tv PBS News Hour PBS February 22, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: gd evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, half a million: the u.s. death toll from covid-19 reaches 500,000 as experts wa safety measures may remain foronger than anticipated. then, crisis in texas-- major questions about energy infrastructure and emergency response remain following a devastating winter storm. and, one on one-- we discuss the ongoing pandemic response and the dire consequences of inaction in the global fight against climate change with bill gates.
>> for the world ill create literally tens of millions of climate refugees and so it makes the pandemic look small. the death rate by the end of the century would be over ve times the worst of what we've had in this pandemic. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> twins! >> grandparents. >> we want to put money aside for them, so, change in plans. >> all right, let's see what we can adjust. >> we'd be closer to the twins. >> change in plans. >> okay. >> mom, are you painting again? you could sell these. >> let me guess, change in plans? >> at fidelity, changing plans is always part of the plan.
>> the william and flora hewlett foundation. for more than 50 years, advancing ideas and supporting institutions to promote a better world. at www.hewlett.org. >> the chan-zuckerberg initiative. working to build a more healthy, just and inclusive future for everyone. at czi.org. >>nd with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals.
>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the nation tonight marks a new, watershed moment in the covid-19 pandemic. confirmed deaths have reached 500,000, even as daily increas in infections and deaths have slowed sharply in recent weeks. william brangham reports. >> brangham: roughly half a million people, gone. it's been almost a year since the first known death from covid-19 was recorded, and the country is reckoning with yet another horrifying milestone. >> i think that when history writes this we will understand that the mortality related to this pandemic is far greater than the numbers we've been
counting. >> brangham: it's a staggering toll that seemed unthinkable even a year ago, even to many of the country's leading health experts. projections last march from dr. deborah rx, then the coordinator of the trump administration's coronavirus task force, barely touched today's reality. >> as you saw on that slide, that was our real number, that 100,000 to 200,000, and we think that that is the range. we really believe and hope every day that we can do a lot better than that. >> brangham: dr. anthony fauci, the president's top medical adviser on the pandemic, said today it didn't have to be this bad. >> we've done worse than most otr country and we're a highly developed rich country, so there were things back then if you go back and think about what you it's so tough to go back and try to do a metaphorically autopsy on things went. it was just bad. it is bad now. >> brangham: it took only three months for the u.s. to reach 100,000 deaths. september, and then december,
marked the next benchmarks. and, in just five weeks, another 100,000, by january 19. just a month later, and today's total is roughly the population of kansas city, missouri, or, atlanta, georgia-- all gone. the "washington post" calculated th if all those people boarded a caravan of buses, lined up, they'd stretch almost 95 miles long. a line of buses, bumper to bumper, between philadelphia and new york city, or san jose to santa rosa, in california. as the pandemic has progressed, people have struggled to visualize the catastrophic losses from the virus in memorials, from murals in hard- hit latino communities, to a candle lighting ceremony at the national mall, have marked moments of mourning across the nation. >> brangham: another ceremony and a moment of silence commemorated the tragedy at the white house tonight.
flags on federal property will fly at half-staff for the next five days. for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham. >> woodruff: as the country marks another tragic milestone, vaccinations are increasing. that leads many to believe we're beginning to see more light at the end the tunnel. but questions remain over how long it will take before life becomes more routine and safer. and if new covid-19 variants could throw off timelines even more. we explore these questions with angela rasmussen, a virologist at the georgetown center for global health science an security. she joins me now from seattle. welcome back to the newshour, this is a soober moment but as we-- sobering moment but as we say vaccinations are increasing. you've written recently that you might think of this is climbing out ever a deep well. does that still a apply?
>> i think that it doesment if you look around, if you are in the process of climbing out of this well, and you look around right now, it seems very grim. will you see only darkness. but if you look up, you will see a circle of light as you get closer and closer to the top. as you climb, that circle will get bigr and bigger and that's the circle that we are climbing towards through vaccination and through the exposure risk reduction method that we all should be continuing to apply. some more of those that we can apply, the more people that we can get vaccinated, the quicker we are going to be able to step out of that well and into the light. >> can we say that the worst is behind us in terms of hospitalizations and deaths? >> i really hope so, judy. i have been reflecting on this grim milestone that we just had and what is the most heartbreaking to me is that the majority of these deaths were were preventible. now that we have really, really
effective vaccines that really exceeded our expectations, we also have the abilityo continue to thaik these precautionary men us to further reduce transmission. i like to think that we will be able to prevent more needless deaths from this terrible virus. >> and how worried should people be about these new variants especially the ones that we hear the vaccines may not be as effective against. >> so people should be concerned about the varias but it's really important to tell people not to panic about the variants because these variants while they may be more transmissible. while they may be less protective, the vaccines may be less protective against them, we still know that they are transmitted the exact same way as every other variant that has been circulating since the beginning of the pandemic. because they are not incredibly prevalent in the u.s. yet we have the ability now to really
double downn those precautionary measures. the masking, physical distancing, avoiding gathering outside your hoss hold, washing your hands, increasing ventilation, if you can. by taking all of these measures as often as we can, as frequently as we can, in as many situations as we can, we can reduce transmission of those var yabts as well as the variants already circulating in our communities. overall that means we're going to be able to vaccinate more people and stop the spread of those variants in their tracks. so it is really important that we all really double down and remain extra vigilt. and so we can get vaccines distributed to more people. >> you are touching on exactly what i banted to ask you because of course many people who haven't had the vaccine worry, concerned about getting the vaccinement but then once people have the vaccination, then the question is how much longer, how long do i have to keep taking the same precautions we've been taking.
>> that's everybody's question, judy. and that's my question as well. because nobody, i can assure you, is more tired of this pandemic than virologist, epidimiologists and public health professionals, i would say to everybody that the sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner your loved ones get vaccinated and the more you can apply these exposure reduction methods to reduce transmission in the community, the faster we're going to be able to relax these restrictions. i think if we are all diligent about this and if we all get our vaccines when they are made available to us, we should be able to actually potentially even have a great relaxed summer. that's my hope. >> and what exactly does that mean? that means that we might be able to resume indoor dining, that means that we might be able to get together with our family and friends outside of our household. that means we might be able to have people over for the fourth of july. we will be able to get back to some of the quote unquote normal
daily activities that many of us took for granted before this pandemic started. >> dr. angela rasmussen, we all certainly fervently hope that's right, especially on this day when we are reflecting and remembering the many, many lives that we've lost. thank you so much for talking with us. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the head of the world health organization appealed to wealthy countries not to buy up all the covid vaccines before poor nations get any. he said funds are available to help needy countries purchase vaccine, but that's not enough. >> even if you have the money, if you cannot use the money to buy vaccines, the money, having the money, doesn't mean
anything. >> woodruff: meanwhile, prime britain will begin lifting one of europe's strictest lockdowns. the pandemic has claimed more than 120,000 lives in britain, more than any other european country president biden has announced plans to funnel more federal pandemic aid to businesses owned by women and minorities. on wednesday, a two-week window opens for companies with fewer than 20 employees to apply for loans under the paycheck protection program. they make up a majority of small businesses in the u.s. lawmakers in virginia voted today to end capital punishment. it marks a historic shift for the state that has executed nearly 1,400 people since colonial days, more than any other state. the governor is expected to sign the repeal, making virginia the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty.
president biden's nominee for attorney general, merrick garland, promised today to enforce civil rights and fight extremism. he also vowed to reject political interference. and, at his confirmation hearing, he grew emotional when senator cory booker asked about confronting hate and racism. garland's own grandparents fled anti-semitism in europe. >> the country took us in and protected us and i feel an obligation to the country to pay back. this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back. and so, i want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you're saying i could become. >> woodruff: garland is a federal appealjudge. president obama nominated him for the u.s. supreme court in
2016, but senate republicans refused to consider the nomination. neera tanden's nomination to lead the office of management and budget has run into more trouble. two moderate republican senators, mitt romney and susan collins, announced today they're opposed. they cited tanden's scathing criticism of republicans in the past. thwhite house insisted that the president still supports her. >> the president would not have nominated her, if he did not think she would be an excellent omb director. and he nominated her because she is qualified. we simply just disagree with whether she is the right person for the job with these senators. >> woodruff: docrat joe manchin also opposes tanden. that means she needs at least one republican vote in the evenly divided senate. vice president harris could then cast the tie-breaking vote for confirmaon. former president trump has lost
a long-running fight to keep his tax records away from a new york state prosecutor. the u.s. supreme court declined today to halt the handover of the records for a criminal investigation. mr. trump charged the ruling "keeps alive a fishing expedition." separately, the supreme court refused to revive a defamation lawsuit by porn star stormy daniels, against the former president. she claimed he paid her to keep quiet about an affair. and, she sued mr. trump for dismissing her allegations as "a total con job." on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average edged up7 points to close at 31,521. but the nasdaq fell 341 points, 2.5%, as inflation fears hit tech stocks, and, the s&p 500 slipped 30 points. and, nasis out tonight with dramatic footage of the
"perseverance" rover's arrival on mars. cameras aboard the robot craft captured the descent, from the inflation of the parachute to the so-called sky crane lowering the rover to the surface. it's the first time there has ever been video of an actual landing on mars. still to come on the newshour: major questions remain in texas following a devastating winter storm. we discuss the pandemic response and the fight against climate change with bill gates. a new book takes a look inside a syrian kurdish women's militia. and much more. >> woodruff: now, we turn to the
impact in texas of last week's storms, power outages and water shortages. temperatures have warmed up considerably. experts are still trying to determine just how many deaths in the state were tied to the storm and what came afterward. as the lone star state continues to recover, the fallout of the winter storm is far from over. stephanie sy has our report. >> sy: in texas, finally, a little relief from the frigid temperatures that resulted in a statewide electrical grid failure. temperatures today in major cities like austin, houston, dallas and san antonio hit above 65 degrees. but across the state, texans continue to struggle with the lingering impacts of the winter storm that at its peak left 4.5 million customers without power. elda gamero lives in a mobile home with her two daughters-- four year old belen, and 14- year-old kendy, who helped
interpret for mom. >> we took her to the car to keep her warm with the car heater. she's my four year old daughter started to cry in the car and said, "mom, please, i don't want to go inside the house. it's too cold." >> sy: the iide of their mobile home was colder than outside. power only came back yesterday. they still lack hot water. >> and so we prayed to god every night. we said, god, thank you for keeping us alive. thank you for giving us family and, sunday night, that sunday morning, that power back and the water, we were grateful to god because we got our home back. >> sy: what's more, residents have reported astronomical spikes in electric bills, some sky-rocketing thousands of dollars, a result, in large part, of the state's unregulated energy market. texas lt. governor dan patrick spoke to reporters today. >> we're going to find a solution to that problem.
i don't know what that solution is today, but i don't want panic out there. >> sy: over the weekend, residents who were able to make it to grocery stores were met with empty shelves. the severe weather disrupted the state's food supply, leaving many families hungry. texans are still lining up for bottled water. as of this morning, 8.8 million residents remained under water boil advisories and roughly 120,000 had no running water at all. for a deeper look at the litany of issues facing texans, and the resulting political fallout, i'm joined by alana rocha. she is a multimedia journalist with the "texas tribune," and she joins me from austin. alana thank you so much for joining us. i know that you have been talking to a lot of texas residentsk some of whom still can't get basic essentials, get food from the grocery store, hot water. tell me what everybody is still going through there in texas an
what thoar's feeling. >> just before i spoke with you i got a text message saying that i think my boil water notice had been lifted here in south austin. but a lot of people don't know if their water is safe to drink. there still food shelves that you just showed that are empty. i have a husband currently going around town trying to find our 18 month old some milk. atb and the other grocery stores are assuring people that trucks are coming in and trying to restock. but yeah, this is months on end after the pandemic where again we're almost at the start of the pandemic, as of last year, where people again are not able to find basic sinls and waiting for-- essentials and waiting for safe water. most homes are now restored as far as power goes but of course the next thing people are nervous are what kind of bills are people going to get for that energy they've been burning. >> are people calling for political accountability? what has the political fallout been well w, well, you saw the
governor in the beginning call for resignations at the company that manages the power grid as well as investigations into this, you've also seen the attorney general issue statement as long those lines that they were looking into, investigating exactly what happened, why the grid went down, the rolling blackouts turned into days long blackouts for many people here in texas am you are calling for resignations and also calling for a lot of lawmakers under a fine eye, ted cruz traveled to cancun and got a lot of backlash for leaving a cold house in houston to take his daughters across the border. attorney general and his wife senator we also learned were in utah last week. so a lot of black eyes right now on thetate leadership and looking to point the finger elsewhere and figure out what happened and what they can do to rectify it fast. >> and texas, one of the sources of pride from what i understand
for texas is the fossil fuel industry and the sense of energy independence. do you think that's going to change that conversati in light of the last week? >> it is unclear. i think the de regulation will change as far as going the other direction but as far as going under federal oversite and things like that, you have seen former long time governor rick perry, former energy secretary saying you know, texas can weather a few days in the dark it was more dire for a lot of texan thans just sitting in the dark but rather than going under federal oversight but you have every agency here that even touches fossil fuel or the energy industry looking into this and seeing what they can do, maybe even outside of the lawmakers within their own authorities to enact changes fast. >> it was much more than texans being in the dark. i spoke to people today who were worried their children were going to freeze in their mobile hmes. there were also a delay on vaccations, we are in the midst of a pandemic still.
can you talk about you ho the winter storm affected the vaccination campaign there and how the state plans to catch up. >> yeah, our health reporter was all over that last week, one of them. and she reported that because trucks couldn't get in and shipments couldn't be delivered that we were expected to get 600,000 first doses and 300,000 second doses that didn't come in last week. we were supposed to inoculate another million people or at least give that many shots. and that all didn't happen. so you see them making up, people were even getting their second doses yesterday over the weekend, to try and make up for that. >> alana rocha with the texas tribune. you all have been doing some stellar reporting there. i'm so grateful for you coming on the newshour, thank you very much. >> thanks for having me. >> woodruff: all of us face the
risk that extreme weather events, like the one last week in texas, will become more common and more destructive occurrences because of climate change. former 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." the bill gates thank you very much for joining us. and i do want to start with texas. still reeling from what happened last week. do you think that this is something that could have been avoided? >> oh, absolutely. the reason that they had shut downs in all their power sources was aack of weatherization. they didn't expect to have these cold temperatures. all of those types of generators worked in states like north dakota and alaska that are far colder, but extra money was put in for weatherization. but the two things it does show us is that we're going to have
extreme events like this because of climate change. and the second is that whatever our plan is for electricity generation, we will have to keep it reliable. the toughest times are when it's supercold and when it's superhot. and dreeting the structure so we remain reliability is going to be an issue. >> and for those out there who are still questioning the connection between freezing temperatures in texas and global warming, what is the explanation? >> well, the world has had these wind patterns that keep cold fronts from up in canada from coming down into the midwest. and as those wind patterns break down, it just makes events like last week substantially more common. and so weirdly climate change involves more floods and more
drought. a lot of it is the extra heat, you know, where you won't be able to work outdoors at some point. but it also allows this type of cold event. >> well, let's talk about the book. it is as we've said on climate change. i think bill gates, many people know that you and your wife melinda gates have been very focused for areas on global poverty and health challenges. what many may not know is that you've also been very focused on climate. and the disaster that you say may be looming if we don't make big changes. you don't tackle the small problems, do you? >> no, in fact, it is the work of the foundation, where in africa sees that farmers were having their crops fail more often and also that they needed electricity that got me in about 2005 to really invest in learning. you know, how hard would this be to solve what was necessary.
so it started with that, but even though it is a problem for the entire world. >> woodruff: app you don't sugar coat the problem either. essentially you were saying that if by the year 2050 we don't take out 51 billion tons a year of carbon emissions, we're facing a disaster. what do you mean by that? >> well, i mean that the naturally systems die off like things like the coral reef, the beaches disappear, you have you know trees dying off. and in lots of wildfires. you have the ability to throw food in the southern-- grow food in the southern part of the u.s. is dramically reduced. in the world it will create literally tens of millions of climate refugees. because the closer you are to the equator the more unlivable that it gets.
so it makes the pandemic look small, the death rate by the end of the century would be over five times the worst of what we have had in this pandemic. >> woodruff: and when you say climate refugees, you mean literally people having to pick up and leave where they live. >> exactly. the poorest in the world live near the equator and they are subsys tent farmers. an when they don't see that they are able to feed their family that creates incredible instability and incredible migration so this will be the world's biggest migration ever as those areas become unlivable where they have crop failures and they aren't able to work outdoors. >> woodruff: what is so fascinating among other things about the book s that it's not the usual prescriptions. use solar peanls, recycle, think about electric vehicles. you're talking about a massive
change in virtually the way we do everything, the way we make things as you put it, the way we make electricity, how we make-- cement, steel, these are huge challenges that you are asking essentially the wealthiest countries in the world to take on. >> yeah, so the power-- is very strong in the united states, university, national lab, the willingness to take risks. so our responsibility is not just to get rid of our emissions but also to re-- reduce the cost of being green, to reduce the extra amount of what i call the green premium that you pay when you want to make something like steel or cement in a green fashion. and those premiums are very, very high. and unless we get them down, the middle income countries like india will continue to have
emotions which means that as long as you have emotions,-- emissions, sadly, because co2 stays in the atmosphere for thousds of years, the temperature keeps going on up. and that's why zero is what we need. and that is why an awareness of all sorts of emotions that add up to that 51 billion, it is trying to make sure it is not just the two that people try to understand the most, electricity and transportation. but also buildings, agriculture, and then manufacturing which is actually the biggest of all including large amounts just from steel and cement alone. >> but big changes in a sense in the way we live, and what we're surrounded by every day. >> well, hopefully the green premium for cement comes down we won't have to tang how we use it, likewise for driving, you know, as electric cars are the
cost is going down, the-- that is when in 10 or 15 years even without subsidies, the green premium will be zero, that is the electric car will be every bit as attractive and low cost as the gasoline car, which is why a private company like gm, you know, when they announce that they'll stop making gasoline cars in 2035, it's a rational thing, it's not a government requirement strks the market because we have through tax credits and other policies driven up the volume and then as you scale up, the competition innovation has approved the electric car, we have one category with a clear path to get rid of those emotions. now when need-- he megses, now we need to create that same innovation, scaleup exirn in all of the other sources of
emissions. >> woodruff: i also want to ask you about the terrible milestone we passed today as a country. in the pandemic, and 500,000 americans have now died as a result of covid-19. is that something that you thought in the beginning might happen, you have studied viruses, you have studied the science of what is taking place, did you expect this to happen? >> yeah, i gave a talk in 2015 and wrote a lot of articles titled we're not ready for the next pandemic. and the model showed had globally 30 million deaths from a flu. this could have been worse, that is the virus could have been more fatal, even so $500,000 just for our country which is the highest in the world, is so unbelievably-- large numbers
like that almost, you know, feel like a statistic. but if you know people, then it really brings home that these are people's grand parchts. this is touched us. and even the death as loan don't capture the full negative effects of this pandemic. >> you do say in the book, bill gates that we will get covid-19 under control in 2021. what does under control mean? what does it mean that we'll be heading back to something approaching normal again. >> so the virus is some what seasonal. that is in the colder months, and for a variety of reasons it spreads a lot. so our goal has to be to as we get into summer, get the numbers way down. and then not experienced another wave in the fall. and of course vaccination by the
fall, should be burying the brunt of that. we'll still have some restrictions on public gatherings because as long as the disease is out there in other countries, you can still get big-- infection here f we get the vaccination levels up enough, this fall, you know, basically all the schools will be open, under some protocol, entertainment and travel will be open, and so you know, the economy will be on the mend in a big way. we'll still have some limits but you know, then when we get the entire world vaccinated, we really can start to build back in a huge way including things like the educational def fit-- deficit that the los of students have. the private sector with some help from the government has stepped up, i wish in climate
there was one magic thing like a vaccine you could invent and the problem would go away. unfortunately the scale, the number of things is much harder there. but the pandemic as bad as it has been, you know, the end is in sight. >> woodruff: you do say in the book that climate change must bigger challenge even than this pandemic. >> far bigger. some countries started diagnosing people early and kept the exponential spread down. australia hasn't had anything in terms of deaths or lack of schooling or restrictions that we have had. and we'll be doing postmortem. i know that this one, you know, in all, the foundation will be involved, in making sure that the right vevmentds are made this time, so we're ready for the next pandemic. that's a lot easier than solving climate change. >> bill gates, the book, the new
book is titled how to avoid a climate disaster. the solutions we have and the break throughs we need. thank you very much. we appreciate it. >> great to talk to you >> woodruff: syria is entering its tenth year as a multi-front battlefield. civilians seek refuge from the brutal regime of bashar al- assad. and a residual u.s. force remains in the northeast, guarding against the return of isis. for years, the u.s.' closest partner in that effort was a group of syrian kurds, an ethnic minority who also fought assad. amna nawaz talks to an author whose new bookpotlights a unique part of that fight. >> nawaz: in the years-long battle to retake northeastern syria from isis, a small but powerful band of fighters led the way the women of the y.p.g.,
a syrian kurdish force, they fought alongside their male counterparts and face to face against isis. author and joualist gayle tzemach lemmon spent years reporting on their stories, including for the pbs newshour. her nebook, daughters of kobani, tells those stories, and gayle joins me now. always good to see you. congratulations on the book. and tell us about the daughters of kobani. how did you first hear about them and what made you want to tell their story? >> thank you. great to be here. i first heard about them because one of the u.s. special operations soldiers who was part of the book i had written, "ashley's war," called me from syria in the sumr of 2016. and she said, gayle, you have to come. i'm working in syria with this partner force where women are leading in battle and they're not just leading men, but they also have the full respect of the men they fight with. and the u.s. special operations soldiers have just enormous respect. and she said and not only that, it's not just that they're
fighting against isis, ty're fighting for women's equality. >> nawaz: and one of those women you tell us about is a woman named klarra, you meet her in raqqa here, actually is apart from one of your reports for the pbs newshour from back in august of 2017. >> she is part of the kurds own all women fighting force known in kurdish as the y.p.g. they have fought and died right alongside their brothers in arms, and some of the most celebrated fighters, including snipers, come from their ranks. she took us to rocca's frontline to the site of a still smoking isis car bomb attack. >> ( translated ): they know they are surrounded and can't survive. >> her forces, she says, draw strength from the unique and turbulent history of the kurdish people in takami. >> ( translated ): it is revenge for the atrocities and injustices that the kurds have suffered in the past. >> nawaz: gail, what is it that made women like clara want to take up arms and organize and
fight against isis in the first place? >> these were women who originally took up arms to protect their neighborhoods in the chaos of the syrian civil war. they we just trying to protect their towns and their neighborhoods and their homes from outsiders and to protect the se governance experiment they had built that had women's equality right at the center of what they were building. then comes isis and this showdown truly that you could not invent if you tried between the men who bought and sold women as central to their ideology, the men of the islamic state who come to the town of kobani and they face off against this little force at a time when isis had never lost that kept standing up to it. and this force really had women's emancipation and women's equality right at the heart of who they were. and then the americans come in and catapult this force onto the global stage and they together hand isis its first loss. >> nawaz: you mentioned, of course, that work they did alongside u.s. special forces,
but they are not without controversy, right? i mean, they're fighting force. the y.p.g. is fighting terrorists in the form of isis, t they're also affiliated with another group, the p.k.k., that the u.s. and turkey and others consider to be terrorists. so what was that relationship like with u.s. forces? >> and the relationship is actually one of deep trust and respect. and the u.s. has and really the story has to go into this and does go into this for readers of this policy tightrope that the americans have walked, which said the syrian kurds are different than the p.k.k. from which they are an offshoot. and you've said we chose this syrian partner because they are the best hope we have in fighting and holding terrain from the islamic state. >> nawaz: gail, these women, of course, their kurdish goals were kind of brought into alignment with u.s. goals in the fight against isis, but we all know after then a lot of those syrian kurdish forces were kind of left to their own. having defeated isis. they then had to face a turkish invasion without u.s. support. what does that mean for all these women? where are they now?
>> so i often joke i have much more hope in northeastern syria than in northwest washington, because regardless of the setback, they continue to push forward. i was in northeastern syria about six weeks after the turkish backed incursion. and what stunned me actually was how much of what they have built and this experiment in women's equality that still stands in all the towns they took for isis, except for two that are now occupied by turkish backed forces. they have women heading every council. they have women's councils in every town there. so they continue to have women right at the center of their experiment in grassroots participatory democracy that's aimed at self-rule. >> nawaz: fascinating stories of women on the front lines, they're now being developed, i understand, into a mini series coming to an even broader audience. the book is "the daughters of kobani." the author is gayle tzemach lemmon. thank you so much, gail. good to see you. >> great to see you.
>> woodruff: it is a time of political peril for the seven republican senators who wanted 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 looks at the ongoing fallout. >> alcindor: for weeks, the g.o.p. identity crisis has been in free-fall. differences deepened soon after this moment... >> is the respondent, donald john trump, guilty or not guilty? >> alcindor: ...the moment when the senate formally acquitted former president trump, largely along party lines. the votes of seven republicans in favor of convicting him set off a firestorm amid local g.o.p. officials. the first senator targeted by his home state was louisiana's bill cassidy. the state republican party
censured him that very same day. just two days later, north carolina's richard burr was also censured by his state g.o.p. and republicans are considering censuring at least three others: maine's susan collins, nebraska's ben sasse, and pennsylvania's pat toomey. after he was censured, cassidy spoke to “abc news” and stood by his vote. >> i'm attempting to hold president trump accountable. and that is the trust that i have from the people that elected me. and i am very confident that as time passes people will move to that position. >> alcindor: in a statement, burr also defended himself. he said, “my party's leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the republican party.” despite voting to acquit the former president, senate minority leader mitch mcconnell joined in. he blasted president trump in a speech saying he was“ practically and morally responsible” for inciting the siege at the capitol. at the heart of these battles is a fight to define what being a
republican really means, says perry bacon jr., of the news site “538.” >> i think the mitch mcconnell vi of republicanism is focused on lower taxes, smaller government, and that kind of fiscal conservatism. and the view of the more of the republicans at the state level, really the ones allied with trump is we're talking about the kind of anti multiculturalism, identity politics of the right. >> alcindor: bacon says the backlash against republicans criticizing former president trump is a reflection of how state and local parties have changed during the trump era. >> the average state party in america is run by somebody who's gotten picked in the last two or three years and is very, very pro trump. and in their view, being a republican and being pro trump are the same thing. >> alcindor: indeed, the wyoming g.o.p. censured the number three house republican, liz cheney, for voting to impeach president trump. but most house republicans recently voted to keep her in leadership. in neighboring nebraska, local g.o.p. pressure has been
building to censure senator ben sasse. he has been ratcheting up criticism of president trump's post-election behavior. before senate trial proceedings began in enest, he taped this video confronting local critics. >> pitics isn't about the weird worship of one dude. >> alcindor: but one county chair in nebraska told me outright, the trump agenda remains the party's north star. kolene woodwd, of scotts bluff county, wants sasse punished. >> nebraska overwhelmingly voted for president trump, meaning president trump's values and the make america great agenda. we wanted senator sasse to go ahead and reflect those values in d.c. >> alcindor: meanwhile, in pennsylvania, senator pat toomey also faces a possible censure. but one local party leader who disagrees with the senator's vote to convict president trump said it's a waste of time to go after toomey. sam demarco chairs the g.o.p. committee in allegheny county, which includes pittsburgh. >> in order to be a big tent party, you have to be open to
many. and i want moderates to recognize that they have a home here in the republican party and that they're welcome as well. >> alcindor: still, bacon thinks state and local republicans' loyalty to the former president means in some places, he has already won the battle for the party's future. >> at that local level, the civil war is over. in washington it's a little more complicated because mitch mcconnell is still the leader of the republican party in the senate and he's on the other side of the civil war. >> alcindor: this weekend, former president trump plans to speak at a popular conservate conference. that could ratchet up even more pressure on the republicans who defied him. for more on the divides in the republican party and more, it's time for politics monday. i'm here with amy walter of the cook political report. and tamara keith of npr. of npr, thanks so much for being here, ladies. amy, i want to start with you. as the report laid out the gop war continues to deepen. this weekend former president trump is going to be delivering his first speech since leaving
the white house. what do you think-- how do you think the decisions that he makes going forward in this speech are going to impact the gop on a national and local level. >> well, that's a really good question. and i think none of us are will know the impact that donald trump is going to continue to have. it's only been a month since joe biden has been president. and obviously so much of the focus of the first month of the biden administration was on something that was very personal which of course was impeachment. the personal to donald trump and personal to those who support him. what does he do in the weeks and months leang up to the mid-term election? he's got a lot of money in the bank. but as a candidate, he didn't intend t spend much of that money on anything but his own candidacy. he is not particularly interested in building the party. he is much more interested when it is his name on top of the ballot. and we also really don't know what happened when donald
trump's name isn't on the ballot. we saw in 2018 when he wasn't, republicans really struggled. they obviously lost control of the house that year. when he was on theallot, they did a whole lot better. the other thing i just want to note, i don't know that the party itself ask divided. i think it's pretty clear that donald trump controls the party. ani think that it's really a fissure as terry pointed out within washington. it is really not a divide among republican voters right now. >> and amy, you are saying that president trump really remain-- remains in control. tam, i want to come to you. what do we expect to hear from the president this weekend, especially as we think of the fact that the president has hinted that he wants to continue to remain in control and sources close to the president told me he wants to be a key player in this gop. what do you think he's going to say and what do we think for the future of this country?
>> cpac is the conference for republican diehards and has become a very frumpy place, a very frumpy vehicle ever since he gave a speech there as he was running for president. and so in a way he is returning back to his home, he is returning back, and his message, i fully expect to be don't count me out. you know, he had been really silent all through impeachment and all past impeachment, until rush limbaugh passed away. and then he did some interviews, but it really didn't generate a lot of heat or noise. and the reality is that he is accustomed to being the loudest one in the room. he's accustomed to dominating all attention. and he's not the president any more. people don't automatically have to put him on tv. and so he is getting his grounding and certainly c-pac is a chance for him to say i'm
here, i'm not going away, and anyone who voted against me or spoke out against me, is not a real republican. >> amy, meanwhile in the house, the lawmakers are preparing to vote on president biden's 1.9 trillion covid relief plan but there isn't any sense or any indication that republicans on the hill will vote for it even one republican. but the bill does sound to be, and seems to be very popular among americans. i want to read to you, "the new york times" survey poll shows 72% of americans approve of the plan. what kind of pressure does that put on republicans in d.c. and what does that meanor the white house? >> well, the interesting thing about the poll right now and we know about polls in general is that things are really popular until they're not. and what we've seen at least in most recent history of when one party pushed a piece of legislation with party line vote
only, so in the donald trump era it was tax cuts, those were never mop lar. i think it's maybe got something like 30% approval, mostly republicans whoic looed it. everybody else felt either lukewarm or negative about it and it never got any more popular even after it passed. and en there was health care in the obama era which obama came in with a realldeep well of good will on the issue. but by the time we got to the end of the summer of 2009, remember that was the summer of the tea party protests and death panels and those really contentious townhall meetings, the president, president obama's approval rating on health care dropped 30 points. and suddenly the of issue of health-care reform was no longer as popular as it was in the beginning. so to me if i'm deocrats right now, yes, you can count on at least for now, this is really popular but it means you need to deliver on the things that they say that they will be able to
do. are you going to get vaccines out in time. are we going to see better production and distribution? are schools going to be open with all of the money now going into those institutions? what about state and local ability to get these tests out to people who need them. and there's also the question too of what happens if there is some mismanagement of money by some of the voaks who end up getting it. that could make what is right now very popular, not quite as popular in the coming months. >> and pam, some of the thing-- tam, some of the things amy just laid out, to get them done, president biden saying he needs a cabinet. we are seeing nominees have hearings and some get confirmed in the senate. but the biden administration is running into problems especially when it comes to tenet, the office of management and budget, tell me a bit about what the political implications are for president biden and his nominees especially when you look at
tanden. >> so with tanden, they made a calculation, they knew she was a controversial figure. they knew she had a trve of mean streaks directed to everyone from bernie sanders to everyone in the senate who would be voting on her nomination but they made the calculation that she would be a good director of the offi of management and budget and they only needed 51 votes or 50 plus. you know, essentially that they could do it with democrats alone. well, they lost joe manchin and they are losing an increasing number of moderate republicans who say they are just not willing to do it. and the white house is standing by her. they all along said she wasn't a sacrificial lamb. but here's the thing with nominations and confirmation. they r you know, the white house is always standg behind you until they're not. and we don't know where this is going. and how much plitd kal good will they want to expand on this one nomination.
they have a lot more they need to get through. >> and amy, i want to come to you, predent biden just marked 500,000 americans dead, frm covid-19. what do you make of the silent approach given the predecessor. >> you know, i think given where we've come in this year, the tragedy is kind of unspeakable. and i do think that what americans are seeing right now, well, we may be divided on so many things, this is one area in which i think people can finally unite around this, arch that is uniting in support, uniting in comfort, and uniting in grief. >> ten seconds, tam, but i want to also let you get in here on this covid pandemic and the 500 americans dead. >> yeah, president biden said on the eve of his inauguration and repeated it today, to heal you need to remember. that is a very different approach than his edecessor took to all of these
lives lost but it's also an indication that president biden knows that he owns this and he wants to own this and share that mourning with america. >> thank you so much, lady, amy walter and tamara keith. >> you'reelcome. >> woodruff: thank you all three, and those pictures from the white house, remembering 500,000 we've lost, moments and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> the kendeda fund. committed to advancing restorative justice and meaningful work through investments in transformative leaders and ideas. more at kendedafund.org.
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