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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  February 15, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, the wrath of winter: a major storm causes freezing temperatures, power outages, and extreme weather across the u.s. then, getting to zero: we discuss general motors' big push toward zero emissions vehicles with the company's head of sustainability. and the crackdown continues: the chinese government uses the controversial national security law to overhaul hong kong's education system. >> the courts will have to decide whether this national security law trumps basic
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rights. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> before we talk about your investments-- what's new? >> well, audrey's expecting... >> twins! >> grandparents. >> we want to put money aside for them, so, change in plans. >> all right, let's see what we can adjust. >> we'd be closer to the twins. >> change in plans. >> okay. >> mom, are you painting again? you could sell these. >> let me guess, change in plans? >> at fidelity, changing plans is always part of the plan. >> consumer cellular.
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and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the winter of 2021 is writing itself into the record books tonight. large swaths of the nation are seeing the coldest weather in memory, and many thousands of homes are enduring it without power. amna nawaz reports. >> reporter: over 150-million americans under winter and ice storm warnings today as historically low temperatures blanket much of the u.s.-- including areas not accustomed to extremeonditions. >> our bedroom measured at 42 degrees, so it's cold in our house. >> reporter: in seate this weekd, almost nine inches of snow in a city that hasn't seen that much snow since 1969. in oklahoma, icy roads have led to fiery crashes. and in nashville...
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in kentucky, governor andy beshear advised residents to limit travel. >> we did not make it through almost a year of a pandemic to lose people to a snow or an ice storm. please, don't let the next couple of days or is week be what injures you or ultimately causes the loss of a loved one. >> reporter: the winter and ice storm advisories stretch from america's gulf coast up to new england, and span the country, and have also impacted parts of the pacific northwt. among the hardest hit so far: the state of texas, where president biden approved an emergency declaration on sunday. the deep freeze has led to ice- coated branches breaking, and wreaking havoc. and dangerously low temperatures have triggered rotating blackouts, leaving more than two million people without power at a time. amid the outages, the wholesale price of electricity surged today by more 10,000%.
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>> it is a system-wide failure across-- across the state. >> reporter: in houston today, mayor sylvter turner with a grim update: >> these are not rolling blackouts. these are power outages at a huge, unprecedented scale. if you are without power right now, it is very conceivable that you could be without power throughout the rest of today and possibly even going into tomorrow. >> reporter: officials are warning of storm conditions, travel disruption, and power outages continuing along the storm's path at least through tuesday. so, is the country simply in the middle of a particularly severe phase of winter weather, or is there more to it than that? for those questions and more, we turn to dev niyogi, a professor of geosciences and engineering at the university of texas at austin. he is also a committee member of planet texas 2050, a research initiative on the state's environmental challenges.
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he joins us from indiana where he is waiting out the storm before traveling back to texas. >> welcome to the "newshour." and thank you for making the time. i really appreciate it. i want to start with texas, even though you're not there, you know it well. we're hearing the phrase "unprecedented" a lot when people talk about this storm. texas is no stranger to extreme weather in the form of hurricanes and tornadoes, but when it comes to this kind of extreme cold weather, how unusual is it? >> i'll tell you, this is -- we're certainly in, from what we've been hearing, in uncharted territory again and again. the fact that we're getting snow, and we're having some cold weather in texas is not unusual. i mean, we have it perhaps every few years. what is really remarkable is the spread, the extent, the severity with which this is happening, so certainly by that standard it is an event that has been quite unprecedented in that regards.
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>> reporter: so why are we seeing those kind of severe temperatures now? >> there are a number of periods and questions and options that start emerging, and they will range from just being bad weather -- this is what happens -- to issues related to la niña, which has been inactive, to also, perhaps this is the harbinger of what we've been talking about with regards to climate changes. and the answer is probably going to be all of the above. we often always have combination of weather. that is impacted by what is happening with the season. the season is being affected by what is happening with the ocean. and, of course, what is happening in the season is also a signature of what is happening in the long run. so it is a combination of everything that we have to understand that is where our challenge and where our future lies at this point. >> reporter: one of the arguments about climate change is that it is
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actually making winters milder, so how would it be leading to these severe cold temperatures? >> great point on that. we talk about climate change and global warming, thinking our temperatures should be warmer and warmer. but one factor we highlight is what we'll be seeing is the wide swings in terms of tonight, rainfall, and the manner in which storms are coming. this kind of weather event, which is unprecedented in the context of how things are being spanning, spacially as well as in time, is exactly the kind of thing, unfortunately, that a change in climate has been predicted. whether this is just climate change or whether this is seasonal interactions or a weather event, that can be a topic that will be debated. but what is really important is to understand that this is happening now. >> reporter: when you look at the resources, i want to ask you about what this has done to our energy resources. because you're seeing massive outages across the pacific northwest,
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millions of people in texas left without power as well. can our energy infrastrucre handle these kinds of extreme events, especially if we're to expect more of them? >> we have to think of this as a hammer and a chisel. and what i mean by that is that we cannot control the storms. we cannot control whether there is a hurricane, whether it is a heatwave, or whether it is going to be a coldsnap, such as this. but what we can control is what can we do in terms of the infrastructure resources, the planning, the tools that are available to the community, and the cities that can take care of it. and that is where we are at this point, that translation into that last mi. and we are certainly seeing right now that the energy's grid has been stretched to its limit, and looking forward, i'm sure there is going to be a tremendous portion to rethink what we can do to improve elasticity in that. we have the science -- for
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instance, at the university of texas, we have been doing this texas 2050, and we're preparing the world as we go into the future. what we need is the last mile, what will be the tools, what could be the ways by which we can invest into now, such that we have a better future. and it is that investment, the manner in which we're going to look at things directly in the face and say, this a priority, and this is where we're going to back size into our investment. >> reporter: professor dev niyogi from the university of texas at austin, thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. it is a pleasure. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, average daily covid-19 infections in the u.s. have fallen below 100,000 for the first time since november. average daily deaths are also dropping, even as the overall
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u.s. death toll nears 490,000. and in europe today, germany's new border controls triggered massive back-ups along the austrian and czech frontiers. the germans are trying to slow the spread of variants of the virus. fallout is growing in republican ranks after former president trump was acquitted at his impeachment trial. senator richard burr faces a censure by north carolina party leaders tonight for voting to convict mr. ump. senator bill cassidy also voted to convict and has already been censured by g.o.p. leaders in louisiana. meanwhile, house speaker nancy pelosi announced an independent commission will investigate the u.s. capitol riot that led to the trial. we'll pursue that, later in the program. in myanmar, pressure intensified on protesters against the military coup. police and military trucks rolled down streets in mandalay
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and yangon in a show of force today, and troops confronted crowds with slingshots and rubber bullets. >> ( translated ): the number of protesters reduced yesterday. so the junta took advantage of that and brought military vehicles onto the streets to intimidate the people. we are taking serious care not to fall in those traps. >> woodruff: also today, the ruling junta extended the detention of ousted leader aung san suu kyi until wednesday, when she is to have a court hearing. the russian government is playing down protests backing opposition leader alexei navalny. last night, his supporters in various cities used cell phone flashlights and candles to light up the evening sky, in a display of unity. the kremlin claimed today that only small numbers took part. and, back in this country, the federal online insurance marketplace has reopened for a new enrollment period. will accept
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applications from uninsured people in most states, through may 15. president biden ordered the market to reopen after the initial enrollment period ended in december. and rockets struck near a u.s. base in northern iraq, killing one u.s.-led coalition contractor. five others were wounded, including one u.s. service member. they targeted an area outside irbil international airport. there was no immediate claim of responsibility. still to come on the still to come on the "newshour," general motors on its big promises to transition to zero emissions vehicles; the chinese government overhauls hong kong's education system; tamara keith and amy walter break down the aftermath of the impeachment vote and much more.
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>> woodruff: one of the main causes of the carbon emissions that drive climate change is automobiles, and general motors made big waves in its industry recently by announcing a dramatic ramp up in electric vehicle production, and plans to be carbon neutral by 2040. william brangham talks with a senior executive at the carmaker about the challenges of meeting those goals. >> brangham: that's right, judy. to many, it was yet another signal that gas-powered vehicles are on their way out. >> did you know that norway sells way more electric cars per capita than the u.s.? norway! ( laughs ) well, i won't stand for it! >> brangham: in this super bowl ad, gm-- one of the biggest automakers in the world-- announced that in just four years, it'll have 30 new electric car models for sale
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but there are many hurdles ahead before we get can fully electrify our transportation. joining me now is dane parker, chief sustainability officer for general motors. great to have you. some initial press implied gm was phasing out gas powered cars, but that's not totally right. what is gm's plan for electric vehicles? >> sure, thank you, william. we have an aspiration to eliminate tail-pipe emissions by 2035, and to be fully carbon neutral by 2040. so it is a pretty aggressive plan to shift to all of our markets to electric vehicles. >> it is a very ambitious goal if you can attain it. there are certainly challenges ahead. consumers don't seem to be there yet for electric vehicles. it is just a percentage of
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the marketplace. and we also need a huge network of charging stations to basically take the role of gas stations for all of those electric vehicles. how much of an impediment will be to this rollout? >> those are two things that come up a lot of on the consumer one, i think we'll find we're geting close to a tipping point. those who have experienced electric vehicles, almost to a person say they wouldn't go back. the driving experience, the technology, how quiet they are, the acceleration, all of the elements of a great product in a electric vehicle i think are going to bring consumers increasingly rapidly in, and we're reaching really that classic tipping point. and that is going to move quickly. to your question about infrastructure, the current data we have says that more than 80% of charging happens at home. there is a large number of current consumers who are able to charge at home. for them, this will be seamless because the range of these electric vehicles will be sufficient for the
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vast majority of use cases. for those who can'ts where we need help in deveping that infrastructure. i think there is plenty momentum we can build over the next couple of years for those who are able to charge easily, and give us time to build the infrastructure out for those who are in areas either where they can't charge in their housing or their work, so we can get retail options available for them. >> let's talk a little bit about the challenge of battery technology. we've seen incredible growth so far. but we've got to improve their charging, how long they can drive thes vehicles, and also securing enough lithium to put in all of the batteries. what role do you see for the federal government to help incentivize that technology? >> sure. batteries are the critical component to ths transition. and whether it is mineral supply, like you mentioned, with lithium, or colbolt, or the production of the batteries, gustan will governmel
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play an important role to remove things like lithium from batteries or colbolt, and come up with alternative technologies and alternative materials, but also to encourage the production of those batteries in the united states, which certainly is important from an energy security perspective, and simply from a supply-chain perspective. >> if g.m. is going to continue to sell, in part, gas-driven vehicles, how will you achieve carbon neutrality by 2040? >> 70% of our footprint is tale-pipe emissions, if we can eliminate those by 2035, and there our operatns and use of renewable energy and increasing energy-efficiency, we get to a point by 2035 and beyond where we're pretty close on our own. so the few remaining tons that we'll have that might relate to industrial heating and things like that, we feel like we'll be able to offset with
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carbon credits. but the vast majority of what we do will be doing by changing ouproducts and changing the energy footprint used to charge those products, as well as run our own operations. >> certainly this news has been cheered by many environmental groups. there has also been some skepticism, who point out for many years g.m. was trying to get the trump administration to dial back auto emissions rules. that makes them question whether or not this commitment on g.m.'s part is for real. i want to read you a quote from dan becker, and this is about the that carbon offset issue: "given g.m.'s polluting track record, their promise to arrange some offsets to sop up the pollution from gas-powered s.u.v.s and pickups that they still plan to make is just mokand mirrors." what is your reaction to that? >> i think there have been questions about how we would use offsets, and part of what we set out
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with our 2040 commitment was to use a science-based target methodology to get there. that doesn't allow you to use offsets in that. th methodology requires you to actually reduce your direct footprint. that's why for us this commitment to be carbon neutral is a commitment to change our products and operational food print, exclusive of carbon credits or offsets, and why we're spending $27 billion in these five years to do exactly that, roll out these products faster than we of have before. >> dane parker, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you, william, for the time. >> woodruff: the lunar new year celebration has begun in china, but it comes as hong kong security forces continue to
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prosecute those it has swept up in a wave of arrests under the new national security law that mainland china imposed. even pro-democracy members of hong kong's legislative body were arrested last month when they held an informal primary elecon. the education curriculum is being overhauled and judges are facing increasing pressure to issue harsher sentences to pro-democracy activists. newshour special correspondent divya gopalan reports. >> reporter: praying for good fortune and better days. as hong kong people start their chinese new year, many will be relieved to bid farewell to the punishing year of the rat. like the rest of the world, the pandemic took away loved ones, jobs and businesses. but for hong kong it also brought one of the biggest clampdowns on freedoms and rights: the national security law. the wide-ranging law imposed by beijing opens the door for china's communist government to
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intervene in all aspects of the autonomous territory's affairs. the law criminalises several categories of broadly defined offenses which include secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces. but there is one institution seen as the last hold-out against beijing's increasing assertive rule. >> ( translated ): my mission as >> it is my mission, as i say, to do my utmost, to uphold the uphold the rule of law and maintain an impartial, transparent and independent judiciary. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: in a ceremony in january, andrew cheung was sworn in as the city's top judge. taking the helm in unprecedented times, he admitted he has his work cut out for him. >> political pressure is just one form of pressure that judges face and have to deal with, so
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we all do our best to deal with this pressure. >> reporter: it's a situation that american lawyer john clancey is familiar with. on january 6, he was caught up in the biggest sweep yet under the national security law. >> we need to keep up the fight for human rights and democracy. >> reporter: clancey was among 53 opposition activists and former lawmakers arrested for subversion-- for taking part in an unofficial primary poll to choose the best democratic candidate for the now-delayed legislative council elections. the longtime hong kong resident, who speaks cantonese fluently, came to the city in 1968 as a catholic priest when it was still a british colony. he later trained in law and is known for his work championing democracy and human rights. >> there's going to be a need for the courts to deal with two conflictual things hitting at
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one another. on the one hand you have what's called the basic law, which entrenches these basic human rights: freedom of speech, voting standing for election, human rights. on the other hand, there's a new national security law, which unlike most other laws in hong kong, it's drafted in china, it's very vague, it seems to be having a lot implications, the courts will have to decide whether this national security law trumps basic rights. >> reporter: beijing says the national security law is necessary to make scenes like this, the anti-government protests of 2019, a thing of the past. almost 100 people have been arrested under the law since it took effect on july 1. only one case has made it to while most of the focus has been on high-profile national security law cases, the legal system is regularly being tested. almost every day, there are cases going through the city's courts related to the 2019 protests and other
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demonstrations calling for democracy. those being prosecuted range from former protestors, democracy advocates, human rights activists and even journalists. according to official figures, around a fifth of the people arrested in connection with the social unrest of 2019 have been prosecuted, and roughly 200 have been sentenced to prison. in november, one of the top chinese officials in hong kong said reforms were needed for the city's judiciary, saying that the word “patriotism” needs to be included in the core values of hong kong society. the details of the reforms are unclear. but holden chow, a lawyer, legislative councilor and vice president of hong kong's biggest pro beijing political party, agrees that changes are needed. he is calling for the judiciary to set up a sentencing council. >> ( translated ): over the past two years we've seen the violent protests in hong kong. and when the rioters are brought to court being handed down by
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the court, it seems that in many occasion the sentence is too lenient. i am concerned that you are simply encouraging people to commit that sort of crimes. >> reporter: the majority of the front-line protestors were university and high school students. pro-beijing politicians and china's state media blamed teachers and the curriculum for the social unrest. and so, in the latest effort to tighten the leash on the younger generation, authorities have pushed through one of the biggest overhauls of the education system. >> miss owl, what is national security? >> reporter: with teaching material that includes animation to help younger children, the new national education curriculum brings hong kong classrooms in line with e communist controlled schools of mainland china. teachers will be forced to warn students as young as six of secession, subversion and foreign interference.
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while many were expecting changes to certain subjects like liberal studies, it's come as a shock to students who have enjoyed an education system where free thinking and open discussions have been encouraged. >> i am a hong konger, i believe my identity as a hong konger, this is very important to reveal the truth in what is happening in h.k. public, not the way that the central government wants to control over us. >> reporter: regardless of which subjects 16-year-old angel and her classmates choose, they will be exposed to the new curriculum. almost every subject, whether it's biology, geography, general studies and even music will need to incorporate the tenets of national security. but as angel is due to graduate soon, she feels it's the next generation who will be most affected. >> ( translated ): if the curriculum has changed, they wi just think in the way that the government wants them to
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think, because they will only possess the information that is given directly by the government. also, they cannot voice their opinions freely, they cannot decide whether the news is right or wrong, and this will definitely affect the future of the hong kong political movement, and there will be no >> rorter: for many in hong kong, with no avenue for dissent anymore, and no power to resist the changes imposed by beijing, there is a sense that the writing is on the wall. many feel if they want a glimpse into what the year of the ox holds for the city, all they have to do is look across the border. for the pbs newshour in hong kong, i'm divya gopalan. >> woodruff: although former president trump's second impeachment trial concluded over the weekend, many questions still remain surrounding the
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events during and leading up to the deadly january 6 insurrection. this afternoon, house speaker nancy pelosi announced her plans to form an outside, independent 9/11-style commission to, as she says, "get to the bottom of how this happened." former new jersey governor, thomas kean, and former indiana co-chaired the 9/11 commission, and governor kean joins us now. >> woodruff: governor thomas kean, welcome to the "newshour." very good to see you. we know that you and lee hamilton sent a letter to president biden, to congressional leaders, on friday, urging them to consider the idea of a commission. some people are going to look at this and say, great idea. other people are going to say, oh, no, another commission. why is it a good idea? >> well, look, this is the first time anything like this has happened to our government. i suppose since the british invaded the
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capitol in 1812. the idea of a mob invading the u.s. capitol, which is the center of democracy, not only for us but for the world, and doing it so publicly, is -- i was brought up to venorate the place. my father was elected to congress when i was three years old, and in those days, the family moved down. i was taken down to the capitol with my father. webster was, and where clay sat, and where john quincy adams gave his favorite speech against slavery and died minutes later, and so on. and i knew andrew jackson, and i knew sam raven, and buildings are named after them. so the idea that a mob could invade the center of democracy while legislators were doing their job is so terrible, that i think now is behind us, and we better find out why it happened, how it
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happened, how security is was breached, so we can make recommendations to make sure it never, ever happens again. >> woodruff: how do you assure the american people that a commission can get to the bottom of this, that a commission can come through with an accurate, truthful accounting of what happened? >> well, i think we can do it because it has been done. the 9/11 commission, our report has not yet been questioned, as far as the accuracy goes, as far as its bipartisanship. if we have done it once, we can do it again. but it does depend. it depends on the appointments, the people we're appointing, the people in the congress. they've got to make sure these are people who have no ambitions, who are not overly partisan, who can reach across the aisle, and who have the confidence based on their own records of the american people to come out with something that is
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useful, proper, and will prevent it from ever happening again. >> woodruff: and that's a question i have, governor kean, because we're in a much more politically p polarized time, as you know, even after 2000. after 2002, when your commission got to work. how do we know your side isn't going to be appointing -- or one side or the other -- people who are so set in their views that you can't come up with a unanimous view of what happened, or reporting of what happened? >> i think it is, you know, again, we're going to be defending our elected officials, and that's who we are in this democracy. i think the idea -- i have great confidence that nancy pelosi, congressman mccarthy, the leaders of the senate, know who these people are because a lot of them have served within
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the congress. when lee hamilton was appointed as my vice chair, nobody objected because he had a record of integrity and bipartisanship, and doing what is best for the country, more than anything else, all his political life. that hasn't ended. there are people i know, and people you know, some serving in the congress now, some are tied to public service, some of om are governors, there are a number of these people who's only bottom line is service to the united states of america; country first. patriots. and those are the people who have got to be appointed. and i think we have to call on the leaders of congress to make sure those are the people who are appointed to the commission. >> woodruff: does getting to the bottom of former president trump's role in this, is that essential to the work of a commission? >> it is part of it, but to me it is not the bottom
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line. you do a commission to find out the facts of how something happened. how did this mob get created? how -- we don't know, still, whether they planned it all ahead of time or somwhen incited on the spot. we don't know that yet. find out how it happened, and find out the facts that everybody agrees on. once you find out the facts, you can make the recommendations to ensure it never, ever, ever can happen again. but you have to have the facts first in order to make those kind of recommendations. >> woodruff: we went back and looked at some of the reporting at the time your 9/11 commission issued its report in 2004. you are right, the vast majority of reaction was very positive, praised the work that you did. there were some who said the fact that you were trying to reach a unanimous view meant that you, in the end, had to soften the edges in so many words. how do you see that?
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>> well, you know, we didn't (laughing). i don't think we softened it at all. we had a los of debates. we met hours and hours and hours. we got to know each other first, and so republicans and democrats came to trust each other, we had private dinners together. some days we met each other's families. and once we had agreed to trust each other and done the public hearings and all of that, the report came quite naturally after that. and, honestly, we did not soften the edges. we said what we thought we had to say, and i didn't know until two days before we issued the report whether we had it unanimous or not. and one thing we found out, by the way, we took out of the adjectives. we found out people were arguing not about the facts, but the adjectives. once we removed the adjectives in the report, then a lot of people who had questions signed on. >> woodruff: in the end,
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governor kean, how much does a though report like this matter? how much difference does it make for our country, for our people, for our system of government? >> look, the 41 recommendations we made in the 9/11 commission were the basis for a whole redrafting of national security in this country, and we still have not had another attack comparable to 9/11. that has kept the people safer. if these commissions are done right, they can work. they can work for the people. so my sense is if we do this right, we can make the congress stronger. we can make national security stronger. and we can make sure, as i say, that nobody in 10 or 20 years is saying, how did this happen again? it shouldn't happen. it shouldn't be a mob from the left or the right or anybody else that could disrupts the best of this democracy, which should be occurring in the united states congress. >> woodruff: former governor thomas kean of new jersey, and i gather
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speaker nancy pelosi called you after she received that letter on friday, so it looks like it certainly did play into the thinking here. >> we had a very nice call. >> woodruff: we so appreciate your joining us. thank you very much. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: and >> woodruff: for the seven republican senators who voted to convict former president trump, the backlash has been swift and severe. as we have reported cens shores for two of those senators, louisiana bill cassidy and indiana's bill toomey. tonight senator richard burr of north carolina may be the third to face that phate. here now is amy walter of the "cook political report," and tamara keith of n.p.r. it is so good to see you. amy, we've had 46
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presidents of the united states, and only one of them has been impeached twice, and only one had to go through a trial when he was out of office. so donald trump has made history in every which way here. but in the end, after this trial that ended over the weekend in an acquittal, where are we? >> right. and where is the republican party? this seems tob the question that we continue to grapple with, or have been grappling with really since 2015, judy, when it seemed that so many times during trump's first campaign, during his time as president, that the party was going to break up over donald trump. and yet when all is said and done, the party continues to rally around him. and in this case, on the vote over the weekend to convict the president was no different. in some ways, as you said, this was an historic moment, the most
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bipartisan impeachment ever in american history, and that is quite remarkable. and, yet, at the same time, it doesn't tell us anything aboutrump's inability to keep a hold of the party. in fact, what it tells us is that he still has a pretty good hold on the party. as you pointed out, a number of the senators who voted for conviction have since been censored. we know members of the house who voted for impeachment have also been censored, and they've been threatened with primary races. we know even in a bipartisan vote, it was still 10 votes short of a conviction. and we also know that the seven republicans who voted, these are not people who voted for -- they voted for conviction, but these are not the rising stars in the party. they're not folks you're going to see on the ballot in 2024 running for president. only one of them is up for for re-election, lisa murkowski from alaska. two are retiring, senator
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bird and senator toomey, from pennsylvania, also being censored. the rest are either up in 2026, so they were just recently elected, re-elected, or one of them, mitt romney, up in 2024. so there is no immediate repercussions for most of these senators, like there is for members of the house. but at the end of the day, i think what's been made very clear is that this is still the party of donald trump. the local, grass-root activists who are censoring these members, making it very clear where their loyalties lie and what they're expecting from other elected officials down the road, in 2022and beyond. >> woodruff: and tam, pick up on that. how much does the trial verdict tell us about the hold that donald trump still has on his own party? >> as amy mentioned, the local party apparatuses are very trumpy, if you
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will. they were consolidated behind president trump. his campaign was very concerned about a primary challenge potentially in 2020, so they made sure that every state and local party operation all over the country was controlled by president trump. and those loyalists are still in place. that's why you're seeing these censors come so fast and so strongly. what does that mean in terms of primaries? what does that mean in terms of senate races? i think that we can look at what kevin mccarthy, the republican leader in the house, and mitch mcconnell, the republican leader in the senate -- how they are charting their path, trying to sort of have it both ways, wanting the trump face but also trying to figure out how to keep republicans who were completely and totally outraged by what happened on january 6 and didn't see that violent mob as being part of their party. and so you had mcconnell
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give this absolutely scorching floor speech about president trump after, of course, voting to acquit, and saying that it wast constitutional. they should have done the trial before he left office, but he held up and prevented the trial from happening before he left office. and mccarthy was very critical of president trump in the immediate aftermath, but before long, he was down at mar-a-lago, kissing president trump's ring, not literally, but to get republicans who can win in 2022. >> woodruff: and, amy, is there anybody in the republican party -- i'm sure there is somebody -- who has enough influence in the republican party to counter what is going on with those who are so loyal to donald trump? >> we're going to learn a lot, i think, in these next couple of years, as we watch these primaries
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unfold and senate races and others. we're going to see, for example, even this year, in a state like virginia, where you have a governor's race, what kind of candidate comes out of their process there? they actually have convention, not a primary. and what are the issues that they run on? virginia is a pla where normally, historically, whichever party is in the white house at that time, loses the governor's race in virginia. but virginia has also gotten a lot bluer in the last four years, and the backlash to trump was pretty significant. i think we're also going to have to see just how invested donald trump is in being with the party in terms of its daily dealings, right? is he really going to take all of this money that he has raised and plow it into the local parties? plow it into helping candidates up and down the ballot? or is he going to use it as a way to punish those
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republicans who he thinks have wronged him, like represent liz cheney from wyoming. or maybe he sits on it and doesn't use any of it for any other candidate. so there are still a lot of unknowns there. and most important, judy, we don't know what we're talking about in terms of the political environment a year or two from now. i think that sets the tone more than anything else, in terms of the kinds of candidates that become successful, are the candidates that fit that moment. >> woodruff: well, we would like you both to know exactly what will happen a year or two in advance, but we'll wait until next week. tam, i want to turn you both here, in the minutes we have left, to what is happening with covid relief. while the trial was going on in the senate, the house was moving ahead with some of president biden's proposal on covid relief. how much does it matter whether he is able to get republican votes or not? whether this ends up being
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an all democratic measure? >> i'm not quite sure how much it ultimately does matter. and, you know, will voters hold it against him that they didn'tet republicans if their unemployment benefits last? or if the covid vaccine rollouts go well? or if their kids are actually in school? i think the big test for biden -- and he and his administration believe that they need this covid package to make this happen, but come 2022, the question is: do you feel better today than you did two years ago, when people are gong to vote? and that's going to depend on how they handle the pandemic. and i think a lot is going to depend on whether people feel like their lives are back to normal. and a big part of that is going to be the schools. >> woodruff: and, amy, i mean, pick up on that from there because there are those who are saying he
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needs to show early on that he is going to live up to this unity promise that he campaigned on. >> right. >> woodruff: and others are saying, look, that was never going to happen. it is going to have to be democrats all the way. >> well, there is another unity challenge he may ve, and that's keeping democrats unified. we've been spending these last few weeks focused on the divisions within the republican party, but, you know, democrats, in order to get this package through, they can't afford to lose any senator. we've already seen some splits on issues within the democratic party, on issues like including the $15 an hour minimum wage in this covid package, some consonation about the price tag on certain things. and house speaker pelosi can only afford to lose four or five votes there. so keeping the party united, on the same page, again, it's a lot easier when you're the one in
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charge, and you know that ultimately this is, you know, going to define your party. at the same time, it is a real test for team biden and democrats and leadership to be able to get this through. and the clock is ticking. these unemployment benefits that tam pointed to, this is the beginning of march, where they're really going to need to make sure that this money is going out the door, and that people are getting these checks. >> woodruff: and in many ways, the calendar is flying along. no question about it. that's the serious -- that's the most serious deadline out there. amy walter, tamara keith, next week we'll ask you about 2024, 2028, we won't let you off the hook. [laughter] >> woodruff: thank you both. amy walter, tamara keith. ♪♪
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>> woodruff: finally tonight, a new four-part series, "the black church: this is our story, this is our song," premieres on pbs tomorrow night. it's a sweeping history of religion, politics, and culture. jeffrey brown has a preview for our arts and culture series, "canvas." ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: in the time of slavery, it was a source of strength and survival. ♪ ♪ ♪ in the 20th century it would spearhead a dre towa political and economic equality. >> the church is the oldest, the most continuous and most important institution ever created by the african american people. >> reporter: henry louis gates, jr, the noted harvard scholar and host of pbs's “finding your roots,” has been telling aspects of the african-american story for decades. this, he says in his new series and companion book, may be the
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most important of all. >> it was a laboratory for the formation of the identity of a new world of african people. after all, there were 50 ethnic groups represented in the slave trade from africa to north america, and they had to forge and form into one new people, the first truly pan african people. and secondly, it was a laboratory for the creation of black culture. it's where people learn to read and write because it was illegal to read and write. so, through the king james bible, people would memorize passages and repeat those passages. >> reporter: there's a kind of tension from the beginning in the story you're telling about, around christianity being the religion of the enslavers and then becoming the religion of the enslaved, but also a means towards their liberation. >> absolutely. african-americans created a form of christiity with a
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liberating god and its center, a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was slavery. what black people did was take the forms of christianity available to them and refashion them in their own image. >> reporter: the story, through several centuries, is told by leading cultural figures, pastors and historians. >> what enslaved people did was they attempted to merge and fuse these different worlds that they lived in. at every point, the sacred mixes with the secular. you can see it in the struggle for legal rights and political power. from richard allen, founder of the african methodist episcopal church, the country's first independent black denomination to reverend martin luther king, jr in the 1960s and, today
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pastor raphael warnock, now a u.s. senator from georgia. >> he is the most recent example, so that politics and religion have inextricably been intertwined in the history of the black church. i think that they internalized and fashioned a form of christianity that allowed them to believe that, by and by, as black people say, by and by, we would be free and we would be able to progress within american society. ♪ ♪ ♪ central to that experience: music, from early spirituals to the pularization of gospel and its influence on so many black musicians. like aretha franklin, who started out in the church. >> the body of the spirituals is one of the great gifts to the collective corpus of world
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literature. you can't beat it. i mean, i'm old school. i like the new church music. but you can't beat the spirituals. ♪ ezekiel saw the wheel way up the middle of the air ♪ he saw the wheel y in the middle of the air he did that over and over. >> reporter: gates doesn't shy from pointing to the black church's own failures and discrimination, including homophobia and sexism. the series highlights the critical, often undertold, role of women. >> the backbone of the church has been black women almost from the very beginning, but their role has been suppressed. one of my favorite examples in the story we tell us of jarena lee, and jarena lee goes to richard allen and says, "i've been called to preach." and he says, "i don't think so." he says there's no role for women in the pulpit. she goes, okay, so she's sitting she just stands up in her pew and delivers a sermon and it
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blows everybody's mind. and richard allen says, you know what, i guess maybe you were called to preach. >> reporter: in our time, as many young people move away from organized religion and protesters again demand justice, the church faces a new challenge of relevance and vitality. there was a very moving moment in there to me when reverend traci blackmon is telling you about going into the streets in ferguson during the protests and she talks about holding a prayer vigil. and she says that halfway through, some of the young people said, “that's enough praying right now.” >> well, i love that story. this is what she said in response, and i quote. "the ferguson uprising was church." i think that what we're seeing is that each historical period in black history, the church has been refashioned not only in the broader image of black people, but in the image black people at
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that specific time and place across generations. despite all the trials and tribulations that black people have had to suffer, the churches survived. it's grown, it's morphed, it's transformed and it's prevailed. and we're still here. >> reporter: "the black church: this is our story, this is our song.” ♪ ♪ ♪ for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: looking forward to that. we have more online where you can find the stories of two women who played vital roles in both the black church, as well as the fight for civil rights in america. that's on our web site, and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us on-line and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe and see you soon.
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>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> consumer cellular. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> the kendeda fund. committed to advancing restorative justice and meaningfulork through investments in transformative leaders and ideas. more at >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh
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