Wednesday, March 03, 2021

WARNING TO MILITARY FAMILIES - Home Management Companies in Military Housing


The upshot, the U.S. Military may NOT have your back and read the fine print in any contract.  IMHO our military has a history of choosing poor contractors for Military Housing, from management to repair.  Also why does the DoD continue to give these lucrative contracts to so few companies?  Why does Hunt have such a large bite.  Is 'someone' being paid off to award these contracts to greedy for-profit companies?

"Marine Family Shocked to Get $32,000 Bill After Garage Fire in Military Housing" by Patricia Kime, Military.com 3/2/2021

The house on Glendale Circle aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii couldn't have been better located.  It occupies a corner lot not far from a splash park and community center, is near the beach and walking trails, and its lanai, or patio, overlooks a military training range and the Ulupau Crater, an ancient volcano on Oahu's windward coast.

The Rudd family -- Master Sgt. John Rudd, wife Tammy and their three children -- moved into the freshly painted four-bedroom duplex in June 2019.  When they accepted the home from management company Hunt Military Communities, they had few concerns, except that the home's fire detectors weren't operable, having been removed during the maintenance turnover from the previous tenant.

But that small issue, unaddressed, would ultimately cut short the family's residence.  The months that followed would include a destructive fire, and the Rudds would be saddled with a $32,000 bill for damages.  While in the end they were not forced to pay the bill, the ordeal left them disillusioned, homeless and wanting to warn other military families about their nightmare experience.

In conversations with Military.com, a Hunt representative said she could not immediately speak to the specifics of the Rudds' fire detector claims, but added that it is company policy to have smoke detectors installed before tenants move in.  She said the family's bill was reversed when the fire was determined to be accidental, though the Rudds maintain that the issue was resolved only after a military family advocate stepped in.

The Rudds say they had requested that the alarm systems be reinstalled in their home after they moved in, but months passed without action to fix the problem.  According to the Rudds, they filed a second work request for the repairs, noting that their lease prohibits tenants from tampering with smoke detectors.

When that inquiry went ignored, Rudd installed a temporary smoke alarm near his kids' bedrooms, and the family went on with their lives.  Photographs from the beginning of their occupancy of the home show the smoke detectors were not installed.

Their happy, if slightly hazardous, tenancy ended Dec. 23, 2020, when a lithium-ion battery on John's electric bike exploded in their garage.

The blast buckled the garage door, ignited everything within 10 feet and sent smoke billowing into the house -- all without ever triggering a smoke alarm.  The devices that were supposed to be reinstalled by Hunt 18 months earlier sat silently on a shelf where they'd been placed, and smoke never reached the alarm Rudd had put near the kids' bedrooms, according to photos.

Fortunately, it was 11:30 in the morning.  Rudd was at work, and his family was getting ready to go grocery shopping for Christmas.

"It sounded like there was a big truck ramming into the garage door," Tammy Rudd said.  "I immediately grabbed my youngest, who was in the backyard; my eight-year-old was playing a video game.  ...  My 19-year-old was upstairs in the shower.  I walked out and saw smoke billowing out of the garage and the garage door bowed out.  At that point, I started freaking out."

After several frantic minutes that included 8-year-old Tobias running into the house to alert his older sister, the family got out and the fire department arrived, extinguishing the blaze and leaving behind access holes, charred belongings and a house full of soot.

The Rudds spent that night and the next four in a temporary home provided by Hunt, grateful to be alive and celebrating the holidays.

They never could have predicted what would happen next, however:  Nearly two months to the day after the fire, they received a bill for $32,131.08 from Hunt for damages related to the fire, including air duct cleaning, repainting, restoration and a new garage door.

Adding insult to injury, Hunt denied their request to be reimbursed for $6,930 in rent for the remainder of December, January and most of February.  The company had been collecting it even though the Rudds never spent another night in the home.

"Your request for your rent to be refunded to you from the date of the fire has been denied.  I have, however, waived the 28-day notice to vacate for you that is required," wrote Peyton Hoban, community director for Ohana Military Communities, Hunt's subsidiary in Hawaii, in a Feb. 18 email obtained by Military.com.

The emails and bill left the Rudds speechless.

"The last week has been more stressful than the days following the actual fire," Tammy Rudd told Military.com.  "If we can't close out [of housing], John cannot execute his permanent change of station orders.  They are threatening his career."

"They have essentially crafted a strategy exploiting us rather than protect us," John Rudd added.

Since roughly 1996, military housing on domestic U.S. installations has been constructed and managed by private companies, an effort to improve the housing stock for service members and their families following years of maintenance neglect by the Defense Department.

Under the arrangement, DoD officials were to provide oversight of the companies to ensure they provided quality housing in return for service members' Basic Allowance for HousingBut over the years, the Pentagon has taken a back seat, allowing the companies, which hold 50-year contracts to provide military housing, free rein to manage the properties.

In 2018, Reuters published the results of a two-year investigation of military housing that revealed systemic negligence by the companies, including falsification of records and other types of deception, shoddy construction and dangerous living conditions.  Those conditions included faulty wiring, extensive mold contamination, flaking lead-based paint and vermin.

In response to the Reuters coverage and subsequent news reports, as well as a survey of military families that found more than half said they had "negative or very negative experiences" with their houses, Congress held a series of hearings in early 2019 to understand the scope of the problems and hold the companies and DoD accountable.

During testimony, the service secretaries and chiefs promised to inspect the homes, hold listening sessions with residents and develop a tenant bill of rights that would give more power to residents to negotiate with their landlords.

The CEOs of the private housing management companies also pledged to do better and "learn from our mistakes."

"At Hunt, we do not succeed unless we provide our residents with safe and healthy homes," President John Ehle said during a Feb. 13, 2019, hearing.  "We are a company of accountability, and if someone is falling short of expectations, we take action."

Hunt manages 32,000 homes that serve 165,000 residents, and holds interest in an additional 20,000 homes across 49 military installations in 21 states.

In 2019, eight military families filed a lawsuit against Hunt over their housing at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, which they claimed contained pervasive mold and infestations, contaminated ductwork and other maintenance issues.

The same year, a federal judge in Gulfport, Mississippi, dismissed a case filed by a family at Keesler Air Force Base over mold in their Hunt-managed property.

Other military housing property managers, including Lincoln Military Housing, Corvias Property Management and the Michaels Organization, face similar suits.

To ensure that the companies abide by their contracts and provide quality housing and service to U.S. troops, the Defense Department in 2020 rolled out its own Tenant Bill of Rights that gave residents a list of accommodations they can expect in housing, including healthy homes with working appliances, clear instructions on leases and expectations, and the right to report problems and to expect maintenance and property management services that exceed industry standards.

Another three rights are expected to be instituted by this summer, including the ability to withhold rent during disputes and assistance in mediating issues.  These may have helped the Rudds in their battle with Ohana, which left the family not knowing where to turn immediately after the fire and in the faceoff over the bill.

"At one point, I was asking myself, do I pay the 32K or do I go retain an attorney and just pay them that money?" Rudd said.

Immediately after the blaze, Hunt housed the Rudds in another home on base, with an expectation that they vacate by Dec. 28, according to a text exchange between Ohana representatives and Rudd.

Not knowing what to do, Rudd consulted with family members in the legal and insurance professions and learned he should contact his insurance company, USAA, which holds his renter's insurance.  That coverage paid for a hotel where the family moved after their five-day allowance in temporary housing ended.

The family stayed briefly on Waikiki and then checked into the temporary lodging facility on base, where they remain.

In the subsequent insurance investigation, USAA concluded that the fire was not the family's fault.  Company representatives notified Rudd in mid-February they planned to file a claim against the battery manufacturer and would deny any claims filed against the Rudds by the housing office, according to a report provided to the family and obtained by Military.com.

The Rudds assumed Hunt would do the same -- seek reimbursement from its own insurer or the battery maker -- but instead, the family received the $32,000 bill on Feb. 22, payable on receipt.

"From the beginning, we've done the right thing, and I'm just really confused as to why I have to help with the bill for the repairs," John Rudd said.

In an email along with the bill, an Ohana representative offered the couple a payment plan.  Rudd, an explosive ordnance disposal technician who has served nearly 20 years in the Corps and holds a Bronze Star with Combat V device for disarming a roadside bomb while under fire in Afghanistan in 2011 while, said he was at a loss for what to do next.

"They already have the infrastructure in place to charge Marines payments with interest.  If they are doing this to me, they absolutely are doing it to other Marines with no agency," he said.

In addition to family, Rudd consulted base legal services; his brother, also a Marine stationed in Quantico, Virginia; and his brother's wife, Jessica Rudd, a former Marine who was selected Marine Corps Spouse of the Year in 2017 by Armed Forces Insurance and Military Spouse magazine.

A lifelong military family advocate, Jessica Rudd was stunned by the story and took action.  On Feb. 24, she emailed several of her contacts in Congress who work military personnel issues.

"If they can do this to an E-8, they can do this to anyone," Jessica Rudd said.

Two days after Jessica Rudd’s email, the Rudds received another bill -- this one for just $70, the cost for some broken blinds and a refrigerator drawer.  The bill for fire damages had vanished in the wake of action taken on behalf of the family by Jessica Rudd's contacts, including military advocates and lawmakers.

The Rudds also have been told they will be reimbursed for the rent paid after the fire made the house uninhabitable.

Paris Cousin, senior director of operations at Hunt Military Communities, said March 1 that it is company policy to turn homes over to prospective residents with installed smoke detectors.

"I couldn't tell you exactly what the situation was back in 2019, but I will tell you when someone moves into a home, smoke detectors are provided, installed in homes," Cousin said.

When pressed about the existence of photos taken weeks after the Rudds' move-in date showing no smoke detectors, Cousin said she was responding to Military.com’s questions about the Rudds' bill and not smoke detectors.  She added that the company keeps maintenance records on the homes, but said those were not available to her at the time of her call to a reporter.

Regarding the bill and the dropping of the $32,000 charge, Cousin said Hunt receives quotes for damages that "initially would be applied" to the residents' close-out bill -- the first bill they received.  But since the cause of the fire was ruled to be accidental, "we reversed the charges and notified the resident of this."

Cousin added that she was "not familiar with" Jessica Rudd's effort to help her brother-in-law.

"I'm not familiar with that part of it.  I just know that for us here, we reversed the charges because at the end, it was an accidental fire and the resident was not responsible for it," Cousin said.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has conducted at least 64 recalls of products using lithium-ion batteries since 2006.  Explosions and deaths from lithium-ion batteries remain rare but have happened.

In 2008, lithium-ion batteries that were being charged on a Navy mini-submarine at Pearl Harbor were responsible for a blaze onboard.  Since then, the service has carefully controlled and vetted lithium-ion batteries on ships, including banning all vaping devices from vessels after they sparked fires.

Across the country, lithium-ion batteries have been responsible for fires and several deaths:  In 2018, the batteries in a Tesla were found to have contributed to a deadly crash that killed two teenagers.  And batteries in cellphones, cameras and dive equipment were cited as a possible source for a fire that killed 34 on a dive boat off the California coast in 2019.

The battery explosion in John Rudd's electric bike caused extensive smoke and radiant heat damage throughout the garage, according to the investigation, and sent smoke into every nook and cranny of the home, destroying many electronics; clothing; and upholstered belongings.

If the fire had happened at night while the family was sleeping, they might not have made it out alive, Tammy Rudd said.

"If we had not been right there, it could have been a lot worse," she said.

John Rudd said he is disappointed that Hunt has never acknowledged the missing smoke detectors, which remained sitting on a counter in the home for the next tenant.

He had high praise for his unit, the command and the base legal office, whom he described as supportive and helpful throughout the ordeal.

He added that he was reluctant to go public with the story, but decided in the end that the incident could serve as an example of a housing company trying to "take advantage" of their military tenants.

"We need junior Marines, junior sailors, junior soldiers, junior airmen to be protected from [the companies].  I've got to be the last service member this happens to," Rudd said.

The Rudds are moving this spring to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where they had planned to live on base.  Now, however, they say they likely will buy a house in the community, even though the market is hot in the popular coastal region.

"We've decided we'll take our chances," Tammy Rudd said.



Monday, March 01, 2021

OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 2/26/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on COVID relief, CPAC and President Biden’s nomineesPBS NewsHour 2/26/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including passing a COVID relief bill without a minimum wage increase, the prospects for President Biden’s Cabinet nominations, and the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And now to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.  That's New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

Hello to both of you.  So good to see you on this Friday night.

While President Biden is in Texas, David, he's got some problems back here at home emerging.  His COVID relief plan is moving through the House of Representatives, but, in the Senate, no Republicans seem to be on board.  And then you have the minimum wage part of it knocked out.

Where does that leave the whole thing?  Why have they had such a hard time getting Republicans on board?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Well, $1.9 trillion is a lot of money.  The Republican — 10 Republican Senators came in with an 800 — a 600-some-odd billion bill, and that was just too wide a gap.

So, the Democrats decided, we need to do this fast moving, we need to do this big.

(CROSSTALK)

Judy Woodruff:  I'm going to interrupt you.  David, I'm going to interrupt you because we're having a little difficulty with your camera.  You're not in focus.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  I see that.

Judy Woodruff:  We're going to give folks a chance to figure that out.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  Apology.  We're going to go to Jonathan first.

So, Jonathan, you get to go first on this.  But with the President's COVID relief plan, where are we now?

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  Well, right now, the big thing is that the minimum wage piece of it, the $15 minimum wage increase, was stripped out of the bill by the Senate Parliamentarian.

It is something, actually, that President Biden signaled was coming when he did that interview with Norah O'Donnell on CBS a few weeks back, where he mused that this probably isn't going to make it into the bill.

And, of course, he would think that and know that, given that he served more than three decades in the United States Senate.  He is a creature of the Senate.  He knows what the rules are.

And, so with the minimum wage piece out of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, I think it makes it easier to get it passed out of the Senate.  Remember, both Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema were against, said they were against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

And so now I think it now puts the focus on all the other pieces within the COVID relief package.  That makes it easier, I think, for the Democrats to pass the bill with Democratic votes only.  That's assuming no other Republicans sign on to the bill.

Judy Woodruff:  All right, David, I think we have got this straightened out, sort of almost.  Yes, we can see you pretty clearly now, which is the way we like to see you.

Why do you think there have been problems getting Republicans on board with this COVID plan?

David Brooks:  Well, I thought all my thoughts were blurry.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  I think they — actually, can I just mention — Jonathan was talking about the minimum wage piece.

I think it has absolutely become a fascinating moment to see if — whether we can have compromise.  So, the Democrats want 15.  They're not going to get it.  They're not — as Jonathan said, there may be 48 votes.  They need 60.

And so Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton are for 10.  Joe Manchin is for 11.  So, can they cut a deal and get it to 12 or 13?  And would that be good enough?  And, to me, that would be good enough.

I personally think 15 is fine in places like New York and California, where the wage structure is high.  But it's too high in a lot of other places.  And the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would eliminate 1.4 million jobs.  That's a lot of jobs.

So, a $12 to $13 minimum wage would make more sense in more places.  And — but we will see if the Democrats are in the mood to come down and if Republicans are in the mood to go up.  To me, it's a crucial test of whether there even can be bipartisanship, because this is a pretty simple issue where you can split the difference.

Judy Woodruff:  And, Jonathan, do you think they can?  Do you think they can come together on that?

Jonathan Capehart:  I would hope that they could come together on this.

Look, I actually think it is a good thing and for the best that the minimum wage was stripped out of the COVID relief bill, simply because the nation needs to have the conversation about the minimum wage, how much it should be, how — over how much time it should it should be phased in.

With it stripped out, we can actually have this conversation and have the compromise — potentially have the compromise that David is talking about there.

You know, and to his point about the minimum wage being — meaning something different in other areas, you know, we have seen states raise the minimum wage by popular vote.  We saw that happen in Florida in 2020, where the state went for President Trump.  He [Trump] won the state, but 60 percent of Floridians voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

I think it is a debate worth having in the country.

Judy Woodruff:  We shall see.

But, David, before I let you go on that, is it a problem for Joe Biden if this goes through, the COVID relief, on a party-line vote, without Republicans?

David Brooks:  It's not ideal.  He ran on — yes.  He ran on bipartisanship.

But this bill has 70 percent support, or nearly 70 percent support.  I'm really struck by how little Republicans are actually fighting this.  They'd rather talk about something else or Neera Tanden or something than talk about this.

And I think that's because they have lost some of the big fight or the debate on fiscal — government spending and fiscal health.  There used to be a strong — a large number of people who really did not like government spending programs.  And Republicans could win elections on that.

After Donald Trump, that kind of conservative is much less significant.  There are fewer of them.  And so Republicans have lost the overall debate on spending.  And they don't seem to be able to be even trying to defeat the COVID-19.  They will it go through on reconciliation.

Judy Woodruff:  And, Jonathan, David raises Neera Tanden, the one nominee of President Biden's Cabinet who does seem to be running into real problems.

What do her prospects look like to you?  She would be the director of Office of Management and Budget.

Jonathan Capehart:  I think she absolutely should be the director of Office — the Office of Management and Budget.  I think the fact that her nomination is still alive says a lot about her, but it says, I think, a lot more about President Biden and the Biden White House, and the fact that, when they put her up for nomination, it wasn't for show.

It wasn't as you know something to do.  It's because the President thought she was the best person for the job and that the President is going to stick by her, until which time it becomes clear, if it becomes clear, that she cannot get the votes in committee.

But, look, the only thing Republicans are talking about when it comes to Neera Tanden are her tweets.

And after four years of President Trump and his incendiary tweets against elected officials, and private citizens on Twitter, tweeting things and saying things about people that were just uncalled for and unbecoming of a President, to then focus on tweets from Neera Tanden, Republicans, who would be — reporters would come up to them and say, what's your reaction to this latest tweet from President Trump, and they would feign ignorance:  Oh, I have not seen it, I'm not paying attention to it.

Judy Woodruff:  Right.

Jonathan Capehart:  All of a sudden, they're paying attention to tweets from Neera Tanden?  It is not fair.

And I just have — I chuckle at now all the tender hearts out there and the tender feelings within the Republican Party about a strong — about a woman with a point of view and values and who was not afraid to defend them.

Judy Woodruff:  And I'm sure, David, you can explain that.

David Brooks:  Oh, yes, Republicans have had a come-to-Jesus moment where incivility is completely offensive to them all of a sudden.

No, I agree with Jonathan on that.  I do — I follow — I know Neera a bit and I follow her Twitter presence.  I thought, just as a think tank head, she was a little loose and raucous and inappropriate, frankly.  It's certainly not enough to get rid of — or to not nominate her as OMB Director.

I think there's a subtle thing going on here.  For — since I have been covering politics, since David Stockman's days, if people remember as Reagan's budget director, there's been a certain sort of person who has been the budget — OMB Director, and that person is a super wonky, dry personality, white male.

And Neera Tanden fits none of those categories.  And so I think she just doesn't — people look at her and they don't see the normal OMB Director.  And that's part of the unconscious undertone of this whole thing.

But Republicans are certainly hyped up about it.  I think it's the only battle they think they can win.  I think they probably will.  I think, once Joe Manchin said he was against her, I think it's very hard for any Republican suddenly to be for her.

So I think, hopefully, they will find another spot in the administration for her.  She's a very talented version.  And they will probably have to find somebody else for that job.

Judy Woodruff:  And, Jonathan, in the last minutes that we have, I want to ask you both about the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), taking place here near Washington.

The lineup of speakers, the messages coming through, what do you make of it?  And President Trump will be there Sunday.

Jonathan Capehart:  Right.  President Trump will be…

Judy Woodruff:  Former President Trump.

Jonathan Capehart:  Yes, former President Trump will be there Sunday.

The speakers, from what I have been able to see so far, are hewing to the conservative line — conservative line, as it has been expressed during the four years of President Trump.

Clearly, the — at least at CPAC, the far right of the Republican Party is in the hands of Donald Trump.  We're going to know and find out for sure when he speaks on Sunday.  But any thinking that, because they lost the Senate and because they lost the White House, that the Republican Party and the and the right wing of the Republican Party is going to somehow moderate itself and try to become a bigger tent, I mean, just disabuse yourself of that notion.

Judy Woodruff:  And what we saw today at the conference, among others, was Ted Cruz, who — as we mentioned earlier, senator from Texas, who flew off to Mexico during that terrible winter storm last week, he had some comments today.

He joked about the Texas trip, and then basically mocked the wearing of masks.  Here's a little of what Ted Cruz had to say.

Sen. Ted Cruz:  Now they're saying, everybody can get immunized, we can have herd immunity everywhere, and we're going to wear masks for the next 300 years.

(LAUGHTER)

Sen. Ted Cruz:  And, by the way, not just one mask, two, three, four.  You can't have too many masks.

How much virtue do you want to signal?  This is just dumb.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David, how winning an argument is that?

David Brooks:  What really strikes me about CPAC is that it's not about government anymore.  It's not even about politics anymore.

It's culture war issues.  It's either the cancel culture they're against.  They're against wokism.  And I guess they're against mask-wearing.

And this is not about a normal political party that wants to pass an agenda.  The agenda, political agenda, is off the table.  And then, as far as the mask-wearing, they have made a hero of Governor DeSantis of Florida, maybe — making — maybe he will be the next Republican presidential nominee.

But when you actually look at the states and where they rank on effectiveness in preventing COVID infections, there's almost no correlation between the politics of the state and the infection rate of the state.

Florida's like 28th, which is pretty decent for a state with a lot of seniors.  But it's right next to California.  So, progressive and conservative states seem to be doing — it's just kind of random.

So, to turn this into an ideological issue, and to be anti-science about it, strikes me as kind of bizarre.

Judy Woodruff:  And just in a few seconds, Jonathan, we will see how far that takes Senator Cruz.

Jonathan Capehart:  Yes.

I found it interesting that he's railing against masks, when we spent all week watching him wheel his roller bag through an airport wearing a mask with the flag of Texas on it.

I agree with David.  CPAC is no longer about policies and issues.  It's culture wars.  And the clip you just showed of Senator Cruz, it's as if they're all doing stand-up.  There's no real vision for the country in anything that he said in that clip you showed us.

Judy Woodruff:  On that note, we will leave both of you.  Thank you.

Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, thank you.

David Brooks:  Thank you.

Jonathan Capehart:  Thanks, Judy.



WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS - Systemic Sexual Abuse

"Abuse in U.S. women’s gymnastics program ‘truly one of the tragedies of American sports’PBS NewsHour 2/25/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed U.S. women's gymnastics took a new shocking turn on Thursday.  Former U.S. Olympic Gymnastics coach John Geddert died by suicide just hours after being charged with human trafficking and sexual assault.  Christine Brennan, a sports reporter for USA Today who has covered Olympic sports for years, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.



MINIMUM WAGE - Impact on People's Lives

Of course Republicans oppose this because it's 'too expensive.'  This highlights their hypocrisy because it NOT too expensive to give multi-billion tax brakes to the rich.

"How a minimum wage increase could impact people’s livelihoodsPBS NewsHour 2/25/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  More than 17 million Americans could see their income rise if the $15 minimum wage now in the COVID relief bill passes Congress.  We hear from some of those who would be impacted by a minimum wage increase, and Stephanie Sy speaks with two economists with different perspectives on the topic.



NEWSHOUR CANVAS - Blacks in History

"Boston restores monument to Black Civil War troopsPBS NewsHour 2/24/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In a time when statues and monuments around the country are being removed for what they represent, the Shaw Memorial in Boston is receiving attention of a different sort.  It is being fully restored, with pride that the monument depicting Black soldiers marching off to battle in the civil war, stands the test of time.  Special correspondent Jared Bowen of GBH Boston reports.

 

 

"During Black History Month, students reflect on their modern-day heroesPBS NewsHour 2/24/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Black History Month expands students’ understanding of the Black experience in American history.  But one teacher in Akron, Ohio wanted her students to see that Black history isn’t something that happened in the past, it happens every single day through each of them.  She worked with our Student Reporting Labs program to record these reflections from students.

 

 

"Looking back in history to help inform and improve future race relationsPBS NewsHour 2/25/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Daily reports of disturbing racial incidents and what appear to be deepening racial divisions within the country leave many looking for answers.  Special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault recently spoke with Dr. Ronald Crutcher, a classical musician and president of the University of Richmond, about confronting the complexities of racism.

 

 

"Rare Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. signatures found in Alabama jail logbookPBS NewsHour 2/25/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Rare documents with 12 signatures of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sold on Wednesday for more than $130,000.  They were penned in an Alabama jail logbook after King was arrested in April 1963 for leading a march against racial segregation.  Rikki Klaus reports on the unprecedented item.  It's part of our arts and culture series, "CANVAS."



NEWS - When the 'News Business' is the News

"Waning trust and a perilous financial landscape challenge the news businessPBS NewsHour 2/23/2021

This is about the lack of open mindedness of many Americans today, they only accept views that match theirs.

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  It is a tumultuous time in the news business, with a perilous financial landscape and significant percentages of Americans saying they fundamentally don't trust news sources that don't line up with their opinions.  Gregory Moore, editor-in-chief at Deke Digital, and Radhika Jones editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, join Judy Woodruff to discuss.



U.S. CAPITOL INSURRECTION - Law Enforcement Heads Testify

"Law enforcement officials testify on security failures during siege at U.S. CapitolPBS NewsHour 2/23/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The men who were in charge of security during the U.S. Capitol assault told their stories in public on Tuesday for the first time.  Their testimony at a Senate hearing was a tale of bad communications, bad intelligence, and blame-laying.  Lisa Desjardins reports, and Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.



GOP TRUMPERS - Threats to 7 Republican Senators

IMHO just more proof that today's GOP has been radicalized by Trump.  They no longer true conservatives nor believe in democracy and our Constitution and ONLY want more power, party before country.  Today's GOP do not support the poor or middle class citizen, they support only the very wealthy who can buy the GOP.

"Republican Senators who voted to convict Trump face political peril at homePBS NewsHour 2/22/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  It is a time of political peril for the seven Republican Senators who voted to convict the dominant figure of their party.  State and local Republican parties have censured -- or are thinking about censuring -- several of those Senators.  And Donald Trump himself is set to re-emerge for his first public appearance as former President this coming weekend.  Yamiche Alcindor reports.



BILL GATES - "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster"

"Bill Gates on tackling climate change and the ongoing pandemic responsePBS NewsHour 2/22/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  All of us face the risk that extreme weather events like the recent one in Texas will become more common and more destructive occurrences because of climate change.  Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has studied climate change for years, and he has prescriptions in his latest book, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster."  He joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.



TEXAS - Response to Winter Storms

"In storm-ravaged Texas, ‘a lot of black eyes’ among state leadershipPBS NewsHour 2/22/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Temperatures in Texas have warmed up considerably as experts try to determine just how many deaths in the state were tied to last week's winter storm.  But as recovery efforts continue, the fallout is just beginning.  Alana Rocha, a multimedia journalist with The Texas Tribune, joins Stephanie Sy for a deeper look at the cascade of issues facing Texans.



COVID-19 - Last Weeks Updates

"U.S. death toll from COVID-19 reaches 500,000PBS NewsHour 2/22/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The U.S. on Monday marked a new, watershed moment in the COVID-19 pandemic with 500,000 confirmed deaths.  It comes even as daily increases in infections and deaths have slowed sharply in recent weeks.  William Brangham reports, and Judy Woodruff speaks with Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security, to learn more.

 

 

"Why the vaccine rollout in the U.S. has been slower than expectedPBS NewsHour 2/23/2021

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SUMMARY:  So far, 65 million Americans have received at least one shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.  As a country, the U.S. has recently picked up the pace of vaccinations, but there are concerns over supply and demand, which was the subject of a congressional hearing on Tuesday.  Miles O'Brien joins John Yang to discuss.

 

 

"Supply shortages and delays leave Europe’s vaccination campaign in crisisPBS NewsHour 2/23/2021

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SUMMARY:  Europe’s vaccination rollout is in crisis with manufacturing delays causing supply shortages and thousands of appointments canceled indefinitely.  The European Union wants to see 70 percent of its population inoculated by the fall.  But frustration is growing amongst its citizens amid the realization those targets could be out of reach.  Special Correspondent Lucy Hough reports.

 

 

"Britain cautiously plans to ease rigid lockdown restrictionsPBS NewsHour 2/23/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a cautious timetable ending the country’s COVID lockdown, one of the strictest in the world with almost all foreign travel outlawed under the guidelines.  But the full lockdown isn’t due to finish until at least late June, while mental health issues are increasingly being amplified.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

 

 

"Raising children for a second time, ‘grandfamilies’ struggle during the pandemicPBS NewsHour 2/23/2021

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SUMMARY:  More and more older adults are raising kids for the second time around because of illness, incarceration, addiction, or any number of reasons.  And since the start of the pandemic, almost 40 percent of "grandfamilies" say they struggle to pay for housing, and a third have trouble accessing food.  Stephanie Sy reports.

 

 

"Global disparities highlighted by uneven access to COVID vaccinesPBS NewsHour 2/24/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The West African country of Ghana on Wednesday became the first nation to receive a delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through a global initiative called COVAX, which aims to give more equitable access to the vaccine.  Nick Schifrin reports and speaks to Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of the special pathogens unit at Boston Medical Center, to learn more about global inequities.

 

 

"Despite being first in line, many health care workers are delaying vaccinationsPBS NewsHour 2/25/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  COVID-19 vaccines were developed with record-breaking speed, and by late last year they were rolled out to frontline health care workers across the country.  But despite being first in line many of those workers have decided to delay getting the shot.  Amna Nawaz reports on the critical effort to vaccinate America’s health care professionals.

 

 

"Remembering 5 extraordinary people who lost their lives to COVID-19PBS NewsHour 2/26/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  This week the nation reached a grim milestone as the pandemic death count surpassed 500,000 in the United States.  We take a moment to remember five remarkable individuals who lost their lives to COVID-19.

 

 

"J&J vaccine: Fight against COVID-19 gets another shot in the armPBS NewsHour 2/27/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Vaccination efforts to fight the pandemic got another shot in the arm.  The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is expected to rollout soon after the FDA nod, will speed up inoculations against COVID-19, but it might be a while before the efforts make a big difference.  Kaiser Health News Correspondent Rachana Pradhan joins to discuss the vaccination efforts, bottlenecks and long-term impact.



Monday, February 22, 2021

OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 2/19/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on President Biden’s first month in office and Rush Limbaugh’s legacyPBS NewsHour 2/19/2021

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 infighting, the legacy of Rush Limbaugh and President Biden's first month in office.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And now we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.  That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

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

It's the first time we have seen you since the impeachment trial last week, ended last Saturday, President Trump.

Jonathan, it seems almost every day this past week, though, we have been hearing from different Republican state officials about how they were going to punish or censure Republican senators who voted to convict, whether it was Senator Cassidy in Louisiana, Senator Toomey in Pennsylvania.  There's talk that he will be censured.

How deep is the animosity toward these lawmakers who voted against former President Trump?

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  I think the animosity is deep, very deep.

I mean, these state party chairs, one might be responding in their own capacity, these state parties in their own capacity, but they are reflection of the Republican Party base.

You know, Judy, when I interviewed former RNC Chairman Michael Steele back in August of 2016, and I talked to him about the candidacy then of Donald Trump, running for President, being the nominee, and he told me then that he thought that the nomination of Donald Trump would hasten the conversation that the Republican Party needed to have about who they are, what they value, and certainly about the role of race within the party.

Fast-forward, Donald Trump becomes President, Donald Trump loses an election.  But, in the process, Donald Trump has transformed the Republican Party into one that is completely loyal to him.  And so people who voted for his impeachment, people who voted for him, voted guilty, wanted him to be convicted in the last go-round with this impeachment trial, they — those are the folks who are riling up this super loyal base within the Republican Party that is loyal to Donald Trump.

And I think what we're going to see down the road is, whether these censure votes, whether these reprimands of these Republicans, who I think voted their conscience, whether those actually have any political power, meaning bumping them from office in that way.

Judy Woodruff:  David, how do you see this animosity, division inside the Republican Party?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Well, Trump is popular.

And when Democrats in the media seem to be attacking Donald Trump, the Republicans sure rally around; 78 percent of Republicans say right now they want Donald Trump to play an important role in the future of the party.

Underneath that, there are divisions.  And they show up between the normal Republicans and the Trump Republicans.  And you can ask, do you feel more loyal to, the party or Donald Trump?  And there, it's about 50/50.  And then there's an important split when you ask Republicans, should we work with Democrats?

And there again, you see the regular Republicans vs. the Trump Republicans.  The regular Republicans, who seem to be a slight majority, want to work with Democrats.  The Trump Republicans do not.

I think the party leaders have decided, we can't have this fight over Donald Trump.  We have to displace Trump with policy-making.  And so, today — this week, Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney began to work together to create a bill that would raise the minimum wage and fix enforcement of immigration on the border.

And they're trying to make the party a regular party, so it's not just a media party, but a party that actually does legislation.  And I think that's a pretty promising way to try to displace Trumpism.

Judy Woodruff:  But, meantime, Jonathan, you had President — former President Trump coming out this week, appearing on three different, I guess, conservative TV channels, still talking about how the election was stolen, attacking Mitch McConnell.

Does — is McConnell hurt by this?  I mean, I guess I'm asking, how lasting is this damage the former President is still trying to level?

Jonathan Capehart:  Look, in a battle between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, I would put my money on Mitch McConnell.

Senator McConnell is worried about two things, one of which he has succeeded.  Judges was the first one.  But the most important thing is power.  He lost the Senate majority, primarily because of what then President Trump did that allowed those two Georgia seats to flip to the two Democrats, Warnock and Ossoff.

But, also, Senator McConnell wants that majority back.  And so that's why I think we saw him on the one hand vote for the acquittal of Donald Trump, but then, after that vote, excoriate Donald Trump, lay the blame right at his feet.  And, in doing that, what I think Mitch McConnell is doing is creating an environment for his — for his caucus and those Republicans running for the Senate in 2022 and 2024, giving them the room to be able to run races that would give them the best chance at winning.

And when it comes to Donald Trump, it's all about him.  It's not about the party.  It's not about policy, as David was talking about.  It's about him and loyalty to him.  And so, if you're Mitch McConnell, and you are about power, but you're also about doing things that advance the Republican Party, you're going to do whatever it takes to push Trump to the side and make it possible for those candidates to come to the fore.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David, who's got more muscle, Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump?

And I do want to ask you both about Rush Limbaugh, but McConnell first.

David Brooks:  Yes, I was — I questioned McConnell's strategy last Saturday, doing that acquittal vote and then excoriating, as Jonathan said.

Napoleon said, if you're going to take Vienna, take Vienna.  But maybe Jonathan is right it sets the Republicans up for a good run in 2022.  And let's face it.  You would have to think it's likely the Republicans will take the House and Senate.  That's just the way — what happens in midterm elections.  The opposition party does very well.

And I think McConnell's main goal is to keep really extreme Trumpians from getting Republican nominations in these Senate races and House races.  And so maybe he's playing that game, just trying to ride this thing out and not try to fire everybody up and fire up the Trumpian base.

Judy Woodruff:  And, David, in just a few words, the legacy of Rush Limbaugh.

David Brooks:  Well, he changed media.  He changed AM radio.  Before Rush Limbaugh, hosts tended to be not too opinionated.  After Rush Limbaugh, on left and right, hosts are super opinionated.

He changed conservatism from George F. Will and William F. Buckley to what we have today.  So, he had a big positive effect on media, I think, or — and a pretty negative effect on American conservatism.

Judy Woodruff:  Jonathan, it was on the media, as David says.  It was also on the Republican Party and on conservatism broadly.

Jonathan Capehart:  Right.

My relationship when it comes to Rush Limbaugh is more than complicated, as someone who was attacked by him many times when he was on the radio.  I mourn for his family.  I mourn for his family and the people who loved him.

But I — I, quite honestly, do not, simply because of the corrosive nature of his radio programming and what he did with the power that he had, the corrosive nature that he had on American politics, on American political discourse.

And legacies can be good and legacies can be bad.  And I think, for me, personally, Rush Limbaugh's legacy is one that has harmed the country.

Judy Woodruff:  All right, President Biden, first month in office, after tomorrow.

David, what are you seeing so far?  And before you answer that, let me ask you both to respond to something President Biden said at the CNN town hall on Wednesday night, reminding us that he's not comfortable yet in this new job.  Let's listen.

Pres. Joe Biden:  I was raised in a way that you didn't look for anybody to wait on you.  And it's — we're — I find myself extremely self-conscious.  There are wonderful people that work at the White House.

But someone is standing there and making sure I — hands me my suit coat.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David, I guess I should have said not comfortable with the trappings of the office yet.

David Brooks:  Yes.

I mean, it's so weird being President.  Every president talks about this.  You're never alone.  They — Secret Service knows when you go to the bathroom.  They know when you're in the elevator.  George W. Bush would ride his motorbike — or his bike, his mountain bike, up at a training center, a Secret Service training center in Maryland, and he would try to ride in front of the agents, because he said that was the only time of his week when there weren't people in front of him, and he could look out and sort of be alone.

And so it's just very weird being President and I think very hard.

As for President Biden, I think he's doing a lot of sense of sensible things on his own.

What's different from the Obama start — and Obama had a bigger Senate majority — Obama passed some big legislation right away, Lilly Ledbetter week one, children's health care week two, the stimulus package week three.  So, there was a lot of legislative action.

There hasn't been as much from President Biden.

Judy Woodruff:  Jonathan, how do you see these first 30 days?

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, I see them as terrific, if only because we have a President of the United States who's focused on governing, who's focused on doing things on behalf of the American people, but who is also not focused on being in our faces 24 hours a day, seven days a week with all manner of vitriol and nastiness towards his political opponents or even regular citizens.

Judy, what I love about that clip you showed of President Biden talking about his not being comfortable with the trappings of the presidency is, that's the man the American people voted for.

It's a person who — for whom service, public service, the emphasis is on the service, but it's also the public, someone other than himself.  He is that boy from Scranton whose family had hard times, and he worked his way up to the highest office in the land.

And the idea that with this office comes someone who hands him his suit coat in the morning, or, to David's point, he and his family now are never alone, I think it resonates with the American people, because this is someone for whom power is something that's part of the jobIt wasn't anything that he strove for just for power's sake.

For him, being President of the United States is about helping people.

Judy Woodruff:  And, David, less than a minute, but your thoughts on whether he's getting people behind him?  I mean, is it your sense that he's building the kind of public support he's going to need?

David Brooks:  Yes, I think he is, actually.

He's amazingly done very well at holding the Democratic Party together, which was not natural.  I think he's done that extremely skillfully, his approval rating.  There really have been not so many flaws — not so many errors, one little error about — how when schools are going to reopen, but, pretty much else, it's a professional organization, just as it was a professional campaign.

Judy Woodruff:  All right.  It's only been a month.  We will do this every month, every week.  We will keep asking.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  How's he doing?  How's he doing?

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  Very good to see both of you.  Have a good weekend.

(CROSSTALK)

David Brooks:  Good to see you too.

Judy Woodruff:  David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both.



NEWSHOUR CANVAS - "The Democracy! Suite"

"Wynton Marsalis meets the moment with jazz and a focus on the nation’s founding principlesPBS NewsHour 2/19/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Trumpet player, composer and jazz ambassador Wynton Marsalis is one of the country’s leading cultural figures.  He is again meeting the moment with music, writing and recording his new composition "The Democracy! Suite" amid the pandemic.  Jeffrey Brown has the story as part of our arts and culture series, "CANVAS."

 

Jazz at Lincoln Center



MEMORIAM - Five Remarkable People Who Lost Their Lives to COVID-19

"Remembering 5 remarkable people who lost their lives to COVID-19PBS NewsHour 2/19/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  As the death toll from the pandemic nears 500,000 in the United States, we take a moment to remember and pay tribute to five remarkable people who have lost their lives to COVID-19.



THEOCRACY IN AMERICA - South Carolina

"theocracy" noun

  1. Government under the control of a state-sponsored religion. (like Iran)
  2. Rule by a God.

They are trying (over and over) to impose their religious belief on everyone else, by use of the law of the land.

"South Carolina places stringent new restrictions on abortionsPBS NewsHour 2/18/2021

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SUMMARY:  South Carolina is the latest state to place tough new restrictions on abortions.  It is part of a renewed focus on abortion access with a new conservative majority on the Supreme Court.  Gavin Jackson a public affairs reporter for South Carolina ETV, and Mary Ziegler a Florida State University law professor, join John Yang to discuss.



PANDEMIC - Applying Lessons of the Past and the Toll

"Applying the lessons of Ebola to the fight COVID-19PBS NewsHour 2/17/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Dr. Paul Farmer has worked for decades to bolster public health care around the globe.  His new book, “Fevers, Feuds and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History,” looks at the 2014 Ebola crisis and what we can learn from it during our current pandemic.  Jeffrey Brown spoke with Farmer as part of our ongoing arts and culture series, "CANVAS."

 

 

"Battered by the pandemic, communities of color experience sharp drop in life expectanciesPBS NewsHour 2/18/2021

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SUMMARY:  The pandemic's toll was highlighted in stark terms again Thursday as the expected life spans fell in the U.S. by a year on average in the first half of 2020.  It is the largest drop since World War II, and gaps along racial lines are profound.  Dr. Reed Tuckson, Washington, DC's former Public Health Commissioner and a leader in the Black Coalition Against COVID-19, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.



MASTER OF HATE - Rush Limbaugh Dead!

Need I say I really, really disliked this idiot hate monger who use his infamy to make money and garner power.  May he rest in Hell!

"Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh dies at 70PBS NewsHour 2/17/2021

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SUMMARY:  Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer.  For more than 30 years, he trumpeted his brand of conservatism with a take-no-prisoners style that won compliments and condemnation.  Lisa Desjardins looks at his career.



NASA - Mars 2020 Mission

Perseverance rover

 

Ingenuity helicopter

 

"NASA sets ambitious goals for latest mission to MarsPBS NewsHour 2/17/2021

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  If all goes according to plan, the United States will land its most advanced [Perseverance] rover ever on Mars on Thursday, nearly 300-million miles from where it lifted off last year.  It is a daunting task, one that will set up a more ambitious exploration of the Red Planet.  Miles O'Brien lays out the nerve-wracking challenges and goals of the mission.

 

 

"NASA rover lands on Mars, resuming search for remnants of lifePBS NewsHour 2/18/2021

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SUMMARY:  The U.S. is back on the Red Planet after a nearly 300-million-mile journey.  NASA celebrated late Thursday afternoon when it landed its latest rover on Mars.  The rover is designed to explore new areas of the planet and look for clues for past life there.  Miles O'Brien joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the mission.

 

LIVE 2:38:30