Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 5, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

6:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: jury selection begins in the trial of the man charged with the boston marathon bombings. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this monday, struggling to cope with the world's worst refugee crisis, lebanon now requires syrians to obtain documents before crossing the border. >> woodruff: the euro drops to a nine year low against the u.s. dollar as political instability grows in greece. >> ifill: plus, a transgender teen's suicide turns the spotlight on a private struggle. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering ont8tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
6:01 pm
♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
6:02 pm
and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the price of oil briefly dipped below $50 a barrel today, for the first time in five years. by the end of the day, it had returned to just above that symbolic threshold, yet still at a five year low. that plunge had a ripple effect on the markets, driving energy stocks down sharply. but the losses on wall street today webedroad, across all sectors. the dow jones industrial average lost 331 points to close at 17501; the nasdaq fell 74 points to close at 4,652; the s&p 500 dropped 37 points to close at 2,020. >> woodruff: lower oil prices3
6:03 pm
also gave a boost to the nation's automakers this holiday season. general motors and fiat chrysler posted double digit gains in december. cheaper gas and promotional savings drove americans to dealerships in droves. only ford finished flat for the month, although it was the top- selling brand in the u.s. for 2014. >> ifill: the search for air- asia flight 8501 expanded today. ships and aircraft fanned out over a wider section of the java sea to make up for 8 days of strong currents that could have carried debris farther afield. 37 bodies have been recovered of the 162 passengers and crew who were on board. meanwhile,0i ministry cracked down on air asia for flying the surabaya to singapore route on unauthorized days. >> ( translated ): if airasia did not do anything wrong, why would indonesia suspend their
6:04 pm
license? according to our identification data, it shows that they are clearly in the wrong, because they do not fly at the times that we have approved or permitted. >> ifill: control tower officials and other individuals who permitted the plane to fly will also be suspended. >> woodruff: boko haram islamic militants have attacked and seized the headquarters of a remote multinational military base in nigeria. an unknown number of soldiers and civilians were killed in the attack that happened this weekend in baga, near the border with chad. survivors who fled the scene said the militants used assault rifles, explosives and rocket propelled grenades in the sustained attack. many residents escaped by canoe. >> ifill: in the u.s., a blast of arctic air pushed down from canada into the plains and upper midwest today. some of the worst wind chills were recorded in minnesota and wisconsin, and the national weather service issued advisories and warnings for much of the region. the coldas) is moving east and south. in new england, temperatures dropped 35 degrees in the last 24 hours.
6:05 pm
but meteorologists say it's not unusual, it's just january. >> woodruff: the flu is running rampant in most of the country according to the centers for disease control and prevention. the c.d.c. issued updated numbers today, showing flu is now widespread in 43 states and could peak later this month. the strain of the virus that's making most people sick wasn't included in this year's vaccine, making flu shots less effective than normal. >> ifill: the u.s. ski team is in mourning after two of its prospects were killed in an avalanche today in the austrian alps. 20-year-old ronnie berlackand and 19-year-old bryce astle were descending a slope with four other skiers when they left the prepared path and apparently triggered the deadly slide. none of the other skiers were hurt. the site of the accident had been under an avalanche alert because of recent weather. >> woodruff: a member of the grand jury in ferguson, missouri filed a lawsuit today ïq r she can speak out about the
6:06 pm
case. the lawsuit is necessary because a lifetime gag order was placed on the jurors who decided not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old. the unnamed juror contends the prosecutor in the case was wrong to imply that all 12 jurors believed there was no evidence to support the charges. >> ifill: the tomb of a mystery queen has been unearthed in egypt. a team of czech archaeologists discovered the 4,500-year-old tomb at the abu sir necropolis just south of cairo. markings on the walls indicated it belonged to khentkaus the third, a previously unknown wife or mother of pharaoh raneferef, who ruled during egypt's fifth dynasty. that's during the same time the first pyramids were constructed. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour. the boston marathon bombing trail begins with jury selection. lebanon's unprecedented move to restrict syrians from crossing the border. republicans return to washington with the majority and an agenda.
6:07 pm
the euro plunges to a nine year low against the u.s. dollar. the suicide of a transgender teen sparks a national conversation. and remembering edward brooke who overcame racial barriers in politics and law. >> woodruff: jury selection got underway in boston today in the trial of the man accused of bombing the 2013 boston marathon. the surviving suspect-- 21 year- old dzhokhar tsarnaev-- was on hand as lawyers from both sides began screening 1,200 potential candidates, but didn't speak. that number will eventually be whittled down to 12 jurors and six alternates. but that could take weeks due to extensive media coverage of the attack and sheer number of people affected.
6:08 pm
it's been almost two years since the bombings killed three people and wounded more than 260 others near the marathon's finish line. soon after, the f.b.i released this surveillance video showing dzhokhar and his older brother tamerlan at the scene. that triggered a manhunt and forced the city of boston and its surrounding areas into lockdown. the accused allegedly killed a police officer along the way. it wasn't until four days after the blasts that law enforcement closed in on the brothers in the suburb of watertown. tamerlan ultimately died after an intense shootout with police. but dzhokhar fled and was later arrested, hiding out in this boat in a watertown backyard. dzhokhar has already pleaded not guilty to all 30 charges, and could face the death penalty if convicted. many in the community are eager for the trial to finally begin
6:09 pm
january 26th. >> get this over with, get this in the past, and start anew. >> it's going to be painful, of course, to relive something so traumatic but i think-- who could handle it better than the citizens of boston? >> woodruff: some bombing survivors-- like heather abbott who lost her left leg below the knee-- plan to attend the proceedings, but are understandably anxious. >> i expect it to be emotional. i'm sure that it's not going to be an easy time. but for me it's something that i want to at least experience attending just for some sort of peace of mind, to see the person who changed my life forever. >> woodruff: the judge said he expects the trial could last as long as four months. for more on today's proceedings and the mood in the city of boston, we are joined by phillip martin, senior investigative reporter for w.g.b.h fm, public radio who was in the courtroom
6:10 pm
today. phillip martin, thank you for being with us. first of all, tell us about the scene where you were. >> well, i was with other journalists today watching through a glass plate window. a glass paned window. a huge window. we were watching about 250 jurors starting at 9:00 this morning, then again 1:00 this afternoon. these are potential jurors, i should say. they're being selected from throughout massachusetts to sit potentially on the trial of dzhokharç tsarnaev at the u.s. courthouse right behind me, in fact. >> woodruff: that's a lot of people to talk to. how is the judge and the lawyers, how are they going about winnowing that down? what kind of questions are being asked. >> one question that will winnow this down tremendously is
6:11 pm
whether or not the juror whether or not he or she would consider the death penalty if the defendant is found guilty. if you answer no to that question, you are immediately dismissed from the jury pool. you are excused from the jury pool because as you know, this is a death penalty trial. if you answer "no" to that question, the prosecutors will just go on. so the other questions asked if you know any of the potential witnesses. there's a list of the witnesses the potential jurors see for their eyes only, we weren't allowed to see the questionnaire, and if they know some of the witnesses on this list, it's not clear how the judge will ag and what the prosecution and the defense will say under those circumstances, but it's thought it's preferable, of course they not know any of the witnesses. >> woodruff: i was also reading the judge is saying to the potential jurors not to read
6:12 pm
anything or do any researchç about this case, but i also want to ask you about dzhokhar tsarnaev himself. he is in the courtroom. what is he doing during all this? >> well, you know, under any other circumstances, you would look at this young man as what he was at one point, a college student. that's what he looked like. but in the background, of course, are the bombings, the twin bombings of april 2013. so you see a young man with a scruffy beard wearing a black sweater and khaki pants -- not a suit, not a tie. he looks like a college student. throughout the proceedings as the potential jurors were being questioned, he was looking straight ahead. he seemed to look down only when the judge mentioned that the death penalty would be considered in this case. but for the most part, he seemed -- i wouldn't say
6:13 pm
confident and i wouldn't say aloof. he seemed as though he was simply accepting what was taking place and staring straight ahead. >> woodruff: phillip martin, finally, what are people in boston saying about this? is there a sense of anxiety about the trial? we just heard a few moments ago one resident saying they just wanted to get this over with. >> you're going to hear that from quite a few people but there's a sort of sense that this had the take place. this was inevitable. it had been put off for some time now, originally was supposed to take place in november. talking with a manager of boston marathon sports,ç whose windows were blown out during one of the bombs, he simply said he would like to focus on the survivors and the victims rather than the alleged suspect or the suspect dzhokhar tsarnaev. he said his sympathy is for the victims of this case. he would like it to be over
6:14 pm
with but, at the same time, he is resigned this is going to happen. it took place in boston and this is where it's going to end. >> woodruff: phillip martin with wgbh radio. we thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> ifill: in the middle east, syrians attempting to flee fighting were turned away today by the lebanese government. the bordering nation, which has been straining under the weight of its refugee population, is now imposing new restrictions aimed at slowing the influx of asylum seekers. humanitarian groups are concerned that the new policy may leave syrians trapped inside a war zone with no way out. all told, the conflict has produced more than three million refugees. according to the u.n., more than a million registered refugees are in both lebanon and neighboring turkey. jordan is host to more than 600,000. iraq, nearly a quarter million. joining me to help put all this in perspective is chief foreign
6:15 pm
affairs correspondent margaret warner. margaret, how big? what is the scope of the problem we're talking about in lebanon? >> it's absolutely huge. lebanon is being swamped in proportion to its population. so right now more than a quarter of the people living in syria -- living in lebanon are syrian refugees. in other words there's 1.2 million probably another half million that don't register with the u.n. on many accounts lebanon has the highest number of total refugees because they have all the palestinians from 40 to 60 years ago in the world. so it's been a huge strain on resources. there are some towns where i'm told there are more babies born to syrian mothers than lebanese mothers. there are some schools where there are more syrian children trying to get into the schools than lebanese children. apparently the new restrictions were agreed upon in the cabinet by all these different sectarian
6:16 pm
groups. there's the shiites, hezbollah blah, the sunnis, the christians, they often don't agree on much. on this they agree, the public opinion, the resentment is across all categories. >> ifill: why is lebanon taking such a hit? >> partly, it's accessible. people flew wherever they could get to a border and it was close. so in the case of lebanon to the south, this has been an area that was semi-controlled by the opposition. at least i was open. and an al quaida-like group, they're in an uneasy collusion. so people fleeing fromda damascus have come from that area. people fled closest to where they could get to and not get killed in the process. there are millions of syrians inside syrian who can't get across a border anywhere. >> ifill: is there a
6:17 pm
distinction drawn between political and humanitarian refugees in lebanon? >> no. first of all, there had been a treaty of friendship and cooperation between the two so you didn't need a visa to come in. so many are people who came in and out. and we saw that when we were there 18 months ago. they might come in, buy food, go back out and back and forth. a lot of syrian officials and pro assad businessmen put their families in beirut. syria and lebanon have always had a close relationship and didn't make a distinction. what the u.n. is worried about, they don't even mention the word "refugee." they say if you're coming in as a business person, tourist, student. so the u.n. is asking for clarification. the rules say, if you're already in lebanon you won't be asked to leave. >> ifill: that was my next question. 3 million people, 1 million unaccounted for or 1.5 million.
6:18 pm
assuming those folks are there. they're safe from repatriation? >> yes. but what it does not say is what happens to the mother and sick children who arrive at the border. so far, no answer yet from the lebanese government. what it does say if you don't meet one of the categories, you have to get someone to vouch for you that's lebanese. one is a huge opportunity for corruption. secondly, it is a way for the government to retain some control but send a message to syrians look don't head our way. finally, what they mean it as a wakeup call to the international community, which is if you want us to have an open border you've got to help us pay for it and the international community has not. >> ifill: and if you're iraq and jordan, you would consider the same thing. >> you absolutely would. in the case of iraq the yazidis and others who go in through jair and out there, it's pretty
6:19 pm
unsafe to get into iraq. turkey is a huge country and a huge economy. because lebanon didn't want to establish camps because they didn't want a palestinian situation because of the ethnic sectarian balance, they have made it harder because there is no place for the u.n. to add steer aid. >> ifill: they're everywhere. they do it through food vouchers but there are no established camps where the u.n. can run things. it's desperate. >> ifill: margaret, thank you. my pleasure. >> woodruff: tomorrow, the united states will convene its 114th congress, and with it will come republican control of both the house and senate for the first time in nearly a decade. to give you a sense of the new congress, here is the composition of the house as it stands today, with more
6:20 pm
republican seats in red and fewer democrats in blue. and here is the house as it will be, starting tomorrow. more red less blue. there will be one vacant seat-- that follows the resignation of new york gop congressman michael grimm. the senate faces a more dramatic shift. democrats held a significant majority in this past congress. starting tomorrow, that will flip. republicans will hold 54 seats and the democratic caucus will have 46. what will this mean for the agenda? the main issues ahead include energy, health care, and some new fiscal deadlines approaching. to get a more precise idea of what this could mean, we are joined by david boaz of the libertarian cato institute and arkadi gerney of the liberal- leaning center for american progress. we welcome you both to the program again. >> thank you. >> woodruff: thank you. so you both watched the congress very closely you look at the issues. david boaz, let me start with you. what are republicans looking for out of this congress? >> well, i think immediately they're likely to turn to the
6:21 pm
keystone pipeline issue. >> woodruff: this week. that's right. and they will likely pass that in the house of representatives. they'll probably pass it in the senate but not with a veto-proof- majority. i don't know. it's still possible the president will let that. go but then they're going to turn, i think to obamacare and then budget issues will occupy much of the year. it was let's start with emergency and the keystone pipeline. arkadi gerney, looks like the republicans will get it passed, -- democrats will get it passed, the democrats will veto it? >> both democrats and republicans were talking about an all of the above strategy. now it's all keystone pipeline from the republicans. >> woodruff: and you're saying nothing else you see on energy coming. >> i think we're seeing progress in the real world of energy with gas prices down, a lot of progress toward more fuel efficient cars and renewable
6:22 pm
energy, but it looks like this week the republicans will have a very narrow focus on just this. >> woodruff: and just on the point of the week, if the president vetoes as expected enough votes on the part of republicans to overturn the veto or not? >> i doubt they can get two-thirds in both houses. >> woodruff: and your sense is the same? >> correct. >> woodruff: let's talk about healthcare. david boaz, you were telling us earlier you think there's going to be an early attempt again on the part of republicans to overturn the republicans' healthcare law? >> yes, but the difference is as you said, now they have a republican senate. so the likely thing is that the house wants to pass a repeal and replace or maybe just repeal, promising later to replace obamacare. i think they will pass that. the senate would probably have a majority for that but probably not a 60-vote majority and under the new sort of it takes 60 votes to do anything in the senate, they couldn't pass it. so the likely tactic for the reps is to make it parent to have the budget bill and push it
6:23 pm
forward under a reconciliation process. >> woodruff: what does that mean? >> reconciliation is a way of dealing with reconciling what both houses -- >> woodruff: no, what does it mean in terms of the healthcare law? >> if they put an obamacare repeal in a reconciliation bill they can get it passed by boy scout houses of kong and get it sent to the president's desk where he'll surely veto the repeal of obamacare. it goes back to the house and the question will be will the republicans send a cleaner budget bill, having made their point with obamacare, do they put things in the president doesn't like but won't want to veto twice. >> woodruff: doesn't like with regard to healthcare? >> no, with regard to the budget generally. he's nots going to let a repeal of the obamacare go through. >> woodruff: the bottom line, the healthcare law? >> that's right. we've heard this tune before. the healthcare law buzz passed in 2010, it's working.
6:24 pm
more than 9 million americans who didn't have coverage have it. the cost of healthcare which have been sky)cketing for years have now escalating at a slower rate. but congress and republicans in congress have worked for years to undermine the laws, have taken tens of thousands of votes. >> woodruff: talked about it on the campaign trail. >> tried to shut down the government a couple of times. it's not surprising this continues to be a fascination of republicans. >> woodruff: we're looking at the courts because we know this is coming up in the supreme court. >> right, arkadi gerney is probably right, they can pass it, the president can veto it, that leaves is at the status quoavment it is possible that the supreme court will correctly find that what the president is doing isç not authorized in the law and that will start over. >> woodruff: so we're looking at a disagreement over energy, we're looking at continued disagreement over healthcare. where do you see areas of possible agreement in this congress? >> trade is one area where i
6:25 pm
would think there is potential that president putin like most who wants to sign trade agreements and the republicans who most support free trade to work together, possibly gepts a majority of the democrats in both houses who, heavily influenced by unions don't like further free trade. >> woodruff: how do you see the free trade issue? >> i think trade can be kuwait controversial. i think another issue you might see compromise is criminal justice reform. senator booker and rand paul have a bill together to look at particularly at non-violent drug offenses and some of the sentences we have now and i think some of the incidents like in ferguson, missouri and the garner case in new york have put the question of inequalities in the criminal justice system in the spotlight and i think that's something you will see democrats and republicans potentially make progress on. >> woodruff: do you see hope for that? >> i think there is hope for that. the rand paul-booker alliance is importance, justice reform, also repealing or reforming the 1033
6:26 pm
program under which the pentagon gives military equipment to police forces even in small towns like ferguson missouri. you would hope there could be bipartisan objections to that. >> woodruff: immigration. arkadi gerney, republicans are talking about undoing the president's executive action observe immigration. how will that work through? >> before the president put forward this action, there were all kinds of threats about how the sky would fall down and how serious a problem would be if the president went ahead and did this. so far the republicans have not followed through on that threat. there is this upcoming issue of the homeland security budget which expires in february and that could be another trigger. but this effort to shut down the government or parts of the government for policy outcomes that republicans don't like hasn't worked well in the past and didn't work very well for republicans politically in the shutdown of last year that senator cruz did so we'll see if they go through with anything.
6:27 pm
>> woodruff: what do you see happening on that front? >> i think there is a majority in the country and in the congress for some liberalization form of immigration reform. the problem is i do believe that the president's unilateral action has poisoned the well among a lot of republicans so even though there's a majority a ma better policy there may not be a majority you can put together for any particularly better policy. >> woodruff: so we may see what? >> may see a stealmate, though i'm hopeful in both partez there's an interest in a rational and more liberal immigration process. >> woodruff: bottom line? i think we'll keep our fingers crossed. 4 million people have been living in this country a long time. the president's action has made them become part of the economy and country and i think that's a good thing. >> woodruff: arkadi gerney, david boaz, we thank you both. >> thank you.
6:28 pm
>> ifill: the value of the euro plunged to a nine-year low against the dollar today, renewing fears in some quarters that the economic stability of europe could be at risk. jeffrey brown has our look at that. >> brown: the prospect of a eurozone exit drew a mixed response in athens today. just weeks before the january 25th national election greece's left-wing syriza party is ahead in the polls, and its leaders want to change the terms of a bailout deal forged as a result of the country's economic crisis. but that move would likely anger the rest of the euro group resulting in a possible split. >> i think this is right, greece has to remain in the euro and has to keep its promises and the signature that greece has done so the europeans, as many are for this, i think they are right.
6:29 pm
greece should not distance itself from europe and should not get out of the euro. >> i don't believe our leaving the euro would be that much of a problem, i think we'd be in the same mess. we're at zero, it can't get worse. we will try to work and make things better. >> brown: the drop was triggered, in part by the german magazine "der spiegel," which has reported that chancellor angela merkel is "no longer afraid that a greek exit could result in the collapse of the entire euro zone." but a government spokesman today said germany's stance has remained the same. >> since the beginning it has been the policy of the federal government and its european partners to stabilize and strengthen the eurozone, meaning the eurozone with all its members, certainly also including greece. this has not shnged at all. new action to stimulate growth. along the lines of the u.s. federal reserves' quantitative
6:30 pm
easing of recent years. and we explore this more now with economist jacob kirkegaard of the peterson institute for international economics and kenneth rogoff of harvard university. ken how bad is the overall economic situation in europe and what is the european central bank going to do about it? >> well, growth is zero inflation is zero. the economy does not look bright from here, and the gene central bank would like to stimulate the economy much more than it has. the germans have resisted that. they're very averse to inflation, but i think things have gotten so bad that they will get overruled and the e.c.b. will start to look more like the federal reserve, but it's not easy. certainly, they say it's a tough -- they face a tough road. >> brown: that's the opposite of what the u.s. is doing, is that right? the central bank is not stimulating anymore.
6:31 pm
>> i think one of the main reasons we're seeing the movement in the currency market is that opposite dreksdz of monetary policies in the u.s. and the euro area, where the euro area will do more stimulus whereas the main debate in the federal reserve is when to raise interest rates than buying sovereign bonds. >> brown: how does this european central bank acting that way decrease the value of the euro? >> basically, it acts as, when it starts buying, it creates more money. at the same time, you're going to have a situation where interest rates will remain essentially zero in the euro area, so you will have a yield differential. basically, you will be more profitable to have your money and assets in dollars as opposed to the euro which creates these effects. >> brown: so kenneth rogoff, we look at greece and we've talked about greece for many years running now and a lot of it looks much the same.
6:32 pm
has something new happened here? >> i think it is inevitable that greece is going to rebel from the programs that it has. now let's understand they're not really paying a lot now. the payments are back-loaded. but, nevertheless having all that debt coming due even many years from now puts a pall over investment depresses the economy. they need to make transfers to greece and write greece's debt down. the problem is when they do that, they need to do it with other periphery countries -- portugal spain, ireland. frankly, i think they should. i think it's inevitable. but there's incredible intransients not just in germany with writing down debt but france and italy with reforming their economies. this is pushing them. every time they're pushed, they seem to do just must enough to keep it going and i think the market are a little calmer about that
6:33 pm
than they might have been a few years ago, but they're very far from finding a solution. >> brown: is there a real possibility of greje leaving the euro zone this time? that's something we've also talked about over the years. >> no. i think the likelihood greece will drop out of the euro is very, very small. if you look at the recent rumors you also mentioned in the beginning of this segment, essentially i would call it from the department of dirty political tricks, because you have an election in greece that's basically between a narrative of fear and a narrative of anger. if the greek voters are angry they're going to vote for the opposition, but if they're fearful for the future, they're going to vote for the current government. so what you have is these anon-- so what you have these anonymous german officials doing is by saying, well, maybe greece can drop out of the euro or it can't, we don't really know it's creating more maihem and fear ahead ofç the election. but i don't think the likelihood that greece is going to drop out
6:34 pm
has gone up. the reality remains that the vast majority of greeks want to stay in the euro because i think they correctly per steve if they drop out the situation will be even worse. >> brown: so ken ken, as we -- so kenneth rogoff as we look at the euro dropping, it's not always a bad thing even for the europeans. tell us about winners and losers. >> it's not a bad thick at all. the -- it's not a bad thing at all. theine company is weak and the u.s. is strong. it's been a puzzle the euro hasn't dropped more in the years. it's basically a healthy development. american tourism, place there is the united states that have tourists, they lose european tourists europe gets american tourists. if there's an american car manufacturer competing with the european car manufacturer, they lose. so i wouldn't overdramatize.
6:35 pm
badly. it's helpful for the economy. the oil prices falling is good for everyone. so it's not all ugly in europe. greece, yes. the euro falling, the falling oil prices obviously it will give a boost to a region that needs it. impact on the u.s. economy with a weaker europe? we saw the stock market drop today. most of that is about oil prices, right? >> i don't think it will be that big effect. you have two main channels. one is slightly lower exports to europe, and the value of international companies that they derive will be worth less in dollars, but ultimately this is not going to affect the u.s. economy very much and as ken said, this is actually what we would want. we want the euro to go down to
6:36 pm
help spymulate the european economy. >> brown: very briefly. there a point where it's too far down and does get serious. >> there's no doubt where you can have a situation market can overshoot. but so far the gradual decline, in my opinion fully inç line with economic fundamentals and word to drop further to, say, 110 or something like that i would say that would be in line with fundamentals. >> brown: jacob kirkegaard, kenneth rogoff, thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: the suicide last week of a transgender teenager in ohio has drawn heightened attention to the challenges that transgender and lesbian, gay or bisexual young people face. and prompted something of a national conversation on the subject. hari sreenivasan has our report. >> sreenivasan: hundreds gathered at a candle light vigil in columbus, ohio this weekend
6:37 pm
in memory of transgender teenager leelah alcorn. the 17-year-old, who was born joshua, is believed tohqke killed herself late last month alcorn's story gained nationwide attention after a suicide note was posted posthumously on her tumblr page. in it, she detailed her struggles with her identity and placed much of the blame on her devoutly christian parents who she claims refused to accept her. she wrote, "the only way i will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way i was, they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights." alcorn said she was taken out of school and forced to attend so- called conversion therapy, where she was told to change her sexual orientation. the practice has been banned in two states under grounds it is medically unfounded and puts children in danger. in an interview with cnn, last week, leelah's mother carla said she loved her child unconditionally, but could not support her sexuality on religious grounds. during the interview, she referred to alcorn using only
6:38 pm
male pronouns. alcorn's death has sparked a groundswell of support with many calling for a federal law to protect other transgender adolescents. one study from u.c.l.a. suggests more than 40% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide nearly nine times the national average. >> i hope the conversation continues. we could have vigils every day from now until eternity but if we're not actually trying to make changes within the system and within the institution i think we're going to continue to have children that are going to take their lives. >> sreenivasan: meanwhile on twitter, users shared support and their own stories of hardship with the hashtag: real live transadult. and a change.org petition calling for the banning of conversion therapy has nearly 300,000 signatures online. more on the pressures on transgender youth, their friends and families and what resources are available, we torn to the executive director of the national center for transgender equality and a michigan college student who transitiont from woman to man and chronicled it on youtube. leo, when you first heard what happened to leelah alcorn what went through your mind? >> well i initially didn't read the article.
6:39 pm
i saw the headline. it took me a little while to bring myself to read it. i read her note and it was just heartbreaking/ç it was really hard to finish it. she touched on so many different aspects of her life to show that -- it was just really hard to read. >> sreenivasan: were there things you could relate with, feelings you had gone through yourself? >> yeah, she mentioned, towards the end, even living as a lonely man or a lonelier woman, and that definitely resonated with me. >> sreenivasan: how common is depression and suicidal tendencies within the transgender population? >> we don't know exactly. we do know there is an elevated several of suicidality among transgender substantially higher than non-transgender people. >> sreenivasan: how come? i think there are precious
6:40 pm
society puts on us. i think one of the things leelah did was express clearly she wasn't the problem. it was how society was treating her. it was what the expectations were for her because she was transgender and those are precious are really real, and that note resonated with so many transpeople, mostly all. >> sreenivasan: so one of the things in her note was the support or lack of support from her parents. when you were growing up and going through this transition in the last few years how important was that to you. >> it was everything. without that support, i would not be here right now honestly. it really put out a cushion for me. i knew people had my back. so i know for sure i would not have made it this far without the support of my family. >> sreenivasan: mara, what about the support and network
6:41 pm
that deals with the family members and friends as well because, even in the grief-stricken kind of conversations that those parents had on tell jigs network the other day they still referred to leelah as a boy. >> yeah, you know, transgender people are not a new phenomena, but so many of us being out and coming out is really a thing of the last few decades, and thrfns been a lot of resources for parents until over the last couple of decades when, now there is things like pflag, parents and friends of lesbians and gays, they do a lot of work with parents of transgender people as well. there's a lot of resources on the internet -- the family acceptance project, gender spectrum -- so many other ways people can learn. people have to reach out and what leo said is so important. family acceptance is one of the most important indicators of success or fairly in -- success
6:42 pm
or failure in any kind of life. when you face societal pressures, having your family behind you is really important. >> sreenivasan: where does that fall short the most? in the suicide note she said the problem wasn't school but was really at home. for the majority of transgender people, is bullying more the problem outside the family? >> well, i think it's different for everybmd2. some people have phenomenally supportive parents and lose their friends, some it's the other way. some it's just people at school. it's getting better. it's not getting better for everybody fast enough, but it is getting better. >> sreenivasan: one of the things we talked about earlier, leo, and one of the things you mentioned in your post is changing the pronoun and how important that was.
6:43 pm
for someone who doesn't get it what's the big deal of calling you a he versus a she? >> pronounce and name change are basically -- when you say you are going to acknowledge that you are acknowledging the person and acknowledging this is how they identify, this is who they are. so by saying, all right, i will call you by this and i will refer to you as this. you're saying i see who you are and respect that. >> sreenivasan: mara, what kind of support infrastructure exists for teens who might be depressed, might be thinking about this or inspired in a negative way by what happened last peek weekend? >> there is quite a bit. first of all there's the internet where lots of communities of transyouth have sprung up and that's important. there's also the trevor project which is a help online and on telephones. there is pflag for families.
6:44 pm
there are youth and queer support groups in cities and a lot of lgbt community centers in cities that have youth groups where people can find support from their peers and communities. >> sreenivasan: mara and leo thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> ifill: barack obama was only 5 years old when edward brooke paved the way for history that was to come more than four decades later, when brooke was elected a republican senator to the state of massachusetts, the first african-american in the body since reconstruction. also massachusetts' first black attorney general and earned the bronze star for his service in world war ii. after the war, brooke moved to
6:45 pm
boston, where he practiced law before shifting to a career in politics. in 2003, he was interviewed by the history makers oral archive and recounted the pushback he encountered from other politicians as he sought to run for senate. >> all of them said they were thinking about running themselves and, which to me strengthened my position that i didn't have any time to waste to run. now, you might say, well, isn't that political opportunism. of course, it's political opportunity. but that's what politics is all about. i learned that. you strike when the iron is hot. >> ifill: brooke went on to serve two terms as a liberal massachusetts republican, making his mark o hnd influenced major anti-poverty and housing legislation. after initially supporting president richard nixon's bid for office, brooke earned his reputation as a party outlier by becoming the first republican senator to call for nixon's
6:46 pm
resignation. he came to be known for his bipartisan efforts in the senate. in 2009, brooke was honored with the congressional gold medal. and he received thirty-four honorary degrees. >> ifill: edward brooke iii died on saturday, at his home in coral gables, florida. he was 95-years-old. for more on the man and his time, we're joined by, adrian walker, a columnist with the boston globe. >> yes, he did. he wanted to be known for his service, the things he accomplished in office rather than the first black senator since reconstruction. >> ifill: why wouldn't he embrace that? >> you know, i think he didn't embrace it because he didn't view race as a central part of his political persona. he saw a person who transcended it a man for all massachusetts and who crossed barriers. >> ifill: we're joined by
6:47 pm
historian richard norton smith who, among accomplishments worked as a speech writer for edward brooke for a time in the senate. what's your sense of why edward brooke, for all he accomplished didn't want to be remembered as a first anything? >> i think he was always uncomfortable with labels whatever they were because labels, after all, are inherently limiting. and he knew enough mystery to realize at some point today when we reach this point in his story his story -- historians and others would be making assessments based not only the symbolism, important as it was, of being the first, but rather they would be assessing what he did. >> ifill: i think we just lost richard. i will take the question back to adrian. one of the things he did, he was offered three different cabinet posts but turned them down. buzz it because he just
6:48 pm
preferred politics? >> he loved being a man of the senate. hi loved the bipartisan nature of the senate of the day. he loved trying to reach across the aisle crafting legislation, and he was very happy where he was and i think he expected to be a senator for a long time which did not exactly come to pass. >> ifill: we have a little weather problem in grand rapids which is making the connection difficult. i'll stick with you for now, adrian walker. one to have the interesting things about edward brooke is he was aware of what fell in his path. he was proud and sent a signed book to barack obama talking about how he was proud of him carrying the torch for him, barack obama saying he knew he had paved the way but brooke said he wasn't a civil rights leader. >> he said it many times. he really didn't want to be known as the first of first black senator, as a sort of civil rights leader. he wanted to be thought of as just a senator a person who had transcended the boundaries and
6:49 pm
overcome them. >> ifill: richard he described himself as a creative moderate. maybe that's why he resisted those kinds of labels. >> yeah, he was an amazingly constructive force. you know, you mentioned earlier housing was one of his preeminent interests in the senate. you don't join the housing committee if you want to be invited on to sunday morning talk shows. that's not a subject important as it is and as much time as he put into it, it was not something that would produce political dividends. he was also, from the very beginning, very much a man who was willing to buck his own party. richard nixon is a classic example. senator brooke opposed both nixon senate nominees successfully, yet he was the
6:50 pm
first leading republican to call for nixon's resignation and yet seemed to have retained nixon's respect. that tells you something about the way people on both sides of the aisle viewed brooke who was a senator's senator. >> he was a moderate in a way you don't see in the senate anymore. he was a really moderate republican who really prided himself on being able to work across the aisle and who was not afraid of bucking the party leadership at many times. >> ifill: and he was elected in massachusetts at a time when the black population was something like 2%. does that mean he was what people later said that barack obama should have been or could have been which was the transcendent break-through candidate? >> in a way he was. he got elected in a state with hardly any black voters. he was elected by white people, essentially. >> ifill: his brand of
6:51 pm
biparentsship could it survive today? > his type of republicanism. he joined with water mondale in minnesota and offered the fair housing act. that was the last of the great civil rights bills. can you imagine that happening today? but what you said earlier about -- there was something special about edward brooke. brooke was one of the rare breed of politicians who made people feel good about voting for them. for get his ideology and voting record, and you've got to go back to the 1960s. barry goldwater lost pa ma to lyndon johnson by a million votes, the same day edward brooke carried it by 700,000 votes, massachusetts.:he had an appeal that transcended race, that very much was in the great massachusetts twra digs of for -- tradition of for better or not. we think we've invented america.
6:52 pm
we have a home of webster the ken den0!the kennedys and edward brooke is in that. >> ifill: how will he be remembered? >> as a person of possibility and who made it clear african-american politicians can achieve things previously thought unattainable, remembered nationally for transcending boundaries, reaching across the aisle and a moderate republican of the kind that doesn't exist anymore. >> ifill: do you agree with that richard? >> yes, he was a classy guy. he was a wonderful teacher. i started writing speeches for him and i had a lot to learn and he was the best teacher. he had the innate quality great teachers had of showing you how you can do better without ruining your delicate ego.
6:53 pm
he also was a definition of charisma. you want to see many one-run walk into -- you want to see someone walk into a room and own it and instantly connect with people, he had it. >> ifill: thank you very much for taking us there. >> thank you very much. . >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. jury selection began in the boston marathon bombing trial of suspect dzhokhar tsarnaev. testimony is slated to begin on january 26th. the price of oil dropped below $50 a barrel today for the first time in five years. and, lebanon put new limits on syrians trying to escape their war-torn country. the new policy requires syrians to obtain visas that limit the time they can stay in lebanon. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, call facebook founder mark zuckerberg the new oprah.
6:54 pm
he's a philanthropist and a champion of education like her, and now he's even got his own book club. his first selection has already sold out on amazon. see what that is, on our home page. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, the private space flight company space x launches a mission to the international space station, but the real feat could be back on earth. as engineers attempt to land the rocket's first stage on a floating platform in the ocean. i'm judy woodruff. and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening, for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
6:55 pm
>> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
6:56 pm
thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm
7:00 pm
this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. sell-off on the street. the dow jones industrial average plummets more than 300 points. its worse day in three months. what's behind the selling and when might it end? breaking $50. crude prices fall 5% dipping briefly below that key level as fears of a weaker global economy and a supply glut deepen. it's the economy. will weakness overseas weigh on the u.s.? what some of the brightest economic minds are saying about the path ahead. all that and more tonight on "nightly business report" for monday, january 5th. good evening, everyone. i'm sue herera. >> i'm tyler mathisen. if you're back just from a few days off from the

105 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on