's right! Myers is the kind of guy who'll urge a visitor to try out his desk. Well, do you want to sit here?

Get the full vibe. No, no, no, no. No, come on.

When are you going to have this chance? Not until it goes to the Smithsonian. Great. Well, Seth, do you have anything that you're promoting that we ought to be talking about right now? I did. I brought a clip. In contrast to some other talk show hosts, Myers' sunny personality is legendary.

Variety called you the Tom Hanks of talk show hosts, which is pretty nice. I mean, do you have a secret dark side that we're not seeing? I do not have a secret dark side. This is it?

Yeah. Along the- Would you want to hear something that you won't believe? The secret side of me is even nicer than this. In fact, it is. I read a story saying that when NBC stopped paying some of your people that work on your show for a while, that you stepped up and paid them out of your own pocket during the COVID shutdown.

Yeah, that's a personal thing between me and the crew. I'll just say that was really nice. But Myers is not always nice. His humor is often political. Only Donald Trump can make himself feel better by implying he has a nicer house than Osama bin Laden. A favorite target for years, Donald Trump. He only has two emotions, boredom and rage. He's either staring off into the distance while someone talks about complex policy details or hissing at reporters like a snake whose nest was just disturbed. I think it's safe to say that you are not a fanboy.

I think that is probably the most accurate way to say it. I don't have any of his merch. About one piece of merch. Even after all this time. Is the Biden administration funny yet? I think Joe Biden as an idea is funny.

I feel very deeply for the people that major has bit. But it is very in line with Joe Biden that he brought a dog into the White House that clearly is not meant to be there. President Biden met in the Oval Office today with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to discuss diversifying the administration.

Said Biden, that's perfect, because I actually know a great Hawaiian guy I would love to hire. Myers started doing comedy in high school in New Hampshire, honed it at Northwestern University, then did improv in Amsterdam and Chicago. It's Saturday Night Live!

He was invited to join Saturday Night Live in 2001. He played characters like Michael Caine. Hello. I'm Michael Caine. I thought you did a good Michael Caine. I think I did a Michael Caine. We would now like to pause for a word from our sponsor.

But Myers, who would eventually become the head writer at SNL, believed his fellow cast members were better performers than he was. Sir, what would you like to drink? Can I get a scotch on the rocks? Like our marriage.

Can I get that with a splash of water and like 60 sleeping pills? Thank you. The longer I did the show, the less spots I saw where I thought, oh, the best person for this sketch would be Seth Meyers. So that's why I was happy to be at Weekend Update. Weekend Update with Seth Meyers. A 100-year-old man in California this week married his 93-year-old girlfriend. I don't know, dude.

One woman for the rest of your life? He would be at the Weekend Update desk for eight years. This week, children at more than 1,700 schools in North America sang the song, I Wanna Play, at the same time.

While simultaneously in China, over a billion kids were doing math. After 13 years at SNL, as his pal Jimmy Fallon was leaving late night to host The Tonight Show, Myers got a call from Warren Michaels, executive producer of both Saturday Night Live and Late Night. It was another really weird cryptic call where he said, you know, I think you'd be good at it.

Like, no previous conversation. And he asked me if I wanted to do it. I thought about it for a bit, and it just made sense. Was it scary for you to, you know, know that the whole show depended on you instead of a cast of characters? Yeah, very much so.

I remember being so in my head. Let's get to the news. And doing a monologue and not actually hearing myself tell the joke as much as thinking, and now I am telling a joke.

And so it is nice to be looser with it now and reflect back and realize that progress has been made. But this nice guy is willing to share the spotlight. Hey, everybody, these are two of our writers.

That's Amber and that's Jenny. I'm black. And I'm gay. And we're both women. And I'm not. Especially with the diverse writers of this show. Joke Seth can't tell. Joke Seth can't tell. Because he's a straight white male. Yeah. A court in Michigan ruled yesterday that giving the middle finger to a police officer is an act of free speech.

Said black people, you first. Comedy is not just about the material. It's about the delivery system. And if you have a lot of different kinds of voices, you can do a lot of different kinds of jokes. NBC has just extended Seth Meyers' contract till 2025.

Was this post or pre-election? So he'll have plenty of time to add to his photo collection. It must make you feel good every day when you walk by this and think, I did all those shows.

Yes. It's mostly I feel good to think I have this show and I get to do more of them. It makes me happy to think we'll keep taking pictures. And it's going to keep going.

Ultimately, we will ask the network for a longer hallway so that we can hang more of them. Chef Bobby Flay this morning reminds us that there's more than one recipe for success. When I was in grammar school, my after-school TV watching consisted of two superheroes. Welcome to the French, Chef. I'm Julia Child. Julia Child and the galloping gourmet Graham Kerr.

So you just take one wing and you chop one wing off. Julia would bring classic French dishes like Coco Van and Castellator Life, while Mr. Kerr was the one who would bring the French. Julia would bring the French. She would bring the French. She would bring the French.

And would end every show plucking a lovely lady from his live audience to sit and have dinner with. Two different approaches, but they both helped shape the dinner tables of America for decades. Julia and Graham had a pretty uninterrupted run as the king and queen of cuisine as we knew it. Yes, there were other entrants here and there, but no one really made a dent until the early 90s when someone had an idea to launch an entire network based on cooking. Welcome to the TV Food Network.

Every successful venture breeds competition and creative minds stir up alternatives to the norm. My 25-year-old daughter Sophie and I have a podcast called Always Hungry, where we talk about our lives as it pertains to food and lifestyle. Now, just to be clear, Sophie did not follow her dad into the professional kitchen. She's a successful broadcast journalist in Los Angeles and her cooking skills, well, let's just say they're definitely not her strongest suit. During a recent episode, Sophie was talking about how she and a lot of her generation are getting their ideas to cook at home. I will say, I was a little dumbfounded that she wasn't just tapping into her dad's cookbooks or Googling a video or two of mine.

Nope, she had another resource. Enter TikTok. Wipe, wipe, wipe it down, wipe. I started to take notice when the now famous pasta dish with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese broke the internet with the force of a Kardashian. So when Sophie wanted a penne alla vodka recipe, she went right to her source, Jeremy Sheck, better known by his two million followers as Sheck Eats.

I start by infusing good extra virgin olive oil with fresh basil, garlic cloves, and red chili flake. Not only does his food look good, this current student at Cornell University knows what he's talking about, and it all happens in less than 90 seconds. The game is changing, and it's making every generation better at our stoves.

Today, TikTok is the trend, and who knows what's next. Thankfully, technology allows us to recall the things that make us feel best. So from my kitchen to yours, there's only one thing left to say. Take it away, Julia. This is Julia Child.

This is Julia Child, bon appetit. We want to take a moment to remember a beloved friend and colleague, longtime Sunday morning producer, Judy Hole, who walked our halls and graced our lives, and brought you story after memorable story, passed away early Thursday. Judy did it all and saw it all.

You're so consumed with all the work you have to do. Her stories and her stories about her stories were beloved, as was her Uncle Homer's eggnog, which she'd share with us each Christmas. She was one of a kind. Judy's husband, Sam Surratt, who also worked at CBS News, died several years ago. Our thoughts are with her stepsons, Ben and Dan Surratt, along with her grandchildren. Thank you, Judy. We'll treasure your memory. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet player, please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. The best way to protect the good people is to convict the bad. So here's to us. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 05:12:15 / 2023-01-29 05:34:15 / 22

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