February 1, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
02/01/2023 | 56m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
February 1, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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02/01/2023 | 56m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
February 1, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening and welcome.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
GEOFF BENNETT: And I'm Geoff Bennett.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Family, friends and civil rights leaders attend the funeral of Tyre Nichols, whose death at the hands of Memphis police has renewed calls for reform.
AMNA NAWAZ: Newly Republican-led House committees launch hearings to scrutinize President Biden's policies, starting with immigration.
GEOFF BENNETT: And as Somalia faces one of the most acute humanitarian crises on Earth, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. calls for more aid.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations: We can't be fatigued about people dying.
We can't lose our sense of humanity, our compassion for people.
(BREAK) GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening, and welcome to the "NewsHour."
The city of Memphis laid Tyre Nichols to rest today.
AMNA NAWAZ: At his funeral, mourners celebrated Nichols' life and joined civil rights leaders from around the country in issuing a call for justice.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Across the arid landscape of Southern Somalia... AMNA NAWAZ: Laying her son to rest, RowVaughn Wells said, Tyre Nichols' life was one purpose.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS, Mother of Tyre Nichols: I promise you, the only thing that's keeping me going is the fact that I really, truly believe my son was sent here on an assignment from God.
(APPLAUSE) ROWVAUGHN WELLS: And I guess now his assignment is done.
AMNA NAWAZ: A loving son, father, brother, FedEx employee, skateboarder and friend to all, Nichols was the youngest of four siblings.
His sister, Keyana Dixon: KEYANA DIXON, Sister of Tyre Nichols: I see the world showing him love and fighting for his justice.
But all I want is my baby brother back.
AMNA NAWAZ: His funeral comes three weeks after his death after a brutal beating by Memphis police during a traffic stop.
Tyre Nichols' death drew national attention and led Vice President Kamala Harris to Memphis today.
KAMALA HARRIS, Vice President of the United States: And we mourn with you, and the people of our country mourn with you.
AMNA NAWAZ: Harris criticized the officers who beat Nichols and said it was time for Congress to pass a federal law to reform policing, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
KAMALA HARRIS: It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe, because one must ask, was not it in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today?
(APPLAUSE) AMNA NAWAZ: The Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, delivered Tyre's eulogy.
AL SHARPTON, Civil Rights Activist: I believe, if that man had been white, you wouldn't have beat him like that night.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) REV.
AL SHARPTON: We are not asking for nothing special.
We're asking to be treated equal.
AMNA NAWAZ: Among those in attendance, the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, reminders that Nichols' family now joins a larger community of Black families fighting for justice for loved ones killed by police.
That includes Tiffany Rachal.
Her son Jalen was shot and killed by a Houston police officer last April.
TIFFANY RACHAL, Mother of Jalen Randle: We are fighting together, and all the mothers all over the world need to come together, need to come together and stop all of this.
AMNA NAWAZ: Nichols' death and the release of the brutal body camera footage documenting it have reignited calls for reform and accountability.
Five members officers were fired and charged with murder.
The department's specialized SCORPION unit has also been disbanded.
Back at the funeral, his mother delivered a call to action and echoed the calls for legislative reform.
ROWVAUGHN WELLS: We need to get that bill passed, because, if we don't, the blood -- the next child that dies, that blood is going to be on their hands.
AMNA NAWAZ: Once again, the national conversation on how to prevent police killings begins as another life ends.
Tyre Nichols was 29 years old.
GEOFF BENNETT: In the day's other headlines: The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark short-term interest rate again, but this time by just a quarter-point, Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged that inflation seems to be cooling, but he said additional rate hikes are still likely.
JEROME POWELL, Federal Reserve Chairman: Our job is to deliver inflation back to target.
And we will do that.
But I think we're going to be cautious about declaring victory and sending signals that we think that the game is won, because it's - - we have got a long way to go.
It's just -- it's the early stages of disinflation.
GEOFF BENNETT: Today's rate hike was the eighth since last March.
A winter storm has disrupted life across the southern U.S. for a third day, grounding another 2,200 flights.
In Texas, toppled semitrucks blocked entire highways today.
Traffic around Dallas slowed to a crawl, as new bands of sleet, freezing rain and snow coated roads and ice.
The storm is blamed for at least six deaths.
The FBI searched President Biden's vacation home in Delaware today, but the president's personal lawyer says they found no additional classified documents.
The search was conducted at the Rehoboth Beach property in coordination with Mr. Biden's legal team and lasted three-and-a-half-hours.
The president's lawyer says agents did take some handwritten notes and other material from his time as vice president for additional review.
The FBI already searched his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and his former Washington office.
President Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met at the White House today for their first budget talks.
House Republicans are pushing for spending cuts in return for raising the national debt limit.
The president has rejected such a deal, but McCarthy said they had a good meeting.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think there is an opportunity here to come to an agreement on both sides.
And I think that's the best for -- I think that's what the American people want.
Look, they want us to be responsible and sensible about this.
And that's exactly the way we have -- handling it.
I told the president, I would like to see if we can come to an agreement long before the deadline, and we can start working on other things.
GEOFF BENNETT: McCarthy declined again to say which spending Republicans want to cut.
In a statement, the White House called the meeting frank and straightforward.
The president agreed to continue the conversation with Speaker McCarthy.
In Ukraine, a Russian rocket strike smashed into a residential building in Eastern Ukraine, killing at least two people.
It came as Ukrainian officials warned that a Russian offensive is in the works.
Meantime, Ukrainian police raided the home of billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky.
It's part of an ongoing crackdown on corruption.
New violence flared in the Middle East today.
Israel's military said it intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza.
There was no word of any injuries.
That came hours after Israeli troops and police killed two more Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Up to a half-million teachers, civil servants and bus and train drivers in Britain walked off the job today.
The so-called Walkout Wednesday was the country's biggest day of action in a decade.
Thousands carried signs and chanted slogans demanding higher pay in the face of soaring inflation.
The strikes closed thousands of schools and halted train service.
Back in this country, the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives formally opened its investigation of pandemic relief fraud.
Federal watchdog agencies have estimated at least $65 billion was stolen out of the nearly $5 trillion that Congress approved under President Trump and Biden.
Today, the House Oversight Committee called in top federal investigators.
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): We owe it to the American people to get to the bottom of the greatest theft of American taxpayer dollars in history.
We must identify where this money went, how much ended up in the hands of fraudsters or ineligible participants, and what should be done to ensure that it never happens again.
MICHAEL HOROWITZ, Chair, Pandemic Response Accountability Committee: The problem there was the desire to simply get the money out as quickly as possible, without taking not an -- not an unreasonable amount of time, but an appropriate amount of time to make sure that they were sending the money to the right people.
GEOFF BENNETT: Investigators say the full scope of the fraud won't be known for some time.
And on Wall Street, stocks rallied after the Federal Reserve said it's seeing some improvement in inflation.
The Dow Jones industrial average erased an early loss of 500 points to close with a slight gain at 34093.
The Nasdaq rose 231 points, or 2 percent.
The S&P 500 was up 1 percent.
And Tom Brady has announced his retirement from pro football again.
The seven-time Super Bowl winner briefly retired a year ago, then came back to play another season.
He's now 45 years old, and he said in a Twitter video today from Tampa that this time his retirement is for good.
TOM BRADY, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Thank you, guys, so much to every single one of you for supporting me, my family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors.
I could go on forever.
There's too many.
Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream.
GEOFF BENNETT: Brady is widely expected to move to FOX Sports as a football analyst.
And still to come on the "PBS NewsHour": the pope travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo; the College Board revises its African American studies course amid criticism from Florida's governor; how a strict gun safety measure has divided the state of Oregon; and Senator and former astronaut Mark Kelly reflects on the Columbia space shuttle disaster 20 years later.
For the first time in nearly eight years, a Cabinet member has visited Somalia.
Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield's trip to the capital, Mogadishu, comes as the region faces one of the world's most acute humanitarian crises caused by ongoing conflict, climate change and COVID.
Across the Horn of Africa, 24 million people are extremely food-insecure.
And, in Somalia, humanitarian agencies warn that more than eight million people are on the brink of famine if more aid isn't delivered soon.
In a moment, Nick Schifrin interviews the ambassador to the U.N., but, first, he looks at the urgent crisis in Somalia.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Across the arid landscape of Southern Somalia, families are fleeing to try to escape death by starvation.
They set up tent cities like this one in Baidoa.
Bundobo Hassan left her home after her livestock were killed by drought.
BUNDOBO HASSAN, Internally Displaced Person (through translator): We just survive on what people give us.
We just eat what we have.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Somalia faces its worst drought in 40 years.
The last five rainy seasons have been dry, ravaging crops, killing millions of livestock, and pushing more than one-third of the country's 17 million residents into acute food insecurity.
Current estimates say the crisis could be worse than the 2011 famine that killed more than 250,000 people.
VICTOR CHINYAMA, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Somalia: The level of human suffering that these communities goes through is beyond comprehension.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Victor Chinyama is UNICEF's Somalia spokesperson.
VICTOR CHINYAMA: The capacity of families and communities to withstand these climatic shocks gets eroded every single year.
And that is why now you have large numbers of people that have been displaced and are looking for help.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Help to save the most vulnerable.
Already, hundreds of children have died, the U.N. says thousands more at risk of dying and 1.8 million could be malnourished through July.
VICTOR CHINYAMA: We potentially are looking at a generation that could be lost.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But Somalis don't only need food.
They need peace.
Al-Qaida linked Al-Shabaab, which the U.S. calls a terrorist group, wants to establish an Islamic State and controls large swathes of rural areas.
SHASHWAT SARAF, East Africa Regional Emergency Director, International Rescue Committee: It's almost impossible for us as humanitarian actors.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Shashwat Saraf is the East Africa regional emergency director for the International Rescue Committee.
SHASHWAT SARAF: It's so insecure that no humanitarian actor or agency would be able to go into those geographical pockets to provide humanitarian services.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Somalia's hunger catastrophe is exacerbated by a conflict 3,000 miles away.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine blocked Ukrainian exports and deprived the Horn of Africa its major source of food.
At current funding levels, humanitarian agencies say famine could arrive in a matter of months.
SHASHWAT SARAF: Today, what we have is a 50-person funded team for the region.
And we still don't have enough financial resources to be able to meet the increasing needs that we're seeing in the region.
NICK SCHIFRIN: More money is also what U.S.
Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield asked for in an unannounced trip to Somalia this past weekend.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations: The United States is asking other donors and the world to go bigger and be bolder.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is back in Washington, and joins me now.
Ambassador, thanks very much.
Welcome back to the "NewsHour."
What will the impact be if Somalia does not get the additional funding it needs ahead of what's expected to be another failed rainy season in the coming months?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We want to do everything we can to avert this next round of failed rainfalls, which should happen sometime around the March/April time frame.
And what we need to do is get more donors to support the people of Somalia.
I announced $40 million when I was there.
And that's in addition to the $1.3 billion that we provided already.
But more is needed to be done by more people.
We have to be much more ambitious.
We have to be more aggressive.
We have to save lives.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Those numbers that you just cited, more than $1.3 billion of assistance from the U.S. since last October, makes the U.S. by far the largest donor.
But the United Nations says the European Union has only funded 10 percent of its humanitarian response plan to Somalia.
Does Europe need to do more?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Everybody needs to do more, so traditional donors like the European Union and others in Europe, who are already providing funding, but we're also calling on nontraditional donors, donors who might not otherwise think about engaging on Somalia, to also contribute to this effort.
This is about humanity.
There's no reason for people to die of hunger.
We have the tools that we need to support them.
We just need the resources.
NICK SCHIFRIN: There is a term, as you know, that humanitarian workers use: compassion fatigue.
Are donors, do you think, too distracted by Ukraine?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I don't think so.
I hear compassion fatigue being used all the time.
I heard when I was in Africa a concern that resources are being redirected to Ukraine.
All of the funding that we have provided to Ukraine is new money.
And we're still funding other humanitarian needs.
And we encourage other countries to do exactly the same.
We can't be fatigued about people dying.
We can't lose our sense of humanity, our compassion for people.
It is important that we not watch another child die of hunger.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Nearly one million of the Somalis who need assistance live under territory that's currently controlled by Al-Shabaab.
U.S. trains Somalia's Danab.
That's the elite counterterrorism force.
And, also, local militias have been fighting Al-Shabaab.
But many experts say that at the core of the long-term problems that Somalia faces is bad governance.
This government is unelected.
There are senior officials who used to be senior members of Al-Shabaab.
Why does the U.S. support this government?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: President Hassan Sheikh was president previously.
And, interestingly, what he has said in this term is that he's learned so much since he was out of government.
And we have been impressed with the strategy that he has put forth, to engage with the other regions of Somalia.
He's looking at how he can move forward on political reconciliation.
And he has tried to be more inclusive, including bringing in those people who have turned their backs away from Al-Shabaab and who are prepared to work with this government to do right by the Somali people.
He is fighting to take territory away from Al-Shabaab.
And he's been extraordinarily successful, with our help and with the help of the African Union transitional mission.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Why not condition in U.S. assistance more on performance?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We can't condition humanitarian assistance and allow people to die.
We have to support the humanitarian imperative that Somalia puts in front of us.
Also, if they are going to defeat Al-Shabaab, they have to be trained.
And we have worked to train their soldiers so that they do abide by humanitarian and human rights rules.
And we're working to push Somalia for the first time closer to a more inclusive, closer to a democratic government.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Some experts I spoke to today urged the U.S. to push the government to speak to Al-Shabaab to actually come up with a negotiated settlement to what many see as a civil war.
Do you agree?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, I heard president Hassan Sheikh speaking on another channel a few weeks ago.
And he said: You're asking me to speak to terrorists.
You're asking me to speak to people who are responsible for slaughtering our people.
He wants to get rid of Al-Shabaab.
We have designated them as terrorists.
We would not be asked in the United States to negotiate with terrorists.
These -- Al-Shabaab is responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of Somalis.
It is responsible for this country being in the situation that it's in right now.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Finally, Ambassador, in the time I have left, many African capitals do not like talk of a great game between the U.S., China and Russia and Africa.
But the Chinese foreign minister just visited five African countries.
China, of course, pours billions of dollars into infrastructure development in Africa.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov just visited South Africa, whose foreign minister just called Russia a friend.
U.S., as you have pointed out, is by far the largest humanitarian donor to Africa as a whole.
But does your assistance sometimes fail to match your influence?
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: China is spending billions of dollars on infrastructure.
It is not a gift.
It is basically a yoke that is putting many countries in debt.
But countries have made these decisions, and they will work with having to deal with the consequences of these decisions down the road.
Our message to Africa is, we want to be your partner.
We want to help you build a future for your next generation.
And we want to do that together with you.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, thank you very much.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: Pope Francis has urged an end to the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo at one of the largest masses ever.
The pope is in the Central African nation's capital, Kinshasa, for a three day visit to promote peace as he seeks to reshape the Catholic Church's global image.
Special correspondent Chris Ocamringa has our report.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: More than a million Congolese welcomed Pope Francis to the N'Dolo Airport in Kinshasa to celebrate mass.
CHRISTELLA BOLA, Attendee (through translator): My joy is too huge, that I think I am going to cry.
It is so marvelous that the pope has come to visit and it will mean reconciliation for our country.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: The Democratic Republic of Congo has the largest Catholic community in Africa.
Half of its population of more than 100 million people are Catholics.
In this country that has known so much war and suffering, the pope's message of peace and reconciliation met open ears and hearts.
VINCENT KUKA, Youth Commission President, Democratic Republic of Congo (through translator): We are very happy with the message the pope has brought to us.
People came in big numbers, and we believe that his message will bring back peace in our country.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: The 86-year-old pontiff had planned to visit Goma in the country's east, but intense fighting made it unsafe.
The U.N.s says there are more than 100 armed groups in that region.
Today, the pope called the conflict to end.
POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through translator): May it be a good time for all of you in this country who call yourselves Christians but engage in violence.
The lord is telling you, lay down your arms, embrace mercy.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: The pope's message of peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo comes at a time when thousands of people have been displaced by conflict in the country's east.
The region is rich in minerals, which are being illegally exploited by armed groups.
Recent fighting between Congolese forces and the so-called M23 rebels in Eastern DRC has claimed many lives.
Kito Cesarine is a survivor.
KITO CESARINE, Conflict Survivor (through translator): There's a lot of insecurity.
Killings happen on a daily basis.
And that has forced many people to flee their villages and settled in cities.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: This conflict is nothing new.
It has been going on for close to three decades.
The World Food Program says the fighting has displaced some 5.7 million people, a fifth of them last year alone.
WOMAN (through translator): I ran away to a village called Kanyabayonga and Mugunga with a baby of 3 months in a past conflict.
Bullets and bombs were falling all over.
God helped me to escape.
I vowed never to go back to Goma, even if the streets are littered with dollars.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: On Tuesday, the pope told wealthy nations to stop plundering the DRC's vast natural resources, saying that it is people that are more precious than the minerals in the earth beneath them.
Later today, Pope Francis heard painful accounts from the victims of the violence in the Eastern DRC and blessed those who'd survived massacres, kidnappings and rapes.
It was the first papal pilgrimage here since 1985, when Pope John Paul II visited the country, then known as Zaire.
From DRC, the pope will travel to another war-weary nation, South Sudan, on Friday.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Chris Ocamringa in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
AMNA NAWAZ: In its first hearing of the year, the House Judiciary Committee focused on immigration and how that Biden administration has handled record high numbers at the U.S. Southern border.
Lisa Desjardins has been following it all, and has this look at how Republicans are making border security a key part of their agenda.
LISA DESJARDINS: Wielding their new power, House Republicans hammered the Biden administration over its handling of the border.
REP. JEFF VAN DREW (R-NJ): It is Biden's problem because, in two years, it's radically changed.
LISA DESJARDINS: The House Judiciary Committee is packed with Freedom Caucus and other harder-line conservatives focused on the border, including Texas Congressman Chip Roy.
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): That is 2020 to 2022, almost 1,000 migrant deaths at the Southwest border of the United States.
REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): The border is dangerous.
Drugs pour across, international terrorists, criminal gang members.
LISA DESJARDINS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection saw a record 2.3 million encounters with migrants in the Southwest last fiscal year, driven by spike in migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, with many repeated attempts by the same individuals.
The hearing was parts heated and sharp accusations from Republicans.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Month after month after month, we have set records for migrants coming into the country.
And, frankly, I think it's intentional.
LISA DESJARDINS: Part ardent defense from Democrats, who say Republicans are being political.
REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): There's no one who wants a safe, secure, well-managed border than those of us who live and work on the border.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): This hearing is titled Biden's border crisis.
That is completely wrong.
It is not Biden's border crisis.
This has been a crisis for over half-a-century.
LISA DESJARDINS: And it was part trying to grasp the problem with U.S. policy at the border.
Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County, Arizona.
MARK DANNELS, Cochise County, Arizona, Sheriff: I work with many Border Patrol agents, federal agents, and, to date, I have not heard one say that it is working.
LISA DESJARDINS: Indeed, along the border, some in law enforcement say their officers are overwhelmed.
CLINT MCDONALD, Southwest Border Sheriff's Coalition: The influx of people, the mass quantities of people that are invading our border, our Border Patrol cannot keep up with it.
LISA DESJARDINS: Clint McDonald is the executive director of the Texas and Southwest Border Sheriff's Coalition.
He is critical of Biden policy and says Border Patrol is struggling.
CLINT MCDONALD: They are undermanned, overworked and are falling behind every day.
So, our sheriffs are having to put on hold the citizens that elected them to office to try to help with this immigration problem.
Our sheriffs do not want to be immigration officers, but they are forced into that role now.
LISA DESJARDINS: But others working on border issues argue the U.S. needs to be more open, not less, to the flood of asylum seekers.
Dylan Corbett is an advocate who works with migrants.
DYLAN CORBETT, Executive Director, Hope Border Institute: We are concerned that, two years into the administration's, we have not fully restored asylum at the border and we are seeing steps in the opposite direction, that this administration is embracing some of the policies of the previous administration to manage in a long-term way immigration at the border.
LISA DESJARDINS: Back at today's hearing, the mixed search for light... REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): And I'd love to be able to have a thoughtful conversation with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle about these different prescriptive proposals.
LISA DESJARDINS: ... and heat... REP. JIM JORDAN: Last Congress, they controlled everything.
Joe Biden is a Democrat in the White House.
The Senate was controlled by the Democrats and the House was controlled by the Democrats.
Why didn't they fix it then?
LISA DESJARDINS: ... revealed little new, but opened what could be a significant debate.
Republicans plan more hearings and say they hope to write legislation in coming weeks.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.
GEOFF BENNETT: The College Board today released the official framework of a new advanced placement course on African American studies.
It comes after criticism from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republicans.
Last month, DeSantis said Florida would not participate in the new AP course, saying the initial curriculum violated the state's so-called Stop WOKE Act that limits teaching on race in public schools.
RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This course on Black history, what are -- what's one of the lessons about?
Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory?
That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids.
And so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that's a political agenda.
GEOFF BENNETT: We're joined now by David Coleman, chief executive officer of the College Board, and Brandi Waters, director of AP African American studies for the College Board.
Welcome to you both.
And, David Coleman, the College Board revised its framework for this AP African American studies course, effectively downplaying or removing some of the same information that Ron DeSantis and other Republicans criticized.
Did the College Board change the course offering to address conservatives' concerns?
DAVID COLEMAN, Chief Executive Officer, The College Board: No.
The revisions were complete by the end of December, far before this public discussion.
And what the revisions were -- based only on two sources, the feedback from professors and students and teachers in the pilot course, and returning to principles that are true of every single AP course.
I know this has become controversial and political, so I want to be more than clear.
In no AP course, whether it's AP English, AP U.S. history, Japanese culture, Spanish culture, do we require a specific list of secondary articles that all students must read.
So we returned to that principle.
And so it meant that the secondary articles that were experiment within the course -- so, for example, Skip Gates' essay on 40 million ways of being Black, whatever they were, were not included in what is the final official course framework.
That's been politicized now, even though it's what we do in every AP course.
We also added an in-depth project where students can explore secondary sources in more detail.
And may I just say one last thing?
I want to be rather clear.
Students and teachers have the freedom to explore any secondary sources they wish, including all that are under discussion.
We just stopped mandating a specific list of them, as we don't do in any AP course.
GEOFF BENNETT: So, to press the point, last month, Ron DeSantis, other Republicans, the Florida Board of Education said that they rejected this course because it included things like a focus on the Black reparations movement and Black queer theory.
Looking at the course revisions, lessons on those two specific things are gone, and what's included instead, Black conservatism is now offered as an idea for a research project.
There are people who will look at that and see more than a coincidence.
DAVID COLEMAN: To be clear, what has been added in the course as well, just to set the record straight on the matter of gay America, is, you may have noticed, I hope, a new section, which explores the contributions of Bayard Rustin and the struggles he had as a gay leader of the civil rights movement.
That was added, as are the contributions of Pauli Murray, who's an extraordinary figure, who contributed, essentially, as you know, to Brown vs. Board of Education, as well as later victories.
There's a new section on Black lesbians and how they did not feel comfortable in either the white-led women's movement or the male Black-led civil rights movement, and the new paths they formed.
I'm just trying to say there's a remarkable engagement with Black life and how it intersects with the gay community.
So I believe we're actually having a deep misunderstanding here as to what's in the course.
So I really asked you to look again.
You pointed out one project on Black conservatism, which there is.
There's also a project on intersectionality and mentions of Black experience.
There's also a topic on gay life in Black communities, just like you're asking me about.
This course truly allows students to inquire deeply into reparations.
There's another topic you may have noticed on reparations that allows students to dig deeply into the reparations movement.
GEOFF BENNETT: Brandi Waters, this course has been in the works, it's been in development for more than a decade, as I understand it.
What was the overarching goal in creating it?
BRANDI WATERS, Director of AP African American Studies, The College Board: So when we started to explore this course over a decade ago, it was conceptualized as an African American history course.
And we talked to a lot of different groups in higher ed to see if there was some interest in moving forward with that course.
Our research showed that, in the last 10 years, this field has exploded.
And the appropriate introductory course is actually one that aligns with the entire discipline, African American studies.
So, in the last few years is really when we shifted to reimagine the course as one that reflects this field, this interdisciplinary field that's really based in rigorous source analysis and argumentation.
So it's not just a history class, but it does aim to weave parts of history, geography, the arts all together, so that students really walk away with that interdisciplinary lens.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Brandi, we are in a moment where the teaching of race and equity has - - it's become a political minefield.
What's your response to those who say that teaching contextualized lessons about this country's racial history, that that's inherently political?
You heard Ron DeSantis say that it's not education, it's indoctrination.
What's your response to something like that?
BRANDI WATERS: I just look to the framework, which really focuses on these primary sources.
What's really great about this course is that we are connecting students to sources that they usually wouldn't find until they get to college.
So, they have an opportunity to look at things from the Amistad case, or to slave codes, the actual written documents.
So I think what's really important is that students are actually looking at materials from history.
They're looking at works of art and coming to their own conclusions.
But I'm sure David also has thought of this as well.
DAVID COLEMAN: I just hope you will look at it and see the sweeping and in-depth account of slavery and its cruelties, which is bracing, to be honest, and fierce.
And as it goes through unit two and unit three, nothing is historically avoided.
So, if it is true that what political leaders have said -- and I fear it might be -- has chilled classrooms and made teachers worried, can they teach the truth, can they include gay Americans, can they include the real history that happened, this course says, yes, you can.
This course says it's all within bounds.
And it says that that historical contextualized study is a matter of fact, evidence and shared experience.
And the College Board insists that that should be allowed everywhere in this country.
GEOFF BENNETT: David, if the Florida Department of Education rejects the revised AP African American studies course, how will the College Board respond?
DAVID COLEMAN: The College Board will be very saddened by that decision to refuse to enable teachers and students to encounter the facts and evidence of African American history and culture, but we will not, sir, change this framework.
This framework is an honest, far-reaching exploration where no one is excluded.
GEOFF BENNETT: There has been some suggestion that the College Board should remove all of its AP offerings from Florida if this revised course is rejected.
Is that something that's in the realm of possibility?
Is that something that the College Board could even do?
DAVID COLEMAN: That is not something I have discussed with my board at this time.
But I do think it would be tragic for any state.
I mean this, by the way.
Young people need and want terribly to encounter the truth of our country's history and to examine directly cultural achievements.
And this course gives them the freedom.
I want to be rather clear.
They can read any author they wish.
As they do their project work, they can dig into any theory they think, as spicy and daring as that is.
The only limits are their own imagination, and it will count towards their AP exam score.
This course does enable a freedom that we think is valuable.
GEOFF BENNETT: David Coleman is chief executive officer of the College Board, and Brandi Waters is director of AP African American studies for the College Board.
Thank you both.
DAVID COLEMAN: Thank you.
BRANDI WATERS: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been well over 3,500 firearm deaths in the U.S. so far in 2023, including the recent mass shootings in California.
William Brangham recently traveled to Oregon to report on a voter-approved measure that aims to reduce gun violence.
But, as he discovered, the new law has sharply divided the state.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At Portland's Augustana Lutheran Church recently, interfaith leaders gathered for prayers and song.
But the reason for this meeting wasn't not religious, at least not overtly.
RABBI MICHAEL CAHANA, Lift Every Voice Oregon: We know that the status quo means more death, more gun violence.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This group called Lift Every Voice Oregon was behind a gun control ballot measure known as 114.
It passed with 50.7 percent of the vote in last November's election.
MOLLAY RAMOS, Measure 114 Supporter: I have a very personal story.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Twenty-one-year-old Mollay Ramos worked on the campaign.
Her brother Deshawn was killed in a shooting back in 2020.
MOLLAY RAMOS: Deshawn's story gave me power, and it gave Oregon power to say, this is enough.
There's too many people dying in the streets.
And it is not just the lives that got lost.
It is the families' devastations that they have to live through, the trauma.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Measure 114 would make Oregon's gun laws some of the strictest in the nation.
It requires gun buyers to first get a permit, which means they must complete a firearm safety course, pay a fee of up to $65 dollars, submit to a full background check, and receive approval from local law enforcement.
The measure also bans the sale and manufacture of high-capacity magazines, those holding more than 10 rounds.
And it ends the so-called Charleston loophole, which allows gun purchases to go through after three business days, even if authorities haven't completed the buyer's background check.
That's how the man who killed nine parishioners in Charleston in 2015 obtained his gun.
Mark Knutson is the pastor at Augustana and was among those who led the push for 114.
The church regularly tools its bell for people killed by gun violence in Oregon and around the country.
MARK KNUTSON, Lift Every Voice Oregon: Something's terribly wrong.
These are tools, if they're used wrongly, take lives and destroy communities and families and children.
Anybody buying a gun should see what a gun does.
They should be trained in how it works, to know it's not a toy.
A permit, the purchase means you're responsible.
Most gun owners think that's smart.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What do you make of the argument that only law-abiding citizens are going to abide by this, and this won't really stop the illegal gun trade that is responsible for so many deaths?
MARK KNUTSON: Look at the numbers of guns in this nation.
Look at the gun industry promoting guns to especially young people.
It's going to make a difference.
You're doing your job if you're law-abiding gun owner.
But let's now get the laws in place to make sure that we're not just being swept over by guns and cartridges that have no business in our society.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: 114 supporters pointed data from other states that have these so-called permit-to-purchase laws.
Connecticut passed a similar one in 1995, and gun homicides dropped by an estimated 28 percent.
Gun suicides fell by a third.
After Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase law in 2007, researchers found a nearly 50 percent increase in the state's gun homicide rate.
And this was at a time when those rates were mostly falling nationwide.
But those arguments have done little to sway some gun owners and gun rights groups.
CHRIS BAUMANN, Owner, Aloha Arms: I don't think that the government should say you have to do something to be able to exercise an amendment right.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Chris Baumann owns Aloha Arms, a gun shop just outside of Portland.
He argues that those who believe they need a gun for protection shouldn't have any impediments.
CHRIS BAUMANN: The measure may save a few lives, but it's endangering the lives of everybody else in the state by restricting their access for self-defense.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After 114 passed, Baumann saw a surge in sales and an explosion of people on the wait-list for a state background check.
When proponents of this measure say, we have got to do everything we can to stop the slaughter on the streets of our country, and that this doesn't restrict really anyone from lawfully buying a gun -- it puts a delay in there and it requires you to get trained -- but we have to do something to stop that enormous death toll, what do you -- how do you respond to that?
CHRIS BAUMANN: I say, start prosecuting the criminals.
Start following up on red flag laws.
Start following up on people who are being reported as mentally unstable.
And if the FBI and the State Police and the local police aren't following up on these orders, then they're not doing their job and they're endangering the community.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Oregon is a state that's often characterized as having a pretty sharp political divide between rural and urban areas, with voters here in Portland and other cities along the Willamette Valley leaning to the left and then the rest of the state, which is rural, leaning largely to the right.
But Oregon is also a state where roughly half the households own a gun, and so, on Measure 114, the divisions weren't quite so predictable.
Danita Harris works for Imagine Black, a group that aims to boost the political participation of Black Oregonians.
The group came out against Measure 114.
DANITA HARRIS, Imagine Black: We don't believe in half-measures.
And what's happening is when we say, yes, but, that but tends to get left behind.
It doesn't get funded, it doesn't get prioritized, and we don't move the but forward.
We have to focus housing.
We have to focus on education.
We have to focus on food.
Otherwise, all of these other measures won't be successful.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Imagine Black points to a 2020 Harvard Law School study which found Black people in Massachusetts were disproportionately charged for possessing firearms with large magazines.
Harris, who bought a gun three years ago for self-defense and sport, says 114's permitting process opens the door for discrimination.
DANITA HARRIS: It requires the policing agencies to make the discretion whether or not a person is a threat to the community without any clear guideline or criteria to base that decision on.
More time spent unnecessarily working with these agencies only offers more harm for Black, brown and other people of color.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Measure 114 is now caught up in a web of state and federal litigation.
A lawsuit filed in a rural Oregon county has so far stopped the measure from being fully implemented.
Chris Shortell teaches political science at Portland State University.
He says 114 could make its way all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
CHRIS SHORTELL, Portland State University: Even if the Oregon Supreme Court says this is OK under the Oregon state Constitution, I think the question of the Second Amendment is lingering behind a lot of these challenges.
The Supreme Court's pretty expansive reading of the Second Amendment suggests that the court is not going to be very receptive to a lot of regulations that previously had been upheld.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Shortell says 114's passage shows that, even in a state with strong gun traditions, people are open to putting greater regulation gun owners.
But without a go-ahead from the courts, Oregonians may never see its effects.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham in Portland, Oregon.
GEOFF BENNETT: Today marks 20 years since the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on its way home.
The tragedy killed all seven astronauts on board.
And it was the beginning of the end for the space shuttle program, ultimately changing how we explore space now.
Miles O'Brien was there that day and has our look.
MILES O'BRIEN: So, where were you when it happened?
There are moments in time that trigger that question.
MAN: Columbia, Houston, comm check.
MILES O'BRIEN: The loss of the space shuttle Columbia is one of those occasions.
It happened the first day of February 2003.
We remember as if it were yesterday.
The junior senator from Arizona, Mark Kelly, certainly does.
SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): I was asleep.
And I had planned to get up and watch the landing, something on TV.
MILES O'BRIEN: The 113th mission of the space shuttle fleet, and the second now to end in catastrophe.
That's where I was, covering the disaster on CNN.
Mark Kelly was then a NASA astronaut with one mission under his belt.
His twin brother, Scott, was also in the corps.
When did you know that there was trouble?
SEN. MARK KELLY: I got a phone call from my brother.
And he just says that they lost -- lost communications and they lost tracking at the same time.
And, at that point, I knew that this was not likely to turn out as any of us had hoped.
MILES O'BRIEN: The orbiter had disintegrated as it streaked across Texas.
The crew of seven were gone.
And Kelly knew it.
He raced to the Johnson Space Center near his home in Houston.
SEN. MARK KELLY: You know, nowhere in our contingency plan did we ever expect the space shuttle to crash within a two-hour drive of Houston.
You would never anticipate that.
I said, we need to send somebody there, like right now.
MILES O'BRIEN: He made some quick calls and hopped on a Coast Guard helicopter.
SEN. MARK KELLY: We go to Nacogdoches Airport.
And there's debris at the airport.
There's pieces of shuttle.
I -- that might be a piece of space shuttle, and then I put it back down, decided, what, are you going to pick up every piece?
MILES O'BRIEN: In East Texas, debris was scattered over 2,000 square miles.
Soon after Kelly landed, he heard a body was found in Hemphill.
SEN. MARK KELLY: We recovered one of my classmate's remains.
MILES O'BRIEN: Three of the seven on board were in his class, Laurel Clark, Willie McCool, and Dave Brown.
He helped recover them all.
Obviously, you go into this business, you know the risk.
But, in a way, it's an abstract.
And then, when you see that, what goes through your mind at that point?
SEN. MARK KELLY: It was -- it wasn't really so much at that point.
For me, it was days later, when you start to process what happened.
MILES O'BRIEN: The last crew of Columbia recorded these scenes on the flight deck moments before they perished; 3.5 years later, when Mark Kelly was in the same place, he and Commander Steve Lindsey took a moment to remember the lost crew.
SEN. MARK KELLY: Occasionally get a little spare time and a few seconds here and there, and we actually mentioned it, mentioned the Columbia accident during our reentry on STS-121.
MILES O'BRIEN: But it was all avoidable.
The orbiter disintegrated in the searing heat of reentry because there was a gaping hole in its heat shield.
MAN: We have booster ignition and liftoff of space shuttle Columbia.
MILES O'BRIEN: It happened 16 days earlier on launch day; 81 seconds after Columbia left the pad, a suitcase sized piece of foam, part of the insulation covering the external fuel tank, hit the leading edge of the left-wing.
Everyone saw it, including me at the launch site.
There was a piece of debris which struck the shuttle as it came off.
And this is made of what's called carbon-carbon.
If something fell on that and caused some damage, who knows what the implications of that might be.
As soon as I saw this video after launch, I called my NASA sources.
Engineers were looking at it.
They determined looking, very closely at these high-speed, very close, close cameras that they have, that this was not a significant issue.
They said that foam had been flying off shuttle fuel tanks since day one.
How much had this been kind of ingrained into being something that just happens?
SEN. MARK KELLY: And we spend a lot of time and effort on engineering and engineering analysis and trying to chase down anything that could be an issue.
And this one, for some reason, it just got dismissed.
MILES O'BRIEN: In July of 2003, the accident investigation board did what NASA should have done years before, run a test.
And there it was, the smoking gun.
Just shy of a year later, President Bush announced the shuttle was on its way to retirement.
Where do you think we would be if the Columbia accident hadn't happened?
SEN. MARK KELLY: I think we would have still retired the space shuttle.
Maybe it would have been a couple years later.
The space shuttle was designed to fly a lot of flights.
It wasn't designed -- designed to last for 30 years.
So we started seeing more problems come up with it.
And we started to realize that this -- we can't fly this forever.
MILES O'BRIEN: The seed was planted for an entrepreneurial revolution in space.
Twenty years later, SpaceX leads a vibrant group of space enterprises.
The Astronaut Office was very skeptical, almost to a person, on this whole endeavor, wasn't it?
SEN. MARK KELLY: We were -- there was a lot of skepticism, yes, including with me.
SpaceX, you got to give them a lot of credit.
This has put us on the path to get back to the moon maybe in our lifetimes, see somebody walking on Mars.
MILES O'BRIEN: And what about Mars?
Is that worth the risk?
I mean, we can send robots to Mars and learn a lot about Mars without people.
SEN. MARK KELLY: Well, first of all, I mean, forever, people want to see what's over the next hill, what's on the other side of that ocean.
The risk is big to any individual that decides to go into space.
But the benefit to society is really big as well.
MILES O'BRIEN: It's likely the last crew of Columbia would say the same.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Miles O'Brien in Washington.
GEOFF BENNETT: And there is a lot more online at PBS.org/NewsHour, including a discussion from our archive shortly after the Columbia disaster in which science fiction author Octavia Butler and others reflected on how space fits into our collective imagination.
AMNA NAWAZ: And join us again here tomorrow night, when we speak with Ukraine's top prosecutor about his work to hold Russia accountable for possible war crimes.
That is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
GEOFF BENNETT: And I'm Geoff Bennett.
Thanks for joining us.