PBS NewsHour full episode, Sept. 6, 2021

PBS NewsHour full episode, Sept. 6, 2021

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JOHN YANG: Good evening. I'm John Yang. Judy Woodruff is away. On the "NewsHour" tonight: the long recovery. The Gulf Coast and the Northeast continue to assess the damage in the wake of Ida's massive storm surge and flooding. Then: combating poverty. As federal unemployment aid expires for millions of Americans, we examine the Biden administration's push to reduce child hunger.

And 20 years later, Muslim Americans reflect on the impact of prejudice and fear on their community in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. FARHANA KHERA, Founder, Muslim Advocates: I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York. And in the America I grew up in, my faith was viewed as a curiosity, not a threat. But in an instant, on that morning, things would change.

JOHN YANG: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JOHN YANG: New Jersey, New York and other states are still cleaning up from storm system Ida. At least 50 deaths from Virginia to Massachusetts have been linked to the storm. In Louisiana, at least 13 deaths are blamed on Ida. Power has been restored to 70 percent of the greater New Orleans area. But hundreds of thousands are still without, and complicating efforts, the threat of more flooding from new rain. Our report from Roby Chavez, the "NewsHour"'s New Orleans communities correspondent.

ROBY CHAVEZ: In Lambertville, New Jersey, bulldozers cleaned up once-in-a-lifetime damage wrought by Hurricane Ida. JULIA FAHL, Mayor of Lambertville, New Jersey: This is a big deal for the city of Lambertville. We have never experienced a natural disaster like this before. ROBY CHAVEZ: For Governor Phil Murphy, the next storm was already front of mind. Touring Lambertville, he called for rebuilding efforts to emphasize infrastructure that can weather the more frequent storms made stronger by climate change. GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We can't keep seeing the same movie. We have got to do the stuff

that we know we need to do that makes us more resilient and increases our chances that this stuff doesn't continue to happen. ROBY CHAVEZ: In Manville, New Jersey, Shah Zeb and his mother bought their house eight months ago. They were told it was unlikely they would ever experience any flooding. But when Ida came through, it brought 15 feet of water, swamping the cars he keeps outside the house for his limo business. SHAH ZEB, New Jersey Resident: The town is very amazing. Everybody likes to help each other out. But this just came out of nowhere. Nobody knew. It just came out of nowhere.

ROBY CHAVEZ: President Biden approved disaster declarations for counties in both New Jersey and New York. In Queens, New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said low-income families were hit the hardest, and vowed to get them those federal dollars as soon as possible. BILL DE BLASIO (D), Mayor of New York: People need money, and they need it quick. That's what's going to make a difference. They have just gone through devastation. They need to be back on their feet. They don't have a way to pay for it, unless we get this federal

money in their hands. We have to make sure it actually gets to them and gets to them quick. ROBY CHAVEZ: President Biden is set to visit New York and New Jersey tomorrow.

Down in Louisiana, more than 500,000 people were still without power this morning. This weekend, members of the Oklahoma National Guard brought in and distributed supplies to hard-hit parishes throughout the state. Some coastal areas may be without power until the end of the month. Grand Isle is one of those towns where rebuilding efforts may take months. DAVID CAMARDELLE, Mayor of Grand Isle, Louisiana: Looked like a bomb went off. We have no water, we have no electricity, and we have no food.

ROBY CHAVEZ: Property owners this weekend were briefly allowed to return to collect belongings and to inspect damage. Elsewhere, in Jefferson Parish, the National Guard ferried emergency equipment to Barataria, which is inaccessible by road. Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, divers discovered the site of an oil spill. Hurricane Ida ripped a pipe from a trench on the ocean floor. The owner of the pipeline has not been discovered. Back in New Orleans, some parts of the city have been without power for more than a week, but officials say they are making progress. With the heat index sweltering, the city has been busing residents out of state to keep them safe. That includes those at senior living

facilities. Mayor LaToya Cantrell today pledged that the sites would be safe before the seniors are allowed back. LATOYA CANTRELL, Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana: But, right now, we will remain focused on improving the conditions of the facilities that we closed in order to bring our seniors back. ROBY CHAVEZ: New Orleans authorities estimate power will be restored to most of the city by Wednesday. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Roby Chavez in New Orleans. JOHN YANG: In the day's other news: A senior State Department official confirmed that the United States evacuated four Americans from Afghanistan and relocated them to a nearby country.

It's the first known U.S. overland extraction since the August 31 withdrawal. As Ali Rogin reports, that comes as Taliban fighters claim to have seized the country's last pocket of resistance. ALI ROGIN: Taliban fighters raised their flag over the Panjshir Valley, declaring complete control of what it calls the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Fighters in the Northeastern province resisted the Taliban after their takeover three weeks ago, just as they did in the 1990s. But, on Monday, a Taliban spokesman said they had been defeated. ZABIHULLAH MUJAHID, Taliban Spokesman (through translator): The last nest of the fugitive enemy was completely cleared today and last night. ALI ROGIN: Now that they control the whole country, Taliban leaders are facing the reality of having to govern it. They have repeatedly delayed announcing the new government and are already denying reports of political infighting.

ZABIHULLAH MUJAHID (through translator): Rumors about internal disputes in the Islamic Emirate are false. ALI ROGIN: Kabul's main currency exchange reopened for the first time in weeks, sparking a rush of people using Afghanistan's informal banking system. But as other banks reopen under Taliban control, they are cut off from the world. Afghans wait in long lines to withdraw a maximum of $200 per week. MR. ANSARI, Kabul Resident (through translator): Today, the people's problem is economic. People

are pouring into here. They don't know if their money is in the bank. ALI ROGIN: Domestic flights have resumed at the Kabul Airport. But there is no radar, so pilots navigate using only their vision. Aviation rules prevent international flights under those conditions.

At a separate airport in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, charter planes reportedly filled with Americans have been grounded for days. Organizers blamed the State Department for failing to get takeoff permission from the Taliban. The State Department said it could not confirm the presence of Americans on the tarmac. Meanwhile, women's rights activists rejected the Taliban's new rules that essentially bar them from public life. In Kabul over the weekend, protesters were defiant. FATIMA ETMADI, Protester (through translator): We not only ask the Islamic Emirate government, but also all of the international community, especially women from other countries around the world, to support us. ALI ROGIN: But in a sign of Kabul's new normal, the Taliban broke up the protest with force, including tear gas.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Ali Rogin. JOHN YANG: Back in this country, federal unemployment aid put in place last year to ease COVID's economic shock expired on this Labor Day. It ends a financial lifeline for nearly nine million Americans. Meanwhile, President Biden marked the day by delivering sandwiches to thank union members in his home state of Delaware.

The United States topped 40 million COVID-19 infections today, as the Delta variant spreads. More than 100,000 hospital beds are filled nationwide, with U.S. hospitalizations at their highest rate since January, before vaccines were widely available.

Meanwhile, in the hardest-hit provinces of Italy, the pandemic has lowered the life expectancy for men by more than four years. We will have more on the pandemic right after the news summary. The U.S. Justice Department said today it will not tolerate any violence in the wake of the new Texas abortion law that bars the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the department will continue to protect those who seek to obtain or provide reproductive health services. Garland also said federal prosecutors are still trying to figure out ways to challenge the ban.

In Northern California, tens of thousands of evacuees were able to return to South Lake Tahoe after firefighters made progress battling the Caldor Fire over the weekend. Evacuation orders were lifted and some highway roadblocks were removed now that the blaze is 44 percent contained. But officials warned that poor air quality remains. Crowds in Guinea's capital, Conakry, celebrated a day after a military coup ousted the country's president and overthrew the government. Military forces set up checkpoints leading to the capital and have barred government officials from leaving the country. Residents welcomed the

takeover. ABDOULAYE BANGOURA, Resident of Conakry (through translator): We were really in a savage state. There was no more security, no more justice, a confused financial state. Everyone was doing

whatever they wanted. So I think the new military leaders' arrival is a blessing for Guinea. JOHN YANG: It's the third time in five months that a West African nation has seen a violent transfer of power. A court in Belarus today sentenced two leading opposition activists to prison in the country's latest crackdown on anti-government dissent. They'll each serve at least a decade behind bars for organizing opposition protests last summer after President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth presidential term.

And two passings to note tonight. Iconic leading actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, a star of France's revolutionary New Wave cinema movement, has died. He catapulted to fame through his breakthrough performance in 1960's "Breathless." Belmondo appeared in more than 80 films in a career that spanned half-a-century. Jean-Paul Belmondo was 88 years old. And Emmy-nominated actor Michael K. Williams was found dead in his New York apartment today.

He was best known for playing Omar Little on the hit HBO crime series "The Wire" and racketeer Chalky White in "Boardwalk Empire." His films included "12 Years a Slave" and "Inherent Vice." Michael K. Williams was 54 years old. Still to come on the "NewsHour": the Delta variant continues to overwhelm hospitals in places where vaccination rates are low; farmers in Afghanistan face an uncertain future after the Taliban takeover; Tamara Keith and Amy Walter break down the latest political news; plus much more. Back at the beginning of the summer, COVID seemed to be on the retreat in most of the country. President Biden talked on the Fourth of July about celebrating America's independence from the virus.

But on Labor Day, the traditional end of summer, the Delta variant is taking a huge toll. Stephanie Sy looks at where the country stands and where we may be headed. STEPHANIE SY: John, to get a sense of how much things have changed, consider these numbers. On Memorial Day, the U.S. was averaging about 21,000 new cases a day. Today, it's about

160,000. Then, there were about 47,000 hospitalizations a day. Now it's over 100,000. And deaths had dropped to under 1,000 a day in may. Now the country is averaging more than 1, 500 daily deaths for the first time since March.

We look at all of this with Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine. She cares for patients at Bellevue Hospital Center and hosts the podcast "Epidemic." Dr. Gounder, I know you have not had this Labor Day off, so I really appreciate you coming on the "NewsHour" to talk about some of these bleak statistics.

First of all, are you struck by how little progress we have made? DR. CELINE GOUNDER, Infectious Disease and Public Health Specialist: I am encouraged we have made progress on certain fronts. A year ago, we did not have a vaccine. We now have multiple, highly safe and effective vaccines. And where they have been rolled out, we're seeing a huge impact. Today, I

was on service at Bellevue. Not one of my patients today had COVID. And that is a dramatic difference from what we were dealing with last summer. And that is really a reflection of this being a part of the country where many people have been vaccinated, and that's making a difference. However, that's not the case in many parts of the country still, even though we do have these safe and effective vaccines, and we're bearing the burden, the suffering resulting from that lack of vaccination. STEPHANIE SY: So, nationally, right now, we have 53 percent of the population fully vaccinated. And we have heard over and over again that what we're seeing in hospitalizations and deaths is the vast majority are unvaccinated, and yet still so many new cases.

In early summer, Celine, we thought we had reached a turning point where vaccines protected us from getting and spreading COVID. I want you to give us a reality check. What does the real turning point look like to you, especially with Delta? DR. CELINE GOUNDER: The surge we're seeing this summer is very much related to Delta. This strain of the virus is far more infectious than any other variant we have seen to date.

But I do think Americans had this false sense of security, this feeling of mission accomplished back in late May and June that was simply not realistic. These kinds of respiratory viruses come in waves. We were in a lull between waves at that time. And it was very predictable we were going to experience a resurgence sometime later in the summer or fall.

STEPHANIE SY: Do you think that there was public health messaging that was coming out of the administration that was in a way out of sync with what the vaccine could accomplish? DR. CELINE GOUNDER: I think people in this country view vaccines as a silver bullet, that, once you're vaccinated, you don't have to worry about this anymore. And that's simply not the case. Vaccines are very good. They're very safe, very effective. If you have been vaccinated, your chances of ending up in the hospital or dying from COVID are really minimal. However,

they're not perfect. And so it was to be expected we would see breakthrough infections, especially in places where we're seeing a lot of community transmission of the virus. In South Carolina, for example, which has some of the highest rates of transmission in the country, if you're vaccinated, your risk of getting COVID are equivalent to somebody who is not vaccinated here in New York state. And that is simply because there is so much more virus circulating right now in South Carolina that, even with the protection of the vaccine, you could still get infected. STEPHANIE SY: I want to ask you another question. And that's about booster shots, because there has been conflicting messaging from the Biden administration on booster shots. How aggressively should fully vaccinated folks be looking for

that additional shot at this point? DR. CELINE GOUNDER: So, there are three groups where there's very good evidence that an additional dose makes sense now. So that's people who are highly immunocompromised. And when I say highly, I mean people who have

had solid organ transplants like lung or kidney transplant, people who are getting treatment for certain kinds of cancers or autoimmune disease, people who have AIDS. So this is not the average person who has asthma or diabetes that we're talking about here. The two other groups are the elderly, and it's a little fuzzy where you draw the line, but elderly people clearly have a less robust immune response to the vaccines. And then, finally, people living in nursing homes. We have seen breakthrough infections in nursing homes among nursing home residents. Typically, what happens is you have a caregiver or a visitor who is not vaccinated who gets infected in the community, brings the virus into the nursing home, setting off an outbreak in the nursing home.

So, while, yes, you should be giving additional doses in nursing homes to residents, some of what really needs to be done is vaccinating the unvaccinated. And in that context, it would mean the caregivers and their visitors. STEPHANIE SY: And it sounds like that is still the priority is vaccinating the unvaccinated before fully vaccinated individuals going out and rushing to get that booster shot. Dr. Celine Gounder, host of the "Epidemic" podcast, thank you so much for joining the

"NewsHour." DR. CELINE GOUNDER: My pleasure. JOHN YANG: As Afghans figure out how to live under Taliban rule, uncertainty and fear abound. American aid organizations working there are also concerned about whether the U.S. government

will allow them to operate in a country governed by what is technically still classified as a terrorist group. Special correspondent Mike Cerre reports. MIKE CERRE: The Taliban takeover couldn't have come at worst time for Afghan farmers. It's the middle of the harvest. Agriculture is the lifeblood of rural communities and Afghanistan's largest export business. HEIDI KUHN, CEO, Roots of Peace: And if we lose our sight on cultivating these fresh fruits and all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, there will be even further mayhem of starvation and financial crises.

MIKE CERRE: Heidi and Gary Kuhn founded Roots of Peace, a California-based humanitarian and agriculture development nonprofit, after the United States overthrew the Taliban in 2001. With private funding, Roots of Peace de-mined farm fields abandoned since the Soviet occupation. With tens of millions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian and development grants, they have spent nearly the last two decades reintroducing grapes and other high-value fruit production as alternatives to growing poppies for the lucrative heroin trade, a major revenue source for the Taliban during the American occupation. GARY KUHN, President, Roots of Peace: We're working with 10,000 to 20,000 farmers at a time. And we're working with basically all the traders and exporters of the country. MIKE CERRE: The Taliban have taken over the customs collections at the major border crossings leading to the primary export markets in Pakistan and India.

U.S. Treasury sanctions since 9/11 on dealing with the Taliban could shut down their and other NGOs' access to U.S. government funding. The Afghan banks Roots of Peace relies on for paying their local staff and farmers have been closed or are allowing only minimal cash withdrawals. Much of their Afghan staff of over 300 are still trying to evacuate the country out of fear. MAN: You have got to get that bus moving in the next 30 seconds, or you're going to miss everything.

MAN: U.S. passport, U.S. green cards. That is all that I can do. MIKE CERRE: During the height of the American evacuation at the Kabul Airport, the Kuhns flew to Istanbul to coordinate their evacuation efforts from a hotel room. HEIDI KUHN: And we have been working night and day trying to get out 5 Afghans, primarily women and children who have taken a leadership effort in Roots of Peace for the last 20 years and now are highly at risk for working for an American NGO, because the Taliban has now learned that the Roots of Peace's CEO is an American woman. MIKE CERRE: Three busloads of their most at-risk staff braved the airport bombings and Taliban checkpoint beatings in their futile efforts to get on the last flights out. HEIDI KUHN: Mainly children and women, no bathroom inside of the bus, wailing, screaming, crying. And it's dark. And we just had to live through that nightmare. MIKE CERRE: So, your family stayed outside the airport...

MAN: Outside the airport, yes. MIKE CERRE: ... 48 hours waiting to get into the airport to leave. MAN: Yes. MIKE CERRE: And they couldn't make it. MAN: And they couldn't make it. MIKE CERRE: Siawash (ph), who does not want to be seen, and the mostly Afghan emigre staff back at Roots of Peace's San Francisco Bay Area headquarters, are completing visa applications for their families and staff still trying to leave the country, and managing the critical Afghan harvest remotely on late-night Internet calls to their colleagues on the other side of the globe.

Recent video sent back by their Afghanistan colleagues shows their harvest and export operations relatively back to normal since the takeover of the country. But there are still major concerns with the Taliban leadership's ability to control their fighters in the countryside. GARY KUHN: The Taliban supports us. They have sent a letter supporting us, saying that: We want you to stay, we respect your programs, and we want you to continue.

We're using that as a shield to say, hey, your bosses are saying that you shouldn't be attacking us, you shouldn't be disrupting us. And so that's been very positive so far. MIKE CERRE: For those who are listening to this who are saying, well, this optimism is wonderful, but could it be slightly naive, do you think that the Taliban can get some level of normalcy back to this country? HEIDI KUHN: Well, Roots of Peace is not naive. And May -- March 28, 2014, we were attacked in a 4.5-hour gun battle by the Taliban. So, that was a defining moment for Gary and I, whether this had just gotten too tough, we were too naive, or we went the distance. GARY KUHN: The Taliban are promising lower taxes and a lot of good things, so that it's part of their charm campaign. This is actually kind of a honeymoon period for us, because

we can operate without them coming in and possibly interfering. And we just want to do our work. MIKE CERRE: Roots of Peace and other NGOs' most immediate concerns are with the U.S. government. Will it formally recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan and lift its financial sanctions on them so NGOs can keep operating? Will the U.S. deliver on its promise of continuing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan now that the U.S. has left?

GARY KUHN: So, we have to relax the sanctions or recognize the government and move beyond this. We have got to recognize the fact that it didn't go the way we wanted it to go, and let's deal with it and move on. MIKE CERRE: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Mike Cerre. JOHN YANG: This week, we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks with stories examining some of the ways that day transformed the nation and the world.

Tonight, chief correspondent Amna Nawaz begins our coverage with a look at the effect on millions of American Muslims. AMNA NAWAZ: After 9/11, the lives of millions of American Muslims changed overnight. For the 20 years that followed, U.S. national security would be transformed. Pop culture and media representations of Muslims took a different angle. And over the years, U.S. presidents have explicitly taken very different stances on how Muslims

should be seen. GEORGE W. BUSH, Former President of the United States: The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them. BARACK OBAMA, Former President of the United States: The attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile, not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.

DONALD TRUMP, Former President of the United States: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. AMNA NAWAZ: Now we have three perspectives on the Muslim American experience after September 11. Baher Azmy is the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights at the nonprofit legal advocacy organization. Margari Hill is the executive director of MuslimARC, a faith-based human rights education organization. And Farhana Khera is a civil rights advocate

and the founder and former executive director of Muslim Advocates. Welcome to you all. Thank you so much for making the time to be here. Margari, I want to start with you, because when you think back to the attacks of 9/11, you were very young. You were a student at the time. What do you remember about that moment and about what changed for you and people around you afterwards? MARGARI HILL, Director, Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative: Nine-eleven happened a week before I was returning back to Santa Clara University.

And our campus was impacted because one of my classmates, she was on Flight 93. And so those vigils and the types of conversations we had to have in class -- every class, we talked about 9/11. And at that time, I was one of the few Muslims on campus. We were called to speak for all Muslims, regardless of their country of origin. Why did this happen? What were some of the grievances? And that cottage industry started to develop within the years that I was in undergrad and then also in graduate school of us to become area experts and at times native informants to understand Muslims for national interest. AMNA NAWAZ: Farhana, you were, I remember, one of very few Muslims working in the halls of power in Capitol Hill at the time. What do you remember about the immediate aftermath

of that day for you? FARHANA KHERA, Co-Founder, Muslim Advocates: Yes, it's a -- you know, that day is seared into my memory banks, Amna. It's a day I will never forget. You know, I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York. And in the America I grew up in, my faith was viewed as a curiosity, not a threat. But in an instant on that morning, things would change.

And, ironically, as the orders were given for me and my colleagues to flee the Senate office complex, because we believed actually that Flight 93 might be heading our way, I ironically was in a meeting to discuss legislation being introduced by my boss at the time, Senator Feingold, to end racial profiling by law enforcement. And, at the time, the conversation about biased policing was really primarily focused on African American and Latinos. But now the conversation would change. And I remember, the following day, as I was going to work the day after September 11, I was riding the subway, the metro in D.C. And for the first time, I had this feeling

of people just staring at me and sizing me up, trying to determine whether I was a threat. I had never had that feeling before. And it's a feeling that many Muslims, I think, had that day in the days after. AMNA NAWAZ: Baher, what about you? Have you experienced those same kinds of things you heard Farhana talking about? BAHER AZMY, Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights: I was in New York that day and felt with -- felt the horror that all fellow New Yorkers and other parts of the country felt. And I experienced some of it, but I think our focus, as a human rights community, turned or had to turn fairly quickly to what I would call a human rights crisis created by the Bush administration against Muslims, externally through two massive military interventions in sovereign Muslim nations and the development of offshore prisons to conduct interrogation and torture, and then almost immediately also domestically through mass sweeps of Muslim communities and detentions of non-citizen Muslims, with the presumption that they were terrorist suspects simply because they may have committed civil immigration violations.

AMNA NAWAZ: Farhana, how were you seeing that show up in political circles? I mean, we know anti-Muslim sentiment sort of spilled into political rhetoric as well. What were you seeing happen there and really over the many years that followed? FARHANA KHERA: Yes. So, in those early days, you had almost a coming together, with even President Bush at the time going to a mosque in Washington, D.C., calling on the American people to not target and single out their fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim. But that sentiment of goodwill and coming together, unfortunately, quickly changed. And, in part, it was a result of the political and the military goals and the unfortunate ways in which Muslims were being demonized and, unfortunately, painting our community with one broad brush, as the threat.

And, in those early days, it caused some American Muslims to dig deeper, to do more, to show and prove that they were truly loyal Americans. I remember people going out and buying American flags and putting them in their front yards. My brother in those first couple of weeks after 9/11 shaved his goatee, wore a baseball hat every day to school because he didn't want to draw undue attention or scrutiny. So it was -- it's been a very tough last 20 years for the American Muslim community. AMNA NAWAZ: And, Margari, of course, there's a very specific other intersection here, which is the intersection of that growing anti-Muslim sentiment and the long history and existing anti-Black sentiment and racism in this country. So, specific for Black Americans, how did you see that play out over the years? MARGARI HILL: Yes, over the past 20 years, we have seen Black Muslims facing the intersecting levels of state violence, from police brutality to the loss of -- erosion of civil liberties and prisoners rights.

And those intersections often are sometimes erased or overlooked. And whether it comes from the kind of interpersonal experience or acts of discrimination within the Black community, which actually increased after 9/11, or sometimes the erasure of Black Muslims, which would overlook those cases of seeing that as Islamophobic, but also how anti-Black racism makes Black Muslim lives much more vulnerable to state violence. AMNA NAWAZ: Baher, you heard in the introduction there how the rhetoric changed from, Muslims are not our enemies, all the way up to candidate Trump saying a ban on all Muslims, and then going on to win the presidency.

I think a lot of people would look at that and think it's gotten worse. Do you think it's gotten worse or better over the years? BAHER AZMY: I think the Bush administration's sort of broad, if not rhetorical, but political assault on Muslim populations here and abroad set the stage for Trump. And I think it caused both increasing toleration for outrages, a weakening of the sort of checks on executive power, and a culture of violence and othering that fed perfectly into a what I would call a hard authoritarian's perspective, who could also say about the first Bush administration, you didn't do enough. And I'm going to be tougher not just against Muslims, but against Black Americans, asylum seekers on the Southern border, and all now undifferentiated others, not just Muslims.

AMNA NAWAZ: Farhana, 20 years later, there is now an entire generation of young American adults, including American Muslims, who don't have firsthand memories of that day, who did not live through the trauma, as all of us did. I wonder if you think they are different at defining themselves as this next generation of American Muslims. FARHANA KHERA: I do get the sense of the younger generation is -- despite the fact that they have dealt with a lot of, frankly, hate and discrimination from a very young age, hate and discrimination that my generation, frankly, did not have to endure, I think in some ways it's made them tougher. It's made them want to stand up even stronger, be more vocal. It's really exciting to see the energy and the activism from the younger generation, whether it's in getting involved in the political process or creating their own organizations and getting involved mobilizing their peers and others to push for change.

AMNA NAWAZ: And, as a lot of communities, the next generation will lead the way, right? That is Farhana Khera, Margari Hill, and Baher Azmy. Thank you so much for joining us. BAHER AZMY: Thank you. FARHANA KHERA: Thank you.

MARGARI HILL: Thank you. JOHN YANG: As we reported earlier, federal unemployment payments expired today for almost nine million Americans. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor has a broader look at the administration's efforts to expand the nation's social safety net for those battling poverty and hunger in the midst of a pandemic. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In a year of insecurity and uncertainty, this Washington, D.C., farmers market has been an oasis for Anteese Matthews. ANTEESE MATTHEWS, Maryland Resident: This is my purpose. It's my passion to bring fresh,

healthy foods to our neighbors, to our children. It just lights my world up. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It's an all-day trip for Anteese and her daughters. They travel more than an hour each way on a bus and two trains to get here from their home in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Her passion is made possible because this market accepts her benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, that's run by the federal government. How important is it that you can use your SNAP benefits here? How much of a lifeline is that? ANTEESE MATTHEWS: It's a huge lifeline for me, because I'm able to use them and get anything from meat to eggs, dairy.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: When the pandemic struck last year, Americans across the country lined up at food banks. Child hunger spiked. In December, nearly one in five families didn't have enough to eat. Congress responded, passing a bipartisan emergency assistance package that included more money for SNAP. ANTEESE MATTHEWS: The extra money that I do get goes from extremely far compared to what I might have been able to do before. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: She gets an extra $400 a month. That softened the blow when she couldn't

find work for parts of last year. This summer, as vaccinations paved the way for city reopenings, Anteese landed a full-time job at a grocery store. But at $15 an hour, it's still just making ends meet. ANTEESE MATTHEWS: Although I'm working, I still need the help because rent is high.

Taking care of children is expensive. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: This month, the emergency aid ends. But permanent increases follow. Starting October 1, SNAP will use a new updated formula to determine people's benefits, one that reflects the rising cost of healthy groceries. The change means families not only avoid a cut in aid as the pandemic recedes, but in many cases will see additional monthly help to stay afloat. It's the largest single increase in SNAP's history, a part of President Joe Biden's pledge to end child hunger.

JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Good afternoon, folks. We cannot, will not let people go hungry. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Diane Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University who studies child poverty, says the update is critical and overdue. DIANE SCHANZENBACH, Northwestern University: When families have more money to spend on food, they tend to buy healthier foods. They buy a greater variety of food.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But not everyone agrees. ANGELA RACHIDI, American Enterprise Institute: So, I think the idea that people are going to give up on a high-sugared foods, processed foods, which, in themselves, are not that cheap, for healthy foods, I think it's just completely unrealistic. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Angela Rachidi is a senior fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute. She argues that an increase in SNAP should come with an increase in accountability.

ANGELA RACHIDI: Obesity and poor health that is driven by poor diet is an issue that's not unique to SNAP. But the largest federally funded food assistance program in the country should not be contributing to the problem. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Anteese says trying to police how SNAP benefits are used hurts people like her, who are just trying to survive. ANTEESE MATTHEWS: We're stimulating the economy. You know, we're going to put that money right back into the economy where you all say you all want it to go.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: On social media, she's gained thousands of followers and a community who, like her, use SNAP to not only buy fresh food, but to grow it at home. She showed us her backyard garden, a collection of peppers, herbs, and tomatoes, seeds purchased with her benefits. ANTEESE MATTHEWS: Thyme, lavender, sage, trusting myself just to go bigger and purchase seeds on my own and to be able to do what I see -- L. do what you see here. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Six weeks ago, Anteese got another welcome boost from the federal government, the first child tax credit hit her bank account, lightening her load a bit more.

What did you use the child tax credit for, and why is it important to you? ANTEESE MATTHEWS: It means so much to me because I was able to purchase my daughter's school supplies and going to be able to just open up doors for myself and my children. SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): The bill as amended is passed. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) YAMICHE ALCINDOR: That money, $550 a month, comes from the American Rescue Plan passed in March along party lines. That gave most parents monthly payments for each child, $250

a month for kids over 6 and $300 a month if they're under 6. President Biden has said it may be his proudest achievement. JOE BIDEN: Your head, your heart, and your budget all lead to the same place. This is the right thing to do, and it's the smart thing to do.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: A new census report found that just one installment of the child tax credit on July 15 slashed hunger rates in homes with children by roughly 25 percent, down to the lowest figure since the start of the pandemic. It's a promising start for the program, which predictions say could cut child poverty in half. JOE BIDEN: We're showing it's possible to get big, important things done. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And it's a critical piece of President Biden's pledge to combat poverty, to put in place the largest expansion of the social safety net in more than fifty years.

DIANE SCHANZENBACH: It's going to mean a lot of children who grow up less likely to experience hunger, better able to pay attention in school, and so that they grow up to be healthier, more academically successful, sort of better attached to the labor market in the long run. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Critics like Rachidi say programs like this that don't require work do more harm than good, especially for the most vulnerable families. ANGELA RACHIDI: The opportunity for those families is to get connected to the labor market and to earn their own living. And we need policies that support that, not undermine it.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It's a debate now playing out on Capitol Hill, as Democrats work to pass a $3.5 trillion budget that would keep the child tax credit in place beyond December. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): We should not have millions of our children living in poverty. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They want to make -- to take working families' child tax credit and turn it into a permanent welfare program. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: As Congress debates the scope of post-pandemic benefits, Anteese extended an invitation. ANTEESE MATTHEWS: Come see and live in a community like mine and understand why these benefits are much more powerful and vital to us than the argument that people are trying to have.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor. JOHN YANG: It's been a day of leisure for most Americans, but not our Politics Monday duo, Amy Walter, editor in chief of The Cook Political Report, and NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. We just heard Yamiche Alcindor talk about the SNAP benefits expanding and the child tax credit. Tam, how important is this to the Democrats' agenda and President Biden's agenda? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: This is absolutely core to President Biden's agenda.

It is part of the $3.5 trillion bill that they are going to start working on in earnest again now that Congress is returning. Expanding this child tax credit is important to Democrats because it can really take a huge bite out of child poverty. And it has been a longtime agenda item, one that they were able to get into the COVID relief bill, and one that they are hoping to be able to have long term. But we can talk about infrastructure for a long time. We will talk about it many times. It is not clear

yet that that is on a glide path. AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right, because that's the $3.5 trillion package, which at least two Democratic senators have said, yes, it is not going to be $3.5 trillion. It's going to be a much lower number. So what is the going to get cut from all those different

priorities that Democrats, that the Biden administration, that House Democrats would like to see put forward is going to be a big question. And the child tax credit is something that, even in that big reconciliation bill, because it is a reconciliation bill, it can't be made permanent. This is something that will last for a good, long time, but then will have to be readdressed.

Now, look, in politics, in governing, oftentimes, these bills are used as a way to actually make the short term the long term, right? It becomes so popular that, 10 years from now, it becomes really unpopular to take something back. JOHN YANG: We're at a time when a lot of things that were put in because of the pandemic are ending, the eviction moratorium and the federal unemployment benefits. Tam, is there any debate in the White House about what to do about these things that are ending? TAMARA KEITH: So those expanded benefits ended today, and the White House's message, at least, has been that the benefits are ending, but if states wanted to extend them, they could. There is money that they could pull out of unused other relief funds. But you haven't seen states running to the doors to keep this program going, and, in part, because the White House has turned its eyes to this $3.5 trillion infrastructure

package, the other smaller structure package. They have a big agenda. And this, the eviction moratorium, those items aren't really on that agenda. It would take a huge legislative lift to get either of those extended beyond. And so, also, it just points to the fact that the pandemic is not where anyone thought it would be right now. When that unemployment extension was passed, it was off in a distant future when

everyone would be vaccinated and the pandemic would be over. And the Delta variant said, eh, not so fast. JOHN YANG: Does this become a political challenge for the president and for Democrats? AMY WALTER: Part of this discussion we just had about the increase in the SNAP payments and the child tax credit is an opportunity to say, look, we're not letting the safety net completely dissolve underneath families who are struggling in this moment in time. At the same time, the more that they hand out benefits, it's not just, as Tam pointed out, that it's taking away from the other agenda items. But it's also then acknowledging that the economy is not coming back. And what they want to show, the Biden administration

wants to show is, we have continued to make progress on the economy. Yes, it's uneven. Yes, this Delta variant is taking a toll, but not a deep toll. It is we are coming out on the other side. And so it's hard to say, be optimistic about the economy when you're also saying we need to spend even more money helping people who still can't get jobs.

Fundamentally, this is a once-in-a-100-year event. And policy-makers don't have any road map for how to solve this, right? So I think they are trying to do as many things as possible, while recognizing the realities, both of the message they want to get along -- they want to send along, the agenda they want to put forward, and having a 50/50 Senate, where at least two Democratic senators have been really clear about their own priorities at limiting some of the spending. JOHN YANG: We have to go back to last week because of the abortion bill...

AMY WALTER: Right. JOHN YANG: ... that took -- became law in Texas. They have essentially ended abortion in the state for the time being. Tam, what does this do? Does this change any of the calculus about the midterms next year or any of the elections that are coming up? TAMARA KEITH: Traditionally, abortion has been an issue that has motivated Republicans more than it has motivated Democrats.

But the last several years have been defeat after defeat after defeat for the Democratic agenda and for something that Democrats really prioritize, which is reproductive rights. And I don't know if, in the midterms, it's going to change, that sort of dynamic about which party cares more about abortion, but I can tell you that, right now, Democrats are angry and they're motivated. AMY WALTER: Right. And we are potentially going to see some early indicators of how motivating this could be. As you pointed out, we have a couple of elections. We have got the recall in California of the Democratic governor. He's now leaning into this issue, saying Texas is an example of

why it's so important who your governor is. The leading Republican candidate, he argues, is going to install Judges and others who are going to rollback reproductive rights in the state, not something that Californians are used to hearing about. But in Virginia, there's a governors race in November. Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat, had already been stressing this message before the Texas case. I expect that he will continue to do this. So these are the kinds of places where we're going to get a sense. There will be a whole bunch of other issues out there, but at least get a sense.

One Democratic strategist I talked to said, where it's really going to -- the rubber really hit the road is next summer, if the Supreme Court comes out and overturns Roe in the court case from Mississippi. That, this person said, would probably bring Democrats out into the streets in droves. JOHN YANG: Just months before the midterms. AMY WALTER: Just months before a 2022 midterm, yes.

JOHN YANG: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you very much. TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome. AMY WALTER: You're welcome. JOHN YANG: Vietnamese American chef Tu David Phu traces his culinary influences back to his family's unspoken history of war. He says food preferences often mirror people's perceptions of other cultures and prejudices.

Tonight, he gives us his Brief But Spectacular take on the memory of food, part of our arts and culture series, Canvas. TU DAVID PHU, Chef: The physical sensation of eating something when it's delicious, it gives you like a physical, great emotional feeling. And I think I held onto that for most of my youth because I think I would say I had a difficult youth. And I kept on coming back to the kitchen during that feeling. The kitchen space for me is a safe space. My parents are refugees from Vietnam. They came over to the United States in 1975. And I was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and moved to Oakland when I was about 2 years old. And

in the community that we landed in, I found myself in a food-insecure community in a food-insecure household. Given that my parents were immigrants, income was hard to come by. A meal on our tables in my youth was seldom seen. When I think of family meals that my mom cooked at home, I think of the bear chicken bone carcass that she got from the butcher shop because it was free. Credits to a lot of our mothers in their effort to innovate dishes, to create recipes to nourish their family, to make things delicious, because that's what love is. There's so many different

cultures where people like my mom, they're able to innovate in their own kitchens, right? And there's no such thing as a authentic or a traditional stamp on any recipe. Authenticity is a feeling. Initially, I was cooking -- I was trying to cook traditional Vietnamese food. And then I ran into a wall, because you know why? Given that I'm a chef and I had all this training, I could never cook better than my mom or any other Vietnamese mothers. And I had to come to that realization, because you know why? They have been cooking that way all their lives. It's in those moments where I started to cook my mother's food,

opposed to traditional Vietnamese food. And it's there when I think people started to really connect with me. In addition, because I was cooking my mother's food, I had to explain to people what I was cooking. And it was through those stories and explaining, this is what I had when I was a kid, and we had this neighbor who was Korean, or my father's a fishmonger, and he'd bring home lobster all the time, and this is an inspiration of that thought.

People really resonated and connected with me, because now it's not just about Vietnamese food. It's not just Vietnamese diaspora. This food, these recipes are about family. And I think that just creates a bigger spectrum to kind of welcome people to the table. I'm not looking to connect with other people who look like me. Hopefully, by telling a

narrative and story through food, people will see and connect with me through a human experience, not an Asian American experience. My name is Tu David Phu, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on the memory of taste. JOHN YANG: You can watch all our Brief But Spectacular episodes at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

On the "NewsHour" online right now: As droughts in California are reemerging, it is placing unprecedented strain on the state's water systems. Read how it has heightened -- threatened agricultural production and basic drinking water in the state. That's PBS.org/NewsHour. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm John Yang. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thanks. Stay safe. See you soon.

2021-09-07 22:00

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