tv PBS News Hour PBS May 15, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: sentenced to death. a jury decides the fate of dzhokhar tsarnaev for his part in the 2013 bombings at the boston marathon. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. also ahead, myanmar migrants stranded at sea, unwelcome on shore, drift the southeast asian waters with fading hopes of safety and refuge. and it's friday, mark shields and david brooks are here, to analyze the week's news. and: ♪ let the good times roll ♪ >> woodruff: the king of the blues, remembering b.b king, who shaped a genre of music for generations. those are some of the stories
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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. >> woodruff: the boston marathon bomber was sentenced to death today. 21-year-old dzhokhar tsarnaev was convicted by a federal jury last month of the april, 2013, bombings that killed three bystanders near the finish line of the annual race. tsarnaev and his older brother tamerlan, later killed a policemen during a manhunt. the elder tsarnaev died in a gun battle with police. the jury chose death by lethal injection over the only other option: life in prison without possibility of release. after the penalty was announced, the u.s. attorney who led the prosecution and a bombing victim spoke.
>> today, the jury has spoken and dzhokhar tsarnaev will pay with his life for his crimes. make no mistake the defendant claimed to be acting on behalf of all muslims. there was not a religious crime and it certainly does not reflect true muslim beliefs. it was a political crime designed to intimidate and to coerce the united states. >> this is different because it's more complete, guess is how i'm going to say it. i know there is still a long road ahead. there will be many, many many more dates ahead, but right now it feels like we can take a breath. >> woodruff: in a statement released shortly after sentencing, the attorney general, loretta lynch, said: "no verdict can heal the souls of those who lost loved ones nor the minds and bodies of those who suffered life-changing injuries from this cowardly
attack. but the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment for this horrific crime." for more we turn to emily rooney of wgbh-tv in boston, who has been reporting on the trial throughout. emily rooney, you have been reporting on this trial. help us understand how the jurors were asked to reach this decision. they were asked to look at 12 different factors. is that right? >> well, it was a very complex jury slip, as they call it. it was 24 pages long. the first part of it was very simple. it was what they called gateway factors, could they establish he was 18 years or older at the time of the crime. it got more complicated and aggregated. once you determined something, you had to add that and carry it all the way. then aggregating factors and millet gaiting factors. the key was they only had to decide on one of the counts. all 12 jurors only had to agree on one of the counts if the death penalty was to be applied.
it turns out they agreed on more than one so it was automatic. >> woodruff: do you have a sense from having listened to the arguments during the entire sentencing phase of what the strongest arguments were? >> i will have to say i was incredibly impressed by both sides. the prosecution had the advantage of going first and then last. the defense came in between. you know judy clarke who argued for the defense said there are answer we will never have as to why dzhokhar tsarnaev did this but she argued he never would have done it had it not been for his older brother. on the other hand, you know, the prosecution argued that he had a conscience of his own and you could tell by the things he wrote inside of the boat that night that he intended to do this. the prosecution said one other thing to mitigate people's concerns about he wanted to die a martyr. he said, he's not dying the way he wants to die. he's going to die the way he
deserves to die. >> woodruff: we know dzhokhar tsarnaev, at least has been reported, throughout this trial has shown very little emotion or remorse about what happened. is it believed from talking to lawyers that that makes a difference as jurors decide on the sentence? >> well, as you can imagine, judge george o'toole who presided over the trial told the jurors they could not take that into consideration, a defendant's demeanor and actions in court had nothing to do with this, but it would be hard not to. the only motion he shared at all is when one of his aunts from russia was on the stand and he wiped away a tear, blew her a kiss. he didn't engage with any of the victims. i only saw him once when jessica kenski who lost both legs rolled past him, he glanced at her stumps. i saw him once look at the jury at the time the judge was charging him.
for the most part, he was laid back, slumped in his chair, pulled at his beard didn't look around the room, wasn't curious as to who was there. we'll never know whether his attorneys advised him to do that or not. they haven't said. >> woodruff: we just hearksd emily, from one of the family members of one of the victims. are you getting a sense of what the other relatives of the victims are saying in reaction? >> we've gotten to know a lot of them. no one's throwing balloons but there are those who are greatly relieved. liz norton whose two sons lost legs, shelves justice was served. michael ward, you could see his anger as he took the podium. he too, feels justice was served. there are other people like the family of 8-year-old martin richard who was in court burks they wanted to to move on and have
him seenced to life in prison because they didn't want a prolonged and protracted appeals situation which eventually we will have. >> woodruff: is there a way of reflecting how boston feels about this? >> it's very emotional for everybody. of course, i couldn't be there today, but the tension around this today was -- i think people felt like -- you know, judy clarke said, well, he's going to die in jail, it only matters how. and i think how he does die matters to everyone and i think there is a lot of private feelings about this. some people are expressing it openly he got what he deserved. others are keeping it to themselves and thinking the jury did the right thing. >> woodruff: emily rooney with wgbh-tv in boston. we thank you. u.s. military officials have
>> woodruff: in other news today, the national transportation safety board said the engineer of the derailed amtrak train in philadelphia was "extremely cooperative" in an interview. brandon bostian said he wasn't tired or ill, and didn't have any problems with handling the train. but he did report technical problems on an earlier trip to washington. today, the last damaged rail cars were removed from the site paving the way for crews to replace the damaged tracks. service will remain suspended at least through monday, on the heavily-traveled philadelphia to new york route. we'll talk with the head of the federal railroad administration right after this news summary. u.s. military officials have found the wreckage of the marine helicopter that went missing tuesday in nepal, likely killing all eight on board. the chopper went down about 50 miles east of kathmandu, in an area hit hard by the latest earthquake. six marines and two nepalese soldiers were on a relief mission. the u.s. commander in nepal, lieutenant general john wissler, said despite the losses, aid efforts will go on.
>> it will not affect the ongoing mission other than the fact that we will continue to mourn the loss of and observe the sacrifice of the great soldiers from nepal and our marines who lost their lives but we will continue executing relief just as we have done throughout the day today. >> woodruff: president obama expressed condolences to the families of the crash victims and said the marines "represent a truth that guides our work around the world." he made the remarks during the national peace officers' memorial service outside the u.s. capitol, part of national police week. the president met with the families of fallen policemen and pledged to honor their memories. the annual ceremony takes place amid tensions between police forces and communities across the country. >> we can work harder as a nation to heal the rifts that still exist in some places between law enforcement and the people you risk your lives to protect. we owe it to all of you who wear the badge with honor and we owe it to your fellow officers who gave their last full measure of devotion.
>> woodruff: last year, 131 police officers in the united states died in the line of duty. islamic state militants waged a fierce battle in iraq today, in the end raising their black flag over the main government compound in the city of ramadi. government forces fought from trenches in the streets, but were forced to withdraw from the compound after three near- simultaneous attacks. other parts of the city are also under islamic state control. at least ten police were killed during the attacks. in burundi, the government said it has restored order after wednesday's attempted military coup fizzled. the president returned to the capital today where he was met by crowds of supporters celebrating in the streets. government forces arrested some of the members behind the failed coup. but there was still the possibility of renewed clashes as protestors vowed to revive demonstrations against the president, whose bid for a third term they call unconstitutional. police in mozambique have seized
nearly 1.3 tons of ivory and rhino horns. they were found at the home of a chinese national on the outskirts of the capital of maputo, he was arrested tuesday. the cache included 340 elephant tusks and 65 rhino horns. officials estimate that's equivalent to the slaughter of 235 animals. virtually all ivory and horn trade is banned worldwide to protect the animals from extinction. blue bell creameries, based in texas, is laying off more than a third of its workforce after a series of listeria illnesses were linked to its ice cream. all of its plants remain closed and more than 1,400 people will lose their jobs. on wall street, stocks ended the day mostly higher. the dow jones industrial average gained 20 points to close at 18272. the nasdaq fell two points and the s-and-p 500 gained a point. for the week, the major indexes each gained a fraction of a percent.
still to come on the newshour: the federal government's point person for railroads on the deadly train derailment; the southeast asia migrant crisis; congress refreshes the battle over abortion; mark shields and david brooks on the week's news; remembering legendary musician b.b. king, who defined the american blues for generations; and, how the arts are helping talented youth in baltimore succeed in school. >> woodruff: the amtrak derailment this week has set in motion a series of questions and examinations about safety systems for the country's railroads, and whether there's been adequate funding and necessary technology committed to doing so. eight people were killed and more than 200 injured when the train left the tracks in philadelphia at a speed of more than 100 miles-an-hour.
sarah feinberg is acting administrator of the federal railroad administration, an agency within the department of transportation that promotes safe rail transportation. ms. feinberg, welcome to the "newshour". a lot of conversation as we were saying, about whether this accident could have been prevented with some sort of safety mechanism. is there a mechanism or or device or system that could have prevented it? >> well, thanks for having me, judy. you know, we don't know the cause of the accident yet. the ntsb is the lead investigative agency into what caused this accident. we'll know more soon. but to the extent that speed could have been a factor here or was a factor here, we know that positive train control can have a huge impact on speed and can really keep trains from going over speed. so it's a really important technology that needs to get implemented along the country's rail system. >> woodruff: why is it
implemented? if it's known it can make a difference in a situation like this, why isn't it in all passenger trains? >> congress passed a law requiring it to be implemented by december 31 of 2015, so the end of this year. amtrak has said they will meet that deadline. other commuter railroads and freight rails said they will have meeting that deadline. it's an incredibly expensive and complicated technology, but it is a game-changer in terms of safety, so we are really pushing railroads to work as hard as they possibly can to meet the deadline. >> woodruff: it's our understanding from reports today including one in the "new york times" is part of the issue is railroads have not had access to broad banned tickology to enable them to get this in place and something that congress initially denied them access to. explain that for us. >> that's right. there are a lot of complicated factors here and a lot of challenges facing the railroads as they attempt to implement the
technology. one as you mentioned is spectrum. the railroads literally have to buy spectrum from spectrum quarters or speculators and they need it to run along the rails and work. another challenge is expense. it's a very complicated technology. it requires literally the train to be able to talk to the wayside detector and the wayside detector to be able to talk back and control the speed of the train, make the train take actions in the engineer isn't taking appropriate actions. so there are a lot of challenges with the railroads implementing the technology but that doesn't mean we should be pushing them to do it anyway. >> woodruff: americans are familiar with how much the government -- the lengths the government goes to make sure the faa and other agencies that flying is say. do you think by contrast there hasn't been
enough focus on safety in our railroads? >> i'm so that you brought that up, judy. i think about that often. it is incredibly safe to fly in an airplane. it's also incredibly safe to ride on a train. 300 million americans have traveled the northeast corridor in recent years. it's incredibly safe to be on a train. but that said the individuals that were on this train on tuesday night put their lives in the hands of an engineer that they have to assume will never make a mistake or not have a a medical event will not have some sort of issue in the cab. rail travel is incredibly safe, but why would we not implement a technology that can take a human factor or human error off the table? >> reporter: >> woodruff: and only one person required to be in that as engineer, whereas on an airplane it's two people. >> well, and there's a debate that goes back and forth on that. there is one theory if you add more people to the cab, that can
possibly distract the engineer. you also don't want personal conversations happening in the cab when an engineer feeds needs to be solely focused on operating that train. so that debate goes back and forth, but it's something we're constantly looking at at the fra. >> woodruff: sarah feinberg acting administrator at the federal railroad administration. we thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: now, a story of desperation and migration, as refugees take to the sea in asia, but struggle to find safe harbor. hari sreenivasan reports on this burgeoning humanitarian crisis in the region, one no country is in a rush to solve. >> hello, how long have you been on the boat? >> sreenivasan: the people on this rickety fishing boat say they have been at sea for three months, fleeing poverty in bangladesh and persecution in myanmar, once called burma. the captain and crew abandoned
them six days ago, they told journalists from the new york times, who filmed this video. in recent days they were turned away from thailand, malaysia and indonesia. they're part of an estimated 6,000 people on boats in the waters around the three nations. 1600 other migrants were rescued by the malaysian and indonesian navies earlier this week. since november an estimated 20 to 25,000 people have left myanmar and bangladesh. many are from the rohingya, a muslim minority, which has been persecuted by the myanmar government. >> sreenivasan: for more on the exodus from myanmar and bangladesh we turn to sarnata reynolds, senior advisor on human rights at refugees international, a non profit organization that advocates on behalf of refugees. let's bring our audience up to speed. who are these people? why are they getting in boats and running from where they live today. >> they're an ethnic minority in myanmar about 1.3 1.3 million in
the country, though 10% have fled on boats in the last years. they have lived in the country for generations. some for hundreds of years. but the government has decided to persecute them and has over the last three years, beaten them with impunity, put them into camps, told them they have to call themselves bengaly or they will be detained and basically left all humanitarian access out so they can't even get food or medical care or go to school. >> sreenivasan: this is ironic because myanmar has been taking steps to opening economically and politically but in this particular sect of the population, doesn't seem like this is a priority at all. >> and it's gotten worse as the country is opening to the international community. the state of the refugees has declined. >> reporter: what is it like when they get on these boats? >> i have talked to ruhinga
about the passage. i talked to people who have been on the boats and sent back and people who will take the journey when i was there last fall. oftentimes -- they've gotten on a boat and they know they're probably going to have to work on land wherever they go, hopefully malaysia at this point, they know they will owe money for the passage but hope they don't become prey of traffickers. they know it's a risk. they know being detained upon arrival is a risk, but they're so desperate to leave they take the risk anyway. the journey is brutal. they don't know how long they will be on the water. if they're fed it's not much. and water is always an issue. >> sreenivasan: a couple of days ago we had a navy vessel from one of the countries restock them with supplies and leave them at sea. why aren't the countries taking them in? what's the justification or
rationale for how their immigration policy is? >> there's no good rationale for leaving people to die at sea. the reason that countries are reacting in this way is because the ruhinga has been fleeing for decades. they can basically walk from where they're from but bangladesh has too many and said no more. thailand is where they went next, the closest after that. there's already 100,000 there and thailand closed its doors putting people in detention and people end up in terrible trafficking camps in the jungle and left to die there. there have been mass graves found there as well in the last few weeks. malaysia and indonesia basically say this isn't our problem, this is myanmar's problem and they're right. unfortunately in the mean time while the persecution continues, they have to protect these people. >> sreenivasan: what happens to the people who make it
somehow on land whether illegally or not get through, what's their life like in these countries? >> it's unfortunately generally miserable so most will probably be detained when they arrive if they're picked up. if they get through they won't be, they're at the bottom of society. they have no documentation whatsoever. they are desperate to make any income. of course they're going to take the hardest jobs. i talked to one man who told me he left so he could make money so his family in the camps in myanmar can have food and medicine because they can't get food and medicine and he said basically he worked everywhere and anywhere the dirtiest and most dangerous work didn't matter, it was work. >> sreenivasan: all right sarnata reynolds, thank you so much. >> thank you.
>> reporter: the abortion debate >> woodruff: this week the u.s. house of representatives saw another fiery health care debate, this time focused on abortion. our political director lisa desjardins reports from capitol hill on how republicans hope to move the familiar debate into a new gear, and how democrats hope to stop them. >> reporter: the abortion debate is raging again in washington over an old question, the question of viability. wednesday, on a nearly party- line vote, house republicans passed a bill to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, current federal law allows abortion up to 24 weeks. gop leaders like house speaker boehner crowed about the bill. >> h.r. 36 is the most pro-life legislation to ever come before this body. >> reporter: the bill focuses on the question of when does a fetus feel pain, something that is under debate. that's not new. what is new is another medical
question, when can a fetus survive outside the womb. this recent study in the new england journal of medicine concludes that with medical intervention a small fraction of 22-week-old babies can survive with no impairments or disabilities. republican representative diane black of tennessee shepherded the 20-week bill through the house. >> as a nurse and someone who's been in nursing for 40 years. when i first came into nursing back in 1969, if a baby was born at 37 weeks we were concerned because we didn't have the medical capabilities to help that baby to survive. and now we see babies being born at 20 weeks. >> reporter: but as black and other republicans push for additional abortion bans, democrats like diana degette of colorado push back. degette, who has introduced bills to defend abortion access, argues that the 20-week ban is unconstitutional. and the question of viability at 20 weeks is misconstrued. >> very few women have abortions
after 20 weeks and generally when that happens, it's because there are some very serious fetal abnormality that's gonna affect the health of the woman. so what this bill really does is say politicians are going to substitute their judgment in those few cases, for the judgment of the woman in consultation with her family and her physician. >> reporter: to degette and abortion supporters this bill is another assault on the rights of women to decide for themselves. the 20-week abortion ban has little chance of becoming federal law anytime soon, with tough hurdles in the senate and a guaranteed veto by the white house. but this week's vote is not just a symbolic gesture. conservatives are focused on a very particular target. that target sits on the u.s. supreme court. drew halfmann studies abortion politics at the university of california at davis.
>> it's very difficult to move public opinion on abortion. but public opinion doesn't make policy, the supreme court makes policy. this debate has an audience of one, justice kennedy. >> reporter: over the last two decades supreme court justice anthony kennedy has cast deciding votes on both sides of the abortion debate, tilting the 5-4 balance to uphold abortion access in some cases and allow restrictions on things like partial birth abortion. if a case does get to the supreme court anti-abortion groups are hoping that the passage of a 20-week abortion ban by the house might influence justice kennedy's vote. >> in cases over cases of so called partial birth abortion he was the key voter. so these are aimed at justice kennedy, an attempt to get the issue at court again.
>> the nays are 144, with one voting present. the bill is passed. >> reporter: the bill has one more audience, 2016 republican voters, as the party hopes to regain the white house, and with it more direct say on the composition of the supreme court. lisa desjardins, pbs newshour, capitol hill. >> woodruff: this week we saw battles between brethren democrats in congress fought against president obama's touted trade deal, while elsewhere, jeb bush struggled against his brother's presidential legacy on the question of the iraq war. all this as a deadly train crash has renewed a national debate on america's infrastructure. we turn now to the analysis of shields and brooks, that's syndicated columnist mark shields and new york times columnist david brooks. gentlemen, welcome. i want to ask you first about
the boston verdict sentencing verdict. mark you're from boston. this is the death sentence, unanimous death sentence. >> it is, judy and the one just outstanding image i have is that of bill and denise richard, the parents of little martin, the little angel, 8 years old, blown up in front of their eyes while their daughter jane lost her leg and their request to give life without parole, otherwise, they said, the death sentence every appeal, we'll relife the worst day of our life. it is an aspect that appealed to me but as pointed out by the prosecution, he put the bomb four feet away from a row of children. it was an horrific, inhuman act.
so, you know, my heart goes out to the richard family and everybody else who is touched with the pain. >> woodruff: the jury went in the other direction. >> and some other families wanted this outcome. there was division among them. i personally am skeptical of the death penalty in cases where we don't know, there have been so many wrongful convictions, so i'm not a fan of the death penalty. nevertheless, i thought what loretta lynch the new attorney general said today is this was truly the most horrendous crime imaginable and the ultimate penalty is fitting. i have some sympathy and this is not a case where we have too much doubt about who did it, we know this guy did it and killed killed the children and and killed a cop a couple of days later and if there's ever going to be a death penalty, i believe this is the case. whether he will ever get executed, i don't know if they ever will, because the appeals take so long, but i guess it's
fitting in this case. >> woodruff: another tragedy this week is the train crash, train going off the rails in philadelphia eight people killed, 200 injured. a lot of conversation about the role of safety in the railroads. we interviewed sarah feinberg a minute ago head of the federal railroad association, and whether the federal government should be doing more john boehner was asked that question, he said the question was stupid because of train speed. should we be thinking about government level or is that the wrong way to go? >> it's late to argued about government role. railroads weren't built but for the government. the transcontinental railroad was built by the government and funded to connect california with the rest of the country and fought the civil war and have been a policy of longstanding.
this is an important 750,000 americans every day use the northeast corridor of the amtrak. without it, you're talking about congestion and economic dislocation. just traffic would be impossible. i think it's in the national interest. speaker boehner knows what he was speaking about politically. i thought it was the terrible use of the word "stupid." but if you look at the states, begins in washington, d.c., maryland, delaware, new jersey, pennsylvania, new york, connecticut, rhode island, massachusetts, new hampshire, maine. what do they have in common? they're blue, quite frankly and bluntly, they vote democratic. in a sense, republicans in the house have precious little interest in the northeast corridor. >> woodruff: you're saying there is a connection. >> i think a definitely connection.
>> i wonder if train use makes people liberal. i take it three times a week to new haven. i wonder if the crash could have been prevented with more spending. we just heard safety measures that could have prevented the crash were being implemented. in this particular case, the rain was going a ridiculous speed. over 100 miles an hour. i can't imagine what it would have felt like. whether we should be spending more it's clear. for people who write it constantly, you know if you ride it this much that you're going fast in a certain stretch, terribly slow in another. some of the things between the tracks are still made out of wood and we're just not spending enough on this let alone the infrastructure of the bridges and all the other stuff. it's not a controversial statement to say we should be
spending hunlses of billions of dollars on infrastructure. >> seems like so much less attention paid on this than airlines. clearly we need to pay attention to airline safety. >> no question. i agree. the fact is the the infrastructure of the country is in disrepair. the failure to invest in our public transportation and public life, i think is a scandal and a shame and it should be a national embarrassment. >> trade authority. big vote in the congress this week. it didn't go in the president's direction. at least the procedural vote. are we seeing a spirit among democrats. what is going on here and what does it say about the ongoing problems the president may have in his own party? >> well, first there's just the tactical issue. the president didn't reach out enough. we've come to expect it from the white house that they don't
foresee problems they probably should. that's been a running weakness of the administration, i would say. second, it's true that the democratic party is becoming more split especially on the senate level. there was always a house minority on the democratic side that were suspicious of trade but now at the senate level and that's reflect reflective of a party moving left and the fact of whether trade benefits americans is a divided argument among economists. i saw an excellent point this week on the merits. we can have arguments about whether nafta helps or hurts the united states. i think the effect is probably minimally the way. it had a huge positive effect on mexico. i think it's a transformed country, better country, sending fewer illegal immigrants to us, has much more opportunity, a better trade partner in policy terms. the argument were these kind of trade agreements are a net
benefit for the world, foreign policy and for us, too. >> woodruff: how do you see it? >> mansfield, ohio -- the political reality is the president is lucky right now and the house of representatives if he's in the teens on democratic support. it's that low. and if david's right, there is a lack of personal touch. barack obama even his greatest admirer is terrible at this. he doesn't reach out. there's no personal connection. he's now trying to appeal to a congressional black caucus members. keith allison from minnesota said if barack obama needs a kidney, i could sort of give him one. i will not give him my vote on this. the president of the black
caucus north carolina, they they've watched jobs close. it's a problem. the economy of the united states gross domestic product doubled more than 8 trillion to 17.1 trillion and the median household income went down. so yes, it's a big picture terrific. for individual people who have had factories close, i mean, you can't point to people and say boys, because of nafta, all these jobs came in. you point to town after town where factories close after nafta as a consequence of nafta and overpromised and underdelivered and that's why there is suspension and skepticism. they have to get over 200 house republicans and given suspicion of president, immigration and executive power, environment, you know, it's going to be a tough haul for them given their
animosity to them. >> i hate to let that one go. i know there is much more to say. quickly to both of you observe jeb bush. tough week, david, he had, when he answered a question about what he would do what his brother did in going into iraq and taking the united states into iraq knowing what we know today. he add first said, yes i would. and then he backed off and gave different answers. what's the impact of all this? >> well, personally a little fraternal loyalty on that. i know he was torn on that. he can be judged harshly. he did not handle this well over the week. the final, most surprising thing to me is the rest of the party seems switched as to whether the iraq war was a mistake. the other candidates came out and said obviously it was a mistake given what we know how now.
they decided the war was a mistake after not admitting that for a long time. i'm struck on how the party shifted on this issue in three days. >> a terrible performance by jeb bush. in his autobiography george w. bush wrote the reality was i had sent american troops into combat based in large part upon intelligence that proved false. he admitted. george w. called it faulty, jeb bush -- jeb said it was faulty, george w. called it false. jeb bush he was the smart brother and this is a terrible performance. i think it was less than helpful. >> woodruff: he spent the rest of the week answering the question a different way. going into the weekend. we thank you both. mark shields, brooks david brooks, thank you.
>> woodruff: next tonight remembering blues legend b.b. king. he died overnight in las vegas following several weeks in hospice care. he'd continued to perform until last october, when he cancelled a tour citing complications from diabetes. jeffrey brown has our tribute. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> brown: the song: "the thrill is gone." the voice and the guitar playing: unmistakably belonging to the man who brought the blues to a mass audience, b.b. king. for more than six decades, often averaging more than 300 performances a year, king was one of the most beloved and respected musicians in the
world. playing his trademark gibson guitar, which he named "lucille," he created a style and sound all his own. i got a chance to join king on the road, literally on his bus in 2005. >> people think that because you sing the blues, you're boo-hoo- hoo. but all our wives don't leave. we are just like everybody else. we're people, and to me blues is life, has to do with people, places and things. and as long as we live and there are people, we will have blues. ♪ ♪ >> brown: today, praise came in from all over for the man and his music. >> i just wanted to express my sadness and to say thank you to my dear friend bb king. he was a beacon for all of us who love this kind of music, and
i thank him from the bottom of my heart. >> brown: he was born 'riley' king near indianola, in the heart of the mississippi delta, the birthplace of blues music. his mother died when he was nine, and king worked in the cotton fields before turning to music. gospel was his first love, but on the streets of indianola, he told me, he learned a valuable lesson about life as a musician. >> i'd sit on the street corner and just start singing gospel songs because that's what i wanted to do. and generally people would come by me and they would, you know, they would praise me, pat me on the shoulders and the head, and say, "keep it up, son. if you continue, you're going to be good one day." but they didn't put nothing in the hat. but people that would come by and ask me to play the blues would always put something in the hat.
now you know why i'm a blues singer. >> brown: in the late 40's, at the age of 23, king made his way to memphis. there, he worked as a disk jockey on a local black radio station, and became known as "blues boy," later shortened to b.b. he continued to perform and had his first hit in 1951 with the single, "three o'clock blues." ♪ ♪ others hits followed, and king went on the road, playing primarily for black audiences, until the 1960's. king biographer, charles sawyer. >> there was a change in our popular culture which brought blues to the foreground, through a combination of british rock musicians who loved the blues and brought it back to america and a handful of american blues musicians, white musicians
principally from chicago, who brought the blues to middle america. and they were all saying the same thing. the master of this form is b.b. king. and people scratched their heads. who's this b.b. king? we have to hear this b.b. king. >> brown: the rolling stones included king on their 1969 american tour, bringing the blues musician to new audiences. he went on to collaborate and perform with a host of other stars, including the band, u2 and fellow electric guitar master, eric clapton. his influence was felt by myriad in an interview several years ago singer/songwriter bonnie raitt spoke of king's influence. >> his expressiveness, i think both as a vocalist but especially on his guitar, the way that he plays, the way that he bends notes and makes it cry and ache and the frustrations that he's expressing or the longing or aching or the sexual yearning, all of that comes across in this one block of beautiful wood through this
incredible man. ♪ ♪ >> brown: king earned 15 grammy's over the course of his career, and was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 1987. and during that trip to indianola in 2005, he helped break ground for the "bb king museum," which opened three years later. in 2006, george w. bush awarded king the presidential medal of freedom. >> he's influenced generations of musicians from blues to rock, and he's performed in venues from roadside nightclubs to carnegie hall. he's still touring, and he's still recording, and he's still singing, and he's still playing the blues better than anybody else. in other words: the thrill is not gone. >> brown: indeed, king also never stopped advocating for his music. i watched him give a master class to group of young would-be players. >> if he's a guitar player and he plays like b.b. king, i don't
need b.b. king. i am b.b. king. if he's an eric clapton, i don't need eric. eric and i are friends. if i want eric, i'll go get him. and it's the same thing with any instrument. we all have idols. i don't frown on idols, because all of us need idols. but you want to become yourself. be yourself. >> brown: in his later years, diabetes slowed king and forced him to perform seated. ♪ ♪ >> brown: but he continued to tour and perform regularly including late into the night at the club ebony in indiana. ♪ ♪ >> i can play music every day and never get tired of it. but if my health should get bad and i can't handle myself very well, or people don't come to my concerts, i probably would retire. but other than that, we don't use that word around here. the "r" word, we forget it. i just want to keep on, and i
know in time i'll have to go. but god, let me, let me enjoy while i'm living. and i do enjoy doing what i do. >> brown: b.b. king died last night. he was 89 years old. >> woodruff: now to a school training the next generation of great artists. at the baltimore school for the arts, a pre-professional high school, students are admitted solely on their artistic potential without a review of any academic grades. still the school's students have some of the highest tests scores in the state of maryland. notable alumni include actor jada pinkett smith and fashion designer christian siriano. we followed the students before the recent protests and unrest in the city. and found their combination of dedication and focus, inspiring, take a look:
>> my family isn't in the arts. i'm the only person who really does, like, classical music. i'm the only person who like takes lessons and goes to a school like this. my name is mateen milan. i'm in the twelfth grade and i go to baltimore school for the arts. >> it all started out when i was just on my own doing street dance. and my friends went and told my teacher that i was dancing. and i showed her and she told me that i should try out for baltimore school for the arts. my name is maurice mouzon. i'm a 12th grader at baltimore school for the arts. >> kids enter by audition. we don't look at their academics at all which is an interesting piece. and they follow a pre- professional arts program as well as a college prep academic program. my name is chris ford, and i'm the director of the baltimore school of the arts. >> i play the bassoon. and i love every second of it. >> i'm still trying to figure out what else that i wanna do with my life. but right now, my main focus is dance.
>> students, when they're passionate about something, and they become passionate about theater, or visual arts or something like that, it's easy to spread that passion out into other activities like geometry or english literature. >> my friends were very supportive of it. i know most of them play sports like football and basketball. and that's actually where i came from, sports. and it was kinda difficult changing. >> some of the kids i've been working with in this project i know that they're coming from extremely difficult home lives. >> my name is katherine helen fisher. i am a director, choreographer and producer. >> kate fisher, she's an alumni from the school and she's here teaching us how to use our bodies more and to just like feel the music. >> there's a tremendous amount of diversity, there's people on the very bottom of the economic scale and people at the top. >> people that come from families that are well to do and people that come from families that have nothing here in this city. >> this school is sort of like a hidden gem. but professional artists have known about this institution for a long time.
>> it's really inspiring to know that their getting the tools that can take them to great places. >> i'm marcos balter, i'm a composer. i love things that you can almost understand but you can't quite get it. and that's what i've tried to do with my music. >> i myself in terms of being a baltimorean coming from a family of a single mother, family struggling have gotten to see the world many times over, and had experiences i would never have afforded had i not had a career in the arts. >> my favorite age group to work with are teens, and pre-teens, and kids because they don't have a preconceived notion of what is possible, and what may not be. >> i feel that the majority of the students here know that they for sure are going to dedicate their life to their craft in one way or another. >> i find myself maybe once or twice a week questioning myself do i really wanna do this? am i i'm actually good at what i do? >> it seems like music education
is not in its best period right now. >> it's a diminishing resource environment and we're trying to figure out how to deal with that. >> a lot of budget cuts, um a lot of cancelled programs, a lot of focus on just sort of the more scholastic side uh of education which i think is a shame. >> i think of art as a tunnel. a tunnel that gets you from one place of understanding to another. i wouldn't know about many cultures if it wasn't for the art that comes from those cultures. >> i am worried about making a professional career out of dance because in the dance world it's very difficult because you have so many people who want to be a dancer and not everybody can make it. >> the only way that you can actually persevere is if it's not really a choice but a calling that you know you cannot do anything else. it's not a matter of what you want to do, but it's what you must do. >> if you've never seen a play before, how would you know you're an actor? if you'd never heard a violin, how would you know that you were
made to be a violinist? >> art is not a luxury, art is not a accessory for the well-to- do people. >> unfortunately in our city, there's a lot of kids that don't have that opportunity to just have that initial experience. >> at this point i've understood that music is something that i love, it's my passion, it's what i do. and no one can take that from me. and i can't wait to see where that takes me in life. >> woodruff: mateen the bassoonist will attend the peabody conservatory at johns hopkins university and maurice the dancer will join the state university of new york at purchase. >> woodruff: on the newshour online, on this day in 1850, a prickly hungarian obstetrician announced his greatest discovery to fellow doctors at vienna's general hospital: wash your hands. simple advice, but pretty remarkable for its time. read the history behind this medical advancement, on our home
page, pbs.org/newshour. and a reminder about some upcoming programs from our pbs colleagues. gwen ifill is preparing for "washington week," which airs later this evening. here's a preview: >> ifill: tonight we explore controversies old and new. can congress agree on a trade bill? did a fatal train accident change the debate over infrastructure spending? is the u.s. drifting away from its allies in the arab world? and what does jeb bush really think about whether his brother should have gone to war in iraq? all that and more tonight on washington week. judy? >> woodruff: on pbs newshour weekend saturday, is it safe to control the spread of disease like dengue fever, with genetically-modified mosquitoes? >> the mosquitoes that carry dengue fever are tough to kill. they are immune to many insecticides and breed in sometimes hard-to-reach places
like underneath houses or in the leaves of plants. so instead of sprays or pellets that don't reach those places, officials in the keys turned to a u.k. firm called oxy tech. their scientists have developed a method to alter the skit os' genetic code to kill them off or lots of them. >> the males find a female and pass along their genes. the offspring that inherit the genes, they die and if you release enough of the males over a long period of time you can get a crash of the mosquito population. >> woodruff: that's tomorrow night on pbs newshour weekend. and an editor's note before we go. there have been questions this week about journalists' contributions to the clinton foundation and my name has come up. i want to clarify what happened. in 2010 after the massive earthquake in haiti, i made a
gift of $250 to the haiti relief fund, established by the clinton foundation. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
this is "nightly business " with tyler mathisen and sue herera. tug-of-war with stocks sitting near record levels will the bulls stay in control or will the bears take over? >> red hot. the hottest stock in the s&p 500 just passed another milestone. is there anything that can stom the netflix climb. >> fooling s.e.c. why it is easy to pull one over on the agency that is supposed to protect investors. all of that for tonight on "nightly business friday may, 18th. >> good evening and welcome. for every buyer there must be a buyer and for every seller a buyer. and e pull