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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  March 7, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, march 7: covid relief for millions is one step closer as the american rescue plan edges the finish line. >> sreenivasan: and in our signature segment: the effort to permanently protect land in oak flat, arizona. next on “pbs newshour weekend.” >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the anderson family fund. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. barbara hope zuckerberg.
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the leonard and norma klorfine foundation. the peter g. peterson and joan ganz cooney fund. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering no-contract wireless plans, designed to help people do more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you. to learn more, visit additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thank you for joining us. the partisan divide in congress
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and beyond dominated conversations today one day after the senate passed president biden's $1.9 trillion covid-19 economic relief bill without a single republican vote. the bill now returns to the house where democrats have a majority, but also face overwhelming republican opposition. west virginia senator joe manchin, a moderate democrat and critical swing vote, successfully pushed to lower federal unemployment benefits from $400 per week to $300 in the final hours of yesterday's marathon voting session. but manchin rejected the idea that fellow democrats now have to follow his agenda. >> i look for that moderate middle. the common sense that comes with the moderate middle is who i am. that's what people expect. my state of west virginia, they know me, they know how i've governed. i've tried to basically represent them in the best of my ability. >> sreenivasan: yesterday, president biden said he will continue to seek support from republicans as he moves forward with other priorities including voting rights legislation. today, on the 56th anniversary
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of the attack on civil rights marchers by state troopers in selma, alabama, which became known as “bloody sunday,” president biden signed an executive order promoting access to voting. >> i am signing an executive order to make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and improve access to voting. every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. >> sreenivasan: in his pre-taped remarks played at an event in selma this morning, the president also urged the senate to take up h.r. 1-- a voting rights and anti-corruption bill, which passed along partisan lines in the house last wednesday. mr. biden did not attend this year's commemoration of the 1965 march. coronavirus pandemic restrictions required smaller than usual attendance instead of the usual large crowds walking across selma's edmund pettus bridge. for more on president biden's executive orders, his legislative agenda, the stimulus plan and the partisan divide, special correspondent jeff greenfield joins us from santa barbara, californ.
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jeff, what's the most striking aspe to you about this legislation? >> it's how enormous the covid package is in the face of the 50/50 senate. biden came in with a $1.9 trillion package and came out of the senate with a $1.9 trillion package without a vote to spare. i just think that is really quite astonishing and perhaps unprecedented. >> sreenivasan: there's also a lot of progressives, a lot of democrats wondering, okay, we couldn't get minimum wage in there. we had to make concessions about unemployment insurance to really came down to democratic senators that we were trying to convince the whole time. >. when bernie sanders called for an up or down vote on minimum wage, he only got 42 votes, couldn't g close to 50, even with democrats. so, the idea that you are getting this much help for state and local governments for mass transit, for renters who are facing eviction, a big increase in the accessibility to obamacare, to do that, okay, you give up what you can't win to
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get what you can. i don't think there's going to be too much pushback on this. >> sreenivasan: all right. so, best case scenario, the legislation goes tthe house. they pass it, again, we're what are the broader implications? >> well, the first question is, will this work? will it supercharge the economy? will it lead to an enormous recovery? and will it validate those on the left who say we should be doing this kind of effort from the bottom up, not by giving tax cuts to the wealthy. and it will, to use the phrase, trickle down, or as even some democratic economists worry about, is just going to trigger a massive bout of inflation. but if it works, you're going to have president biden in a very different position from his democratic predecessors. both bill clinton and barack obama had huge midterm losses because the public at that time wasn't signed on to their big initiatives. in this case, 75% of the country, by one poll, is supporting biden, and it suggests that at least he has the chanceavoid the historic
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midterm losses if this program works. >> sreenivasan: right now there is this grand tension playing out in front of our faces on how easy it is to vote, who should get the right to vote and under what circumstances, right. we are having this conversation on the anniversary of bloody sunday, it's the first time that john lewis hasn't been there for it, but how do you think this plays out? >> well, the president is signing an executive order to use the federal government to help increase the right to vote. my feeling, bluntly, is that's mostly symbolic. the power to decide who votes and how is largely in the hands of state legislatures, mostly republican. and they seem to be on a campaign, to be very frank, to restrict the ability to vote, whether it's canceling sunday voting, harder absentee ballot procedures. the democrats are putting a lot of faith in h.r. 1-- that's the name of this bill that's supposed to protect voting power. but you can't do that through reconciliation, that
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parliamentary procedure that got the covid package through. you either need 60 votes or you have to bust the filibuster. and two democratic senators, joe manchin and krystenn sinema, say we're not passing the filibuster. so, to me, it's a kind of chutes unless they figure out some way to get around that filibuster, what it means is that now that covid's passed, everything that the president and democrats want to do legislatively is going to be much, much harder because of that 60 vote barrier. >> sreenivasan: jeff greenfield joining from santa barbara, california. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: pope francis visited northern iraq today on the final leg of his historic trip to that country. the pope began his tour of the area in the torn city of mosul, once a headquarters for the islamic state in iraq. francis visited and prayed amidst the ruins of several christian churches that were destroyed during the islamic state's occupation of the region from 2014-2017. >> ( translated ): we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide,
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that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace is more powerful than war. >> sreenivasan: the pope then traveled to the nearby town of qaraqosh, where he addressed a full audience at a local church. he ended his visit in the city of erbil, capital of iraq's autonomous kurdistan region, where he said mass before a packed stadium. iraq's christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has declined precipitously, falling from 1.5 million in 2003 to just 300,000 today. protests against the military coup in myanmar continued today, with nine major trade unions calling on their members to shut down the country's economy starting tomorrow. the announcement came as it was revealed that an official from the national league for democracy party died last night while in police custody. no official cause of death was given, but a party leader said he suspected the man was tortured. tens of thousands of people protested the military coup again today in cities around the country. many of those protests were broken up by police using tear
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gas and stun grenades. according to the u.n. human rights office, 56 protesters have been shot and killed since myanmar's military overthrew the democratically elected government. an independent advocacy group for political prisoners reports that, as of yesterday, more than 1,700 people have been arrested. for the latest national and international news visit >> sreenivasan: last week, the biden administration paused a land transfer in arizona, that could have led to a massive copper mine. oak flat, arizona, about an hour east of phoenix, sits above one of the largest untapped copper reserves in north america, likely worth billions of dollars. but the land is also a sacred site for the san carlos apache and many other native american tribes. the transfer, if approved, would allow a private international company to use a controversial technique which even it admits would destroy the area.
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now, as special correspondent benedict moran reports, a group of apaches is hoping that the delay will help their lawsuit against the government to go forward in an effort to stop the mine altogether. >> reporter: for more than a year, wendsler nosie, a former chairman of the san carlos apache indian tribe, has camped out on this site in central arizona. in apache, it's called chich'il bildagoteel. or in english, oak flat. currently part of the tonto national forest, oak flat may soon be turned into a mine. that's what nosie is here to stop. >> this is a holy and sacred site where our deities reside. >> reporter: to nosie, this land is sacred-- not only to the apache, but to many native american tribes. as sacred, he says, as mecca or mount sinai. >> from time immemorial, when we go back to the very beginning, when we talk about our religion, when we talk about our ancient songs and our ancient ways, it
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all came from these places. >> reporter: oak flat is a popular destination, for both campers and rock climbers. in 1955, it was protected from mining by president eisenhower. for decades, mining companies tried, and failed, to pass legislation authorizing oak flat to be privatized. then, in 2014, then senator john mccain, just hours before the vote, added a land exchange deal to the national defense spending bill. it passed, and it gave the land to resolution copper, a subsidiary of mining giants rio tinto and bhp copper. now, with the land set to be privatized, nosie and other groups have recently sued the u.s. government to stop the mine from going forward. the opposition to this project focuses how the mining itself would take place. even the mining company agrees, were the project to proceed, oak flat, and many of the areas around it, would be completely destroyed. resolution copper is planning on using a controversial technique
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called block cave mining. it will create a crater two miles wide, and 1,000 feet deep. that's large enough to fit the eiffel tower. >> so, all of this that you're looking at here is all in line to collapse, subside, fall, into the earth. >> for decades, the project will meet more than a quarter of the nation's current copper demand. >> reporter: resolution copper did not agree to an interview, but in a statement and in promotional videos like this one, representatives from parent company rio tinto said the mine could provide up to one quarter of the united states' copper dema, pump billions into the economy, and create thousands of jobs-- especially in the nearby town of superior. mining is in superior's d.n.a. even the street names are inspired by it. a generation ago, mining provided the backbone of the town's economy. but when the old copper mine shut down in 1996, many residents left, forced to seek
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employment elsewhere. the population of superior is half of what it was at its peak. many stores here on main street have been boarded up for more than a decade. so, supporters of the mine stress that any investme is welcome. resolution copper is a big donor in superior. ey funded after-school education programs at the local high school, public art projects, and even the construction of a new playground. mayor mila besich comes from a long line of miners. my family's been here for five generations, and obviously my great grandfathers immigrated here because of mining. >> reporter: besich says even with an emerging alternative economy, superior needs the mine to survive. >> we're diversifying our economy. we have new restaurants, new activities coming into play. we have some other interest in our industrial park and hotels coming into the community. but mining is still going to be that base employer for our region. >> reporter: but the oak flat land swap has divided residents.
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>> i'll miss oak flats, i have a lot of fond memories at oak flats, but i think the economy and the jobs that this will provide outweighs the property's prior use. reporter: others are against it, worried about the environmental impacts, and fearing the economic benefits won't pan out. >> a lot of people who were supportive of the mine, were kind of, like, thinking, "oh, my gosh, it's going to go back to the way it used to be." but those days are gone, those days are gone. we're going to have a machine do what a man used to do or a machine doing that would do 20 times as one man. >> reporter: and there is the issue of mining of sacred land. mining giant rio tinto recently faced intense backlash for their treatment of sacred sites elsewhere. last year, while seeking to access high-grade iron ore in australia, the company blew up a cave that was sacred for aboriginal people. >> always was, always will be aboriginal land! >> reporter: it led to a global
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outcry and, in september, forced out the company's chief executive. archeologists say they hope to prevent the same destruction at oak flat, which is home to vast troves of remains, including pottery, and these ancient petroglyphs. but for the mine's opponents, it's not only about preserving the past. they say it's also about stopping historic injustice. apache ancestral lands once stretched from oklahoma to arizona, and down into mexico. when europeans colonized this area, they were quite convinced by the 1850's-- >> that there were large deposits of extraordinarily valuable minerals to be had, and that only the apaches stood in the way. >> reporter: by the end of the 19th century, apaches were killed, sent to prisoner-of-war camps, or forced onto reservations. one of the lawsuits seeking to reverse the landeal alleges the u.s. government promised to
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protect oak flat in perpetuity, onhe basis of an 1852 treaty. james anaya is the former u.n. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and dean of the university of colorado- boulder law school. >> by and large, u.s. law has sided with the conquest of native peoples and the taking of their rights and lands without fairness and genuine consent. >> reporter: he says the 1852 treaty, and other agreements guaranteeing the rights of native religion, should be respected. >> if we are going to apply the kind of thinking, that i would think we need to apply today on, that is, looking to restore the dignity of native people, people of color more generally, that is geared towards rooting out the legacies of racism in the past, a much more generous reading of thostreaties is required. >> reporter: resolution copper has said they will work with the apache, and other native
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american communities, to find an alternative siteor religious practices. but to wendsler nosie, there is no alternative to oak flat. he says he's not leaving, and is hoping for a good outcome in the courts. >> the united states must stop this project. and so, i have to put my hope and faith there. because for me, personally, it's going to really show me where the united states, having a second look, really stands on the issue of native people, the first people of this country. now that we sit here with these lawsuits in front of us, we're finally knocking on the door, but will that door open? >> sreenivasan: we've been bringing you a series of short stories om the indigenous
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community in yellowknife, canada, exploring alcohol abuse, addiction, resilience and healing. the "turning points project" from the global reporting center is a series produced, directed and authored by indigenous people who wanted to share their stories. catherine lafferty's full story can beound on our website at ♪ ♪ ♪ >> yellowknife is a drinking town. it's been interesting to see how alcoholism has affected our family through the generations. this is my grandma and papa out at, um, old fort rae. this is me and my mom and my dad. when my mom wasn't well, she was drinking heavily and couldn't take care of us, and that's when i lived with my grandma. looks like it's untouched since we've been here. my grandparents had six children; they had three boys and three girls. and they tragically lost all three of their boys.
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two of the deaths for sure were om alcohol-related incidents. so, it's taken a toll on our family. and the's just so many things that alcohol brings. you know, i've witnessed domestic violence. i've been in a domestic violent relationship. i had a partner that-- that was abusive, chose alcohol over his family, and, um, lost everything. so, i didn't feel like i could stay anymore. i wanted to change for myself and for my children. the only option i could see in front of me was going back to school. and so, i sold everything and i left. and unfortunately, i had to leave the north. it was very difficult. i was a single mother. i didn't know anyone and, um, i was barely able to afford food. and somehow we managed.
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ever since i graduated, my life has changed. i always thought, you know, people that are educated are way better than me. but then, when i walked into the school that day, i realized that i'm just the same, it's just that i've had to claw my way up. this is my book, "northern wildflower." i'm pretty proud of it. i just wanted to tell a story that people could relate to, especially young, indigenous women. and my story is about growing up in poverty; and growing up with a loss of identity and a loss of culture; and how education kind of saved me. when i go out on the land, i bring my children with me. woo! you're stranded. ( laughter ) you know, it's funny 'cause they don't ever really want to goor they complain and say, "i don't want to go." but then when they get there, they're completely different people. they're engaged. they're learning how to spear a fish, and check nets, and
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they're jgaining so much confidence in themselves. when they're in the city, i'm constantly worried that they're going to get in trouble with the law or they're going to go to some party and pass out in a snowbank. i kind of let them know, because of family history, it's probably just best to stay away from alcohol. so, i have to make sure that i'm leading by example. and sometimes, you know, i'm-- i'm not perfect. and, um, i'm working on myself. my mother is now working on herself. um, and it's, it's nice to see. ♪ ♪ ♪ wouldn't it be nice to live out here? so, this site is where i'd like to eventually build my home. i have to apply for a permission to occupy with my land. then it goes through a land department approval. and then it will go to the chief
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and council to approve. basically, it's just staking a claim. if i were to be able to have my home right here, it's just amazing. it's a dream. just to be able to live off-grid, where i have solar power, and you know, live pretty free without bills. this is what our people should be doing. we should be coming out and staking our claim. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> sreenivasan: that's all for this edition of “pbs newshr weekend.” for the latest news updates visit i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. stay healthy and have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the anderson family fund. bernard and dene schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. barbara hope zuckerberg. the leonard and norma klorfine foundation. the peter g. peterson and joan ganz cooney fund. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. additional support has been provided by: consumer cellular. and by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private cooration funded by the american people.
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and byontributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
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(crowd chattering, flash bulbs popping) man: testing one, two. testing one, two. (microphone feedback squeals) (crowd chattering, flash bulbs popping) ♪ ♪ narrator: in the spring of 1939, marian anderson was one of the most famous entertainers in the world, known to millions as the ice of the century. but as she rehearsed in the shadow of the lincoln memorial, it was all she could do to keep her nerves in check. in a few hours, anderson was to sing a free concert for tens of thousands of spectators here, and for millions more listening on the radio coast to coast.


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