March 28, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
03/28/2023 | 57m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
March 28, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
Get extended access to 1600+ episodes, binge watch your favorite shows, and stream anytime - online or in the PBS app.
Already a KTWU member?
You may have an unactivated KTWU Passport member benefit. Check to see.
03/28/2023 | 57m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
March 28, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Newly released body camera footage of the police response to the Nashville school shooting renews the debate over how to prevent these deadly attacks.
GEOFF BENNETT: Congress investigates why recent bank failures were not prevented, despite multiple warning signs.
AMNA NAWAZ: Plus: The disappearance of a woman in Boston, and the little attention paid to her case, highlights the broader plight of missing Latinas.
JULIA MEJIA, Boston City Council: We are seeing this across the country, the lack of urgency around missing cases with women of color.
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening, and welcome.
Authorities are still searching for a motive in the shooting at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, that left six people dead.
GEOFF BENNETT: Law enforcement said today the shooter bought seven guns legally, three of which were used in the murders.
And Nashville police released new video of their response.
Stephanie Sy has the latest.
And a warning: Her report includes video that some viewers may find upsetting.
STEPHANIE SY: Newly released surveillance video shows the shooter driving up to the Covenant School, and gaining entry into the building by shooting through a side door.
It is 10:10 a.m.
The suspect walks through the halls carrying two assault-style rifles and a handgun.
Police received reports of the shooting three minutes after entry, around 10:13.
As police officers arrive at the scene, the assailant fires at their vehicles.
MAN: I'm making entry on the front side.
STEPHANIE SY: Body camera footage shows officers following the sound of gunshots to the second floor, where they confront and kill Audrey Hale.
Hale was a former student at the Christian school.
Police have obtained writings and campus maps they say show hale calculated the attack.
They also say Hale had other targets in mind.
Police have given unclear and sometimes conflicting information about Hale's gender.
But they said today the guns used by the shooter were legally obtained.
Police Chief John Drake said investigators are in contact with Hale's parents.
JOHN DRAKE, Metro Nashville Police Chief: We know that they felt that she had one weapon, and that she sold it.
She was under care, a doctor's care, for an emotional disorder.
Law enforcement knew nothing about the treatment she was receiving.
But her parents felt that she should not own weapons.
They were under the impression that, when she sold the one weapon, that she did not own anymore.
As it turned out, she had been hiding several weapons within the house.
STEPHANIE SY: In Nashville, mourners continued to gather at the elementary school today to lay flowers and pay their respects.
KAYLEE FRANZEN, Nashville: It sends a message that things need to change and that thoughts and prayers alone aren't something that fixes or can aid this situation.
STEPHANIE SY: The student victims were Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 9 years old.
The three adults killed included the head of the school, Katherine Koonce.
Cynthia Peak was a substitute teacher, Mike Hill a custodian.
As voices rise for lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to do something about the epidemic of gun violence, this morning, the Senate chaplain's morning prayer was a call for divine intervention.
BARRY BLACK, Senate Chaplain: Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers.
Remind our lawmakers of the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."
STEPHANIE SY: A prayer, as much as a call for action in the growing chorus of grief.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.
GEOFF BENNETT: Amid the shock of the tragedy in Tennessee are renewed calls for leaders and lawmakers to do something.
Kris Brown is president of Brady, a gun reform advocacy group, and joins us for more on what that something could be.
Thank you for being with us.
KRIS BROWN, President, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: Thank you for having me.
GEOFF BENNETT: The assailant, as we heard in that report, legally purchased seven firearms, three of which were used in the murders, according to Nashville police, as this person was being treated for an emotional disorder.
This person's parents didn't know that the guns were in the house.
How do we solve for that?
What piece of legislation, what policy would have prevented this from happening?
KRIS BROWN: Extreme risk protection laws.
Actually, 19 states and the District of Columbia have passed those last year.
President Biden sign the bipartisan Safer Communities Act to give funding to states and to incent other states to pass these laws.
Why is that relevant?
Because what that says is, as a law, if you have someone in your household who's at risk of doing themselves harm or others, you can seek a protective order from the court to remove all firearms.
And, in some states, that also means that person is put into the background checks system.
So we need that kind of law.
Tennessee does not have that law.
So, when I hear what the parents are saying, it breaks my heart.
I think they tried and did what they could.
But Tennessee does not offer them other solutions that they should.
And they must, because this is far too frequent in our life today.
And we need all of the tools that we can amass to stop gun violence.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, at the federal level, the gun reform debate appears to be frozen.
President Biden today said that Congress needs to act.
He said he's exhausted the range of what he can do unilaterally.
But there are a couple of things I want to point out that suggest that Congress won't act on this anytime soon.
One is Congressman Andy Ogles, whose district includes that Christian school.
He received widespread criticism from gun control advocates for a Christmas photo that he posted in 2021 of his family, you see there, posing with AR-style rifles.
Today, he said that he has nothing to apologize for, didn't see anything wrong with that.
And then there's Tennessee Congressman Tim Burchett, who talked to reporters yesterday, and said, there's no way to fix gun violence.
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): I don't see any real role that we could do, other than mess things up, honestly, because of the situation.
It's -- like I said, I don't think a criminal is going to stop from guns.
You can print them out on the computer now, 3-D printing.
And there's really -- I don't think you're going to stop the gun violence.
I think you have got to change people's hearts.
GEOFF BENNETT: Is that where the public sentiment is, that there's no role for Congress, Congress can only mess things up?
KRIS BROWN: No.
It's a failure of democracy.
What we're hearing here is manifestly against what every poll tells us the American people want; 93 percent of Americans want expanded background checks.
Why is that?
Because they know that background checks save lives.
We have stopped more than four million, through the Brady law, four million sales of guns to prohibited purchasers.
But, today, one in five guns is sold with no background check at all.
Why is that?
Over the Internet and at gun shows, these guns can be sold with no background check by private sellers, because when Jim and Sarah Brady passed the law, there was no Internet, and there were no gun shows.
And there are so many other things that we can do.
President Biden has talked about some of them.
For those who say, we can't do anything, let's look at the kinds of things that they're actually doing in Congress and in state legislatures to reverse, to back-roll the kinds of public safety that are important to us.
Just today, Congress was supposed to have a hearing in the House about certain kinds of devices that can be added to assault-style weapons to make them more deadly.
They canceled that hearing.
Because of this shooting, because there are certain reports that indicate that the shooter used those kinds of devices.
Brace stabilizers is what they're called.
Obviously, people like him who talk about, we can't do anything, they're the ones who are trying to roll back protections.
And I have to say the issue that we as Americans should really internalize is, do we want a version of the Second Amendment that is a death sentence to our fellow Americans?
Are we going to make this a key political issue, or won't we?
Because we have to hold people like that lawmaker and others to account.
They have blood on their hands.
I can't vote.
I wish I could.
I can't vote in Congress, but I can vote at the ballot box.
And every time I do, I make gun violence prevention a priority.
And that's what we must do if we want to change the trajectory of our country.
This is a national shame.
We cannot say we live in a country, the land of the free, the home of the brave, when our kids are dying at school and when gun violence is the number one killer of our children, surpassing automobile fatalities.
We have to make a difference, and we can.
And we should.
GEOFF BENNETT: Kris Brown, president of Brady, thank you for your insights and thanks for being with us.
KRIS BROWN: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other headlines: A federal judge has reportedly ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence must testify in the Justice Department's January 6 investigation.
News accounts say he's ordered to appear before a federal grand jury.
It's unclear if he will appeal.
Mr. Pence acted as Senate president on January 6 of 2021 counting electoral votes.
He argues that, under the Constitution, he cannot be questioned about any legislative duties.
Across France today, hundreds of thousands of people turned out again to protest raising the retirement age to 64.
Demonstrations were largely peaceful, but bands of leftist militants battled police in Paris and other cities.
Special correspondent Ross Cullen is in Paris, and has this report.
ROSS CULLEN: Paris is known as the City of Light, but today, in parts of the French capital, it was the city alight.
Protesters clashed with police and thousands of people flooded the famous Place de la Republique in the heart of the city.
Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd after some black-clad protesters, the so-called Black Bloc, pelted police with stones.
Paris Police Chief Laurent Nunez: LAURENT NUNEZ, Paris Police Chief (through translator): There is a tense situation, but it's not an insurrection.
Law enforcement is present.
They will still be president through the day to maintain republican order.
ROSS CULLEN: Though the vast majority of protesters were peaceful, their anger was no less fierce.
MIMOSA EFFE, Protester (through translator): We're here to make the government give in with regard to pension reform.
There is massive anger.
MARGOT BERNARD, Protester (through translator): I can see colleagues although they're less than 60 years old, they already have physical difficulties.
So you can't even imagine what its like working until 64 years old.
That's not possible.
ROSS CULLEN: Rail traffic was disrupted with hour-long delays, and the iconic Eiffel Tower stood closed today.
Its staff joined the nationwide strike.
Protesters also blocked entry to the Louvre.
The protests have intensified over the last two weeks since the government used special constitutional powers to bypass Parliament on a final vote of the contested pension changes.
After more than two months of demonstrations, there could be some movement from the opposing sides.
The unions have written a joint letter to the president calling for mediation.
And the prime minister says she is ready for talks with the opposition next week.
But the protests show no signs of dying down.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I am Ross Cullen in Paris.
AMNA NAWAZ: There was one sign of relief for Parisians.
Garbage collectors suspended a strike that has left mounds of trash on the streets.
There are growing signs that Ukraine's military is revving up for a spring offensive.
The defense minister said today his forces will soon begin using modern battle tanks delivered by Germany, Britain, and others.
And, in Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a Senate hearing that Russia is having to rely on older Soviet-era tanks.
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. Secretary of Defense: The Ukrainians have inflicted significant casualties on the Russians, and they have depleted their inventory of armored vehicles in a way that no one would have ever imagined.
And so now we see Russia reaching for T-54 and T-55 tanks because of the level of damage that the Ukrainians have inflicted on them.
AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, today, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy walked trenches in the Sumy region of Northern Ukraine, where Russian forces were driven off last April.
Lawmakers in Scotland today confirmed Humza Yousaf as first minister.
He is the first person of color to lead the Scottish government and the first Muslim to lead any Western democracy.
Yousaf was elected Monday to head the ruling Scottish National Party.
He supports efforts to gain Scotland's full independence from the United Kingdom.
In Mexico, a late-night fire killed at least 40 people at a migrant detention center.
Mexican officials say migrants fearing deportation burned mattresses at the facility in Ciudad Juarez just across from El Paso, Texas.
Ambulances, fire crews, and morgue vans swarmed the scene.
Dozens of men and women from Central and South America had been held there, and relatives waited for news.
EMILIO JOSE, Husband of Detainee (through translator): Nobody tells me anything.
I ask, and they give us a rude answer or don't give us any information.
I want to know what is happening because I worry about my wife.
I want to know what is going to happen to her.
Are they going to deport all of them?
AMNA NAWAZ: Many of those at the shelter were waiting for action on requests to be granted asylum in the U.S.
The World Health Organization is out with new COVID-19 vaccine guidance, and it's suggesting an extra shot for high risk groups.
The recommendations say older adults or people with various risk factors should get another booster six to 12 months after their last vaccination.
The WHO also says children and young adults who are healthy may not need an additional dose.
Back in this country, an appeals court in Maryland reinstated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, whose case was chronicled in the podcast "Serial."
The court ruled the murder victim's family had no proper notice of the hearing that led to Syed's release last September.
He remains free, pending a new hearing.
Federal prosecutors have unveiled a new indictment against Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange.
It charges that he directed at least $40 million in bribes to Chinese government officials to unfreeze some of his business assets.
Bankman-Fried now faces a total of 13 charges.
And on Wall Street, stocks edged slightly lower on a relatively quiet day.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost about 38 points to close at 32394.
The Nasdaq fell 52 points.
The S&P 500 slipped six.
Still to come on the "NewsHour:: top banking officials testify before Congress on the industry's recent turmoil; Vice President Harris looks to strengthen U.S. ties and investment in Africa; state legislatures move to limit teens' access to social media; plus much more.
GEOFF BENNETT: This was the first of two days of hearings about the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, and the role of federal regulators in all of this.
We will hear more in a moment about how lawmakers from both parties criticized top officials today, but, first, let's break down some of the basics behind the second largest bank failure in U.S. history.
Economics correspondent Paul Solman is our guide.
PAUL SOLMAN: The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
First, what happened?
DANA PETERSON, The Conference Board: SVB is a large bank that essentially failed.
And why, I asked economist Dana Peterson.
DANA PETERSON: First of all, it was highly concentrated in an industry, the tech sector, that's really not doing that well right now.
PAUL SOLMAN: And the depositors were?
DANA PETERSON: Many of the folks who were invested in SVB were very high net worth individuals, meaning they had tons of money.
And you also had a number of start-up companies in the tech sector.
So you had companies that need money for payroll and cash.
PAUL SOLMAN: Of course, banks usually love such depositors.
But SVB didn't have enough corporate or individual borrowers to loan the money to.
What does a bank do then?
SIMON JOHNSON, MIT Sloan School of Management: You can lend to the government.
Uncle Sam and Auntie Sammy are very happy to borrow from the public.
And they paid decent rates of interest.
PAUL SOLMAN: Interest on Sam and Sammy's IOUs, that is, their government bonds.
But that was a few years back.
Then the tech sector turned sour, and the depositors had to start withdrawing their money.
To come up with the cash, SVB had to sell some of those bonds.
Guaranteed safe by the government, but, says Johnson: SIMON JOHNSON: Problem is, Paul, there is interest rate risk, which means, as interest rates go up, the value of the bonds go down.
PAUL SOLMAN: This is often confusing.
So, I asked, why, when interest rates go up, does the value of bonds go down?
SIMON JOHNSON: It is the value of the old bonds, the bonds that were issued at a previous interest rate, Paul, because now the government is borrowing, paying a higher interest rate.
PAUL SOLMAN: Now, I thought this might benefit from a bit of show and tell at the Treasury itself, simple when you stop to think about it.
The bank had bought billions of dollars of U.S. Treasury bonds at a low rate of interest.
Suddenly, it had to sell some to come up with the cash to pay off fleeing depositors.
Meanwhile, interest rates had gone up.
Today's bonds are paying a much higher rate of interest than these.
So which would you rather have?
Obviously, this one, which means this one's worth less.
The price goes down, the bank loses money and, says Simon Johnson: SIMON JOHNSON: Depositors thought about that, noticed it in some fashion, and decided to pull out even more money.
PAUL SOLMAN: And that's what happened?
SIMON JOHNSON: And then the run was on.
JIMMY STEWART, Actor: All right now, what happened?
How did it start?
THOMAS MITCHELL, Actor: How does anything like this ever start?
All I know is the bank called our loan.
JIMMY STEWART: When?
THOMAS MITCHELL: About an hour ago.
I had to hand over all our cash.
JIMMY STEWART: All of it?
THOMAS MITCHELL: Every cent of it.
JIMMY STEWART: Now, just remember that this thing isn't as black as it appeared.
SHEILA BAIR, Former Chair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: It's a classic Jimmy Stewart story in "It's A Wonderful Life."
PAUL SOLMAN: As former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair told Geoff last week: SHEILA BAIR: We have all seen that, right, when the depositors went in and ran the bank and the money had been invested in mortgages.
They didn't have all the cash.
No bank does.
Every bank lends out some of their deposits or makes investments with some of their deposits.
ACTOR: I will take mine now.
JIMMY STEWART: No, but you're thinking of this place all wrong, as if I had the money back in a safe.
The money's not here.
SIMON JOHNSON: The bank has made loans.
If the depositors are withdrawing their money, either you call in the loan or, if you can't do that, you can't pay the depositors.
Either way, the bank is in serious trouble and may not survive.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, then who done it?
Well, several suspects, SVB taking more deposits than they could profitably put to work and putting them all in one basket, long-term bonds, quick-trigger depositors, inflation that hiked interest rates, killing the value of long-term bonds and say, the likes of Senator Elizabeth Warren, loosening regulation starting back in 2018.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We need to learn from what has just happened with these banks and go forward by tightening the regulations.
It's just that simple.
PAUL SOLMAN: Simon Johnson agrees.
SIMON JOHNSON: I think loose regulation was very important, in part because -- and this is what was said by the top Fed officials at the time -- it changed the tone of supervision.
And Silicon Valley Bank was clearly very poorly supervised.
PAUL SOLMAN: So what's the fix?
David Wessel from the Brookings Institution.
DAVID WESSEL, Brookings Institution: The fix was that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, with the permission of the Treasury secretary, invoked a special provision of law and said that they would stand behind the deposits of every depositor at Signature Bank and Silicon Valley Bank, even if they had a lot more than $250,000 in the bank.
JEROME POWELL, Federal Reserve Chairman: Good afternoon.
PAUL SOLMAN: And the Federal Reserve also rode to the rescue.
JEROME POWELL: You have seen that we have the tools to protect depositors when there's a threat of serious harm to the economy or to -- or to the financial system.
And we're prepared to use those tools.
And I think depositors should assume that their deposits are safe.
PAUL SOLMAN: So we're at the Federal Reserve.
What's the Fed's role in all this?
DAVID WESSEL: The Federal Reserve is a lender of last resort.
So when the banks got in trouble, they lent hundreds of billions of dollars to the banks.
PAUL SOLMAN: OK, the key question, what's the future hold?
DAVID WESSEL: The economy was already slowing down, partly because the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates a lot.
But now the banking crisis is probably going to slow it further.
Banks are going to be more reluctant to lend.
That means less borrowing and less spending in the economy.
PAUL SOLMAN: But that's what the Fed wanted to begin with, slow down the economy.
DAVID WESSEL: Absolutely.
As Jay Powell, the Fed chair, said in his press conference the other day, the credit crunch that's caused by the banking crisis is some way going to substitute for interest rate increases.
PAUL SOLMAN: And thus, concludes Wessel: DAVID WESSEL: The Fed won't have to raise interest rates so much.
PAUL SOLMAN: Because the banking crunch may or may not squash inflation its own.
For the "PBS NewsHour," Paul Solman in Washington.
GEOFF BENNETT: Lawmakers also dug into what went wrong and the role of federal regulators both before the bank's collapse and since then.
Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins reports on the hearing.
SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): It looks to me like the regulators knew the problem, but nobody dropped the hammer.
LISA DESJARDINS: In the first formal congressional hearing on the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, senators grilled top federal regulators on why they didn't do more to prevent the bank's demise.
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): This does not take a highly sophisticated person to understand the risk, and it damn sure had to be known months before the chickens came home to roost.
REP. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): If the outside sector knew this was happening, you and the Fed and the other 4,000 other examiners should have known that as well.
LISA DESJARDINS: Officials, including the Federal Reserve's top regulator, Michael Barr, laid the blame primarily on the bank itself, saying SVB grew too quickly and, rolled the dice, rather than acting, as rising interest rates created high risk.
MICHAEL BARR, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve: This is a textbook case of bank mismanagement.
LISA DESJARDINS: But senators' gaze was pointed equally at the Fed.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Mr. Vice Chair Barr, did the Fed drop the ball because it didn't see the risk that was building?
MICHAEL BARR: Fundamentally, the bank failed because its management failed to appropriately address clear interest rate risk and clear liquidity risk.
The Federal Reserve Bank brought forward these problems to the bank, and they failed to address them in a timely way.
LISA DESJARDINS: Senators asked why Fed regulators didn't act sooner, with some Republicans noting that the agency saw signs of risk and flagged them as early as 2021.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The Federal Reserve knew well in advance that Silicon Valley Bank had a problem with holding too much of its money in interest rates since the long government bonds, didn't you?
MICHAEL BARR: I think the investing public and the Federal Reserve, which cited it for interest rate risk problems, knew that it had interest rate risk SEN. JOHN KENNEDY: The Federal Reserve didn't do anything about it, did it?
MICHAEL BARR: I disagree with that, Senator, respectfully.
The Federal Reserve did cite these problems to the bank and required them to take action.
Bank management failed to act on those.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY: You didn't follow up, did you?
LISA DESJARDINS: Some Senate Democrats like Elizabeth Warren are urging more regulation, but not all.
Jon Tester of Montana voiced his larger frustration.
SEN. JON TESTER: I am not a banker.
I ain't even close to being a banker.
I'm a dirt farmer.
And I'm going to tell you, when they laid out what at this bank had happened over the last two years, you didn't have to be an accountant to figure out what the hell was going on here.
LISA DESJARDINS: Rafael Warnock of Georgia.
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Here's the bottom line.
Ordinary folks who just showed up, put their deposits, they shouldn't have to bear the brunt and burden of these bad decisions.
LISA DESJARDINS: The FDIC is in the middle of a review of what happened and how it insures bank customers.
As for the Fed, Barr said it will consider stricter regulations for banks going forward.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.
AMNA NAWAZ: Vice President Kamala Harris is in Africa this week for a three-country tour focused on economic development and security.
Over nine days, she will meet with political leaders in Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia.
GEOFF BENNETT: Her travel follows other trips by senior officials to the continent, as pressure to counter Chinese influence in the region grows.
Laura Barron-Lopez reports on the trip's historic and strategic significance for America's.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: For America's first Black female vice president, a trip with deep political and personal meaning, Kamala Harris placing flowers in a women's dungeon at the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana and walking through the Door of No Return, where millions of Africans were forced in chains on to ships bound for the America's.
KAMALA HARRIS, Vice President of the United States: So being here was was -- was immensely powerful and moving.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Speaking off-script about the brutality of slavery, Harris challenged growing efforts back home to censor Black history.
KAMALA HARRIS: It cannot be denied.
It must be taught.
History must be learned.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: A solemn moment to recognize the past during a visit Harris says is focused on the future, specifically for women and young people.
KAMALA HARRIS: To witness firsthand the extraordinary innovation and creativity that is occurring on this continent.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: On the fastest growing and youngest continent, Harris met with young artists at a skate park and recording studio.
KAMALA HARRIS: You're speaking in a way that, around the globe, people hear songs that are moving concepts like freedom.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Joining her were actors Idris Elba and Sheryl Lee Ralph together to highlight the power of music to unite the global African diaspora.
(SINGING) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Harris' trip follows the African Leader Summit held in Washington last year.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: The United States is all in on Africa and all in with Africa.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Since then, she is the fifth high-ranking administration official to visit the continent in a sweeping effort to strengthen relationships in a part of the world where Chinese influence runs deep.
China has poured billions into infrastructure and development projects across Africa, including a $2 billion deal in Ghana to build roads and bridges.
On this trip, Harris announced $100 million in security and conflict prevention assistance for the Western coast, but said the goal wasn't to counter China.
KAMALA HARRIS: This trip is motivated I the importance of the direct relationship between the United States and Ghana.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: And Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo made clear he would work with both nations.
NANA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana: There may be an obsession in America about the Chinese activities over the continent, but there's no such obsession here.
But China is one of the many countries with whom Ghana is engaged in the world.
Your country is one of them.
Virtually all the countries in the world are friends with Ghana.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: The vice president is expected to announce additional investments later this week to empower women-run businesses, enhance food security, and promote climate resilience.
In Ghana, a model of democracy in the region, Harris said the two countries must continually work to preserve freedom.
The vice president will also travel to Zambia, a place where her grandfather lived and where she spent time as a child.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Laura, there's so much symbolism wrapped up in this weeklong trip.
There are multiple audiences both abroad and here at home.
What is the White House hoping to achieve?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: At its core, they're hoping that the vice president really uses her ability to strengthen ties with Africa, that they talk a lot about the historical significance of her going there.
But one personal political thing that she is also working on is gaining foreign policy experience.
She's met with more than 100 foreign leaders so far as vice president.
This comes after her big trip to the Munich Security Conference.
And this is showing that she's very much a part of the Biden reelection plan.
GEOFF BENNETT: The vice president's office has been, I think, fairly aggressive and intentional about owning and trying to reshape public perceptions of her and how she's handling the job.
How can we look at the trip in that context?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, like President Biden, Vice President Harris has an uphill climb right now with the public, with voters.
There's a recent Monmouth poll that shows Harris' approval rating is at 36 percent and her disapproval rating is at 53 percent.
But I spoke to multiple sources that are close to Harris, and they argue that she is really key to the president's reelection, that Democrats are starting to rally around her and say that the backbiting needs to stop.
And they have really warned other Democrats that, if she were to somehow be set aside, that there would be a swift backlash.
One thing that they also stress is that, for the first year-and-a-half of the administration, there was a lot of -- there very little time spent out on the trail.
Now Harris has recently traveled to Tallahassee, Florida, on abortion rights, traveled to Iowa - - it was her first trip to the state this year -- on abortion rights, and that's a big focus for her.
GEOFF BENNETT: I was really struck by the fact that the vice president was not on this trip alone.
She was surrounded by friends, allies, celebrities.
What was the idea behind that?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: So this was actually her idea, according to the sources that I spoke to today that are close to her.
She wanted all those celebrities, including Spike Lee, the film director, the president of the NAACP, the president of the Urban League, as well as a number of HBCU presidents there with her, because they said that, look, they understand that Harris doesn't always get all the press that they want her to get, that the vice president alone may not be able to create this echo chamber.
And they also said that bringing those people along, they bring their own resources and investments to the continent to really stress the importance of these ties with Africa that the administration is focusing on.
GEOFF BENNETT: A bit of a signal boost on this historic trip.
Laura Barron-Lopez, thanks so much for that reporting.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: Now, from the political landscape around the vice president's trip to the realities on the ground in Africa and the changing relationship between the U.S. and the 56 nations of the continent.
Gyude Moore served as minister of public works in Liberia and is the director of the Africa Initiative at the Center for Global Development, a think tank.
Gyude Moore, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thanks for joining us.
So, Vice President Harris is now the fifth high-ranking U.S. official to visit Africa from the Biden administration.
What message do you take away from that about how the U.S. views the continent right now?
GYUDE MOORE, Center for Global Development: So, I think -- thanks for having me again.
I think the first thing is that this is a stark change from the administration that came before.
When the previous administration announced is Africa policy, there wasn't even a Cabinet-level official.
This is the fifth high-ranking official there.
And we gauge the value of the relationship between any two places in how high the level of exchange is between them.
This also follows from August of last year the launch of the new U.S.-Africa strategy, then the African Leaders Summit.
It seems that, both in rhetoric and perception, and we're looking to see in substance, that the U.S. is actually backing up President Biden's declaration that the U.S. is all in Africa and is going to treat Africa as partners.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, let's talk about some of that substance now.
We saw Vice President Harris kick off her tour announcing $100 million in investment and new support for a few countries.
That is Benin, Ghana, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Togo.
That follows a $55 billion December pledge by President Biden to the continent over the next three years.
Does that say to you that the U.S. is all in, as President Biden put it?
GYUDE MOORE: Well, absolutely.
So, and one of the things you will notice about the vice president's travel is a lot of focus on the creative industries.
If you have followed the continent in any way over the past decade or so, you will see that, outside of extractives and agriculture, the place with the greatest potential now is the creatives and the tech sector.
And so she paid homage to that.
And she's followed by celebrities who are active in that space.
The $55 billion is an accumulation of American commitments on the continent, existing commitments, and some new ones, like digital.
So, when Japan had its meeting with Africa, TICAD, Japan pledged $30 billion over the same three-year period.
And now we're seeing the U.S. with $55 billion over that period.
It shows, in my view, that the Americans are sort of stepping up the game, because, as you noted, for the last two decades, China has actually increased its influence on the continent.
And many in the foreign policy sector here in the U.S. feel like it came at the cost to the U.S. And so the U.S. is stepping up its game.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, tell me a little bit more about that, because one of the three nations that Vice President Harris is visiting is Tanzania.
The president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan's first state visit outside of Africa was to Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping.
Where does Chinese influence fit into all of this?
GYUDE MOORE: I think so, for a long time, at least since 2000, China has been the largest bilateral lender when it comes to infrastructure financing in Africa.
And because Africa lags the rest of the world on infrastructure coverage, especially when it comes to transport infrastructure and electricity, most African governments turn to China.
And the United States is also heavily present on the continent, but in soft issues, in human capital issues, health, education.
There needs to be a balance between the two.
And so, as long as China continue to dominate in providing physical infrastructure, rail, ports, roads, airports, most African countries turn to that.
And I think, over time, the United States sort of realized that by ceding that entire space to a peer competitor was not the best thing.
And so we're beginning to see a change.
The DFC is now more active in Africa, investing in infrastructure, especially the digital infrastructure.
So I think, for Africans, this is good.
This is the kind of competition we want between two great powers to see who is a better partner to Africa, so sort of a race to the top between the United States and China.
AMNA NAWAZ: But U.S. officials like Harris say that they're not asking nations to choose between the U.S. and China.
As Harris has said, she wants nations there to expand their options.
Given the competition between the U.S. and China, what does that look like to you in practical terms?
GYUDE MOORE: Well, I think Africa is very large, and the scale and scope of the challenges on the continent mean that there's not a single partner who could be able to meet all of that.
So, instead of finding a partner of choice specific in China or the United States, most Africans are going to try to expand the choice of partners they have to deal with.
But I think, in the long run, because it is a zero sum game between the United States and China, a gain for one is going to be perceived as a loss for the other.
So, even if Americans aren't asking Africans to choose, somehow, along the way, they hope that the rise in their influence will come at the cost of their competitor.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Gyude Moore, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, joining us tonight.
Thank you for your time.
GYUDE MOORE: Thanks for having me.
GEOFF BENNETT: Last year, more than 270,000 women and girls went missing across the country.
Studies have shown that, when women of color go missing, they're far less likely to receive media attention.
And, as Laura Barron-Lopez reports, along with producers Karina Cuevas and Mike Fritz, the case of a missing immigrant woman in Boston is raising new concerns about how fast police respond.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: It's been nearly four months since anyone has seen 41-year-old Reina Carolina Morales Rojas.
Security cameras captured this footage of Reina leaving her apartment in East Boston on November 26.
She was picked up by a car service and later dropped off five miles away in Somerville, Massachusetts.
ALICIA MORALES ROJAS, Sister of Reina Carolina Morales Rojas (through translator): She's an excellent mother and a great sister.
We are very close as sisters.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Reina's sister, Alicia Morales, lives in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
Reina crossed into the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant last May, but she and Alicia spoke to each other daily.
So when Reina's phone started going straight to voice-mail, Alicia became worried.
Did it seem odd to you that she wasn't answering her phone initially?
ALICIA MORALES ROJAS (through translator): I just felt something was wrong, because she never turned her phone off, not even to charge it.
She always told me she kept it on in case there was an emergency with her kids or someone in the family.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Last year, Reina's family says she quit her job as a local policewoman in El Salvador and came to the U.S. alone.
To one day bring her two children, now 15 and 13, to live with her.
ALICIA MORALES ROJAS (through translator): She left for the United States for a better future for her kids And I have been saying that, instead of finding the American dream, what she found was hell, because only God knows what she must be suffering.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: When Alicia didn't hear from her sister, she immediately reached out to Reina's landlord, Francisco Magana (ph).
And this is Reina's apartment?
FRANCISCO MAGANA, Landlord: Yes.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: He recently showed us where Reina had been living at the time of her disappearance.
Magana filed a missing person's report with the Boston Police Department on November 28, two days after Reina was last seen.
But more than six weeks would pass before the Boston Police Department issued a public notice about Reina's disappearance.
JULIA MEJIA, Boston City Council: I have never heard of a case like this before.
To be missing November 26 and not hear about it until January 12, that's a long time to go.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Julia Mejia is the first Latina elected to the Boston City Council.
She recently introduced a resolution calling on police to treat all missing person's equally.
JULIA MEJIA: In this case, Ms. Morales Rojas is not only a woman of color, but also an immigrant, which further makes her susceptible to dismissive treatment.
This is not just a case with Reina.
We are seeing this across the country, the lack of urgency around missing cases with women of color.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Reina is one of more than 250,000 women and girls who go missing in this country every year.
But exactly how many of these women are Latina is largely unknown.
That's because local and national law enforcement often don't gather data on missing Latinos, like they do for white and Black people.
DANIELLE SLAKOFF, Sacramento State University: As a criminologist, I can't say, oh, there are this percentage of missing people that are Latino, because the data actually isn't there to say that.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Danielle Slakoff is a criminologist at Sacramento State University.
DANIELLE SLAKOFF: So many of our major criminal justice databases actually lump white and Latino people together.
So this is a community that often is not viewed on its own accord, and it's often lumped in with this other category.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: When a person goes missing, local law enforcement will enter any details they have into the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, a database overseen by the FBI.
But within the NCIC, Hispanic is only listed as an ethnicity, not a specific race, making it optional for police to include.
Last year, of the more than 271,000 total entries under missing females, 21,759 women were categorized as Hispanic.
But in the overall database, the optional ethnicity field was filled out in less than 20 percent of cases.
Back in Boston, questions still remain why it took the police so long to publicly alert Reina's disappearance.
VICTOR EVANS, Deputy Superintendent, Boston Police Department: It's a misstep that happened.
And we as a police department own it, and it shouldn't have happened.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Victor Evans is a deputy superintendent of the Boston Police Department.
It taking six weeks is not standard protocol, is it, for an alert to go out for a missing person?
VICTOR EVANS: No, it's not.
I mean, the public alert was sent out six weeks later.
But prior to that, a lot of investigative work went into it.
We have canvassed the areas for public and private video.
We have utilized her photo through several law enforcement agencies, not only in Massachusetts, but around the country.
We have utilized the access of drones that we have, along with canines, to locate Ms. Rojas.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: But Reina's disappearance remains a mystery.
MAN: Police detectives are looking for 41-year-old Reina Morales Rojas.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: And her case highlights another major issue, how the media covers missing person's cases.
Studies have shown that media outlets often take their cues from police.
MARCELA GARCIA, Columnist, The Boston Globe: We hear from law enforcement, and then we cover it, right?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Marcela Garcia is a columnist for The Boston Globe and one of the first journalists to cover Reina's story.
She believes the case has largely been ignored by media outlets because of what's known as missing white woman syndrome, a term famously coined by the "NewsHour"'s Gwen Ifill.
WOMAN: Tonight, the mystery deepens in the desperate search for 39-year-old Ana Walshe.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: It refers to the disproportionate coverage missing and endangered white women often receive.
MARCELA GARCIA: When white women go missing, there's just all this attention and resources and outpouring of support, and everybody wants to know what happened and let's find her.
I said, how is this possible that a woman can go missing for a month-and-a-half, and we don't pay the same attention, we don't give the same resources to find her?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: "The Columbia Journalism Review" recently examined thousands of news articles about missing people to create a tool called Are You Pressworthy?
where people can enter their own information to calculate how much coverage they would receive if they went missing.
A 41-year-old Latina in Massachusetts, like Reina, that would get about eight stories, but a missing white woman in her early 20s would be covered in more than 120 stories.
Criminologists call the phenomenon the ideal victim stereotype.
DANIELLE SLAKOFF: The ideal victim is somebody who is viewed as blameless and as needing our protection, our societal protection.
And women and girls of color are not portrayed in that way.
Oftentimes, they are portrayed as risk-taking at the time that the disappearance or the crime occurred, whereas white women and girls are often portrayed as being innocent and blameless.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Alicia Morales says she continues to search for answers from police.
ALICIA MORALES ROJAS (through translator): I do believe that, because she is Latina, because she is undocumented, because she is an immigrant, they never cared about her.
And I even told them that.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: The Boston Police Department say they have no updates in Reina's case, which remains an active investigation.
And they rejected accusations that missing undocumented people are treated differently.
VICTOR EVANS: We're here to help anyone, regardless of their status.
We want to know where she is.
We want to know what happened to her.
And if something tremendously bad has happened to her, we want to bring the person responsible for it to -- up for justice.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: In El Salvador, Reina's children are holding out hope that they will one day see their mom again.
We have shielded their faces to protect their identities.
BOY (through translator): We love her and miss her and we know that one day she will be back with us here in El Salvador.
GIRL (through translator): I have faith that she will be found, that one day they're going to call her and tell us that they found her.
That would be the most beautiful thing to happen in my life.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: It's a family now clinging to their faith, as they wait for answers.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Laura Barron-Lopez in Boston.
GEOFF BENNETT: A new law in the state of Utah could dramatically limit teenagers' access to social media platforms.
The law, which is the first of its kind in the nation, requires anyone under 18 to get parental consent to join social media platforms.
It forces those platforms to give parents access to the children's posts and messages, and it sets a social media curfew for minors.
It's scheduled to go into effect next year.
Republican Utah State Senator Mike McKell introduced the legislation and joins us now.
Thank you for being with us.
STATE SEN. MICHAEL MCKELL (R-UT): Thanks for having me on.
GEOFF BENNETT: Most of us parents are concerned about the ways in which social media affects our kids, from the content to which they're exposed, to the ways it might affect their ability to socialize normally.
Why was this sweeping set of restrictions necessary?
What was the motivation behind it?
STATE SEN. MICHAEL MCKELL: The concerns you have as a parent are the same concerns I have.
As we look at the data, social media is having a devastating impact on our kids.
We have a mental health crisis in America today.
This is a very big bipartisan issue.
President Biden, in his State of the Union address, he jumped in really, really strong, and he said, look, we need to stop this experiment on our kids.
We need to stop allowing big tech to collect data on our kids.
We need to stop letting big data target our kids with targeted advertisement.
And it was ironic, because all of those things were in our bill in state of Utah.
And, as you look at what we're doing and what our congressional delegations are doing, both Republicans and Democrats, I think we're all in line.
We see a very big problem with mental health.
It's a crisis that's getting worse.
We think social media has a lot to do with it, and that's why we care.
I'm a father of four kids.
I still have two teenagers at home, and I worry about it.
I worry about it every day.
GEOFF BENNETT: The tech industry opposes this law.
Perhaps that's no surprise.
But so too do civil liberties groups that say it infringes upon people's First Amendment rights.
There are other concerns, that the age verification mandate, they don't just affect children, but it affects millions of people who don't have government-issued I.D.s.
There are also concerns about what happens to that data in the event of a security breach.
How do you respond to that host of criticism and concern?
STATE SEN. MICHAEL MCKELL: The age verification, that's nothing new.
For example, we do verification for dating sites.
You have got millions of Americans who buy prescription drugs online.
We do age verification for that.
It's nothing new.
We really want to get out in front of it.
I know we have heard that there are some First Amendment concerns.
What we don't do in the legislation is, we don't moderate content.
What we simply say is that we're going to verify your age, and we're going to have some restrictions for minors.
We have lots of restrictions for minors today.
We verified age for minors all across the spectrum with different products.
And I think it -- I think this is a step that makes a lot of sense.
It's there to help empower parents to have tools necessary to help monitor and make sure this product is a product that's used appropriately for our kids.
GEOFF BENNETT: How will the state enforce these new regulations?
Because that wasn't clear to me in reading the legislation.
STATE SEN. MICHAEL MCKELL: Two ways.
First of all, we allow some enforcement through our Division of Consumer Protection, and I think that's an important tool.
In our legislation, the Division of Consumer Protection is going to take the next eight months to a year to develop what that looks like, working with big tech, that verification process.
Our verification process, one of the things we are really clear is, it couldn't be limited to government I.D.
and that there had to be other options available.
The other way that we will enforce this legislation is through a private right of action.
It's in the legislation.
For example, if a social media company decided to collect data on our kids or do targeted advertisement to our kids, parents could join together and bring a private right of action.
And that's a powerful tool.
And I think the social media companies will comply.
GEOFF BENNETT: It seems that you have very little faith that these social media apps can ever get better or ever be safe for kids.
Am I wrong in that?
STATE SEN. MICHAEL MCKELL: No, you're not wrong on that.
And let me just jump back to some CDC data that came out earlier this year; 17,000 kids were surveyed.
These were ninth graders through 12 graders.
And we have a serious mental health crisis.
And let me throw you out -- throw out a couple of points that I think are important; 30 percent of our girls seriously contemplated suicide in that survey; 57 percent of our girls had sustained feelings of loneliness and depression.
We have a serious problem.
That problem is almost like a hockey stick.
It's gotten some substantially worse since 2009, 2010, when social media came online.
All the research that I see points to social media as a big part of that problem.
For that reason, I'm not comfortable simply saying, fix social media.
I think they have had their chance.
I think they have failed.
And I think it's time for Congress and states across this nation to take action.
GEOFF BENNETT: Republican Utah State Senator Mike McKell, thanks for being with us.
STATE SEN. MICHAEL MCKELL: Thank you for having me on.
AMNA NAWAZ: Later this evening, be sure to look up into the night sky.
GEOFF BENNETT: Five planets are aligning, and tonight is the best time to catch a glimpse.
Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars will stretch from the horizon up into the sky near the moon.
To see them, look west right after sunset.
AMNA NAWAZ: They should be visible from anywhere in the world, as long as there are clear skies.
Venus will be the brightest.
But to see some of the dimmer planets, you might want to grab a pair of binoculars.
You can learn more about that alignment online PBS.org/NewsHour.
GEOFF BENNETT: And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
We have to go outside and look up at the sky.
(LAUGHTER) GEOFF BENNETT: I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.