tv PBS News Hour PBS July 28, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
to learn more, visit safetyactioncenter.pge.com captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on t newshour tonight: breaking the gridlock. a bipartisan push brings an elusive infrastructure deal in congress closer to completion. then, running out of time. millions of tenants and landlords face an uncertain future, as the federal ban on evictions is set to expire. and, extremism in the ranks. the u.s. military struggles with how to combat racism among the troops. we speak to the air force chief of staff general c.q. brown about how to change. >> membership of an extremist organization-- that goes against our core values, that goes against your oath.
it's not what we need in our military. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> fidelity wealth management. >> bnsf railway. >> financial services firm >> consumer cellular. >> johnson & johnson >> financial services firm raymond james. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries.
on the web at lemelson.org. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> 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: after weeksf asking will they or won't they, it appears the answer is yes. a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement on a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan to invest in public works projects across the country. the deal iludes $550 billion in new spending over the next five years. of that, $110 billion to improve highways, $65 billion to expand
broadband access, and $47 billion for resiliency against environmental disasters. announcing the deal is just the first step, and it faces its first procedural vote in the senate today. but the senate negotiators-- including alaska republican lisa murkowski-- sounded optimistic. >> this is also important to demonstrate that republicans and democrats can come together over really hard stuff, to negotiate in good faith and to broker an agreement that is not going to work just for republicans or for democrats-- it is going to work for the country. so, it has been a long effort. there will still be a ng effort going forward. >> woodruff: we look at the next steps in these negotiations with democratic senator jon tester of montana. he is a member of the bipartisan group which led the effort in securing this senate deal.
senator tester, thank you so much for joining us. so tell us, what was the key that unlocked this deal after all these weeks of trying and fag? and tell us what did republicans give on, what did democrats give on? what did each side get? >> well, we'll start with what we got. we got a lot. this is the biggest infrastructure investment in america in this country's the history, and the jobs it's going to create, the ability for this package to be able to make us the premier economic power in the world can't be stated enough. and, look, i will tell you the negotiations went on for a lot longer than i thought they were going to have to go on, but you know how negotiations are, judy. it's about people covering every square inch and then going back and doing three or more times and pretty soon they get tired and say, we're going to do this. i'll tell you, the ten people ill worked with, the nine people on the committee and the the white house that came over, everybody, everybody to a person wanted to get to a yes, and i think that's really the key and that's why this happened.
>> woodruff: i do want to ask you about the money that's in there, what it's being spent on, highways $110 billion, broadband $65 billion. other big-ticket items like public transit, passenger rail, upgrading the power grid. give us something that people who are listening to this can say, oh, i get it. >> well, look, it's all basically traditional infrastructure, and i will tell you let's look at the water infrastructure portion. i mean, water is literally life and to be able to have good water in these communies is a premium, and it's going to do a lot for that. we just came out of a pandemic where we've seen broadband being necessary for our society, yet there's too many people that are unserved or underserved. this is going to help bring our broadband up to a point where a state like montana and other rural states throughout this country and in urban areas, too, as far as that go, are going to have good access to broadband for tele-health and distance
learning and having businesses be able to grow their businesses and create opportunity there over the internet. and you go down the list, whether it's rails, critically important, making sure we're doing what we can do to have good passenger service transit, the same thing, everybody will feel the difference that this bill makes once we get it passed and implemented. >> woodruff: you were mentioning water infrastructure, and we know that democratic center tom carper, your colleague from the state of delaware, is saying he's unhappy, he doesn't think there's the righamount of money in here for replacing lead pipes and other clean water needs. >> there's a ton of money in here for water infrastructure. this bill may not fix every water problem in this country but it will take a giant step forward to fix a lot of water problems in this country. i think if you're looking for perfection in this bill, you will never find it. truth is, this is a bipartisan negotiated bill where everybody gives a little and everybody gets a lot. >> woodruff: are you confident
that you're also fully paying for all of this? >> yeah, well, no tax increases, no increase in the gas tax, and i can tell you that that was probably the biggest challenge in this bill is to try to figure out what those pay-fors are and make sure they're real. to be honest with you, judy, right now, i can't tell you exactly at the payors are now. i know they look a whole lot different today than when we released this bill about a month ago after the g10 had negotiated it. but nonetheless, i think we've lived up to the expectations as the republicans and democrats on the pay-fors and the white house was okay with it so i think it will be fine. >> woodruff: the g10 referring to the group of ten bipartisan senators. you were one of them. you mentioned it's going to work out. but there's $200 billion in unspent covid relief. people are going to say, wait a minute, what was that money supposed to go for?
>> look, there are's going to be some questions asked about that, and i think if you take into consideration, these are all cares act dollars, this bill was passed 15 months ago, and the fact we didn't touch the rescue man problemy and it's -- money and it's still there, i think we'll be okay. we're not out of the woods on this pandemic, everybody needs to get vaccinated so we can get this behind us and move forward. if this flares up, there's no doubt it could cost additional dollars and i would rather put that money into infrastructure. >> woodruff: are there votes in the senate now to pass this? >> i think we're going to get a booed bunch of democrats, maybe every one of them, and i think we're going to get a pretty sizable group of republicans, too, and i think if we do, that really speaks to the fact that maybe washington can start working again and start coming together and start doing things that this country needs. >> woodruff: last question, senator, the fate of this
so-called companion $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill -- money for home healthcare, for education, for the environment -- what does its fate look like, and now that you have arizona democrat kyrsten sinema saying she's not going to vote for it and you need democrats on board. >> i have been spending my time working on this bipartisan bill. as soon as we get this out of the senate we'll focus on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. i hear about childcare and senior care all the time when i go home. i think depending on how the bill is structured and pay for which we don't know any of at this pnt in time, that will determine whether we're going to support the end product. but i have confidence in the leadership and the senate that we'll be able to come together and get a bill that's good for this nation once again. but, you know, the proof will be in the pudding. we'll see as time movers forth and we'll analyze it every step of the way. >> woodruff: senator jon tester of montana, thank you so
much for joining us. we appreciate it. >> woodruff: judy, thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the c.d.c. reported that two-thirds of all u.s. counties are now covid-19 hot spots, where even the vaccinated should resume wearing masks indoors. in response, the pentagon and the department of homeland security ordered all employees to mask up. the u.s. house of representatives did likewise. but, republican leader kevin mccarthy sharply criticized the move, and democratic speaker nancy pelosi was overheard reacting, "he's such a moron." the two party leaders kept up their war of words later, at separate appearances. >> to say that wearing a mask is not based on science, i think is not wise, and that was my comment, and that's all i'm
going to say about that. >> this is just about more control. this is just the beginning of a set, because school is going to start coming back, they're going to shut school down again. this is about control. >> woodruff: also today, google rolled back plans for most of its workers to return to the office until mid-october. on the vaccination front, new york governor andrew cuomo ordered state employees to get shots by labor day or face weekly testing. he singled out health care workers. >> all patient-facing health care workers must get vaccinated. there will be no testing option for patient-facing health care workers. that is a point of contact. that could be a serious spreading event. >> woodruff: meanwhile, pfizer announced that tting shows its vaccine's effectiveness drops some, to 84%, over six months. that could lead to federal officials authorizing booster shots. cooler weather and spots of
rainfall brought some momentary relief today to firefighters in the western u.s. the weather helped crews working on the dixie fire in northern california, the largest in that state. but, officials warned that hotter, drier conditions could return by the weekend. a wisconsin judge has ordered that a former police officer be charged with killing a black man in suburban milwaukee in 2016. the judge rejected the man's claim that he found jay anderson, jr in his car, and red when anderson reached for his gun. the former officer, who is also black, later resigned. prosecutorhad originally decided not to bring charges. the federal reserve says the u.s. economy is still gaining strength. that assessment today could open the way to raising interest rates again, later this year. chairman jerome powell also said that the current spike in covid cases doesn't seem to be a cause for alarm in terms of the
economy. >> with successive waves of covid over the past year and some months now, there has tended to be less economic-- less in the way of economic implications from each wave. and we will see whether that is the case with the delta variety, but it's certainly a-- not an unreasonable expectation. >> woodruff: powell said again that the latest rise in inflation appears to be only temporary. in russia, moscow police raided the home of the chief editor at an online news outlet. the site has published stories about the russian elite, and the government branded it a foreign agent. today's raid is seen as part of a crackdown ahead of parliamentary elections in september. the city of tokyo topped 3,000 new covid-19 cases today for the first time, as the summer olympics continued. at the games, american simone biles withdrew from the all- around gymnastics competition,
citing mental health reasons. she had pulled out of the team final yesterday. we will return to this, later in the program. and on wall street, stocks had a mixed day. the dow jones industrial average lost 127 points to close below 34,931. the nasdaq rose 102 points. the s&p 500 slipped a fraction of a point. still to come on the newshour: millions face an uncertain future, as the federal ban on evictions is set to expire. atlanta grapples with how to address a massive increase in violent crime. simone biles' decision to withdraw from competition highlights mental stress, and the stigma around speaking up. plus, much more.
>> woodruff: throughout most o the pandemic, the federal govement has been able to prevent many evictions for people who are behind on their rent. that is due in large part to a moratorium-- or ban-- imposed by the centers for disease control and tied to public health concerns. but the supreme court has said that the moratium must expire, unless congress passes new legislation. it ends this weekend. as john yang tells us, there is great concern about what could happen next to millions of people. >> yang: judy, according to the most recent census data, more than six million americans are behind on their rent, and nearly a million say eviction is very likely for them in the next two months one of them: lela jackson of columbus, ohio. >> i can't even apply for an apartment, to leave here, because i have two eviction filings--
even though i still live here. it's not fair. it is not-- it is so not fair. and i see other people going through the same thing. nobody wants to rent to a tenant with an eviction filing. it's not fair, and i don't know what to do. >> yang: since last year, congress has allocated about $46 billion to help renters pay back rent and avoid eviction-- but much of it hasn't reached the people who need it the most. diane yentel is president of the national low-income housing coalition, an advocacy group. b diane, thank you so much for joininus. when this eviction moratorium expires this weekend, what's your fear about what's going to happen? >> well, the federal eviction moratorium has been a lifeline. it has been kept tens of millions of renters who otherwise uld have lost their homes during a global panmic stably housed during it.
it's also been an essential public health measure that has helped to contain the spread of and deaths from covid 19. evictions are proven to cause both. so as we look at the possibility of the federal eviction moratorium expiring this weekend with 6.5 million renters still behind on rent, having fallen behind during the pandemic, it is deeply concerning that we will have both a wave of evictions and housing instability this summer and fall and further spread of and preventable deaths from covid 19. >> reporter: and with evictions potentially resuming, is there now an effort to get that money to the people who need it faster than it has been getting there and what can be done about that? >> yes, there's been an effort all along. so as of january of this year, representers were estimated to have accrued up to $50 billion
in rent and utility arrears. the good news is that congress provided enough money to address all the arrears that accrued during the pandemic, but the bad news is that the money has been very slow to get to renters and landlords who need it to keep tenants stably housed. the number have been picking up. there ae some states and cities that are doing very well, that are ramping up their programs, getting money quickly to tenants who need it. there are many more who are moving mch too slowly and, at this point, all of them, even if they give it their best effort at this moment, they can't possibly reach all the tenant who need that money to stay stably housed before the moratorium expires. >> reporter: in the last few weeks it's clear that the moratorium could not be reextended, the biden administration has been stepping up initiatives to try to get the word out and make the money move faster. are you satisfied with what the administration has been doing? >> they have been doing a lot.
i would say they have been appropriately aggressive in doing all they can to urge and empower and pressure states and cities to do more to spend their money, and it is having a positive effect. we have been tracking all emergency rental assistance programs, and when we've seen obstacles, when we've had concerns about how the track of these programs are going, we've raised those to the white house and the treasury, they have been responsive, they put out good guidance, they put out tools. today they've done a big effort to raise awareness about searchable data bases to find emergency rental assistance. so i do think that they're doing much of what they can, and i think that the biden administration or congress have to consider all options to continue protections for renters beyond saturday because we cannot as a country allow for this level of evictions and housing instability to proceed
especially as the delta variant surges. >> reporter: of course the pandemic has been hard on property owners and landlords as well. not just tenants, especially small landlords as opposed to the big realtime investment trusts. what can be or ould be done to help small landlords? >> sure. small landlords rely on rental income in order to pay their own bills, to keep the light on, to continue to maintain and operate their properties, and it's the smaller landlords who are more likely to be housing some of the lower-income renters who are falling or have fallen behind on rent. that's another reason why emergency rental assistance has been so essential and why we have always urged that eviction moratoriums be paired with significant emergency rental assistance. so, again, the money that's out there that's available, it can help both tenants and landlords. unfortunately, there has been a challenge in some communities th landlords refusing to participate and in these
programs and refusing to accept the emergency rental assistance funds which is slowing down the process for everybody, and at times it means some of the lowest income renters aren't able to get te help they need. diane yentel, national low-income housing coalition, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: even as some types of crime fell last year, murders and other violent crimes rose sharply in cities across the country-- a trend that's continued this year. the causes aren't well understood, and there are strong disagreements about how to address the issue. as amna nawaz reports, this debate over how to tackle violence is playing out in atlanta. >> she was shot seven times in the back. and then they flipped over and they shot her one time in her head. >> nawaz: in the early hours of
may 17, at this northwest atlanta apartment complex, 27-year-old alicia merrell was shot and killed. >> right in this spot where the sand is, right over here. >> nawaz: her aunt, vanessa cox-logan, said she had been throwing out trash at this dumpster, while helping a friend to move. >> it's the worst feeling of my life, and i could never get that back. >> nawaz: alicia's mom, sonya merrell, remembers the phone call with the news her daughter had been killed. >> i didn't want to believe it. i didn't want to believe it. one of my child is-- is gone. she was the first of six of my kids, and she just taught me how to be a mom. >> nawaz: alicia was one of six people shot and killed in atlanta that weekend alone. part of a spike in violent crimes the city's seen since 2019, with aggravated assaults
up 20%, and murders up 52%. >> it was a historic surge in gun violence last year. >> nawaz: princeton professor patrick sharkey, who tracks violent crime in american cities, says atlanta's not alone. in st. louis last year, murders increased by 35%; by 18% in san jose; in austin, 42%; dtroit, 19%; and, new york city saw an increase of 45%. >> you had the pandemic and all the suffering and the abandonment of communities that went into that. then you had this proliferation of guns. it creates the potential for more altercations to become lethal, for more fights to become shootings. >> nawaz: historically, crime in american cities rose sharply between the 1960s and '80s, then fell from the '90s through 2014, when numbers again began to climb.
the 2020 surgesharkey says, was notable... ( protests ) ...and calls for racial justice and police reform, he believes, also played a role. >> police may decide not to get involved in an incident where they have some discretion on whether to respond or not. residents may also decide to check out and no longer call the police. >> nawaz: in atlanta, the june 2020 police shooting of rayshard brooks, a black man confronted while he slept in a parking lot, sparked weeks of protest. ( protests ) atlanta mayor keisha lance bottoms criticized the use of deadly force. the police chief resigned. and, after two officers were charged following brooks' death, more than 150 other officers called out sick. dozens have since resigned. today, atlanta's police department is hundreds of officers short. >> i don't really think the police is the answer. >> nawaz: columbus ward has lived in the south atlanta neighborhood of peoplestown his whole life. this majority-black neighborhood
has seen some of the city's worst violence. >> rayshard brooks got killed right in our neighborhood by police, so that, who do you trust, in terms of how many people want to trust the police to come and resolve the issue? >> it's like a war zone. >> nawaz: ethel floyd has lived here for 57 years. >> it's a well-known fact about the police-- they only come after the fact. bringing in more police officers is not going to help. you don't need to go to add fuel to the fire. >> nawaz: resident after resident here tell us they're wary of an increased police presence. but, some of their neighbors in north atlanta disagree. this northern suburb known as buckhead was annexed by atlanta in the 1950s, and here, too, they've seen an increase in crime recently. which is why some residents in this wealthy and mostly white neighborhood now say the solution is to break away. >> we feel we're living in a war zone in buckhead. >> nawaz: bill white is leading the effort to create a separat“" city of buckhead,” allowing them to use their own tax base to fund their own budget. white says their city would
lobby to tighten bail and sentencing rules, and deploy its own independent police force. >> a massive police presence will be something that the new buckhead city police department will absolutely provide. >> nawaz: buckhead's departure would take away significant resources from atlanta-- by some estimates, this area comprises 40% of atlanta's property wealth, a large part of its tax base. critics say that would hurt the city's ability to stem rising crime and inequality. >> i think what buckhead city will do will most certainly push the criminals away from buckhead, and everybody in buckhead loves that idea. >> nawaz: how does taking those resources away help the rest of the city? >> well, atlanta has done this to themselves. we're not we're not taking anything away from them. they've done this to themselves. >> it doesn't really kind of resonate with you, until you go through something yourself. >> nawaz: buckhead resident eliana kovitch backs the effort to break away, after she and her
boyfriend, jason eades, were brutally assaulted in a parking lot last june. >> i think the sheer terror of having someone put a knife in your face and tell you profanity and say to get on your knees and beg for your life, punch you and until you're unconscious-- like, i didn't ask for that. >> nawaz: what do you think it would take for you to feel safe right now? >> definitely more of a police presence. >> nawaz: more police on the streets, sharkey says, would reduce crime in the short term-- but without addressing underlying issues, wouldn't stop cycles of crime over the long term. it also carries additional costs, he says, in the form of police violence, mass incarceration, and intensive surveillance, disproportionately impacting communities of color. >> we should be pushing police to do their job differently, to build trust and legitimacy. but we should also be investing in a different set of community institutions and organizations and ask them to play a larger
role in contributing to safe, stronger neighborhoods. nawaz: you don't see it as an either/or. this is a both/and. >> absolutely, absolutely. we've never made a different commitment focused on investing in communities as a response to violence and all of the challenges that come with extreme inequality. >> nawaz: but in peoplestown, they've made that investment in recent years, and are starting to see a return. >> we have seen a decrease in violence through community collaboration, partnerships, and referrals, and not increased policing. >> nawaz: aaron johnson is a trauma responder for local non-profit chris 180. since 2018, his program has partnered with others to step up early intervention here-- including wellness programs like this-- all with a goal of stopping violence before it happens. efforts like yoga and
mindfulness to help cope with trauma. training younger residents how to de-escalate conflicts. even food and mask distribution during the pandemic. while crime spiked across atlanta last year, this area has seen a 50% decrease. >> and i believe that violence stems from the lack of equitable resources, the ability to obtain these resources. whether it be financial resources, whether it be educational resources, it's the lack of resources. so, when the trauma response network comes in, and other agencies come into communities to combat said violence, it's about bringing resources to communities. >> nawaz: more than two months later, alicia merrell's murder remains unsolved. no arrests have been made. and, while vanessa cox-logan isn't opposed to more police help, her family and her community, she says, need more than that. what do you think it would take to make you feel safe right now?
>> we need these cameras to be working. we need adequate wraparound services. i think that's what it's going to take, its going to take-- it really will take the entire village. >> nawaz: outgoing mayor keisha lance bottoms recently announced plans to hire 250 additional police officers, as well as expand investment in community groups. for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz in atlanta. >> woodruff: one of the more significant stories of these olympic games so far is not only who's winning medals, but why one of the biggest names in sports decided to step back. simone biles said it was concern for her own mental well-being that led her to do so. this news has quickly started a larger conversation around mental health for all, athletics, and race, and yamiche alcindor is here with our own.
>> alcindor: judy, shortly after simone biles made her decision, e talked openly about the need to protect her own mental health under intense pressure and a global spotlight. she has also talked about some of her struggles, her conflicting feelings about the games, and signs of depression. here she is yesterday at a press conference discussing the power of prioritizing her well-being. >> i s, put mental health first, because if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy your sport, and you're not going to succeed as much as you want to. so it's okay sometimes to sit out the big competitions, to focus on yourself. because it shows how strong a person and competitor you really are, rather than just battle through it. >> alcindor: now, while simone biles' challenges are happening for the world to see, many can relate to the mental health struggles of the superstar athlete. joining us to talk about all of this are kavitha davidson, sportswriter for "the athletic." and, sociologist harry edwards. more than 50 years ago, he wrote the book, "the revolt of the
black athlete." thank you so much for being here. kavitha, i want to start with you. smartphone-- simone biles is a r athlete, a black woman and survivor of sexual assault. talk about what you make of her decision to say i have to put my mental health first when you think about all those identities she's carrying? >> i think it's really powerful. the fact she's a black woman, a sexual assault survivor cannot be separated from what we're seeing here. simone said the reason she hasn't retired is her continued peresens as the only survivor of larry nasers continues to hold him accountable. at the same time that is a lot of pressure to put on yourself when you're 24 years old and on top of that being a black woman who's the face of our country in these olympics is a lot. for her to set these boundaries is something we tell women and especially black women they're not allowed to do is a really powerful statement.
>> reporter: setting boundaries. simone biles said she didn't want to retire because she was the only athlete left who survived the inteksle abuse of larry naser in prison convicted of sexual abuse. you have written eloquently about being a sexual assault survivor yourself. talk about how difficult it is to navigate going forward but also the power to say i'm going to allow myself time to heal. >> it is absolutely difficult. it is such an individual thing foeverybody. everybody copes in their own way. i think to see someone like simone as a sexual assault survivor myself, not only power through but really take ownership of what was done to her and say that that didn't define her but not only did it not define her but she's going to win through it and be a champion is such an inspiration, and i know she carries that with her. she knows she inspires young girls and women everywhere. but like i said, at the same time, you can't really overstate what kind of toll that could
take on you mentally. on the other hand, for having gotten where she is, for having survived everything she has and being the greatest in her sport, you can't say anything but that simone biles is the most mentally tough person. so for simone to come out and say she is having mental health issues now and struggling means she really is and we need to take her at her board for it. >> reporter: definitely taking her at her word for it. simone biles said we hope america still loves us. of course, we still love her. of course we still cherish her. but you've talked about this real pressure black athles face when they're carrying the black aspirations of black america and the fears of white america. talk about that in this context. >> black athletes have never been perceived legitimate within the athlealum as with any other institutional realm in american society. this is why we're overrepresented in the locker
room where production is taking place but underrepresented in positions of power. so that struggle for legitimacy is one that is ongoing and tied to perceptions and fears of black people in this society by the white mainstream. along with that you have these phenomenal pressures on athletes to represents the aspirations of black society, to demonstrate that what we lack in america, why we're not legit masley perceived and embraced is not because of a lack of capacity but, in effect, a lack of opportunity because we can do the same thing in the industrial realm and every other realm of american life that we do in athletics and out of the locker room if given the opportunity. that's a lot of pressure. then when you put together the kinds of sexual affronts that women have to deal with as a consequence of their gender, that's a tremendous amount of
pressure. i'm so proud of naomi and simone for speaking up. it will make a difference. it will be the most consequential statement to come out of these games where people were expecting a lot of protest statements and so forth. this will be the highlight of the games in that regard. >> reporter: the highlight of the games. i want to zoom out, hear -- harry and stick with you for a moment. you talked about other realms of society. talk about what simone is talking about in her experience as a black women, how that overlaps with the precious black people in this country. there are black lawyers, bankers and reporters that we see facing these pressures especially as we deal with covid and the death of george floyd. >> well, the reality is that, in the mainstream of americ society, privilege which is nothing but white supremacy in velvet gloves and sometimes the gloves come off is the dominant
force we have to deal with. we do not have definitional authority, we've never been perceived as credible witnesses to our own outcomes and circumstances irrespective of what field you're moving in, and that is something black people have had to deal with while meeting the challenges of the specific arena that they may be dealing with. you're trying to be a great lawyer but you're having to deal with that. you're trying to be a great professor or journalist, but you have to deal with that. and it doesn't make any difference whether you're surround bid liberals or outright white supremacists, you have to deal with it. so this is something that i've stated for quite some time. sports recapitulate society. you cannot have a nonracial sport in a society that has substantial race. it's important simone and naomi and all these other women deal with these issues speak up.
>> reporter: cay vav that, talk about -- kavitha, you are tweeting really smart words. talk about it. >> i think that our generation does tend to share a lot. we might overshare, according some people, but i think that also is done with a service. when you have a public platform as small as mine or big as simones, you understand your words can help inspire others and help others come to terms with their own standings in life and what's happened to them and their own experiences. at the same time, i think that, you know, there is something to be said about our generation and younger generations really being more aware of how important it is just to speak these words and just to have the conversation. when you talk about the conversation around mental health, the silence around it is so much of what has perpetuated the damaging parts of it.
now that we're having the conversation, that opens us up to actually making real progress and getting past the stigma of talking about mental health or mental health itself as some kind of weakness. >> reporter: harry, in the 30 seconds we have left, talk about the generational difference. kavitha talked about the silence being dangerous. >> i used a rotary phone back in the day. today they have the social media. this has given tremendous definitional power to these athletes and women such as simone and others who are out there struggling with these issues. the fact that the social media has put in our hands the most powerful four letter word in the history of the english language. send, makes all the difference in the world. simone doesn't have to depend on mainstream media or a rotary phone or getting on the phone and telling people personally. she can put it up on her email account, twitter account,
instagram, and it goes out to millions of people and it has made the difference for this generation. >> reporter: powerful conversation for an amazing young woman. simone biles, we love her. thank you, kavitha davidson and harry edwards. >> thank you so much for having me. >> reporter: thank you. >> woodruff: the air force's top officer is general c.q. brown, jr, the first and so far only black service chief in u.s. military history. nick schifrin sits down with general brown, and first looks at his history, and his priorities. >>hen i'm flying and put my helmet on, my visor down, my mask up, you don't know who i am. >> schifrin: it's an airorce recruiting ad, ad-libbed by its top officer. >> whether i'm african american,
asian american, hispanic, white, male, or female-- you just know i'm an american airman, kicking your butt. >> schifrin: general c.q. brown jr became air force chief of staff in 2020, and one of his priorities-- diversifying the force. during last year's national disquiet following george floyd's deat he called out the military for the racism he experienced. >> i'm thinking about the pressure i felt to perform error-free, especially for supervisors i perceive had expected less from me, as an african american. i think about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers, and then been questioned by another military member, "are you a pilot?" i'm thinking about my mentors, and how i rarely had a mentor that looked like me. >> schifrin: brown says air force priorities are making sure american aircraft can control the skies and strike, anywhere, and gather intelligence and protect military communications. much of the focus is in the pacific. brown urges the military to
modernize faster and change its approach to be able to take on china's expanding military, including flying planes out of new bases, across the region. and joining me now is general c.q. brown jr., chief of staff of the air force. general, good to have you on the newshour. >> nick, thank you. appreciate to be here. >> schifrin: as we noted, while colin powell was the first black chairman of the joint chiefs, you are the first black service chief. why do you think that is? >> well, you know, one of the things i think about is that there's plenty that have probably been qualified. i think i've just been the first to have the opportunity. i've been very blessed with the opportunities i've had throughout my air force career. in some cases, i think it's being in that-- the right place at the right time. and i'm just honored to have this opportunity. >> schifrin: let's talk about other people who-- who could will try or want to have that opportunity. there was an inspector general report released last year that found across the board consistently over time, black airmen disproportionately, negatively affected, when it comes to promotion rates, development, leadership
opportunities. and on punishment, the review found enlisted black service members 74% more likely to receive non-judicial punishment, 60% more likely to face court martials than their white peers. why? >> well, part of that is, i think, you look at the aspect of, we have not looked at ourselves as a service. i would say we also reflect the nation in some aspects. we step back after the events of last may with george floyd, and then took a hard look at ourselves. and what we found as we looked at the data-- not only the data that you just highlighted, but the feedback we got from our airmen, resounding feedback from airmen-- >> schifrin: so, let's talk about solutions. i talked to chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, mike mullen, retired chairman, who uses a phrase, "ducks hire ducks," meaning white officers would elevate other white officers. is one of the solutions essentially breaking a white boys club? >> well, part of the solution is actually having a first slate of candidates.
when you look at any one of our positions we're doing interviews is you want to have a diverse slate of candidates, and that does two things. introduces you to somebody you may not already know. e second thing it does, it prepares that individual for future interviews. and ideally, they want to get to a point where they get it on the first interview, but they may not. but it's also an opportunity to highlight to them some things that they can, we can work on with them to help develop them, to make them more competitive for future opportunities. you know, by and large, i think many of our airmen and our leaders, our senior leaders in particular, they get it. and i think in some cases it may have been a blind spot for us, where we weren't really paying attention to it. i think the beauty of-- you know, as tragic as george ford's death is, and the other events that surround that-- the fact that we're taking a hard look at ourselves, i think it's opened some eyes to some of our airmen who were just, you know, they just weren't-- they were unconscious to it, in some aspects. >> schifrin: let's move to extremism. the pentagon's finalizing a report right now that will go into extremism in the ranks and also among veterans, and what the military can do-- do about it, and part of that is defining
the problem, defining wh is extremism. how important do you think it is that the military decide that members of white supremacist groups and other extremist organizations are banned from being in the military? >> those that don't live up to our core values of integrity, service, and excellence; those that don't stand up and hold themselves to the oath of office they take to the constitution, those are the ones that we don't need in our military. >> schifrin: it sounds like you're saying, yes, membership should not be alwed. >> membership of an extremist organization that goes against our core values,hat goes against your oath-- it's not what we need in our military. >> schifrin: on recruitment, should recruits' social media be looked at to find extremist tendencies? >> my concern is that individuals will put things on social media that they would never say to your face, okay, and that, to me, is an indicator. and that's why being able to take a look at social media will also tell you a little bit about the character of the individual that you're bringing into our
service. >> schifrin: meaning, it should be disqualifying if someone is using social media to express views that they're not willing to say to your face. >> well, it should be considered, you know. whether it's, you know-- as we work through the policy to determine how that plays out exactly, i think it is a factor that we-- we want to take a look at and consider. >> schifrin: let's move to china. yesterday, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs admitted that the u.s. "failed miserably," i think was his words, in a war game against china. why did it lose? and is this what you mean when you use the phrase that you've used, which is, "accelerate change or lose?" >> well, it is. i mean, if we fight and try to do things in the traditional manner we've been-- we've been doing for as long as i've been in the air force, 36 years, we will lose. and that's exactly why i wrote "accelerate change or lose." because we cannot continue to do the same things the same way and expect a different result against an adversary, a potential adversary, that has watched us and studied us for the past couple of decades. and so, we've t to change our approach. >> schifrin: let's take one aspect of that. the air force for years has relied on bases in japan and guam. and, as you've said yourself, the chinese make a lot of
missiles relatively cheaply that are relatively effective, and that means our bases are at risk of chinese missiles. so, you're looking to spread out across the pacific. how's that going? >> what i found initially was, the air force, we had a lot of good ideas about it and we did a lot of talk, not much action. there's a lot of action now. and it's rlly-- it's two parts. it's the physical aspect of being able to move, but it's the mindset of our airmen. >> schifrin: but it's not just mindset, right? i mean, japan is resisting more forces on japan. philippines, where the bases would be the closest to the mainland of china, there's political resistance to that as well. how do you overcome that political resistance? because it seems like you have to. >> well, part of this is a long- term relationship that we have with our allies and partners. and so there's these long-term relationships. just like any relationship, there are some ups and downs. and i think the key part is, we have common interests with our allies and partners. and if the tension starts to rise, i think we'll be able to count our allies and partners
>> schifrin: let's switch to afghanistan. the taliban are threatening half of the provincial capitals. they have seized half the districts in the country. if the taliban try and seize the most important cities, say kandahar or kabul, can air power from the united states stop them? >> you can't do it by air power alone in some cases when you're going against the taliban. >> reporter: how important is it for the future for you to have another base north of re on station time, itse it'sy decreases our air refueling bill to be able to execute. so we'll stand by but, you know, we've got tankers and airspace and air power that can operate from where we are right now to support. >> reporter: general c.q. brown, jr., thank you very much. >> thank you. appreciate being here today. >> woodruff: the united nations world heritage body, unesco, wants greece to stop installing concrete paths around the iconic
parthenon atop the acropolis in athens. much of the work has been completed, intended to make it more accessible for tourists, especially the wheelchair-bound. but, critics call it criminal, and special correspondent malcolm brabant learned today that unesco itself is unhay that it was not consulted before construction. here's his report from athens. >> reporter: ancient, uneven marble paths, slippery when wet. acropolis, then. acropolis, now-- super smooth 21st century cement. for most international travelers, the acropolis is an essential part of their bucket list. in greece, it's revered as the greatest national treasure, and a potent symbol of democracy. and this path has divided opinion like never before. some people see it as a sensible solution to help people with mobility issues, but others regard it as desecration, pandering to mass tourism and an international scandal.
>> to me, it's horrible. i think that acropolis is really wounded by the cement corridors. >> reporter: despina koutsoumba is president of the greek archaeologists' union. she's also a specialist in restoration work, and one of 3,500 historians behind demanding a halt to the modifications. >> we have an archeological site of great importance, and we take cement and we transform it into something brand-new. this is totally unacceptable. >> reporter: this is a special moment for kelly loufaki, a paralympic fencer. it's the first time she's visited the parthenon since breaking her spine in a car crash. >> i'm proud, because i'm a greek, and i'm-- i feel that it's very accessible and friendly for me to do all of this with my wheelchair. >> reporter: world champion shot putter chejon fernandes is
equally impressed. >> you can always see the acropolis where you are in athens from afar, but to come up close, you can feel the energy. you feel this inspiration. it's-- you almost can touch it. >> reporter: this is the first time fernandes has been here since breaking his spine playing rugby for greece. >> a little bit lost for words, because it's-- it's-- it's emotional that, you know, after so manyears not being able to come up here. you feel that we're making progress as a nation, we're making progress as a society, that we're becoming more inclusive, which is fantastic. >> reporter: the 2.5-thousand- year-old monument is one of the most important world heritage sites. former u.s. diplomat brady kiesling is fascinated by ancient greece. he's also an archaeologist who helps to map lesser-known ancient sites. >> it's the combinion of landscape and history and myth and human presence that makes greece one of the most interesting places in the world. >> reporter: for an archaeologist, his view of the
concrete paths is controversial. >> look, the concrete walkways that the current government put in, they're not beautiful. no, they're not a monstrosity, either. they are very practical, when you have 10,000 people coming up there every day, many of them with mobility issues. ( drilling ) it is a crime not to give them a reasonable amount of safety. yes, the beautiful pink limestone, we've lost a little bit oft, but you can still see it. the overall picture of the place has not really been affected. >> reporter: a new elevator, which takes the wheelchair-bound up the northern wall of the rock, has also drawn fire. it is close to a temple known as the erectheion, and critics say the mechanism ruins a view that has been unchanged for 2.5 millennia. amg them is professor tasos tanoulas. until recently, he was
responsible for renovating the grand entrance to the acropolis, called the propylaea. professor tanoulas sent me a video message by phone, urging unesco to intervene. >> there are things which must be done immediately, and this must be stopped. this is my concern, and i think this is a huge crime, which shouldn't have happened ever. >> reporter: manolis korres is the archaeologist responsible for the concrete path. i asked him whether he had anything to worry about from unesco. >> no, no, nothing at all. nothing to worry. i think the colleagues there are always convinced that things are going well and that they accept that they are already a little bit misled by some fake news. >> reporter: the culture minister, lina mendoni, was also dismissive about the concerns. >> ( translated ): unesco has known about these restoration works since 2002.
according to the unesco world heritage convention, each state should give notice before making any major changes to a monument. they are not major changes, and in this case, greece is not required to inform unesco. >> reporter: but today, i was told by unesco that officials are certainly are not happy about the way in which the greek authorities have behaved. unesco wants all work to stop until proper consultations have taken place. unesco is also concerned that it had to learn about the modifications from critics, instead of from the greek state. the greek archaeologists union says it is happy for there to be better accessibility for those with mobility problems, but it wants the impact on the acropolis to be reduced. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant in athens.
>> woodruff: so glad for that report. thank you. and that is 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 we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connect. we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our u.s.-based customer seice team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit www.consumercellular.tv. >> fidelity wealth management. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
♪ hello everyone and welcome to "amanpour." here's what's coming up? for the first time i was more afraid to work at the capitol than in my entire deployment to iraq. >> under attack by home-grown insurrectionists. police describe that fateful day as hearings into the january 6th capitol invasion get under way. former republican governor and 9/11 commission chair tom kean joins me. then -- >> where is he? >> democracy under attack in tunisia. once the arab spring success story, now on the brink as the president tightens his grip on power. i ask