Friday, April 16, 2021

U.S. AIR FORCE - Special Warfare First


"In Special Warfare Milestone, Female Enlisted Airman to Enter Combat Controller Training" by Stephen Losey, Military.com 4/15/2021

The first female enlisted airman soon will enter training to become a combat controller, a milestone for the Air Force's efforts to add women to its elite special warfare ranks.

In an email Thursday, Air Education and Training Command spokeswoman Marilyn Holliday said that the unidentified airman is one of two enlisted women now in the special warfare training pipeline.  This airman recently completed the assessment and selection course, Holliday said, and will soon begin formal combat controller training.

The second enlisted airman will start the assessment and selection course in May, Holliday added.

Air Force Times was first to report that the female airman will enter combat controller training.

This is the furthest an enlisted woman has ever made it in the process to become a combat controller, Holliday said.

She explained that this airman -- like all those seeking to enter a special warfare career field -- will face the same standards used to evaluate male candidates.

Last summer, a female enlisted trainee began the Tactical Air Control Party Apprentice Course [AETC].  AETC said in December; at that time, she was still in the program.

However, AETC said Thursday that the trainee has since left the program and reclassified into another Air Force specialty.

The first female airman to enter the combat controller training pipeline did so in October 2019, though she ultimately did not make it to the formal training stage.

Combat controllers are highly trained airmen who often deploy with units into combat.  They can call in airstrikes, conduct air traffic control; command and control; and other operations under fire, as well as establish assault zones or airfields.  They are also certified FAA air traffic controllers.





ALASKA - The Muldrow Glacier


NOTE:  Follow article link to see interactive pics of glacier.

"This Glacier in Alaska Is Moving 100 Times Faster Than Normal" by Jugal K. Patel and Henry Fountain, The New York Times 4/13/2021

The Muldrow Glacier, on the north side of Denali in Alaska, is undergoing a rare surge.  In the past few months the 39-mile-long river of ice has been moving as much as 90 feet a day, 100 times its usual speed.

The event has excited glaciologists, who’ve rushed to study it using satellite imaging, specialized aerial photography and global positioning system devices delicately placed on the shifting ice.

Surges often last only a few months.  Most of them occur on remote glaciers and are detected only after they’ve ended — when, for example, satellite images show that a glacier front has rapidly advanced.  But the Muldrow is within Denali National Park and Preserve.  Planes regularly fly over the glacier carrying sightseers and climbers eager to ascend North America’s highest mountain.

In early March, the pilot of just such a flight near the Muldrow Glacier noticed large numbers of new crevasses as well as changes to lateral moraines, areas of rocky debris that build up on the edges of glaciers.  “They looked all torn up,” said Chris Palm, the pilot, with K2 Aviation.

He took photographs with his phone, which were quickly shared with researchers, including some from the National Park Service who have been studying the glacier for years.  Satellite data soon confirmed that the ice was moving much faster than the speed it had averaged over recent decades, less than a foot a day.

The stress and strain from rapid movement of so much ice — the glacier is up to about 1,500 feet thick and a mile and a half across — is causing all the deformation and fracturing.

“The whole glacier is so cracked up,” said Chad Hults, the Alaska regional geologist with the park service, who landed on the Muldrow in late March in a helicopter to set up equipment to measure the speed and other characteristics of the surge.

Mr. Hults was involved in a study of the Muldrow two decades ago, when the glacier was quiet and calm and relatively easy to walk across.  This time, he said, the ice was so shattered it was hard to find a place to land the helicopter.  And he could hear loud crashes and booms from breaking and falling ice even over the noise of the aircraft’s engine.

The Muldrow was the route used by the first climbers to ascend Denali, in 1913, and still some climbers choose that way up the mountain.  But with the climbing season about to begin, the route may be impassable, Mr. Hults said.

Surges occur on only about 1 percent of glaciers worldwide.  And on a given glacier, decades may pass between events.  Because of that relative rarity, scientists haven’t been able to study them enough to have a complete understanding of why they happen, or to gauge how climate change, which is rapidly melting glaciers in Alaska and elsewhere, may be affecting them.

Mark Fahnestock, a glaciologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said changes in the mass balance between the top and bottom of the glacier play a critical role in surges.  Over time, ice accumulates in the higher, colder stretches and is lost from the lower, warmer ones.

“The upper parts thicken and the lower parts melt back,” Dr. Fahnestock said.  The surge restores the balance, rapidly shifting mass down to the lower parts.

Since global warming is causing less ice accumulation and more melting, Dr. Fahnestock said it is likely to have an impact.  “There will be effects, especially in Alaska because the mass loss is so high,” he said.

The Muldrow last surged in 1956-57, and research from the region suggested that it has done so about every 50 years.  So scientists were expecting the glacier to surge again at some point.

But what actually triggers a surge is not fully understood.

For the Muldrow and many other surging glaciers, meltwater that becomes trapped at the base of the glacier by sediment or other rocky debris, called till, may be part of what sets a surge off, said Martin Truffer, a glaciologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

This meltwater, created from the heat of friction between the ice and bedrock and from heat within the Earth itself, builds up in the trapped area.  At some point the water pressure becomes so high that the friction between the ice and bedrock is reduced, and the glacier picks up speed.

The Muldrow lies along a major fault, the Denali, and the steep, rugged terrain has been broken up by earthquakes and suffers severe erosion.  So the glacier, like many other glaciers that surge, has a lot of debris underneath it that could trap water.

“You need lots of till,” Dr. Truffer said.  “But that alone is not enough.”

Surges usually begin in the winter and end in the summer, when water from surface melting greatly increases the flow through the glacier, to the point where any bottlenecks are broken up.  That lowers the water pressure and increases the friction, slowing the ice.

Some surges start again the following winter when meltwater flow decreases.  But Dr. Truffer and others think the Muldrow is moving so fast that the shift in mass balance will play itself out in the next few months, and it will stop until the next surge, decades from now.

The 1956-57 surge pushed ice about four miles beyond the existing terminus.  That ice has been stagnant since then, much of it now covered with tundra, said Guy Adema, a park service scientist who led the Muldrow study two decades ago.  It is visible from one of the park’s visitor centers.

Mr. Adema said the current surge may push over and beyond the old ice, and if so should provide a visual treat for viewers — a wall of gleaming, fresh ice, cracking and occasionally breaking off pieces.



Monday, April 05, 2021

HATE IN AMERICA - Crackdown on Hate

"Crackdown on online hate speech pushes extremists to other platformsPBS NewsHour 4/3/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In a Congressional hearing last week the heads of Facebook and Twitter said they're taking measures to slow the spread of hate speech and conspiracies on their sites in the wake of the Jan 6 insurrectionBut a crackdown on mainstream platforms is pushing extremists onto less monitored forums.  Simon Ostrovsky reports as part of our series, “Exploring Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and Extremism."

 

 

"‘Hate is learned’: Tracing the history of anti-Asian violence in AmericaPBS NewsHour 4/4/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The rise in anti-Asian attacks has prompted the Biden administration to expand an initiative aimed at combating anti-Asian bias and violence.  But for many Asian Americans, the recent violence also highlights a long history of feeling invisible.  Mike Cerre reports from San Francisco as part of our series “Exploring Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and Extremism.A warning: some images may be disturbing.



OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 4/2/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on Biden’s new infrastructure plan, Georgia’s voting lawPBS NewsHour 4/2/2021

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including President Biden’s infrastructure plan, the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations amid spikes in infections, and Major League Baseball's reaction to Georgia's new voting law.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  With the release of President Biden's infrastructure plan, states reopening, and boycotts brewing, we look to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.

That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

Hello to both of you.  So good do see you, as always, this Friday.

And there is, as always, a lot to talk about.

Jonathan, I want to start with you on the President's big infrastructure plan, over $2 trillion.  What do you make of it?  Does it meet the need or does it overshoot?

Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post:  Well, if you listen to progressives, Judy, it doesn't meet the need.  It doesn't go far enough.  If you listen to Republicans, it spends way too much.

I think the way you described the plan is perfect, actually, because you described it as an infrastructure planBut the actual name of this package is the American Jobs Act.  And that, I think, when you think of what the President proposed in terms of jobs, it all fits together.  It all makes sense.

One of the knocks against the President's plan is that, well, only a certain amount of it is spent on infrastructure.  Most people, when they think of infrastructure, they think of roads, bridges, seaports, airports, those types of things.

But what you see in the American Jobs Act is a broader definition of what infrastructure is.  Yes, it's roads and bridges, but it is also wind turbines and solar, green energy things, wiring the country with broadband, having broadband be for 2021 what the interstate system was in the mid-'50s, connecting the country, but connecting the country electronically, and also the electric power grid.

So, I think the President's going for a big, bold plan.  The key question is, can that big, bold plan actually become law?

Judy Woodruff:  And, David, Jonathan makes a points.  There is more in here than what's traditionally been thought of as infrastructure, hundreds of billions for caregiving for seniors and others.  What do you make of this?

David Brooks, New York Times:  No, I do worry about the debt.  We're spending almost $10 trillion, if all the Biden things pass.

That's a lot.  It's just a historical fact that rising debt contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire, the decline of the Spanish, imperial Spain, France in the 18th century, China in the 19th century.  History is replete with nations who hurt themselves by going into too much debt.

Nonetheless, I think, in these circumstances, the Biden plan is worth it.  And I say that for a couple of reasons.  One, we have simply underinvested in infrastructure and basic research and all such things for decades.  And that's just a fact.

Second, if you ask me to tell the economic story of America over the last 50 years, I would say that we have built a gigantic funnel that has funneled money and resources and wealth to highly educated people in large metro areas.

This plan funnels money to all the people who are not in those categories.  And so I think it rebalances our society in an important way.

And, finally, Jonathan and I were on a call with Anita Dunn, the President's adviser earlier in the week.  And she made the point that listen, we're — we have got to show democracy works.  There's a Chinese system out there that a lot of people think that's what works.  And we're just in this contest to show that democracy can get big things done.

So, given the circumstances, I overcome my incredibly high aversion to all this debt.

Judy Woodruff:  So Jonathan, does this look like it has a chance of getting — becoming law?

(LAUGHTER)

Jonathan Capehart:  Judy, right now, no.

And I say no because the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has already said that he's not going to support it.  I have not heard one Republican in the Senate step forward and say that he or she will support it.

That means the President is going to have to depend on a couple things, one, maintaining all 50 Democrats to vote for this plan.  But the other thing is that, in order for all 50 Democrats to have any say over this, the Senate parliamentarian has to rule whether the American Jobs Act, like the Recovery Act, can go through reconciliation, which is just a simple majority vote.

So, there are a lot of hurdles here.  And that's why I say, right now, the American Jobs Act is big and bold.  And, as necessary as it is, as it stands right now, I don't see how it becomes law.

Judy Woodruff:  David, your forecast?

David Brooks:  A tad more optimistic.

I hear a lot of moderates who are supporting it, moderate Democrats who are saying positive things about it.  So that's a good sign.

I think one of the challenges is going to be, this is just going to take a long time.  Nancy Pelosi said she hoped to get it out of the House by July 4, which is an ambitious timetable.  Then it goes to the Senate.  So we're looking at a six-month process.

And suppose we're generating 900,000 jobs a month, as we just did, over all that time.  A lot of people are going to say, why are we spending all this money?  The economy's really roaring.

And so that could drain away support.

Judy Woodruff:  All right, two other things I want to ask you both about.  We will try the squeeze them in.

First to you, Jonathan, on where we are with COVID.  We see more people are getting vaccinated, good signs.  What, over 100 million Americans now have been vaccinated.  But we are also seeing rise in the number of cases.  We're hearing talk about vaccine passports, requiring people to show a passport that they have been vaccinated before they can travel or go into a place of work, potentially.

And you also see states where the governors are opening up before Washington says they're ready for that.  Where do you see all this headed?

Jonathan Capehart:  I feel like Groundhog Day, because I believe I said this a few weeks ago.

We are so close.  We're always so close to getting to the other side of this pandemic, in terms of cases going down, hospitalizations, deaths, businesses being able to reopen.  And then states end up doing something to kind of mess it all up.

And for states to undue their mask mandates, open things wide open again, as cases are going up, as variants are running rampant across the land, when you have the CDC director going off-script and saying that she's extremely worried about what's going to happen, I don't think we're out of the woods yet.

And I think people are being a little too optimistic about how much they can do because of the vaccines.  I, like anyone, would like to get the vaccine and get back to normal.  But I would love for things to get back to normal when every — when the country can actually do it in a uniform way.

And I'm not seeing right now how we're going to be able to do that, in — by the time of the President's goal of July 4.

Judy Woodruff:  David?

David Brooks:  Yes, I think we need to make life a lot better for people who have had the vaccine.

I think we need vaccine passports, so they can go to gyms and restaurants.  And I say that as one who is too young to have the vaccine, which — the last time I have been too young for anything.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  It's…

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  But we have got to induce the people who are vaccine-hesitant to say, wow, it's really great on the other side of the vaccine.

And one way to do that is to have these vaccine passports, so people can go and enjoy life.  The research has now, it's, as far as I understand it, become very clear.  You do not get the disease — at least your chances are fantastic — and you do not spread the disease.

So, if that's the case, then I say to all of you with the shots, party on.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  David, Jonathan and I think of you as always young, so it's all good.  It's all good.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  Just quickly, finally, we have talked about Georgia's voting law and the pushback against it, but now we have big corporations like Delta, Coca-Cola saying they don't like it.

And, today, Major League Baseball, Jonathan, announced they are pulling their All-Star Game out of Atlanta.  It was going to take place this summer.  They're going to find another home for it.

Is this kind of pressure likely to make a difference in Georgia and other states where they're looking at tightening voting?

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, in terms of the law, the Georgia law is the law.  And it is highly unlikely that Governor Kemp is going to go back or the legislature is going to go back and say, we will do — we will have a do-over.

But I do think it's very important for corporate America to take stands on issues that are of importance, not only to their customers, but to their employees.  And so, for Delta and Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball to take the stands that they have taken, I think, is very important.

I think what is also important was the letter from the 72 Black business executives, from Ken Chenault and Ken Frazier, American Express and Merck respectively, the president of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, Ursula Burns a former CEO of Xerox, putting pen to paper and saying, what's happening in Georgia is an attack on democracy.

And where are the business leaders, all business leaders in raising their voices about this?

And I think what's happening in Georgia should be a template for all the other states where what's happened in Georgia is happening in those states right now.

Judy Woodruff:  What effect, David, do you see this kind of corporate involvement having?

David Brooks:  Yes, I spoke very negatively, critically of the law last week, and I'm still very much against it.

I worry about this.  I worry about — we have seen one institution after another in American society get politicized, the church, the press.  I worry about corporations suddenly taking political sides.  I worry about boards of directors and CEOs who've got a lot of economic power wielding it in ways that's political.

And so I'm just nervous to see yet another institution gets super political.  They just don't do it well.  Delta, Coke, Major League Baseball, they all work in China, a country now committing genocide.  What standards do we hold people to?  So, I'm just a little nervous about people with a lot of power wielding it in this way.

I just — I'm more comfortable that we settle our differences, even if we hate the results, through politics and through persuasion and through votes and for activism and trying to get people to come out to the polls.  I'm just more comfortable with that as a means of social change.

Judy Woodruff:  A serious note to end on.

David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both.  And have a good weekend.

Jonathan Capehart:  Thanks, Judy.

David Brooks:  You too.



NUCLEAR TALKS - Iran and U.S.

"U.S. and Iran agree to talks on returning to the 2015 nuclear dealPBS NewsHour 4/2/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The United States announced Friday that it will join indirect talks with Iran beginning next week in Vienna, Austria.  The ultimate goal is to have nations return to a 2015 deal in which Iran curbed nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.  Robert Malley, the U.S. Special Envoy to Iran, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.



AMERICAN JOBS - The Jobs Report

"Strong jobs report offers signs of hope for an economic recoveryPBS NewsHour 4/2/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday a net gain of 916,000 jobs last month, the most since August, while the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent.  The upbeat jobs report seems to confirm some economists' forecasts that the economy is on its way to recovery.  Louise Sheiner, of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, joins William Brangham to discuss.



BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR - Dr. Jennifer Blechman

"A Brief But Spectacular take on the importance of palliative care in rural communitiesPBS NewsHour 4/1/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Tonight, we report on why palliative care is crucial in rural communities from three different perspectives.  Dr. Jennifer Blechman of Bend, Oregon, hospice and social worker Liz Anderson of Asheville, North Carolina, and patient Joanie Devine alongside her fiancĂ© David Keenan of Waynesville, North Carolina, join us with their Brief But Spectacular take on the issue.



THE ROAD AHEAD - Renewable Energy

"Energy Sec. Granholm:  Focus on renewable energy will protect U.S. ‘manufacturing backbone’PBS NewsHour 4/1/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Biden's infrastructure proposal includes hundreds of billions of dollars to address climate change by cutting emissions and increasing the use of clean energy, which critics say amounts to a version of the Green New Deal proposal released by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) in 2019.  Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm joins us to discuss the matter.



THE UNAPOLOGETIC CRIMINAL - G. Gordon Liddy 1930-2021

"Looking back at the life of the unapologetic criminal behind Watergate, G. Gordon LiddyPBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  He was part political provocateur, part ruthless operator.  Best known for his role in the Watergate break-in, which ultimately led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon.  Lisa Desjardins has the story of G. Gordon Liddy, who died Tuesday not far from Washington.



AMERICAN MILITARY - Transgender Troops

"Trans troops, recruits celebrate new Pentagon rule allowing them to serve openlyPBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Pentagon announced new rules Wednesday allowing transgender military members to serve openly.  It fulfills an early pledge from President Joe Biden, restoring an Obama-era policy that was overturned by President Donald Trump.  Ali Rogin spoke to transgender service members who have been waiting for this day.



LOVE LETTER TO AMERICA - "Every Day Is a Gift"

"Sen. Duckworth writes of resiliency, healing in her book that’s a ‘love letter’ to AmericaPBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, made headlines recently when she threatened to block President Joe Biden's cabinet nominations until Asian Americans had more representation in the administration.  She joins Judy Woodruff now to speak about the administration's response, racism against Asian Americans, and the stories behind her new book, "Every Day Is a Gift."



COLLEGE ATHLETICS - Should College Athletes be Paid?

"Are college athletes employees? Supreme Court mulls compensation for student playersPBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  College basketball’s “March Madness,” which reaches its crescendo this weekend, reminds us that big-time college athletics can look like big business.  As John Yang reports, it was a fitting backdrop Wednesday for a well-timed Supreme Court argument over compensation for college players.



BIDEN ADMINISTRATION - Infrastructure Plan

"Breaking down Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan to give U.S. ‘innovative edge’PBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Biden administration on Wednesday set in motion its next big campaign in congress:  A $2 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild roads, bridges, power grids and other projects.  The rollout came during President Joe Biden's visit to Pittsburgh today, and partisan battle lines began forming soon after.  White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports.

 

 

"Buttigieg says new infrastructure plan ‘looking to the future,’ helps long-term job growthPBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Biden administration on Wednesday set in motion its next big campaign in congress:  A $2 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild roads, bridges, power grids and other projects.  Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the plan.

 

 

From the cheapskate party.....

"Rep. Davis says Pelosi, Schumer not for bipartisanship on infrastructure planPBS NewsHour 4/1/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Biden administration's plans to spend hundreds of billions to address climate change as part of the latest infrastructure package has been likened to The Green New Deal proposal released by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) in 2019.  Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and joins us now to elaborate.



NEWSHOUR CANVAS - At the Movies "The Mauritanian"

"‘The Mauritanian’ explores torture, abuse of former prisoner at Guantanamo BayPBS NewsHour 3/30/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, took its first 20 detainees in 2002.  Despite various calls to shutter it, it still stands almost twenty years later.  A new movie now tells the story of Mohamedou Slahi, who spent 14 years within its walls, suffering abuse, even though he was never charged.  Amna Nawaz takes a look at "The Mauritanian" for our arts and culture series, CANVAS.



CULTURE CLASH - State Bills Against Trans Rights

COMMENT:  It has always made me wonder why so-called conservative Christians are so hung up on sex?  Are they that sick or are they afraid of their own secret desires?

"Record number of bills look to restrict trans rights in the U.S.PBS NewsHour 3/30/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  A record number of bills to limit transgender rights have been introduced this year in state legislators across the country, with lawmakers in 28 states considering 93 bills targeting the rights of transgender Americans according to the Human Rights Campaign.  John Yang speaks to Kate Sosin, the LGBTQ+ reporter for The 19th News, about how the legal and cultural battles are playing out.



SEXUAL ABUSE - University of Southern California Campus Doctor

"Survivor details how USC ’empowered’ campus doctor at center of sexual abuse scandalPBS NewsHour 3/30/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Last week, the University of Southern California [USC] announced it would pay over $850 million to hundreds of women who were allegedly preyed on by campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall over nearly three decades.  It's the largest sexual abuse settlement ever in higher education.  Audry Nafziger is one of the survivors, and is now a sex crimes prosecutor.  She shares her experience with Judy Woodruff.



PANDEMIC - Impact on Renters

"American renters hard-hit by pandemic juggle complicated assistance systems, eviction lawsPBS NewsHour 3/29/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  With 9.5 million Americans, or 17 percent of tenants, in the U.S. still behind on their rent according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Biden administration on Monday extended a federal moratorium on evictions through the end of June.  There are no changes to the rules, which, as John Yang reports, can be complicated and confusing for judges, landlords and tenants behind on their rent.



WORKER UNIONS - Amazon vs Unionization

"A look into Amazon’s employee conditions as the company pushes back against unionizationPBS NewsHour 3/29/2021

Typical corporate greed butting company profits first and not wanting employees having any say on safety, pay and benefits.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  For almost two months, Amazon workers have been voting on whether to unionize at one of the company's major warehouses in Alabama.  The voting concludes today.  Since Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the country, the stakes are high and the battle is being closely watched.  Paul Solman reports.



PANDEMIC - COVID-19 Updates

"The CDC is warning of an ‘impending doom’ of COVID surges, deaths.  Is it warranted?PBS NewsHour 3/29/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Joe Biden urged state and local officials Monday to keep or reinstate mask mandates amid some of the most urgent warnings yet about new COVID-19 surges.  Judy Woodruff talks to Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, about the latest developments in the fight against the virus, which has killed almost 550,000 Americans.

 

 

"WHO report says COVID originated in bats, but critics claim the study was biasedPBS NewsHour 3/29/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The PBS NewsHour has obtained a study by a group of independent researchers convened by the WHO to find the origins of COVID-19 in China.  As Nick Schifrin reports, the virus that caused the worst pandemic in a century most likely started in bats, and jumped to humans through an intermediate animal host.  The researchers call it a starting point, but their critics still say it doesn’t go far enough.

 

 

"Relative invisibility makes for uphill battle to get COVID vaccines for Americans with IDDPBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  People with intellectual and developmental disabilities [IDD] like Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism often have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.  Plus, many receive care in group living facilities, putting them at further risk.  But despite the elevated risks for those with IDD, they face an uphill vaccination battle.  William Brangham reports.

Correction: This piece reported that only nine states and the District of Columbia report COVID-19 outcomes specifically for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to the federal government.  In fact, these states and D.C. are the only jurisdictions to report this data publicly.  It’s unclear which states, if any, report this information directly to the federal government.

 

 

"Americans with disabilities, high-risk conditions struggle with vaccine eligibilityPBS NewsHour 4/1/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Even as the U.S. sets records for daily COVID-19 vaccinations, disparities in availability persist.  We cover the stories of some medically vulnerable people, most of whom are still waiting for their shot.  And for more on the reasons behind the wait, William Brangham speaks to Jen Kates, the Senior Vice President and Director of Global Health and HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

 

 

"Honoring 5 phenomenal people who lost their lives to COVID-19PBS NewsHour 4/2/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As more than 550,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, we take a moment to remember five of the remarkable lives lost.

Correction: An earlier version of this story used audio of another elder in the Indian Peaks Band of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah speaking the traditional language while referencing Earnestine Jake Lehi.  That audio has now been replaced with audio of Earnestine speaking.  The NewsHour regrets the error.



MURDER TRIAL - Derek Chauvin

The question here is Law Enforcement finally be held accountable for their actions?

"Derek Chauvin’s attorneys blame drugs, witnesses in George Floyd’s deathPBS NewsHour 3/29/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin opened in Minneapolis with dramatic video of his fatal encounter with George Floyd.  It showed Floyd pinned by Chauvin's knee on his neck - for nearly nine and a half minutes.  Lawyers for the prosecution and defense began to lay out their cases, with the latter arguing drugs and health problems caused Floyd's death.  Yamiche Alcindor reports.

 

 

"‘He was terrified:’ Witnesses offer emotional testimony about Floyd death in Chauvin casePBS NewsHour 3/30/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The second day in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin was emotional and tense.  One eyewitness to the death of George Floyd told jurors in Minneapolis that Chauvin, who is charged with second and third degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death, was cold and heartless.  Yamiche Alcindor has our report.

 

 

"Trial of Derek Chauvin, charged with killing George Floyd - Day 3PBS NewsHour 3/31/2021

 

 

"Floyd’s girlfriend gives tear-filled testimony of his life on Day 4 of Chauvin trialPBS NewsHour 4/1/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Prosecutors continued to lay out their case on day four of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with second and third degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd last May.  Jurors heard from Floyd's girlfriend about his life and struggles.  Special correspondent Fred De Sam Lazaro has the story.

 

 

"For some, ‘an extra layer of trauma’ surrounds Derek Chauvin’s trialPBS NewsHour 4/3/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last year—wrapped up its first week of testimony yesterday.  The prosecution opened its case with testimony and video from eyewitnesses, emergency responders and police officers.  Minnesota Public Radio's Brandt Williams is covering the trial and joined Hari Sreenivasan from Minneapolis.



Monday, March 22, 2021

OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 3/19/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on COVID vaccine hesitancy and the Georgia attacksPBS NewsHour 3/19/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including Republican reluctance to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the response to violence against Asian Americans and the Atlanta attacks, and the Biden administration's immigration policy.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And to maybe help us further understand the vaccine hesitancy among some Republicans, and much more, we turn now to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.

That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

So good to see both of you, smiling faces, on this Friday night.

(LAUGHTER)

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  Good to see you, Judy.

Judy Woodruff:  But serious stuff to talk about.

Thank you for being here.

Jonathan, I'm going to start with you.

Why do you think so many Republicans, 40, 50 percent, are saying they don't want the vaccine?  And what do you think the prospects are for changing their mind?

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, Judy, I think part of the problem is the previous President spent the entirety of the pandemic — so, a year ago, we were hearing the President of the United States casting doubt, one, on whether the virus would come to the United States, and then, two, once it did get to the United States, calling the whole thing a hoax every day.

And so, if you were a die-hard follower of the President, and you're listening to him telling you all sorts of falsehoods, lies, misinformation about a pandemic that you also say is a hoax, then it doesn't surprise me — it is shocking just as an American and someone who believes in science — that so many, such a high percentage of Republicans, and particularly Republicans who supported Donald Trump, being very hesitant about taking the vaccine.

I hope that the gentleman in Yamiche's package will do what he says he's going to do, educate himself, and then decide to take the vaccine.  That is all Dr. Fauci has been trying to do, folks at the CDC, the NIH, trying to educate the American people and tell them, this is how we protect ourselves against this virus and this pandemic, and these are the things we must do if we want to get to the other side and start to live what we used to call normal lives again.

Judy Woodruff:  David, how do you explain the thinking on the part of so many Republicans?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Well, for generations, if you asked Americans, do you trust the institutions of our society, you would get 70 or 80 percent trusting institutions.

Then, starting around the time of Vietnam and Watergate, that began to decline.  And now it is about 19 percent.  And so people have built up over decades of what they perceive as failure and betrayal a sense of distrust, not only in government, in Congress, but in science and in institutions.

And it is especially true on the Republican side, where the "don't tread on me" ethos has been strongest.

I am hopeful that, once you detach this from politics and make it a local issue, where it is you and your doctor, or you and your neighbor, or you and your pastor, that minds can change.  People really do think on two different levels.

They think — if you ask them a political question in a poll, they will give you a political answer.  But if it is the doctor saying, you know, everybody around here is taking this test — or this vaccine, it looks pretty good, it is keeping us safe, I think then, once it becomes a local issue, and not a political issue, I think minds can change pretty fast.

And we still have that in the Frank Luntz focus group, that he said elsewhere that he really couldn't persuade people.  And the Biden administration is working hard to do that, really reaching out to Republicans.  Francis Collins, who is head of to NIH and an evangelical Christian, is talking to Christian groups.

And so they are broadening the messengers.

Judy Woodruff:  And, Jonathan, they are trying to change minds in that regard.

The President also out this week, in fact, today, marking the fact that 100 million Americans have had at least one vaccination now.  And it is, what, just two months into his administration.  He also is out around the country talking up the benefits of this COVID economic relief plan.

And he was going to be in Atlanta to talk about that, but, today, the triples became an opportunity to speak to the Asian American community there, just a few days after these terrible shootings at three spas in the Atlanta area.

Jonathan, what is the right message right now for the President at a time like this?

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, I think, in the remarks that the President gave just before we came on air, just as you were coming on air, are similar to the messages he has been giving when it comes to talking about the loss Americans have felt as a result of the pandemic.

In his remarks in Atlanta, he targeted them to the Asian American, Pacific Islander community that feels and has felt under siege, under threat for more than a year because of the rhetoric that was coming out of the White House.

And so by an accident of timing and coincidence, the President and vice President were already going to be in Georgia, in Atlanta to tout the American Rescue Plan.  But the fact that these — that the shootings happened, the murders happened, that their trip took a more mournful purpose.

But there is one other thing to keep in mind here, Judy.  Georgia flipped from red to blue.  And Senators Warnock and Ossoff are in the Senate because people came out and voted for them.  And we know that, because of a big turn without from Asian Americans in Georgia, that helped put Joe Biden over the top in Georgia and Warnock and Ossoff over the top in, I believe, both of their races, the general election race and the run-off races.

And so this trip that President Biden and Vice President Harris took today and is still ongoing has taken on so many layers of meaning that we can't even get into right now.

Judy Woodruff:  And pick up on that, David.

I mean, at a moment like this, how much difference can it make what a President says, especially on this — as Jonathan said, this is a subject that has political — certainly, political ramifications.

David Brooks:  Well, one of the things we certainly learned in recent history is that the presidency is the cultural determiner of the country, and that the ethos of the country reflects the presidency for good or ill, whether it feels like you are walking into a hailstorm or you have got sunshine shining upon you.

And Biden ran on the soul of America.  I thought that was just a very important part of his campaign.  I wasn't clear how he was going to translate that into the presidency.  How do you actually use the power of the office to change the soul of America?  I actually thought he should have a little agency within the White House, thinking about the culture, thinking about what is the American soul, how do we tell our story, how do question keep ourselves together?

But events have certainly given him occasions to put that issue front and center, and mostly hate crimes and killings, unfortunately.  And so what this episode shows is, in the soul of America, there has been a rising tide of bigotry of all kinds, of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Asian violence, rising tide of all kinds, partly because of Donald Trump, partly because of COVID, partly because there are, frankly, a lot of lonely young men who have been sort of cut loose from society and who are struggling.

And they are not enmeshed in thick communities.  And they do terrible things on occasion.

And so the soul of America is about our moral fiber, and not practicing bigotry.  It is about our social connection enmeshing people.  And then it is about expressing the values that we share, which I think President did today.

Judy Woodruff:  And this is not, Jonathan, of course, the only tough question facing the President right now.  There are more and more immigrants attempting to come into the United States across the Southern border.

Children and families with young children, the administration is letting them come in.  They are turning back single adults.  But it is adding up to a real challenge.  The Republicans are saying, this is Joe Biden's border crisis.

What do you make of his handling of this and also of the two immigration bills that passed the House this week?

Jonathan Capehart:  So, when it comes to Republican criticism of the Biden administration, I mean, that is par for the course.  That is to be expected, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling it Biden's border crisis.

But the waves of migrants coming to the border didn't start the moment Joe Biden became President.  They have been coming.  I think that President Biden talking about having a more humane immigration policy probably sent a message to folks who are trying get here through the Southern border that the draconian measures and sort of inhumane measures taken by Donald Trump were no longer going to be in force and that maybe it's time to go, also keeping in mind that it's not just — President Biden isn't the only reason why folks are trying to get across the Southern border.

People are fleeing.  They're fleeing terror and gangs and crime and lack of economic opportunities in their own countries.  And they're moving north, seeking opportunities.

Now, what we have seen, Judy, is that the administration has gone from the President saying we want a more humane policy to the President going on television earlier this week and saying, don't come.  You have got the secretary of homeland security saying, don't come now.  You have got the new ambassador for the border, Roberta Jacobson, saying, don't come, and don't come this way.  Come through legal means.

So, I think, if anything, the Biden administration has to has to land on a consistent message.  And then it's got to figure out a way to work with Congress to really get a handle on what to do about immigration.

The two bills that you mentioned, Judy, one dealing with the Dreamers and another one dealing with migrant farmworkers, it's not comprehensive immigration reform policy.  But these are two big pieces of the immigration puzzle that are working their way through Congress.  They made it their way through the House.

But the tough part, as we will be discussing forever, it seems, the tough part is going to be in the Senate.  And will the Senate, will Congress actually work to pass something that will actually alleviate a lot of the immigration problems in the country?

Judy Woodruff:  What about that, David, and sizing up how President Biden's handling all this?

David Brooks:  Well, the short-term problem for the Biden administration is, they did have a very unclear message in the beginning and that says, don't come — you can come, but not yet, which is not a clear message, especially since it gets filtered through these smugglers, who smuggle people across the border for like 8,000 bucks.

Their incentive is to tell people, time to go, because they make money everybody they carry.  And so you get lots of misinformation spread across the border.  And a lot of people are coming.  We're at a 14-year high.

The larger problem is that we have just never had a well-funded asylum system.  We don't have the facilities, as it was painfully clear during the Trump years.  We don't have the judges.  And so people come, they get their hearing, but sometimes it takes over a year to get the hearing.

Meanwhile, they're in the country.  And if they think they're going to lose the hearing, which two-thirds do, then they don't show up.  And so it's just a dysfunctional system.

I think the Biden administration is trying to ramp up and fix it.  But who's to say they won't just continue to fall behind?  And the pain of that is, (A) we have some chaos on the border, but, (B) you get an awful political atmosphere for trying to pass immigration reform.

And asylum and immigration are different, which is worth remembering.  And so we have given up, I think wisely, on the idea of comprehensive reform.  Too big a lift.  But it's getting tougher to pass even these minor bills on things people sort of agree about, like the dreamers.

And the border counties in Texas shifted sharply to the Republicans.  Mark Kelly, the senator from Arizona, has got to run again in 2022.  If there's a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment, it becomes hard for him.

And so the — in a weird way, this border crisis is making the immigration bills a lot harder to pass.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, whether they wanted to deal with this right now or not, they are having to deal with it.  And we will continue to watch it.

Thank you both, David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart.

Jonathan Capehart:  Thanks, Judy.

David Brooks:  Thanks.



MEMORIAM - 5 Amazing Lives

"Remembering 5 amazing lives lost to COVID-19PBS NewsHour 3/19/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  More than 530,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to affect the country.  As we do every Friday, we shine the spotlight on five amazing lives that were lost to COVID-19.



GEORGE FLOYD SHOOTING - Trial of Derek Chauvin

"Jury selection in Chauvin trial nears conclusion days after Floyd family’s settlementPBS NewsHour 3/19/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, neared conclusion Friday — the same week as Floyd's family reached a $27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis.  NewsHour Special Correspondent Fred De Sam Lazaro joins us with the latest in the proceedings.



JOBS IN AMERICA - As Nationwide Unemployment Grows......

"As nationwide unemployment grows, Rhode Island steps in to help residents find workPBS NewsHour 3/18/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  This week marked the 52nd straight week of high unemployment claims, with numbers rising as more than a million people filed for state and emergency federal unemployment benefits across the country.  One state, Rhode Island, is working to reverse that trend by matching several thousand job-seeking residents with potential employers.  Paul Solman has the story for our series, "Work Shift."

 

 

"Stockton, California, gave residents a guaranteed income.  Here’s what happenedPBS NewsHour 3/21/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  What would happen if you gave people $500 a month, no strings attached?  Stockton, California set out to answer that question two years ago as one of the first U.S. towns to pilot a Universal Basic Income program.  Former Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the findings of this social and economic experiment — and what it could mean for America’s future.