tv PBS News Hour PBS February 19, 2021 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
♪ ♪ judy: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight -- state of emergency. texas continues to struggle in the wake of devastating winter storms as millions remain without drinking wer, and power is slowly restored. then, getting the vaccine. public health officials try to rebuild trust among indigenous americans as the covid inoculation campaign accelerates. >> we recognize as native physicians the degree of distrust in our communities. however we are dying at much , higher numbers. in order to continue to protect our communities we have to take , this vaccine up. judy: and, it is david brooks friday. and jonathan capehart consider
♪ >> consumer cellular, johnson & johnson. >> the john s. and james l knight foundation, fostering engaged communities. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions. and, friends of the newshour. this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. judy: the lights are back on for much of texas tonight, but for
millions, the watersn't working. it is the latest crisis in a grinding week of winter storms that have now claimed at least 70 lives. we turn again to stephanie sy to begin our coverage. stephanie: after long days in the dark, the power has largely been restored in communities across texas that endured bitter cold. margee: i don't know when it's going to go off again, if it will go off. i don't know. immediately, when the lights came on, i hurried up and made a pot of shrimp gumbo and warmed up. stephanie: state grid operators said today their system is finally back to normal operations, nearly a week after some 4 million customers lost power. that number had fallen more than 90% by this evening. but there was no end in sight for a debilitating water crisis. pipes that burst in the frigid temperatures have led to a shortage. 14 million people have been affected many of whom are now , having to boil their water before they consume it. paula: the temperature in the
house was 33 degrees and a now the power is back on, so it is warm, but we don't have any water. i am here to get water. i have been to several different stores, and no one has water. stephanie: houston's delmar stadium hosted a bottled water drive-through distribution today. >> i will sit here until -- i have no choice. all the stores in my area are out of water. stephanie: twenty-four-year old trent helt echoed that experience, speaking to us from arlington, outside dallas. a main pipe burst has cut off water to his residence since monday. >> it's been interesting, to say the least. we haven't been able to shower or bathe. we had to buy multiple, multiple packs of water to wash dishes or to bathe with. to flush the toilets we were ooping the snow up and we were boiling it to melt it down, and that's how we would flush the toilets. stephanie: you're probably
really tired of the sponge baths. >> most definitely. i cannot wait to take an actual shower. stephanie: meanwhile, president biden promised a major disaster declaration for texas to expedite much-needed resources, and he plans to visit the storm-ravaged state soon. pres. biden: if in fact it is concluded i can do it without creating a burden for the folks on the ground while they are dealing with this crisis, i plan on going. we will know that and make that decision the beginning of next week. stephanie: as calls for accountability grow louder, bill magness, the president of ercot, which manages the state's power grid, said today his agency is open to new ideas. >> we're subject to policy-makers and leaders, and how they want us to operate. if they are seeing that there's something that's really got to change, from looking at the totality of what we did, we will certainly try to change it or take any other action we're told to do to manage the issues that they're seeing.
protesters: hey-hey, ho-ho, ted cruz has got to go! stephanie: texas senator ted cruz also faced calls for accountability. protesters gathered outside his houston home, after it was revealed he'd flown to cancun as the state was reeling from the storm. he flew back thursday. sen. ted cruz: it was obviously a mistake. in hindsight, i would not have done it. i was trying to be a dad. stephanie: elsewhere across the south, water issues are also plaguing other states that were hit by wintry weather. in mississippi, nearly all of the 161,000 people in the city of jackson were without water today. in tennessee, the memphis international airport was forced to cancel all its flights because of low water pressure. we head back to texas now, where the water outages are severely impacting operations at hospitals already stressed by the pandemic. joining me now is dr. esmaeil porsa, president and ceo of harris health system in the
houston area. many of it patients are uninsured and underserved. dr. porsa, thanks for your time on the "newshour.” i understand one of your hospitals this week was so desperate for water the fire department had to be called where they then distributed water directly from a hydrant. what happened and how are things now? dr. porsa: thank you for having me. i want to start by thanking all the health care providers and nurses and everybody else taking care of our patientst our hospitals. you are correct. a couple of nights ago, around 1:00 in the morning, i was notified that the water pressure inside of the water towers that supplies water to the hospital, in addition to our hvac system that controls the humidity and the temperature of our hospital, was rapidly running out of water. it was a desperate situation. i was told within a few hours, if they could not replenish
water to the tower, we would have to evacuate the patients out of the hospital. i able to call the city. the city was great, in rponding very quickly to send a fire truck to the hospital. they were able to, as you mentioned able , to connect the fire hydrant using a hose to the water tower and slowly bring the wat up. the water hydrants, unfortunately, was facing th same issue as the rest of the systems here in houston, texas. the water pressure was extremely low, but it was enough to buy us time, so that during the day, we were able to actually purchase several thousands of gallons of water that was delivered to us through trucks to maintain our operations. and as the temperatures rose and as the water pressures improved, we were able to actually maintain. we are holding steady now. the issue is no longer the water. the issue is the people coming
to our emergency rooms, ours, in addition to other hospitals in this area, because urgent care clinics are shut down. the main issue right now is our dialysis patients. we're having a historic number of dialysis patients coming to our emergency room seeking treatment, because private dialysis cente have been closed for the entire week. stephanie: so, even before this week, hospitals were already dealing with a surge of covid patients in many cases. are you at capacity at this point? are you having to turn away any of these dialysis patients coming in or anyone else? dr. porsa: we are at capacity. as you mentioned at the beginning of the conversation, we are the safety net hospital for harris county, the largest county, the most populous county in texas. we have been at capacity almost from the beginning of the
pandemic parade we have continued to be at capacity. the situation hasn't gotten any better. what has happened since the start of last week or this week ready to be discharged can't be discharged home because they also lack power and water. so, we have our inpatient units getting backed up even more than what they have been. they have been more than 100% capacity for a few days now. but, to your question about turning people away, why we do -- we do not turn anybody away. we have not had to. we have more than 20 or 30 now patients waiting for dialysis treatment in our emergency rooms. unfortunately, we are only able to provide so many services. as you may know, dialysis is not a quick thing. it takes at least four hours for each treatment. and we only have so many machines. to make the matter even more dire, is the staffing.
our staff are not immune to everything else that is going on in the community, so they have the same issue with the loss of water, loss of electricity, busted pipes, damaged ceilings. it's all adding up to become the perfect storm in an already really bad situation. stephanie: well, dr. porsa, we certainly are glad that you have at least the water you need for right now and that the temperatures are warmi up. we wish you the best, to you and your staff. dr. esmaeil porsa, president and ceo of the harris health system, joining us from near houston, thank you. dr. porsa: thank you. judy: in the d's other news, the white house confirmed that the arctic storm has set back covid vaccine shipments. extreme conditions delayed delivery of 6 million doses d closed vaccination sites in some
places. but in a virtual briefing, presidential adviser andy slavitt said he is confident of catching up. >> now as weather conditions improve, we're already working to clear this backlog. 1.4 million doses are already in transit today, and we anticipate that all the backlog doses will be delivered within the next week, with most being delivered within the next several days. judy: president biden toward a pfizer vaccine manufacturing facility today in kalamazoo, michigan. earlier, he pledged a total of $4 billion dollars to help buy vaccines for poor countries. the united states is once again part of the paris climate accord. that became official today, following an executive order by president biden. his administration has promised toet a new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
president trump took the u.s. out of the paris accord last fall. in another break with trump policy, the u.s. has begun allowing in the first of thousands of asylum-seekers from mexico. they had been waiting there for months or even years while their cases are decided. the policy change affects some 25,000 migrants. initially, a few hundred a day are being processed. president biden appealed to the world's democracies today to tackle new challenges, or risk becoming relics. he addressed the munich security conference via video link, and caed for action on economic troubles and the pandemic. he also pledged a new american approach to nato in his major first global appearance since taking office. pres. biden: i know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship, but the united states is determined, determined to
, re-engage with europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership. judy: the president charged that russia is working to undermine nato and that china is using coercion and economic abuses to gain dominance. the u.s. justice department is alleging a broer conspiracy among the far-right oath militia in the storming of the u.s. capitol. six more people were indicted today. they allegedly plotted to use military-style tactics in a bid to block congress from certifying president biden's election. the u.s. capitol police force has suspended 6 officers in the wake of the capitol attack. today's announcement says they are among 35 officers being investigated for how they responded to the assault by extremist trump supporters. social media videos appear to show some officers escorting rioters into the capitol.
ride-sharing giant uber has lost a major court fight in britain. the country's supreme court ruled today that uber drivers are, in fact, workers entitled , to minimum wage and benefits, rather than independent contractors. last year uber defeated an , attempt in california to treat drivers as full-fledged employees. on wall street today, stocks barely budged the dow jones gained one point to close at 31, 494. the nasdaq rose nine points and the s&p 500 lost seven. still to come on " "newshour," health officials try to rebuild trust of vaccines among indigenous americans are the u.s. military grapples with a rising epidemic of sexual assaults within its ranks. david brooks and jonathan capehart on republican divides and president biden's first month in office
, plus much more. ♪ >> this is pbs newshour west from weta studios in washington and in the west from the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. judy: native americans have been among the hardest hit by covid-19, but a history of medical mistreatment led some indigenous leaders to brace for challenges in vaccinating their communities. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro reports on those efforts. fred: on a frigid morning in minneapolis, a sign of progress in the fight against covid-19. inside a former dollar tree store, residents waited for doses of the moderna coronavirus vaccine. >> friday for your second dose. fred: the effort was run by the native american community clinic, which serves thousands of indigenous people in the area.
although native lands are predominantly in very remote settings, the majority of native peoples in the united states actually lives in cities. this south minneapolis neighborhood has one of the densest urban native polations, and there's a concerted effort to vaccinate the elderly. people like 67-year-old elsie budreau, an enrolled member of the leech lake band of ojibwe. she's spent most of her life going back and forth between minneapolis and the reservation in northern minnesota, that is, until the ndemic hit. >> evebody is kind of keeping to themselves, which is very hard, because, in the native community, you share a lot with your family, and that hasn't been able to happen. fred: so, when budreau found out she could get the vaccine, she leapt at the opportunity. >> i'm, like everybody else, kind of scared of it, but my own common sense tells me that it's safe to get it and it's going to help end the pandemic.
fred: nationwide, indigenous people have experienced the highest death rate from covid-19, nearly twice the rate of white americans. that's partly because native people have higher incidence of diabetes, heart disease and asthma, conditions related to poverty that c exacerbate a coronavirus infection. antony stately is the executive director of the native american community clinic, or nacc. >> establishing herd immunity, getting 70% to 80% of our population vaccinated, is going to be really, really important. many communities are losing their elders. those are the people that hold the knowledge of our culture and our language, things that are ally important to us, that are as important to our health and well-being as is medicine, as is od, as is water and all those other things. fred: stately has tried to spread the word about the vaccine on a native american radio show. >> the difference between taking the vaccine and not taking the vaccine at all is that, if you take the vaccine, you have some
percentage of chance of being immune to it or to have some protection. fred: it's personal for stately, who was hospitalized with covid. >> the first night i got there, i just cried, because it sort of hit me like a ton of bricks that i had to say goodbye to my children. i did not know if i would get home. fred: at the end of december, nacc held a small ceremony when it vaccinated its first group of community elders, hoping to infuse the medicine with good spirit and protect their people. but, for stately, the vaccination push comes with a challenge. >> native people, we have this long history of not being very treated very well by the medical establishment and the research community. i expected that elder people would be ambivalent about accepting the vaccine. fred: that describes stately's cousin roxanne flammond, who stopped by for a visit. >> i'm going to phoenix. >> you are, in the middle of a pandemic? how are you going to pull that off?
>> i'm going to two masks and a shield. >> so, you don't think you might want to take the vaccine before you go? >> no, that's not going to happen. fred: flammond, who's 67 and has underlying health conditions, is concerned about having an allergic reaction to the shot, a side effect seen in a relatively small number of cases with the pfizer and moderna vaccines. >> in the beginning, i had conspiracy theories. i said, i'm going to wait until everybody -- to see what everybody else does. if they are dropping like flies, i'm not getting it. also the fact that our -- historically, the government has not really treated our people fairly. >> that's true. fred: in the 1970s, the federal indian health service sterilized thousands of indigenous women without their permission or after coercing them. roxanne flammond says she was one of those women. >> i was coerced into signing
papers to be sterilized. i did not know. i was i believed what the doctor 19. said. fred: the history also includes the abuse of native americans in scientific research and it dates all the way back to the 1700's, when british colonizers gave tribes blankets contaminated with smallpox. so, when flammond first heard about the covid vaccines? >> i was like, well, is this another smallpox-infested blanket, just in a different form? fred: for providers in indigenous communities, a big task now is convincing patients that the government's response is time is appropriate. dr. mary owen is president of the association of american indian physicians. >> we recognize, as native physicians, the degree of distrust in our communities. and we recognize the reasons for them, most of us having lived in and continuing to work in our communities. it is so important that people recognize that we are dying at much higher numbers, and the
government is actually getting this one right by getting us the vaccine, as they should be. in order to protect our communities better dying at disproportionate amounts, we have to take this vaccine up. fred: the effort from owen and others may be working. a recent survey by the urban indian health institute found 75% of american indians and alaska natives are willing to get e vaccine. encouraging as that acceptance is, the challenge, as in so many other communities, will continue to be gettinenough vaccine, and getting it across the vast, varied landscape of indian country. meantime, antony stately was relieved to len that, by the end of their short meeting, his cousin was considering taking a shot, but roxanne flammond insisted she was going to wait a few more weeks. for the "pbs newshour," i'm fred de sam lazaro in minneapolis.
judy: fred's reporting is a partnership with the under-told stories project at the university of st. thomas in minnesota. ♪ judy: a video posted by a female marine about sexual assault in the military rocketed across the internet, and into pentagon press briefing room today. secretary of defense lloyd austin promised to take additional steps tstop such violence. but, as nick schifrin reports, sexual assault in the military continues to rise, and individual families continue to be ripped apart. nick schifrin: when asia graham graduated from high school in 2019, she hoped the military would give her and her mother nicole a better life. >> she wanted to go into the military, make me her dependent,
and have me staying in with her for the rest of my life. nick: anthony graham is asia's brother. >> even though my mom was a mom, my sister tried to act like a mom. nick: where do you think that sense of responsibility in her came from? >> we just raised a wonderful girl. nick: that girl became a woman in uniform. in december 2019, she arrived at fort bliss in texas, an 18-year-old soldier. >> she was a very, very proud soldier, and her basic training's 1st sergeant loved her and praised her. nick: but she left the military draped in a flag. she'd been found dead on new year's eve 2020 in her barracks at age 19. an initial army press release said -- "the iron eagle team is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and teammate.” but a second statement three days later, after a local news report, revealed a darker time in uniform. graham reported she had been raped by a fellow member of her
unit in december 2019. the army said it launched a criminal investigation, separated her from her alleged attacker, and offered and encouraged medical help. in nicole's home, nicole and anthony graham keep a photographic shrine, the happy daughter of a white mother and black veteran, the smiling soldier, the confident girl, confidence that, they say, the army extinguished. >> that same glow that she had about the military, the same happiness wasn't there. nick: and they say what the army claimed to have done to protect her isn't true, beginning with when she first approached her commanders. >> she got raped by a fellow soldier in december. she reported it in february. she was told to shut up. the rapist was in her barracks, and her company and she had to
see him. nick: asia graham's own words also suggest the army didn't do what it claimed. in a message obtained by "pbs newshour" that she sent to a friend four days before she died, she wrote: "i told my noncommissioned officer, and he didn't take it that serious." she writes, she then told a female sergeant, who admitted "she didn't speak up, and a similar situation happened to her when she first got here, too.” graham told others who were more senior, but "all they cared about was the army doctrine and cover up themselves i really was asking for help and therapy. i just feel mistreated.” graham moved in with her brother off-base to get away from her alleged attacker. the siblings had always been close. anthony saw his sister's descent. she started drinking and taking pills, and became self-destructive. she got dui and died of an overdose. but, in counseling, anthony says she was told not to tell anyone anything. >> they heard her story and afterwards were lik we need you to shut up about this.
don't talk about it to anybody. we will take care of it. nick: last month, fort bliss charged private 1st class christian alvarado with raping asia graham in december 2019 and, five months later, raping another woman, and, three months after that, sexually assaulting a third woman. per army regulations, he's still on base, on active duty, and free. is what happened to asia graham typical? >> yes. who's responsible for the soldier's well-being? it is the chain of command. they did not listen. in this case, this survivor is dead. nick: camilla vance shadley and her husband, retired major general rbert shadley, are with never alone advocacy, a nonprofit that helps military victims of sexual assault. over the past decade, the number of reported victims has doubled, from 3,327 in 2010 to 7,825 in 2019. but the actual number of sexual assaults, including those not reported, is estimated to be 20,000. last year, an independent
investigation found a permissive environment for sexual assault at forhood and a lack of knowledge among commanders on when and how to report sexual assaults. at fort bliss, graham faced the same challenges. >> they actually are allowing the commands to make choices as to what rules they will follow, they won't. asia is the perfect one. four people knew that she had complained. >> it is not the chain of command's choice to whether to believe or not. their responsibility is to report it to trained investigators to look into it to get the ground truth. nick: but shadley says the buck doesn't stop with graham's unit. >> the commander at fort bliss should be held accountable in order to send a signal to the command and all the other division commanders, you better get involved. nick: shadley knows this problem. >> we, as leaders, have a responsibility to take care of our soldiers, and it breaks your
heart when we don't. nick: in 1996, he commanded the army's aberdeen proving ground in maryland when it became known that drill sergeants had been preying on young female trainees. nick: i have been told by hundreds, if not thousands of soldiers that they don't trust their chain of command. this is a force readiness issue. i predict a young leader is going to stand up on the battlefield and say, follow me, and the soldiers are going to say, i don't think so. nick: in a statement to "pbs newshour," fort bliss says it's investigating when graham originally reported to her commanders, and quote, "if indeed those leaders took no actions, then failure to act would be unacceptable.” but other service members say their leaders also take no action. >> i have dedicated my life to the military. nick: in a viral tiktok video, a marine says her commanding general allowed her perpetrator to stay in the service.
>> and this is exactly why [bee p] females in the military killed themselves. this is exactly why nobody [beep] takes this seriously. nick: today, secretary of defense lloyd austin admitted the miliry has not effectively dealt with sexual assault. >> we have been working at this a longime in earnest, but we haven't gotten it right. i found the video deeply disturbing. i will ask that her chain of command make sure someone is looking out for her needs. nick: last year, candidate biden promised to tackle sexual assault in the military. at a fundraiser he said commanders shod be removed from sexual assault reporting and prosecution decisions. pres. biden: we have to change the culture of abuse in this country, especially in armed services. i would immediately appot a commission of current and former military leaders, sexual assault survivors and their advocates, and sexual assault experts, and give them 90 days to make concrete recommendations to me, including on prosecution decisions.
nick: but shadley warns, the military may not follow through. so he urges president biden to demand results. >> i believe the president should stick to his word, and say, i want you to fix it. if the current leadership ain't going to do it, gets somebody in there who will. nick: back in nicole graham's home, what was once pride and hope in asia's uniform is now regret that she ever allowed her daughter to put it on. >> i really, really beat myself up that i signed the paperwork for her to go. when they recruit the kids they say it is a family. what kind of family lets people get raped and not taken care of the rapist? i wish i never would have signed the paper. nick: they are victims of a plague the military has known about for decades, but never cured. for the "pbs newshour," i'm nick schifrin.
♪ judy: 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: i think of the animosity is very deep. these state party chairs one , might be responding in their own capacity, these state parties in their own capacity, but they are a reflection of the republican party base. 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 e 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 publican party into one that is completely loyal to him. 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, those are the folks who are riling up this super loyal base within the republican party that is loyal to donald trump. i think what we are 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: david, how do you see this animosity, division inside the republican party? david: well, trump is popular. and when democrats in the media seem to be attacking donald trump, the republicans sure
rally around. 78% 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 trumpet republicans. you can ask, who do y feel more loyal to, the party or donald trump? it is 50-50. there is an important split when you ask republicans, should we work with democrats? and there again, you see the regular republicans vs. the trump republicans. regular republicans, who seem to be a slight majority, want to work with them. 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 policymaking. 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. they are trying to make the party a regular party, so it is not just a media party, but a party that actually does legislation. i think that's a pretty promising way to try to displace trumpism.
judy: meantime jonathan, you had former president trump coming out this week, appearing on three different conservative tv channels, still talking about how the election was stolen, attacking mitch mcconnell. is mcconnell hurt by this? i am asking how lasting is this damage the former president is still trying to level? jonathan: 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. the most iortant thing is power. he lost the senate majority, primarily because of what then president trump did that allowed those two georgia ats to flip to the two democrats, warnock and ossoff. also, senator mcconnell wants
that majority back. that is 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. in doing that, what i think mitch mcconnell is doing is creating an environment for his caucus and republicans running for the senate in 2022, 2024, giving them the room to run races that would give them the best chance at winning. when it comes to donald trump, it is all about him, not the party. it is not about policy. it is about loyalty to him. 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: davidwho's got more muscle, mitch mcconnell or donald trump? and i do want to ask you both about rush limbaugh, but mcconnell first. david: 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. let's face it, you would have to think it is likely the republicans will take the house and senate. that is the way it happens and 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: david, in just a few words, the legacy of rush limbaugh.
david: he changed media, he changed a.m. 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. and a pretty negative effect on american conservatism. judy: jonathan, it was on the media, as david says. it was also on the republican party and on conservatism broadly. jonathan: 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 and the people who loved him, but 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. legacies can be good and legacies can be bad. for me, personally, rush limbaugh's legacy is one that has harmed the country. judy: 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 rid let's listen. pres. biden: i was raised in a way that you didn't look for anybody to wait on you. i find myself extremely self-conscious. there are wonrful people that work at the white house, but
someone standing there and making sure -- hands me my suit coat. judy: david i guess i should have said not comfortable with the trappings of the office yet. david: yes, it is so weird being president. every president talks about this. you are never alone. secret service knows when you go to the bathroom. they know when you're in the elevator. george w. bush would ride his motorbike -- 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 geordie obama passed some , big legislation right away, lilly ledbetter week one, children's health care week two, thstimulus package week three. so, there was a lot of legislative action. there hasn't been as much from president biden.
judy: jonathan, how do you see these first 30 days? jonathan: i see them as terrific. if only because we have a president of the united states who is 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. its a person -- it is a person 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 e american people, because this is someone for whom power is something that's part of the job. it was not anything he strove for just for power's sake. for him, being president of the united states is about helping people. judy: david, less than a minute, but your thoughts on whether he is getting people behind him? is it your sense he is building the public support he will need? david: 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 errors. one little error about how when schools will reopen. everything else it is a professional organization, just as it was a professional campaign. judy: it has only been a month. we will do this every month, every week. we will keep asking. how is he doing, how is he doing? very good to see both of you. have a good weekend. thank you both. ♪ judy: as we do every friday, we take a moment to remember and pay tribute to the lives of 5 extraordinary people who have died from covid-19 in this country. ♪ judy: michael and gwen elbert
were the type of people who appreciated a go arizona sunset and a sky full of stars, their niece said. the couple eloped to switzerland in 1967 while michael was serving overseas in the army. gw had grown up in michigan, and returned there to raise her own family. she worked as a stay-at-home mom and a teacher before going back to school in her 50's to become a hospice nurse. michael was a “company man”, working for volkswagen for decades. his niece told us he had a zest for life, loved a good bargain and was a consummate showman. together, the elberts shared a love of singing and family and their niece said neither ever knew a stranger. michael and gwen died eight days apart. gwen was 76 and michael was 79.
alejandro penaloza vazquez had a gift for making people laugh, his family told us. he was born in mexico city. that is where he met his wife perla and earned his phd in microbiology. he brought his passion or science to the u.s. working at , oklahoma state university for three decades. his son told us his father was proud to be an american, but was equally proud to pass on his mexican culture to his children. alejandrwas 63. eugene marsh had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that spanned his entire life, his family and friends told us. eugene grew up in a foster home in south carolina and was one of the first african americans to integrate his all-white high school. he became a decorated vietnam war veteran. life eventually took him to new jersey, where he met his wife elaine, and started a successful
construction company that worked on renovating the statue of liberty. his brother said eugene believed it wasn't enough to climb the ladder, you had to bring people up the ladder with you. eugene was 71. the small town of fayette, missouri was special to martha rogers holman. she spent most of her life there -- going to college at central methodist university where she was an honor student, homecoming queen and drum majorette. in later years she became a fixture at university basketball games where she handed out lollipops to the entire team. until recently, she ran the family farm on the outskirts of town. her family described her as a grand lady, warm, kind and fiercely independent, a quality that helped her earn a master's degree in mathematics later in life. martha was 95.
thank you so much to the family members and friends who contributed these stories. our hearts go out to you as they do everyone who has lost a loved one in this pandemic. ♪ judy: trumpet player, composer, jazz ambassador. wynton marsalis -- one of the country's leading ltural figures -- is again meeting the moment with music. this time, pointing to the founding principles of our nation. jeffrey brown has the story for our arts and culture series, canvas. ♪ jeffrey: it is called "the democracy suite," a new
composition by wynton marsalis, who has kept swinging through the pandemic, while linking his art form to higher human values. wynton: in jazz we improvise, which means we have freedom. we swing, which means we're forced to share that freedom. we come from a blues esthetic and blues idiom, which means that we can look into the face of something thais tragic and not paint the fake smile on it and still be optimistic about the use of our will to come together and make things better for the future. marsalis wrote the suite amid the pandemic and recorded it with members of the orchestra at jazz at lincoln center in new york, where he is managing and artistic director. its first movement is titled "be present," something he, like all of us, is having trouble with
performing on a stage he's used , to, with no audience. wynton: really strange. we have put together concerts where we recorded at home and compiled everything. that was also unusual at first, but now we are acclimated to it. jeffrey: you're acclimated to looking out from the stage and not seeing anybody there? wynton: you don't want to get too used to that. jeffrey: marsalis famously grew up in the vibrant world of new orleans jazz, surrounded by its traditions and ever-alive sounds. now, even mardi gras' parades have been cancelled. the pandemic brought personal loss or the death from covid of his 85-year-old father ellis, himself a pianist, educator, and patriarch of the musical family that includes saxophonist branford. wynton: my father, when he was alive, his observation was, if it happens to you, it is no more significant than anybody else. many people are losing their loved ones. it is a part of collective grief
and the cycle of life. he was large spirited all the way to the end. i don't take away bad feelings or anything left unsaid. i was not able to be with him and that still hurts, but this is a tough time for everybody. ♪ jeffrey: marsalis has long found ways to address the current moment and the past that informs it. his jazz oratorio, “blood on the field,” set amid slavery, won the 1997 pulitzer prize, the first for a jazz composition. his new work includes a section titled “sloganize, patronize, realize, revolutionize.” wynton: the melody of that song is the chance black lives , matter. ♪ wynton: we have some sections
where the horns improvise together, like the trumpet and the trombone play a solo and share space. if you take the way we share the space, the way we repeat what it is we are playing and the , conclusions we come to, in the language of instrumental music it's evocative of a feeling, of a deliberateness and of, ultimately, of optimism. i want as much as possible to communicate the holistic nature of this experience. jeffrey: marsalis continues to teach in top music schools and run his annual “essentially ellington” program for high school students around the country. we joined him for that in 2011. >> 1, 2, 3. ♪ jeffrey: last year and the time of pandemic, it was held remotely. and in a time of killings of more black men and women and protests in the streets, young students had questions that went well beyond the music.
>> today's america, we have had vil unrest. do we as musicians hold responsibilities in regards to these movements today? judy: marsalis points to the music of young artists who performed -- like jon batiste, who performed in the streets during last summer's protests. one of the new suite's movements is dedicated to him. wynton: i love to see them active. because in my class at the beginning of every year i always ask students, what does the united states constitution do? what is it designed to do? and i'm always looking for them to say it's a document designed to level the playing field for everyone through a sophisticated system of checks and balances. and it's important for us as artists to be engaged with our way of life, as jazz musicians, because that's the tradition of our music. jeffrey: that is the qstion you ask in class, that is not a musical question -- or is it. wynton: it is a musical question becausi say, if we don't know
what our constitution does, what chance do we have to figure out what jazz is? jeffrey: the democracy suite is available on streaming sites and the jazz at lincoln center website. four the "pbs newshour," i'm jeffrey brown. judy: a wonderfulonversation with -- the one and only wynton marsalis. on the pbs newshour online, how do you capture the enormous human loss to covid-19? one artist says the key is to remember the individual. read more about the installation she built in washington, d.c., and how she is helping it live on virtually at pbs.org/newshour /newshour. that is the newshour for tonight. join us again monday evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, we hope you have a good, safe weekend.
thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- ♪ >> consumer cellular, johnn & johnson, bnsf railway. the william and flora hewlett foundation. for more than 50 years advancing ideas and supporting institutions to promote a better world, at hewlitt.org. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems. skollfoundation.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions. and friends of the newshour.
this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ >> this is pbs newshour west from weta studios in washington and from our bureau at the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. ♪ >> you are watching pbs. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.]
>> the most important thing we can do is to make sure that we have strong international institutions and that nato remains strong alliance, both militarily and politically, because i'm always afraid of those people who try to predict exactly what will happen in th future. those people are always wrong. ♪♪ ♪♪ >> hello, and welcome to "gzero world." i'm ian bremmer. and today we are taking a close look at nato, asking the big today we take a look at nato . asking the question is the decades-old military and political alliance relevant or is it a cold war relic