PBS NewsHour full episode, Apr. 19, 2021

PBS NewsHour full episode, Apr. 19, 2021

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AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening. I'm Amna Nawaz. Judy Woodruff is away. On the "NewsHour" tonight: gun violence in America. More deadly mass shootings across the country this weekend, as Indianapolis mourns and leaders call for action. Then: closing arguments. The prosecution and defense wrap up their cases in the murder

trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Plus: ingenuity. NASA scientists celebrate another first, this time taking flight on Mars.

And playing Lady Day on the big screen, revealing the troubling history of the United States vs. Billie Holiday. ANDRA DAY, Actress: It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. Even the worst moments, even the most painful moments, it was a lesson in filmmaking. It was a lesson

in making art, a lesson in authenticity and bravery. AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: The nation is convulsed again by a new spasm of shootings and the debate over how to stop them. Today, police in three states investigated weekend attacks, those on the heels of last week's shooting in Indianapolis. DENNIS BUCKLEY, Mayor of Beech Grove, Indiana: We often watch this on television. It's far away and it will never happen to us. But it did.

AMNA NAWAZ: As Indianapolis grieves the eight lives lost in last week's shooting at a FedEx facility, new information emerges about the gunman, 19-year-old former employee Brandon Scott Hole. Authorities say that, last year, he legally bought the two assault rifles used in the attack, months after his mother warned police her son might attempt suicide by cop. Under Indiana's red flag law, authorities seized a weapon from Hole, but a court hearing to determine if he was fit to own a gun never happened.

RYAN MEARS, Marion County, Indiana, Prosecutor: This case does illustrate some of the shortcomings that exist with this red flag law. AMNA NAWAZ: Marion County prosecutor Ryan Mears. RYAN MEARS: He was treated by mental health professionals. They didn't simply commit him. They didn't prescribe him any additional medication. And he was cut loose. And so, for us, the risk is, if we move forward with that proceeding, and we lose, guess what happens? That firearm goes right back to that person.

AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, a string of more shootings over the weekend, three of them within 24 hours, in Kenosha, Wisconsin; Austin, Texas; and Shreveport, Louisiana. Around 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, in a Kenosha tavern, a gunman killed three people and injured three more. Police say the suspect, now in custody, targeted the victims. One witness described the scene.

PETER PLOSKEE, Witness: I hear gunshots going off, get up out of bed, go run to the north side of my house, look out the window, look across the street. I just see all sorts of people running from the bar. AMNA NAWAZ: Later that morning in Austin, a former sheriff's deputy allegedly shot and killed three people at an apartment complex. Police say the suspect, 41-year-old Stephen Broderick, was arrested today. And late Sunday evening in Shreveport, at least five people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds after shots were fired into a crowd. No suspects have yet been identified.

These multiple shootings follow a spike of other high-profile mass shootings. Let's look now at the efforts to change laws and what we know about how well those laws work. Champe Barton is with The Trace, a news organization dedicated to reporting on gun violence.

Champe, welcome to the "NewsHour" and thanks for being here. Let's talk about your reaction to that news we have now about the Indianapolis shooter. His first gun was confiscated. There was supposed to be a red flag hearing that never happened that might have prevented him from buying the other two weapons, is our understanding. So, what happened. There was a system in place, and it just didn't work?

CHAMPE BARTON, The Trace: Yes, I mean, this is not entirely uncommon that you have a system that, in theory, should prevent one of these events from happening, but, in execution, it falls short in some way. I think the thing to note here is that the -- it is not a sure thing that implementing this red flag law and making a red flag determination and confiscating this guy's weapons and then preventing him from future purchases would have stopped him from what he eventually ended up doing. It is entirely possible that he could have bought a gun on the private market afterwards. But, certainly, this red flag determination could have made a difference. AMNA NAWAZ: So, put some of these headlines into context for us. We have been seeing report after report of groups shooting after group shooting.

There was this sense that, during the pandemic or lockdown, that gun violence dropped. Is that actually what happened? What does the data show? CHAMPE BARTON: Yes, so that's actually not what happened. Gun violence is at a higher rate last year than it had been in any of the previous five, maybe more years, all the years that we had on record. We published a story on this recently. But, yes, gun violence has been higher than ever. Even mass shootings, as defined by the Gun Violence Archive as more -- four or more people injured or killed, not including the shooter, even those were up higher than they'd ever been. So, gun violence has been surging throughout the pandemic. And most frequently, it's not

these sorts of incidents like we see in Indianapolis, where it is a sort of lone-style shooter we have seen before and that has sort of captured the fascination of the country. It's more frequently sort of more routine gun deaths that happen as part of community conflicts in cities across the country. And like I just said, those deaths were sort of higher than they'd ever been last year. AMNA NAWAZ: So, when you talk about gun violence in America, who are some of the communities who are deeply and more disproportionately impacted? CHAMPE BARTON: Yes, I mean, it's predominantly city neighborhoods that are majority Black and majority low-income that are affected by this kind of gun violence. And this is true of the mass shooting violence that we see in the country. And it's also true of the sort of drumbeat of regular gun violence that we see.

The only thing where -- the only form of gun violence where Black people are not sort of the disproportionate -- or don't accept a disproportionate share of the deaths, suicides, which these red flag laws do have a chance and have proven in some studies to be pretty effective at reducing. AMNA NAWAZ: We do know that these mass attacks do tend to generate a lot of attention, though, right? And the president has been asked about it. He called these latest spike in shootings a national embarrassment. And President Biden has also introduced some executive action when it comes to addressing gun violence, right? When you look at those steps he's taken, what kind of a difference would those make in addressing our gun violence problem? CHAMPE BARTON: Most of them were not any new laws that would exist on the books immediately.

They were suggestions -- or it was requiring the Department of Justice to put together laws that would prevent certain things. But we don't have an idea of what those laws would look like. There was also an ask that the federal government put together sort of some boilerplate red flag law, model legislation that other states could adopt. But, again, that would not necessitate

that these states adopt the law. The one thing that -- the one executive action that would absolutely have an effect, it would seem, at least according to researchers and activists, is that he pledged $5 billion to support community gun violence interventions. And that is more money than has ever been proposed to address these sorts of problems. And it's more money that has ever been proposed to invest into these communities that experience the vast majority of gun violence. And there is pretty robust research to suggest that the interventions that would be targeted with this money would have an effect on reducing the number of shootings and gun deaths that happen in these cities, like we talked about before.

AMNA NAWAZ: What about the NRA? With them now in bankruptcy proceedings, is there a sense that their influence is waning with lawmakers? CHAMPE BARTON: It's hard to say. It's absolutely true that the NRA is sort of weaker than it's ever been, as a result of all the things you just mentioned. However, the Republican Party has sort of absorbed the NRA's talking points and this idea of sort of gun rights absolutism. And that is the party line now. And I don't think, at least -- this is just my personal opinion. I don't see a real reason to be super optimistic that the party line is going to shift simply because the NRA is weaker, because this has become sort of a Republican Party platform plank, as much as it already is sort of an NRA plank.

AMNA NAWAZ: Champe Barton of The Trace, thanks so much for joining us tonight. CHAMPE BARTON: Thanks for having me. AMNA NAWAZ: We will take a deeper look at the live last in Indianapolis shortly.

But, first, let's turn to the other major story of this day, the closing arguments in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. The verdict will be closely watched in Minnesota and around the country, with many cities bracing for protests, marches and potential unrest. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the final case made by prosecutors and Chauvin's defense. And a warning: The testimony includes some graphic images of what happened to George Floyd. PETER CAHILL, Hennepin County, Minnesota, Judge: You have now heard the evidence.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Today's closing arguments culminated over two weeks of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial, with both sides revisiting video seen extensively throughout the trial, beginning with prosecutor Steve Schleicher. STEVE SCHLEICHER, Minnesota Prosecutor: This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It's what you felt in your gut. It's what you know now in your heart. This wasn't policing. This was murder. The defendant is guilty of all three counts, all of them. And there's no excuse.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Chauvin is charged on three counts, with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in the second degree. STEVE SCHLEICHER: Nine minutes and 29 seconds, nine minutes and 29 seconds, he was trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down, pushing him, a knee to the neck, a knee to the back, twisting his fingers, holding his legs for nine minutes and 29 seconds, the defendant's weight on him. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Although the Floyd case sparked debate in Minneapolis about reforming, even abolishing the police, prosecutors said, that's not what this trial is about. STEVE SCHLEICHER: Make no mistake, this is not a prosecution of police. It is a prosecution

of the defendant. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Chauvin took notes by hand throughout the prosecution's statements, but notably removed his mask for his own lawyer's closing arguments. For his part, defense attorney Eric Nelson also used police bodycam video, which he said demonstrated that Chauvin's actions were reasonable in a fast-moving situation. ERIC NELSON, Attorney For Derek Chauvin: You can't limit it to nine minutes and 29 seconds.

It started 17 minutes before that nine minutes and 29 seconds. In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force, as unattractive as it may be. And this is reasonable doubt. There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied unlawful force. It's tragic. It's tragic. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: On the cause of Floyd's death, Nelson discounted testimony from several prosecution witnesses who said it was asphyxia caused by Chauvin's actions. Nelson said they

had cherry-picked video, and argued that drugs and underlying disease were responsible. ERIC NELSON: Do not let yourselves be misled by a single still-frame image. Put the evidence in its proper context. The failure of the state's experts to acknowledge any possibility, any possibility at all that any of these other factors in any way contributed to Mr. Floyd's death defies medical science and it defies common sense. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The prosecution returned with a brief rebuttal.

JERRY BLACKWELL, Minnesota Prosecutor: Well, here's what I thought, then, was the largest departure from here, the evidence. I will show it to you. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: After jurors went into deliberations, Judge Peter Cahill denied a motion for a mistrial from defense attorney Nelson, who said he was concerned about the influence of intense media publicity.

MAN: And we stand united. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Outside the courthouse today, a prayer vigil was held with the families of Floyd and 20-year-old Daunte Wright, killed a week ago in a police shooting. In a metropolitan area on edge, there were also pleas from local leaders to maintain peaceful protests. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Fred de Sam Lazaro in St. Paul, Minnesota. AMNA NAWAZ: Now let's return to the impact of the shootings in Indianapolis. Eight people lost their lives last week at a FedEx facility there. We wanted to take

a moment to remember them and the legacies they left behind. Sixty-six-year-old Amarjeet Kaur Johal worked at the FedEx sorting facility to help support her family. Her granddaughter tweeted -- quote -- "After the passing of her mother, she never let her sisters feel that void. What a harsh and cruel world we live in." Samaria Blackwell, 19, was the youngest of four siblings. Her family remembered her as someone who -- quote -- "loved people," especially those of advanced age. She always found time to invest in the older generation.

Karli Smith, also 19, was born and raised in Indianapolis, where she graduated from high school just last year. Indianapolis Public Schools released a statement calling Smith "a bright light wherever she went." Amarjit Sekhon was a hardworking mother of two in her late '40s whose husband was disabled. She worked the overnight shift her son Diljot told reporters -- quote -- "just so that she could provide food for everyone in the house."

Thirty-two-year-old Matthew Alexander was a dispatcher at the FedEx facility and known for his big heart. A former co-worker told reporters -- quote -- "Everybody liked him. He was always saving somebody. He was a good kid." Jasvinder Kaur, 50, loved to cook and had hopes of bringing her son to the United States from India, but coronavirus delayed her plans. A relative told reporters -- quote -- "There's a saying that, when a mother loves, her love comes out in food. She was a mother to us." John Steve Weisert was a retired engineer working to earn some extra money on the side. Later this year he would've celebrated 50 years of marriage with his wife, Mary. The

oldest victim of the shooting, Weisert was 74. Sixty-eight-year-old Jaswinder Singh had just recently taken a job at FedEx. He was reportedly killed while waiting in line for his first paycheck. His nephew told reporters -- quote -- "He was always positive, always nice, and I never saw him angry." While we still don't know about the motive of the suspect, half of those killed were Sikh Americans. The Sikh community in Indianapolis has grown over many years, and is now mourning its losses.

Simran Jeet Singh is a senior fellow at the Sikh Coalition. He's been in contact with the families in Indianapolis. He's also a lecturer at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. And he joins me now. Simran, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thank you for being here. You have been in touch with those families. We can't imagine their pain right now. But

just give us a sense of what they are going through right now, what they are telling you. SIMRAN JEET SINGH, Sikh Coalition: You know, the Sikhs who lost loved ones in Indiana, as you can imagine, they're hurting, they're grieving, they're outraged, and they're frustrated. And they're also filled with determination and resilience. And, as I have listened to surviving family members, I have heard a fierce determination that their lives will not be lost in vain, and that moments like these are catalysts for meaningful action. And like all groups, the beauty of the Sikh community is that it doesn't have just one feeling about such a tragic event. The attack evokes historic trauma, feelings of deep solidarity with all of the impacted families. And it forces all of us to engage a very difficult

and a very public conversation about what it means to be American today. AMNA NAWAZ: Simran, as we mentioned, the police are still investigating a motive, if one is to be determined. But among the community on the ground, what is the feeling? Is there a sense that they were targeted in some way? SIMRAN JEET SINGH: Yes, I don't know what the officials will conclude, but I will share what we can see, that a disturbed young white man who shouldn't have had access to guns targeted a FedEx facility where Sikhs make up a large and visible population of the workers. And he killed Baptists and he killed Sikhs. And at the end of the day, a life is a life. And, at the same time, we can't look away from the pattern of hate violence that has targeted Sikhs in the recent past, including the 2012 massacre in Oak Creek, for one example. So, as a community, we're facing steep challenges, ranging from the farmers protests in India to standing shoulder to shoulder with groups targeted by white supremacists across America.

And our faith guides us to do so in ways that uplift ourselves and others, especially during difficult times like this one. AMNA NAWAZ: You mentioned that mass shooting that did target the Sikh community in Wisconsin back in 2012. Among the community, for families in there, can you tell us, even all these years later, how is that impact still felt? SIMRAN JEET SINGH: The impact of something like that never goes away. When your community is targeted, it leaves a scar in your collective psyche. And the

Sikh community is a visible, politically engaged and spiritually aware community. And there are times like, after 9/11 and after the Oak Creek massacre, where we felt targeted, even if Americans couldn't clearly describe who a Sikh is. And, today, we see ourselves as an active force in building a more just, a more equitable America. And in the process, we know that our high visibility will make us targets.

And although the reason for the targeting may change over time, our visibility puts us on the front lines against a regressive and a racist vision of America. And I think that part of our experience, this courageous vulnerability, that's part of our tradition, too. And it's one that comes with a steep cost. But it's also a commitment that I'm proud of and that I know many Sikhs are proud of. And I don't see any of us giving

up on our commitments anytime soon. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, all our hearts go out to all of those who lost a loved one in Indianapolis. And we're grateful to you, Simran Jeet Singh of the Sikh Coalition, for joining us tonight. Thank you.

SIMRAN JEET SINGH: Thank you. Glad to be with you. AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other news: Everyone in the United States 16 and older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. That last few states took that step today, on the heels of news that half of all American adults have already received at least one dose. White House officials said it's never been easier to get a shot. ANDY SLAVITT, Senior White House Adviser For COVID Response: There are now thousands of more people ready to help you get vaccinated. There are now millions more vaccine doses available and waiting. And there are now more than 60,000 safe and convenient places for

you to get your shot. AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, the World Health Organization projected the pandemic could be controlled within months, but it warned again of ongoing surges. India reported nearly 274,000 new cases today. New Delhi went under a one-week lockdown to

try to stem the rapid spread of the virus. There's word that U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died of two strokes the day after confronting pro-Trump extremists on January 6. The Washington, D.C., medical examiner concludes a chemical spray was not a factor in Sicknick's death. Instead, he says the overall stress of the riot did play a role. That could rule out homicide charges in the case.

In Russia, officials announced today they have sent jailed dissident Alexei Navalny to a prison hospital, but they insisted his health is satisfactory, despite a three-week hunger strike. The prison system said he will be treated at this hospital about 110 miles from Moscow, and that he's agreed to undergo vitamin therapy. Navalny's own doctor warned he could be near death. And supporters have called for nationwide protests on Wednesday. Firefighters in Cape Town, South Africa, have finally subdued a wildfire that burned a historic library. The blaze broke out early on Sunday, swept down the famous Table Mountain and into the University of Cape Town. The school's library had housed priceless African books

and manuscripts. DAN PLATO, Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa: The investigating teams need to determine the extent of the damage, cause of the damage. They will have to work very closely with the city of Cape Town and with other agencies. I am not in a position to say what the extent of the damage is right now in monetary terms. AMNA NAWAZ: Residents of nearby suburbs had to be evacuated, but there were no reports of deaths.

A powerful typhoon off the Eastern Philippines forced more than 100,000 people from their homes today and killed at least one person. The storm is the strongest ever recorded in April. It's not expected to make landfall, but heavy rains and waves are flooding low-lying areas. NASA has made history again, with the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet. On Mars today, the four-pound Ingenuity helicopter hovered 10 feet off the ground for 39 seconds.

It carried a piece of wing fabric from the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. We will have a closer look at this later in the program. The world of soccer shook today after 12 of Europe's largest and wealthiest soccer clubs announced plans to form a breakaway super league. It would feature 20 clubs, including England's Chelsea and Spain's Real Madrid. The plan drew heavy criticism from fans, broadcasters and UEFA, the governing body for European soccer.

ALEKSANDER CEFERIN, President, UEFA: At this moment, UEFA and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposals we have seen in the last 24 hours from a select few clubs in Europe that are fueled purely by greed, above all else. AMNA NAWAZ: The head of UEFA warned today that super league players could be banned from this year's European championship and next year's World Cup. And on Wall Street, stocks retreated as investors waited for first-quarter earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 123 points to close at 34077. The Nasdaq fell

137 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 22. Still to come on the "NewsHour": despite Israel's successful inoculation campaign, many remain resistant to the shot; how NASA's ingenuity makes space history by taking flight on Mars; Oscar nominee Andra Day on the painful history in "The United States vs. Billie Holiday"; plus much more. With the world's highest COVID-19 vaccination rate, Israel recently has begun employing a vaccine passport program. It's meant to give immunized people access to some degree of normality, one that's not available for those who haven't had shots. But, as special correspondent Martin Himel reports, the program's success in Israel is not mirrored in the Palestinian territories, where the virus runs rampant.

MARTIN HIMEL: For the Schreibman family, this is the real victory over the pandemic. Last Passover holiday, they conducted this feast virtually via Zoom. The vaccine has significantly reduced COVID in Israel. It's a special occasion for Hilla

and her daughter Yardin (ph). HILLA SCHREIBMAN, Israel: Are you happy the corona is not here anymore? CHILD: Yes. HILLA SCHREIBMAN: And that everything s open and all the family can be here together? Are you happy about that? CHILD: Yes.

HILLA SCHREIBMAN: This is our first gathering for -- in 13 months, and it is all because of the vaccine, which brought our life back together. MARTIN HIMEL: Israel has the highest per capita COVID vaccination rate in the world. Almost 60 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Another 10 percent have antibodies after recovering from COVID. Yuli Edelstein is Israel's health minister. YULI EDELSTEIN, Israeli Health Minister: We do have fans in stadiums. We do have people

praying in synagogues. We do have people in -- sitting in restaurants and cafes. And the numbers are still low. It is definitely a vaccine success story. MARTIN HIMEL: Along with the success, there are conflicts and challenges here, which Americans will probably encounter this summer as the immunization progresses. Israel is the first country to actually implement a vaccine passport, Bar 51 is one of the coolest night spots in Tel Aviv. But if you want to get in, you have to show a green passport. Moshiko Gamlieli is the owner. MOSHIKO GAMLIELI, Owner, Bar 51: It's a huge story about the vaccination, because, for me, we are open.

But now we have a problem that, at the door, I need to say, did you do the vaccine? If yes, you can come in. If not, you need to stay out. I hate the fact that I need to say to people, you are not allowed to get in. It is the opposite of what I do. MARTIN HIMEL: For those who decided not to vaccinate, they can only dine outside. YULI EDELSTEIN: Any country can issue a green passport only after offering a sufficient amount of the vaccines to the whole population. From the very beginning of the vaccination campaign, I said loud and clear there will be no mandatory vaccination in Israel.

MARTIN HIMEL: The vaccine rollout has not been easy. Ultra Orthodox Jews rioted against lockdowns and initially refused to take the vaccine. Vaccination among Israel's Arab citizens is still low. They experience higher levels of infection and illness. Young people largely avoided taking the vaccine. They did not feel threatened by COVID. The green passport provided an incentive for the young to vaccinate. If

you want to have an active social life, you need the document. Holmes Place is a popular Tel Aviv gym. In order to work out, you must have your green passport.

GABI MORDO, Vice President of Sales, Holmes Place: We met a lot of young people that took the vaccine only so they would be able to come to work out in the gym. So, we are like the candy of the vaccine, because people will take it and then they can come and work out. They want to go to nightclub. They want to go to celebration, to places that are closed, only for people that got vaccine. So, I think it helps. MARTIN HIMEL: Nadav Lev believes the green passport is denying his civil rights. He is

a musician, and, like 12 percent of the population, he refuses to take the vaccine. NADAV LEV, Musician: The vaccination is not safe enough for me. It has not been checked enough. Many of my musician friends, all the sound people, they got a text message saying that, if they're not going to get their vaccine, they can't get back to work. That's breaking

civil rights. YULI EDELSTEIN: The basic right of a person is to be healthy and to stay alive. And so we are all the time managing this crisis, taking into consideration the fact that we have to stick to basic democratic rules and to fight the pandemic.

Never easy. Always a challenge. No textbook to answer to any of these questions, I think we did OK. MARTIN HIMEL: Israel's high-tech economy has reopened. People are resuming their lives. But just 30 miles east of here is the Palestinian West Bank. Social distancing is still enforced. The economy is at a standstill, and there's only a trickle of vaccines for the Palestinian population.

Millions of Palestinians feel their rights are being violated by not being offered the vaccine from Israel. The Palestine Authority governs the semi autonomous West Bank, while Islamic Hamas rules the Gaza Strip. There is a 21 percent COVID infection rate in the West Bank. Intensive care units are

overflowing in what is now a third COVID wave. In Gaza, infections have spiked to over 1,000 new cases daily out of a Palestinian population of two million. There is also a severe vaccine shortage in Gaza. Omar Najar is a senior official in the Palestinian Health Ministry.

OMAR NAJAR, Palestinian Health Ministry: The situation is still very difficult, due to that there is no immunization for our people. We are immunizing less than 3 percent of our people, due to the shortage of the vaccinations. The occupation, according to international law, Israel is responsible for vaccination and to have the vaccines from them, according to these rules. MARTIN HIMEL: The Israeli government claims that, according to the 1993 Oslo peace accords, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for West Bank and Gaza public health. YULI EDELSTEIN: Palestinians have their health ministry and health ministry, and they should have been thinking of vaccinating half-a-year ago and eight months ago. Nothing prevented them from doing that.

A lot of Palestinians are alive today and survived the coronavirus because Israel was there with equipment, with medicine. MARTIN HIMEL: Israel is vaccinating over 125,000 Palestinians who work in Israel or in the West Bank Jewish settlements. The World Health Organization has arranged for 100,000 doses to inoculate Palestinian front-line workers.

Dentist Ghassan Toubasi was lucky enough to receive the Pfizer two-shot vaccine. GHASSAN TOUBASI, Dentist: We lost two dentists in Ramallah from the pandemic, two of my friends. After taking the second dose of the vaccine, I feel more comfortable. I have self-confidence in my job dealing with patients. MARTIN HIMEL: With continuous on-and-off lockdowns, thousands of Palestinians illegally cross into Israeli daily in search of work. They also bring with them COVID variants spreading

into the West Bank. That could one day hamper the efficacy of the COVID vaccine in Israel. OMAR NAJAR: Disease will not stop in Israel if it does not stop in Palestine. And Israel is trying to escape from this responsibility.

YULI EDELSTEIN: I am not sure we will ever be in a position to vaccinate the whole Palestinian population. I think it is their moral obligation towards their people to try to get the vaccines. We will help. We will help with whatever we can. MARTIN HIMEL: The vaccine has proven its worth, but it's not powerful enough to heal the political wounds between Palestinians and Israelis. For "PBS NewsHour," this is Martin Himel in Tel Aviv.

AMNA NAWAZ: Well, NASA has made plenty of history with spaceflights to Mars, but, today, a new chapter: It flew on Mars for the very first time. Miles O'Brien takes us out of this world. MAN: Altimeter data confirmed that Ingenuity has performed its first flight. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) MILES O'BRIEN: When the data and the early images came down proving history was made 180 million miles away, the Mars Ingenuity team erupted with joy.

Project manager MiMi Aung ripped up the contingency speech she wrote in case things did not go as well as they did. Ingenuity took off, hovered and landed on Mars, the first powered controlled flight on another planet. MIMI AUNG, Project Manager, Mars Helicopter: We can now say that human beings have now flown a rotorcraft on another planet. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) MILES O'BRIEN: Mars changes the equation for flight with wings or rotors. The gravity is about one-third of Earth's, and the carbon dioxide atmosphere is much thinner.

MIMI AUNG: It's about 1 percent compared to here right on Earth. Even though you're able to lift, right, you have to spin very fast to lift. Because the atmosphere is so thin you can't lift as much mass. MILES O'BRIEN: Here on Earth, helicopter blades typically spin about three or 400 revolutions per minute. Ingenuity's blades spin at about eight times faster, 2,400 RPMs.

The key challenge for the team, make the helicopter as small and light as possible to fit on Perseverance and to be flight-worthy. To find compact components, they didn't have to look much farther than their own smartphones. MIMI AUNG: The advancement of the cellular phone technologies, and, also, autonomous cars are also starting to have reliable lightweight sensors, right, and their lightweight computers on their phones. And drone community has also advanced electronic components. MILES O'BRIEN: Ingenuity is a technology demonstrator, so its goals are modest. The plan is to fly only five flights, no higher than 15 feet, no farther than 160 feet downrange, and no longer than a minute-and-a-half.

If history serves as a guide, Ingenuity could usher in a new era of mobile exploration on Mars. WOMAN: We have imaging data. MAN: Yes! MILES O'BRIEN: In 1997, the first Mars rover, Sojourner, was also a technology demonstration project. The size of a microwave oven, it led to larger and more capable successors,

Spirit and Opportunity in 2003, Curiosity in 2012, and now Perseverance. Lori Glaze is director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. LORI GLAZE, Director, NASA Planetary Science Division: The helicopters can actually help to do reconnaissance, to scope out a new site or actually to access places that we can't actually access, to collect samples, potentially, or carry scientific instrumentation to do some institute science from the helicopter. MILES O'BRIEN: Just as it was 118 years ago at Kitty Hawk, this first flight is likely just the beginning of a new era of aviation. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Miles O'Brien. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, President Biden is trying to build bridges, meeting today with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to sell his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

Lisa Desjardins explores the political cost. LISA DESJARDINS: The stakes are high both for President Biden and for congressional Republicans. And it is a great time for Politics Monday. Joining us, of course, our regular Politics Monday duo. That is Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR. All right, let's start with this Biden plan. I am just going to call it, say, the infra-clima-equi-structure

plan, this big Biden plan. He had the meeting today, Tam, with, again, bipartisan group of lawmakers. What exactly is the president trying to do here? And is it working? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: I think what is notable about the bipartisan group that came by the White House today is that it is similar to what the Biden administration did to try to build bipartisan support or a bipartisan coalition for the big COVID-19 relief bill. They reached outside of Washington to mayors and governors to be able to say, hey, especially from mayors, we have got bipartisan support. There's a joke about mayors -- or that mayors tell about themselves, that there's no Democratic or Republican potholes. There's just potholes. And when you're mayor, you just have to deal with those things.

And the members of Congress who came over to the White House were either former mayors or former governors. Now, whether they're actually going to get them to sign on, particularly the Republicans, is an open question. But someone like a Senator Mitt Romney came and he said that he felt that President Biden was open to discussing, and President Biden expressed this himself when the reporters were in the room, that he was open to discussing not just what is in the package, but also how to pay for it.

We're in this period -- and it is a long period of time -- between when the Biden administration announced their plan and the sort of informal deadline they have set for Congress to figure out whether it could possibly be bipartisan and what shape it's going to take. And so, every day, every few days, they are doing another event to show that they are working on it, to keep it in the public eye, to try to win over public and popular support, so that they can claim, like they did with the COVID relief bill, that it is bipartisan, even if it isn't supported by Republicans in Washington. LISA DESJARDINS: Amy.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Tam makes a really good point about this period in between when this big piece of legislation is introduced and when it finally, if it finally gets passed. That's the time when it gets defined. And if you are Democrats right now, the polling suggests that there's sort of mixed bag here on how popular this support is. We have seen some polling that suggests it's very popular, others that say it's kind of eh. But it suggests that both sides have to fight here to define what exactly this is. And for Democrats especially, it's how to pay for it, which is leaning into the issue that seems, at least in all of these polls, to be favorable for Democrats, and that's paying for it with higher taxes on wealthy people and for higher taxes on corporations, raising the tax rate on corporations. People seem to like that. But, as we know, it's always in the details and how people perceive not just the message, but the messenger. Do they trust Democrats to follow through with what they say? Republicans,

of course, saying it's never going to be just those two groups of people that are going to pay for it. Eventually, regular Americans are going to have to fund this. Democrats like to say, hey, everybody loves infrastructure, and it is true. But the paying for it, what that narrative looks like is going to be very important for Democrats if they want to pass this thing and keep it popular for them to be driving right now, which is why you're seeing the president and the vice president spending almost all of their time pitching on this issue. LISA DESJARDINS: Next, let's talk about the very short lived America First Caucus.

That is the group that surfaced around Georgia Republican member of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene. And the Punchbowl News folks reported that part of the platform proposed included -- I'm going to read this -- quote -- "respect for the uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions of the U.S." Now, this weekend, Greene's staff said she's actually not launching anything. There was

quite a lot of blowback here. But, Amy, I'm wondering, briefly, what do you think is happening here? And what does this mean politically? AMY WALTER: Lisa, it wasn't that long ago that party leaders in Washington had an ability to sort of keep their caucus together and to keep some of their rebels from going out of bounds by limiting two things, one, their access to donors, and, the other, their access to good plum committees. Now, we know that Marjorie Taylor Greene has already been kicked off her committees. That was Democrats that instigated this. But the access to donors, well, that now has opened

up because of, well, the Internet and the ability for candidates to raise a whole lot of money from small-dollar donors. So, Marjorie Taylor Greene, she's not the favorite of anyone in the establishment, but it looks like she's raised about $3 million in the first three months of this year. So, it gets harder and harder for leadership to keep these folks sort of on the same page. And there's really little that they can do about showing any sort of disfavor toward them. LISA DESJARDINS: Tam, what about the other end of the Republican Party, the anti-Trump Republicans? How are they doing right now politically and even in dollars? TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

The remarkable thing is that, for the Marjorie -- for every Marjorie Taylor Greene or Josh Hawley, who've had a good fund-raising first quarter, there are also the Republicans, the House Republicans, who voted to impeach President Trump. So, they are, in theory, in the doghouse, but they're doing quite well with fund-raising. Several of them set personal fund-raising records in the first quarter after January 6, after voting to impeach President Trump, former President Trump. And they face likely

primary challenges, with President Trump backing their challengers. But the establishment money ended up flowing to those people who sided against Trump. Now, whether that will just be a sugar high that only lasts the first quarter isn't clear, if they aren't able to sort of keep up the public interest and get the small dollars like Marjorie Taylor Greene and others have been able to generate.

LISA DESJARDINS: Just less than a minute left ladies. It's lovely weather outside in much of the country. Vaccines are giving people new hope. But I want to ask you quickly, each of you in a few words, what do you think is the political temperature of the American people right now? What's the mood in this country, Amy, then Tam? AMY WALTER: It seems to be cautiously optimistic. We're starting to see an uptick right now in the percentage of people who think the country is heading in the right direction. Now, it's still not a majority of people who believe this. But I do think that that's the really good news if you're in the Biden administration, that, as vaccines come online, that the economy recovers. People start to feel like their

lives are finally getting back to normal. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. LISA DESJARDINS: Tam. TAMARA KEITH: And I do think that the next several weeks will be key to figuring out how people really feel, if they're able to get those vaccine appointments or they continue to be frustrated, whether hesitancy breaks through and people start getting vaccinated and start going to restaurants and concerts start happening. I think it could have an effect on the outlook.

LISA DESJARDINS: Amy Walter and Tamara Keith, thank you for joining us each night in our virtual restaurant of sorts. AMNA NAWAZ: A new film takes on the life of Lady Day, the great Billie Holiday. And the woman playing her, Andra Day, is winning rave reviews of her own, including a best actress nomination at the upcoming Oscars. Jeffrey Brown is here now with that story for our ongoing arts and culture series, Canvas. JEFFREY BROWN: In "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," we see the legendary jazz singer in her final years, captivating audiences with her way with a song, hounded by FBI agents obsessed with bringing her down.

GARRETT HEDLUND, Actor: Hoover says it's un-American. You have heard those lyrics. They provoke people in the wrong way. JEFFREY BROWN: There's relentless racism, abuse by men, alcohol and drug addiction, but also: a towering magnetism, resilience and artistic brilliance. It was a big, important life, making it all the more remarkable that, for 36-year-old Andra Day, this was an acting debut. ANDRA DAY, Actress: It was hard as hell. (LAUGHTER) ANDRA DAY: Like, it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. But it changed

me in an amazing way. It was fun. I loved every moment of this. Even the worst moments, even the most painful moments, it was a lesson in filmmaking. It was a lesson in making art, a lesson in authenticity and bravery. JEFFREY BROWN: Until now, Day was herself best known as a singer. Her hit song "Rise Up" became a kind of anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement.

She grew up in San Diego and attended its School of Creative and Performing Arts, a public arts magnet school, where a teacher suggested she listen to recordings of Billie Holiday. ANDRA DAY: I just remember being confused, actually, first by her voice. It was so different. She sounds nothing like Whitney Houston or Gladys Knight or Patti LaBelle or Aretha or James. I could not take my ears off of what it was I was listening to in her voice. JEFFREY BROWN: What did you hear in the way that she made a song come alive? ANDRA DAY: It was emotion. It was truth. Her songs were rooted in truth, in her experience, in how she perceived things and how she felt, and what was right at the time.

And she sort of sung and spoke about all the things that women or people thought about, but didn't necessarily say. So, that's what I think makes her music so powerful. It's very raw, very emotional, very vulnerable, and taboo, a lot of the songs, as well. LESLIE JORDAN, Actor: What is the government's problem with Billie Holiday? ANDRA DAY: My song "Strange Fruit," it reminds them that they're killing us. JEFFREY BROWN: The film, a fictionalized account based on real events, was directed by Lee Daniels, with a script by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. It centers on the most powerful and taboo song of all, "Strange Fruit," written by Abel Meeropol, a songwriter and activist, and first recorded by Holiday in 1939. It was inspired

by a photograph of a lynching, the strange fruit of the title. Holiday made it her own anti-racist anthem, an especially brave act when Jim Crow laws still flourished and the civil rights movement was yet to gain strength. ANDRA DAY: People ask me, what are the parallels between myself and Billie Holiday? And the reality is, we're both -- I'm a Black woman living in America. There's a sort of inherent feeling or sense of almost invisibility and fight and resilience that comes with that. And that stems from really great leaders like her.

JEFFREY BROWN: Holiday's story has been told before, of course. The 1972 film "Lady Sings the Blues" starred another famous singer making her acting debut, Diana Ross. More recently, Audra McDonald played Holiday on Broadway in "Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill." Did you decide to play against them? How did you feel about taking on that kind of role that they have taken? ANDRA DAY: I saw "Lady Sings the Blues" like 50 gajillion times, because it's one of my favorite movies. It wasn't against the two of them. It was actually a blending. It was Billie Holiday at the center. And then it was, what was amazing about Diana's performance, what was amazing

about Audra McDonald's performance, and let me extract those elements, couple them with Billie and couple them with myself. My performance, I believe, truly is an amalgamation of myself, Billie Holiday, Diana Ross and Audra McDonald. And that was the goal, because they were brilliant. JEFFREY BROWN: And Day went further still, taking up smoking and drinking to force her body to feel what Holiday's was experiencing. ANDRA DAY: Well, I'll put it to you like this. It was very unhealthy for my body. It was healthy for my spirit, you know? She's very different from me in that regard, but I felt like I had to earn it. I had to

feel it in my body. I also felt like the gravel in Billie Holiday's voice, the sound and the tone is something that woman earned over years of her life. I had to figure out how to earn it in a very short period of time and to feel where it all came from. And it helped to slow me down, because I'm fast, and I'm do all this. And Billie Holiday is like easy. MAN: And the Golden Globe goes to Andra Day.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) JEFFREY BROWN: In February, Andra Day won a Golden Globe. Now she's up for an Academy Award, cementing one final personal connection, her name. It's a stage name she gave herself long ago, in homage to the woman known as Lady Day, Billie Holiday herself.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown. AMNA NAWAZ: And online right now: More than a month after the Atlanta shootings, Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. say they're operating in fear. The recent rise in hate crimes and violence against these businesses adds to the economic crisis many of them have been grappling with since the beginning of the pandemic. All that

and more at PBS.org/NewsHour. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Amna Nawaz. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.

2021-04-21 12:19

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