PBS NewsHour : KQED : May 29, 2024 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT : Free Borrow & Streaming : Internet Archive (2024)

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amna: good evening. i'm amna nawaz. geoff: and i'm geoff bennett. on the "newshour" tonight, jury deliberation get underway in manhattan in the criminal hush money trial of former president trump. amna: a razor-thin primary win for a texas incumbent highlights the growing rift within the republican party.

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geoff: and judy woodruff looks at how alaska changed its primary elections to break partisan gridlock. >> it allows people like me and other nonpartisan voters, the opportunity to weigh in without having to necessarily commit ourselves to a particular party. ♪ >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- >> consumer cellular. this is sam, how can i help you? this is a pocket dial. somebody's pocket, i thought i would let you know that with consumer cellular, you get nationwide coverage with no contract. that is kind of our thing. have a nice day. >> a successful business owner sells his company and restores his father's historic jazz club with his son. a raymond james financial

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advisor gets to know you, your passions, and the way you bring people together. life well planned. >> the judy and peter blum kovler foundation. upholding freedom by strengthening democracy at home and abroad. the walton family foundation, working for solutions to protect water during climate change so people and nature can thrive together. supported by the macarthur -- by the john t and catherine t macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org . and with the ongoing support of these institutions. this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.

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geoff: welcome to the "newshour." former president donald trump's future now rests in the hands of a jury in new york city. jurors in the criminal hush money case against the former -- against mr. trump began deliberating this morning. amna: seven men and five women received instructions from judge juan merchan and were then sent off to decide this historic case. william brangham has been covering the trial from the start, and joins us now. let's start with those instructions the judge gave to the members of the jury. very important in this case, a lot of debate between the defense and prosecution. tell us what the judge instructed those jurors to do this morning. william: they are important in every case but particularly in this one because it is such a complicated case and the judge laid out several key issues. first off, he stressed to the jury that a defendant can be held liable for the criminal

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acts of other people if the defendant basically instructed or asked or helped them to do so and did so intentionally. secondly, the judge then went through the 34 different charges which all accused donald trump of falsifying business records, and those are 34 different checks and invoices and ledger entries all in relation to the payment made to silence adult film star stormy daniels. third, he explained that for those 34 charges to become felonies, not just misdemeanors, they must have been done to commit or to conceal another crime and in this case, it is alleged that he was committing a violation of new york state election law, which basically prohibits promoting someone's election through unlawful means and he explained that that could have been a violation of federal election law, falsifying other records, or tax law.

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complicated instructions. the jury today asked for a re-reading of some of those. those applied to each count and the jury on each of those has to be unanimous. amna: this now sits with the jury. it is a big if but if the jury does decide that former president trump is guilty in this case, what kind of punishment might he be facing? william: if he is found guilty on one count or 34 counts or something in between, it is up to the judge to decide his sentence in a new york state, judges have a lot of leeway in deciding sentencing. each of these charges carries a maximum of four years and $5,000 penalty, four years in prison, but it's not at all clear that the former president would be incarcerated. he could be sentenced to probation. he could be sentenced to house arrest. those latter two would ge him more freedom. judge merchan has acknowledged

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the historic nature of who this defendant is. this is a man who is running for president. he ought to be out campaigning. this is a man who could become the next president. he said it is a last resort for him to imprison donald trump but he says if it comes to that and he feels it is necessary, he could do so. whether that happens or not, a legal analyst looked at all the cases of felony prosecutions of falsifying business records like this case and found that about 10% of those cases ended up where the defendant went to jail for a period of time. now, those cases often involved other charges as well that trump is not facing. and of course none of those defendants were donald trump. you also can't overlook trump's history and his demeanor towards the rule of law. this is a man who has been fined and gagged and warned and

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held in contempt by a lot of different judges in different cases. he has never admitted guilt or remorse. he has attacked this judge directly. all of those things can be counted in sentencing. it's very uncertain. anybody who tells you they know what is going to happen here, don't listen to them. amna: the defendant is also running for president and we have to wait for the jury to reach a decision, but do we have any sense of how a verdict could impact potentially that presidential race? william: yes. along with our colleagues at npr, we put out a poll that asked this question, what might happen if trump was found guilty or not guilty and how would that affect their vote? i want to put up some of these results. if trump is found not guilty, among all registered voters, 14% said it was more likely they would vote for him, 9% said it was less likely he would get their vote, three quarters of all registered voters said it would not make a difference, but

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among republican voters, an innocent verdict bumps out that more likely to vote for him number to 26%. the percentage saying they are less like the to vote for him drops to just 3%, and those saying it makes no difference, that goes down slightly to 68%. what if trump is found guilty? among all voters, those saying they are more likely to vote for him stays unchanged, about 15%, but double the number, 17%, say a guilty verdict means they are less likely to vote for him and 67% of all registered voters again say it would not make any difference. but again, let's look specifically at republican voters. if he is found guilty, the number of republicans saying they are more likely to vote for him goes up 10% to a quarter of all republican voters. the number saying they are less likely to vote for him rises to 10%. that is a 7% shift. 64% of all republicans say a guilty verdict would make no

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difference. so overall, this poll indicates that a guilty verdict could impact donald trump but only at the margins affecting his electoral chances. amna: alright. that is william brangham joining us from new york tonight. william, thank you. william: thanks. ♪ stephanie: i'm stephanie sy with newshour west. israel's national security adviser says he expects another seven months of fighting in gaza. the remarks come amid growing international pressure on israel over its offensive against hamas. it also raises questions about who will control gaza after the war. at a press conference today in moldova, secretary of state antony blinken urged israel to come up with a strategy. >> in the absence of a plan for the day after, there won't be a day after.

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this is where we need to go. if not, we'll have chaos, lawlessness, and a vacuum that will eventually be filled again by hamas or maybe something, if it's possible to imagine, even worse, jihadis. stephanie: on the ground, israel's military says it has seized a key corridor along gaza's border with egypt. israel says the area is a focal point for tunnels which hamas uses to smuggle weapons and other goods. meantime, israel expanded its offensive in the southern gazan city of rafah. the idf released video today of its troops operating in and around buildings within the city. thousands of gazans continued to evacuate the areas nearby. north korea fired a barrage of short range ballistic missiles today, according to south korea's military. an estimated 10 missiles landed in the sea off the country's eastern coast. the launches came after north korea flew hundreds of trash-carrying balloons toward the south on tuesday and a

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failed effort monday to launch a spy satellite. south africans voted today in what could be country's most significant election in decades. the african national congress party led south africa out of apartheid, and has dominated the political scene for the last three decades. but several polls have put the anc's support among voters below 50%, meaning it could lose its majority in parliament. the economy is a driving factor for many voters, with an estimated half of south africa's 62 million residents living in poverty. >> so i think if we want to change the economic state and all the things we complain about and post about on social media and all of that, all of us need to come out and actually do something about it. stephanie: final results are expected this sunday. a volcano in southwestern iceland has erupt did for a -- erupted for a fifth time since december and shot red-hot bursts of lava more than 150 feet in

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the air, along a fissure over a mile long. this particular stretch of volcanoes had been dormant for nearly 800 years before eruptions started again in 2021. criminal charges against the world's top golfer have been dismissed. scottie scheffler was facing a felony charge and three misdeamenors, related to a traffic incident at the pga championship in kentucky earlier this month. scheffler did not appear in court for today's brief hearing. and it was not his lawyer, but rather the county prosecutor who requested the case be dismissed. >> my office cannot move forward in the prosecution of the charges filed against mr. scheffler. mr. scheffler's characterization that this was, quote, "a big misunderstanding," close quote, is corroborated by the evidence. stephanie: the police officer involved in the incident has since been disciplined for not activating his body-camera during the arrest. seattle's police chief has been dismissed. the city mayor announced today.

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chief adrian deas's departure amid lawsuits alleging he discriminated against women and people of color. at least six officers have sued, naming diaz specifically. he has denied the allegations. giant pandas are returning to washington. the smithsonian national zoo announced today that china has agreed to send a pair of pandas to the u.s. they'll fill the void left by the three pandas who were returned to china last november. the number of giant pandas in american zoos has dwindled as loan agreements lapsed during diplomatic tensions between the u.s. and china. the national zoo's director laid out the details of the agreement earlier today. >> we are welcoming giant pandas back to our nation's capital by the end of this year. [applause] >> yes, absolutely. the smithsonian and the china wildlife conservation association have reached a 10-year cooperative breeding and

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research agreement. stephanie: the only giant pandas currently in the u.s. live at the zoo atlanta, and they are scheduled to go back to china at the end of the year. still to come on the "newshour", supreme court justice samuel alito rejects calls to recuse himself from january 6 related cases, despite the flag controversy. a new report exposes decades of sexual abuse of native american children by clergy at cathoilic -- catholic boarding schools. and major league baseball has a new all-time career leader in batting and slugging after the hall of fame recognizes achievements set by players in the negro leagues. >> this is the pbs newshour from weta studios in washington and in the west from the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. geoff: u.s. supreme court justice samuel alito told

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lawmakers today he would not recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 presidential election or the january 6 capital riot despite concerns about two flags associated with far right causes that have flown over his properties. responding to demands from democrats that he disqualify himself, he said in two letters that his wife was responsible for flying the flags. "my wife is an independently minded private citizen." the justice wrote, "she makes her own decisions, and i honor her right to do so." kathleen clark is with us, a law professor at washington university in st. louis and specializes in government ethics. thanks for being with us especially as you are traveling. kathleen: thank you. geoff: the new york times reported there was this upside down american flag displayed at alito's virginia home in the days before president biden's inauguration and in the letter that he issued today, the justice said he had nothing whatsoever to do with the flag, he was not aware of it. when he became aware of it, he asked his wife to take it down but she refused for several days

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and he says, "my wife and i own our virginia home jointly. she has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit." is that an adequate explanation from an ethics perspective? kathleen: no, it is not. justice alito is accurate in saying that his wife has a legal right to display a flag in front of the house that she co-owns with him. no one is questioning her legal rights. the issue is whether he needs to recuse once it has become clear that his, you know, this flag associated with the january 6 insurrection was displayed in front of the house he co-owns. this is not about his wife's first amendment rights. this is about recusal obligations that congress has imposed on justices and judges. geoff: in his letter, he also

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addressed the more recent reporting by the times that there was his appeal to the heaven flag that flew at his beach home in new jersey that was also carried by january 6 rioters. in his letter he says "i was , not familiar with the appeal to heaven flag when she flew it. she may have mentioned it dates back to the american revolution and i assume she was flying it to express a religious and patriotic message. i was not aware of any connection between this historic flag and the stop the steal movement and neither was my wife. she did not fly it to associate with that or any other group. as i said in reference to the other flag event, my wife is an independently minded private citizen. she makes her own decisions and i honor her right to do so. our vacation home was purchased with money she inherited and is titled in her name. it is a place away from washington where she should be able to relax." again, your assessment of this explanation? kathleen: this is a closer call if indeed this is a home that

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justice alito does not have any legal right to, if that is the case, but again, the issue isn't just subjectively what was in justice alito's mind. congress mandates that justices recuse, disqualify themselves, if their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. it is not enough to say that, you know, as justice alito was, you know, ignorant. the question is whether it is reasonable for people to question his impartiality in these cases related to the january 6 insurrection. geoff: what about justice clarence thomas? he has also faced calls to recuse himself given that his wife ginni thomas was involved in efforts to reverse president biden's election win.

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she also attended the rally that donald trump held the day of the january 6 insurrection. justice thomas has not recused himself nor has he explained to the american public why he chose not to recuse. is he duty-bound to do so? kathleen: there is no legal requirement that he explained, but as a matter of good ethics and good policy, he absolutely should explain himself. that is the one positive thing i can say about justice alito's letters to congress today is that he does purport to explain his refusal to recuse and justices should explain themselves when they refuse to disqualify themselves. geoff: the supreme court adopted a formal code of ethics. last year, last november. first time in history it has ever done that. is there anything in that code of ethics that speaks to the situations involving justices alito and thomas? kathleen: yes, there is.

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that code of conduct that the supreme court adopted purports to change the rule, the law that congress imposes on justices of the supreme court. the statute says justices have to recuse when their impartiality might reasonably be questioned and that code of conduct suggests they only need to recuse if an unbiased person would question their impartiality, suggesting that if it is a biased person who questions their impartiality, they don't need to recuse. this is not the standard congress imposed on justices and it seems to be -- i think that justices apparently thought it

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gave them some wiggle room and now, alito is trying to use that wiggle room to justify his refusal to recuse. geoff: at least as it stands right now, the justices are the final arbiters here. kathleen: yes and that is a very , important point. the justices themselves individually decide whether or not to recuse. there's a basic concept in law and ethics that someone should not be the judge of their own case. and we see the importance of that standard in this situation. justice alito claims that no reasonable unbiased person would question his impartiality and seems to be suggesting that those of us who have argued that he needs to recuse are somehow biased. he is accusing untold number of

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experts of bias when he is unable to recognize his own bias. geoff: kathleen clark is a professor of law at washington university in st. louis. thanks so much for joining us. kathleen: thank you. ♪ amna: a congressional primary election in texas is getting national attention for what it could mean for the future of the republican party and for other incumbents facing far right challengers. laura brown lopez has more. laura: more extreme far right candidates are running up and down the ballot this year. in texas, congressman tony gonzales, who has worked across the aisle on a number of issues, faced such a challenge. last night, gonzales narrowly staved off the far-right youtube

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personality, brandon herrera, receiving 50.7% of the vote to herrera's 49.3%. to discuss what these growing divides mean for the future of the republican party, i'm joined by former republican congressman, joe walsh. congressman, thanks so much for being here. he forced congressman gonzales into this runoff and was attacking gonzales specifically for voting for bipartisan bills on gun safety, and gonzales barely won by 407 votes. what is your big take away from this? joe: it was a unique race because without the issue of immigration which is the biggest issue down there, gonzales would have lost. i mean, he barely won against a far right gun loving kook who would have beaten him if that was the only issue. i think immigration and abbott's endorsem*nt of gonzales really

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helped push him over. laura: he called himself a trump supporter and said he supports the former president, but he is someone who appears willing to work with democrats and work across the aisle. yes, he won, but do you think that there is a future in the republican party for more centrist, moderate, bipartisan republicans? joe: no, no. a, you have to be a trump supporter and even gonzales, who is thought of as more of a centrist republican, he is all in with trump and he got down on his knees and said the greatest things about trump during this campaign to help him win so you have to be that or there is no room in the party. no, the base of the party still wants the most extreme maga voices. laura: so if you don't support trump, you could lose in a primary. you rode in on the tea party wave. do you feel as though you or

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other tea party candidates push to the party down this path at all? joe: absolutely. we helped lead to trump. the base of my former party is radicalized. we helped to radicalize them. that is a scary thing. but in those days, it was where you stood on the issues. that made you either a rino or a far right republican. now, it is all about where do you stand on trump? and if you oppose trump like joe walsh or liz cheney or adam kinzinger, you have no future in the party. laura: so you're saying in your day it was more about policy? joe it was all about policy. : you were a crazy tea party conservative or establishment republican but that was where you stood on issues like guns and immigration. laura: i want to ask you about other republican candidates. one in minnesota royce white has not won the primary for the u.s. senate there but he has been endorsed by the state republican party.

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he has appeared next to conspiracy theorists alex jones and he also appeared with trump's former chief strategist steve bannon. and when he was talking to him, he criticized women. >> let's be frank. women have become too mouthy. as the black man in the room, i will say that. laura: he is not the only gop candidate to make derogatory comments about women. there's also the north carolina gop gubernatorial candidate, marc robinson, who has cast doubt or mocked accusations from women during the #metoo movement and said he embraces titles like male chauvinist pig according to the news report. is misogyny is becoming a pattern it amongst gop candidates? yes, just like bigotry and anti-transgender lgbtq feelings. look it is cruelty. , trump is cruel and cruelty

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sells in the party. this stuff works. the mean things that these republican candidates will say about women or people of color or transgender americans right now in the party, that works and that sells and that is pretty darn sad. laura: when we are talking about the former president, donald trump, there is republican congressman bob good of virginia. he is the chair of the hard right freedom caucus. he is facing a challenge from the right in john mcguire, a state senator who attended the january 6 rally. bob good himself voted to overturn the election results in 2020 but still, donald trump endorsed his challenger. does this ultimately just come down to loyalty? joe: with trump, this is a total ego play. supported desantis early on and that really pissed off trump but good is as you said, a crazy far , right marjorie taylor greene

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republican who ted cruz and a number of conservatives have endorsed. i don't think the trump endorsem*nt matters that much. laura: does it come down to loyalty and election denialism? joe: completely. the harder you embrace donald trump, the better your future in the party. the harder you deny joe biden won the presidential election, the better you are in the party right now and that is not changing anytime soon. laura: former congressman, joe walsh, thank you so much for your time. ♪ geoff: for 150 years, the u.s. government sent native american children to remote so-called "boarding schools," as part of a systematic effort to seize tribal lands and eradicate native american culture. dozens of these boarding schools were run by the catholic church

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or its affiliates. a new washington post investigation has revealed widespread sexual abuse of generations of these children at many at those institutions. lisa desjardins has the story and a warning, this story contains sensitive subject material. lisa: geoff, this report documents the sexual abuse of more than 1000 children, by over 100 priests, sisters, and brothers, but experts believe that number is likely a significant undercount. earlier today, we spoke with deborah parker, chief executive of the national native american boarding school healing coalition. deborah: for us, this is a national crime scene and our native american relatives deserve to know the truth. lisa: for more, we are joined by washington post reporter dana hedgepeth who was part of the team that reported this story and is a member of a tribe of north carolina. thank you so much for joining us. can you help our viewers understand the scope of the abuse that you uncovered?

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dana: this is a very important topic and there's been a lot of work already done on this. we hope to move the ball forward and shed new light on it. what we found in our investigation gave new details about the level of sexual abuse done by catholic priests, sisters, and brothers from the 1800s to the 1900s at schools. most of the abuse occurred in the 1950's and 1960's and involved 1000 children. and experts believe that that is really only the tip of the iceberg, that the abuse was more widespread, deeper than probably they found but documents are inconsistent and incomplete and that is what we found in our investigation. lisa: we are talking about native boys and girls ranging in age from the smallest to teenage . some generations at the same school by multiple abusers. deborah parker also spoke to us about why some of those survivors stayed silent so long.

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dana: many of these boarding schools survivors were told that if they tell anyone that they would be hurt or that god would not love them or that they would actually go to hell. there is a great fear of telling this story. lisa: this speaks to the evils of this kind of abuse. reporters have talked about it and had a conversation about catholic abuse of children for decades now. why do you think it has taken so long to pay attention to what happened in native land? dana: folks like myself native , americans know these stories. they have been passed down. people know these stories. it is not a new history. it is a painful history that has been recognized, probably one of the best reasons it is coming more to light now in more recent times and is twofold. one in the early 2000, the boston globe did a great work of exposing the abuse that was happening there so that showed people that the catholic church could be

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held accountable and that was very much a turning point for native americans. these were young children and they did not know at the time or understand that they were being abused and the way abuse happens, unfortunately, it takes so long to process. it is painful. people repress those things and only as they became adults did they understand and feel more comfortable with coming forward. lisa: there are so many gut wrenching stories that are important to tell but could one stand out of a person or family that you think viewers should be aware of? dana: clarida vargas went to a catholic run school in washington and she came forward and she was one of several dozen victims in a large lawsuit that eventually got settled but what really stands out of her story is the lawyers noticed right away the movie nights, as they always called it. she went there when she was a young girl but sadly, she was lured, like many children, a priest named father morris would invite them to his office on sunday nights for movie night and if you can

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imagine being a young child and being allowed to see a movie, they did not have any special things. chocolate bars or chocolate chip cookies. the children were then abused. what is so powerful about that story is that it was happening to other young girls at the same school. lawyers investigated. they went to other reservations, talked to other people and they realized that similar things, luring children with candy, preying on children, these vulnerable kids away from their homes, taken from families, stripped of their culture and it was a pattern of abuse that was happening at dozens of other schools. lisa: we spoke to someone else in your story. he was separated from his family and not even given a name, called by a number when he was a child. he told us, sexually abused and beaten. here is how he describes the isolation from that abuse. >> there is no place that a child could be safe from

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predators, pedophiles, from so much abuse. strappings, whippings, beatings putting you in dark closets, wearing a dunce cap in front of the classroom, running the gauntlet. there is no place to get away from any of what we were experiencing. lisa: this is so shameful. no white house has ever formally apologized for the united states' integral role in what happened in schools in this country. the u.s. conference of catholic bishops responded to your story and did acknowledge the history and deep sorrow from this era. they said they hope for a dialogue but did not talk about the sexual abuse in the response. what do native communities and survivors want to happen? what did they want to hear? dana: it is not about the money

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from lawsuits. it's not about issuing press releases by catholic dioceses or churches. for so many native people, survivors who went through the schools and their descendants, it's about the acknowledgment that they were wronged. someone of official capacity, the president, the pope, standing before them, and saying i'm sorry. this government wronged you. it's a systematic effort to erratically and assimilate native children, stripped them of their culture and what they knew, force them into an "education." and they want that face-to-face acknowledgment. not on a piece of paper. they want that face-to-face acknowledgment that they were wronged by the u.s. government. lisa: it is from a survivor of the boarding schools as well. i want to ask you in thinking about this story, why do you think it is so hard for the united states versus canada, which has spent much more looking into these issues and compensating survivors, why is it hard for the united states to reckon with these very dark

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moments in our past? dana: it's a very good question and i liked the way you asked that. i would say canada struggled as well. we talked to the head of the commission in canada in quite a bit of detail and he told us that it was difficult there. this is not an easy process. anytime you shine a light on a tragic history, this is the darkest chapter of america's very dark history of how native americans were treated so there is nothing easy about this. they spent seven years in canada and $6 billion to come to a 4000 page conclusion of how their indigenous communities retreated -- were treated and they concluded that it was a cultural genocide. why is the u.s. so far behind? it is not an easy process. i think things are moving forward and it is coming into the light in large part because of deb haaland, the first native american cabinet secretary. it's a very personal story for her. her own family, her own grandmother was taken and put on a train and taken 100 miles from

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her home. no one understands the story more personally than deb haaland and she's bringing it to light. lisa: thank you so much. this is so important. dana: thank you so much for listening to the story. ♪ geoff: a major factor in the increasing partisanship we have seen in recent years is how the parties select their candidates. alaska has been trying something different which is already showing results while facing some resistance. judy woodruff traveled there, as part of her ongoing series about divisions in the country -- america at a crossroads. judy: alaska is a state like no other. part of the union for just 65 years, it is the largest state by far and its natural beauty is matched only by its unique history and independent spirit. >> in one move, you have come

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back out and let go with your thumb. judy: david nicolai is an alaska native yup'ik storyteller with deep connections to the state's history and traditions. dave: my favorite part about this one is the sun sets. the yup'ik word for this is ihak, and it's storytelling with a loop of string. woah, you did it. i learned these string figures from my father and from his mother. you can try learning this one. my daughters annabel and rose are nine and six. it's a joy to share these string figures with them and pass on the tradition. judy: his daughters recently saw another yup'ik alaska native sharing her culture far across the country in the u.s. capitol. alaska's only congressional representative, mary peltola. mary quyana caknek, that means "thank you very much."

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with that i yield back. dave: after she was elected and sworn in, during her opening remarks, she spoke yupik on the house floor. and that was the very first time that language was spoken in that chamber. my daughters and i watched that and both of my daughters were like, she's just like us. oh my goodness. that was just very special. judy: and yet, representative peltola's path to the capitol building wasn't just historic, as the first alaska native in congress, it was also in part the result of alaska's unique primary system, which went into effect in 2022. primaries are preliminary elections where voters choose their party's candidate for the general election. in most states, voters can vote only in one party's primary , either the republican or the democratic party. but in alaska and a handful of other states, all the candidates , republicans, democrats, even independents, appear on a single ballot that all citizens vote

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on. and in alaska, the top four vote getters move on to the general election. nick: the system is responsive to the nuanced preferences of voters. judy: nick troiano ran for a congressional seat from pennsylvania ten years ago as an independent. after losing that race, he founded the nonpartisan, nonprofit unite america, a group dedicated to reforming the electoral system. he says alaska's primary has helped moderate at state's political extremes and bring more voters into the electoral process. nick: i look at the winners of the statewide races in alaska and see that a conservative republican governor was reelected, a moderate republican senator was also reelected, and a moderate democrat won in an open seat for the u.s. house. judy: his new book, the primary solution, outlines the issues he sees with the way most states hold their primaries, where voters can choose candidates

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only from a single party. nick: right now, we have a system that over-represents those at the fringes of both political parties at the expense of the majority. what was stunning to me, is that in the last midterm elections, 83% of u.s. house races were not decided in november. they were decided in the primary elections months before november. judy: and in those primaries, where the vast majority of races are decided, the most partisan voters are more likely to cast ballots. nick: it was only 8% of voters nationally that cast ballots in those primaries that determine the outcome. so you have 8% of voters electing 83% of our leaders. it's no wonder why congress doesn't represent us. judy: in a narrowly divided congress, individual representatives from these noncompetitive districts can have an outsized impact. an example -- republican matt gaetz won his 2022 primary in

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florida's district 1 by winning just 73,000 votes, out of nearly 550,000 registered voters. he easily won the general election in his deep red district, and soon led the move to depose the then speaker of the house, kevin mccarthy, in october of 2023. >> the office of the speaker of the house is hereby declared vacant. judy: leading to weeks of gridlock while the party struggled to choose a new leader. mary: the open primary made a huge difference. that was a real game changer for me. judy: as a relative unknown, democrat mary peltola beat former republican alaska governor and 2012 vice presidential nominee sarah palin under the new primary system in 2022. she says the old system in alaska was contributing to deepening polarization. mary: you get a campaign where

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both of the individuals are on both ends of the spectrum, you know, do i want someone far, far left or far, far right? and then what happens is they -- all of their campaign promises have been about staying true to ideology, not compromising. i have found that many partisan issues don't necessarily relate to a person's everyday life. pastor bartel: in our congregation, we have a lot of diversity, politically speaking. judy: pastor andy bartel's united methodist church in anchorage is home to democrats, republicans, and independents, many of whom volunteer at the monthly food bank. he says having a single primary for all candidates, and for all voters, benefits independents like him, who are no longer limited to voting in either a democratic or republican primary. pastor bartel: alaska, i think, is portrayed as this deeply red state. and yet there are a lot more people who are registered as nonpartisan than there are in either of the two parties.

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>> alaska is portrayed as a deeply red state yet there are more people who are nonpartisan than either of the parties. it allows people like me and other nonpartisan voters the opportunity to weigh in without necessarily commit ourselves to a particular party. judy: once voters from across the political spectrum have weighed in in the primary, the top four vote-getters move on to the general election. voters can choose a single candidate, or rank their preferred candidates one to four. but not everyone is happy with these reforms. jerry michel owns a construction company in anchorage and feels the reforms have pushed some republicans to the side. jerry: it kinda split up people's votes. well, we're generally a more republican leaning state, and it didn't feel real good there because, with the open primary

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all of a sudden now we have multiple people going into the general election. judy: christy bridges is the owner of the white spot, anchorage's longest-running restaurant. she's not a fan of the new system either. christie: i would very much like to see the ranked choice voting system repealed. i just want to be able to put your vote in and get that winner from the two candidates, or however many candidates. judy: and the effort to repeal is underway. the alaska gop has come out against the open primary and ranked choice voting, along with prominent republicans like sarah palin. a proposed ballot measure that would undo the reforms appears to have enough signatures to move forward, though it's being challenged in the courts. >> i think the deep divisions that we have, that's not a result of the primary system, that's a result of the deep division among the american people and the public. judy: hans von spakovsky is the

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manager of the election law reform initiative at the heritage foundation, a conservative think tank. >> independents, if they really want to have a say in who a political party nominee is going to be, who's going to represent that political party, well, then should join that political party. and if they're not willing to do that why should they have a right to choose who's going to represent that political party? judy: no matter how many americans in a particular state say they identify as independent you're saying it's more important to keep the parties strong. hans: the parties are a collection of their members. so the members of the democratic party have primacy. the members of the republican party have primacy. judy: this fight is playing out well beyond alaska. in six other states this year, republican lawmakers and party officials are attempting to ban or overturn primary reforms,

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while also fighting against efforts to expand them in eight more, including nevada, where some top democrats are also opposing reform. cathy: i had served in the republican party over the decades. so it was very difficult to have my political party actually vilifying me. judy: cathy giessel is a republican state senator in alaska who supports primary reform. she faced stiff opposition from the right under the old partisan primary system. cathy: the republican political party did not like the fact that i was working with a democrat and an independent. so when i went to run in 2020, that's when the political party actually recruited the republicans, recruited someone who was far more, air quotes, "conservative." and i lost in the primary. significantly lost. judy: but senator giessel ran again in 2022 under the new primary system and she won.

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how has this new primary system affected governing in the state? >> we have a bipartisan coalition. it's made up of nine democrats and eight republicans. so that's 17 out of 20 members came together and said, let's work together. the difference in running in this open primary is that you actually do have to talk to everyone. i walked up to doors and knocked on doors i had walked past previously because they weren't republicans. judy: behind one of those doors was independent voter and yup'ik storyteller david nicolai. dave: her tone and the way she conducted herself in that 2022 election was completely different. judy: so she knocked on your door? dave: absolutely. it feels like she has intentionally been much more moderate with many of her votes and policies, and has turned around to appeal to a much more moderate group of voters.

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judy: and yet it's unclear if that appeal to moderation during a period of increasingly partisan politics can survive alaska's climate. for the pbs newshour, i'm judy woodruff in anchorage, alaska. ♪ amna: perhaps more than any other major sport, baseball prides itself on its statistics. it's how the sport recognizes its all time greats. those stats are now changing, in a big way. major league baseball announced today it will officially incorporate statistics from the negro leagues into its record books. that means some of the greatest players from those leagues will now move into the top 10 ranks in the record books. the legendary hitter josh gibson, for example, will move to the top of several record lists. we're joined now by gibson's great grandson, sean gibson, as

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part of our ongoing coverage of "race matters." welcome to the newshour. thanks for joining us. sean: thanks for having me. amna: your great-grandfather will be recognized as having the highest season batting average, the highest career batting average, in all of major league baseball. what is this moment like for you and your family? sean: it is a great moment for our family, and for all negro league families as well. as you mentioned, josh gibson will be at several categories, ranks number one. some at two and for us, it is three. more exciting to see some of the other players you recognize as well as you saw in a press release. over 2300 african-american baseball players will now be included in the mlb record books so we are very excited to see josh gibson ranked at some of the top of all time in some of these statistics and it has been a long time coming.

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this announcement was made almost four years ago. here we are four years later and the statistics finally came out and we are very excited to see josh ranked in some of those top categories. amna: this does put him officially ahead of ty cobbs, babe ruth's slugging percentage. these are the greats. even if you are not a baseball fan, these are names you know when it comes to american baseball, so why hasn't the name josh gibson been part of that conversation before? sean: because of the league he played, the negro leagues, some people try to discredit them but all the great african-american players, they would have loved to play in the major leagues. over 3400 african-american men with an opportunity in the major so when you look at josh gibson,

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and the rest of the baseball players, yes, they did not play in the majors. they suited up just like their counterparts. they put their pants on, jerseys on, and they put their cleats on. but you know, today marks a day in history. amna: some people have criticized this decision by the mlb and they say it basically allows them to rewrite history. a sports journalist howard brian said this. in addition to their exclusion from playing against their white peers, the totality of conditions stands as embarrassing testimony to what the major-league forced black players to endure and that cannot be erased with a procedural merger a century later. he's basically saying this allows them to kind of cleanse a racist past. do you agree with that? sean: i know howard very well and that is his opinion. i respect his opinion but with the way i look at it is that we understand racism is going on

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today still, no matter what. and the one thing i don't want people to think is that this is something major league baseball should basically just kind of appease the community and say let's do this to make it right or wrong. as i was saying before, these guys, that .466 batting average he had in 1943, he earned it. satchel paige's strikeouts he , earned it. on-base percentage. josh gibson earned that. whether it's something that major league baseball did not acknowledge 100 years ago, because they did not play in the majors, no, i feel like these guys deserve to be recognized. major league baseball is making the decision because it is the right thing to do and not only that, it is definitely a piece of our history. even though these guys are not playing in the major-league they , are still part of baseball history. amna: what else do you want us to know about your great

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grandfather on the field or off the field that we should know about? sean: just when you look at these statistics and when you go to google, the top baseball player of all time or the top home run leader, the top batting leader, and you start seeing different faces you never saw before, take the time and educate yourself on these players. take the time and do some research on these players. these men played the game because they love the game of baseball. they enjoy the game of baseball. amna: that is sean gibson, great-grandson of the late great josh gibson. thank you for joining us. sean: thank you for having me. have a great day. amna: and join us again here tomorrow night for a look at how rising costs and a supply shortage are limiting first-time buyers ability to purchase a home.

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and that is the newshour for tonight. geoff: for all of us here at the pbs newshour thanks for spending part of your evening with us. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions and friends of the newshour, including jim and nancy bildner and the robert and virginia shiller foundation. >> cunard is a proud supporter of public television. on a voyage with cunard, the world awaits. a world of flavor, diverse destinations, and immersive experiences. a world of leisure and british style, all with our white star service. ♪ >> the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front

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lines of social change worldwide. funding for america at a crossroads was provided by -- and with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions. ♪ >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.] >> this is pbs newshour west

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from weta studios in washington and our bureau at the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. ♪ >>

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