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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 5, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newsho productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour toniowt: balance of. voters head the polls in georgia's runoff elections, with control of the u.ssenate and the future of much of president- elect biden's agenda at ake. then, combating the coronavirus. the u.s. sets anher daily record for covid-19 infections behind projections.campaign lags plus, "rethinking college." lost revenue and cutbacks from pandemic-related closures have compelled many struggling institutions to make big cuts. >> i believe that covid has not
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created challenges, but has accelerated challenges. it's forced us all to think differy end quickly. >> woodruff: all that and mo, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ >> architect. bee-ke.ep mentor. a raymiaond james fina advisor tailors advice to help you live your life. life, well-planned. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering no-contracwireless plans, signed to help people do more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can help fits a plan that ou. to learn more, visit >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> fidelity wealth management.
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>> the john s. and james l. knight foundation. fostering informed and engaged communities. more at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possibrple by the ation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank u. >> woodruff: only five days into the new yearand it's already ection day, at least for voters in georgia, who are decidiirng who both of t.s. senators will be.
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all eyes are watching the peach state, because it will also determine which party ntrols the senate. the stakes are high, and the candidates spent today making their last-minute appeals for votes. >> i will just make this plea: if you i votnovember, whatever you feel about the process in georgia-- and it does have some problems, and we will get that fixed. can't do much until after this election, unfortunately. but if v youoted in november, please get out and vote. >> we've seen amazing turnout in this state. over three million folk have that's good news. so, tell your neighbors, tell your friends, tell your family members, that today is election day. you heard from those of us who were running, but now it's time for us to hear from you.
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>> woo wdruff: and nturn again to stephen fowler. he is a political reporter for georgia public broadcasting, and the host of the "battleground: ballot b" podcast. stephen fowler, welcome back to the newshour. so, what are you hearing? how are things going today? >>ay well, tas been mostly quie b. there han very few lines in many of the polling places across the state. there have been very few problems as well. had coded wrong access cardsy to be able to start up the voting machines, and so ty had people vote by paper ballot while they got that fixed. but t's not record-setting, overwhelming, long-line turnout across the state. and depending on how you look at es, that can have two very different outcom when all is said and done and the polls close. woodruff: what do you mean? i think the conventional wisdom has been thate republicans w counting on a high voter turnout
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today. w >>l, that's right. i mean, early voting, the democrats are using absentee ballots for, especially because republicans and president trump say you shouldn't trust absentee ballots. so republicans did need a high people turning out today to be republicans, to be competitive. two districts that m watching is northwest georgia, where president trump had his rally last night. they were behind in voting, and so needed a big turnout as well as lon coast, which is another very g.o.p.-heavy district that would bwhat ts them over the top. >> woodruff: soe w saw, stephen fowler, the associated press does so-called voter surveys, talkingo t voters in the runup to this election. and we looked at some of early numbers. we saw that the democratic vote was very slightly down. we saw that the percentage of the black vote was up a couple of pntnts, pere points,
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from what it was in november. are you taking anything away from these early numbers you're seeing? >> well, the democratic party and both democratic senate candidates have put a lot of time and energy and effort into getting out the black vote. ey're a reliable democratic base in georgia, and especially in southwest georgt's not a place candidates typically travel to or spend mon in. that's a very, very important constituency that we see in early voting numbers are showing up to the polls and showing up through absentee ballots at rates similar tohat they d in november. so far the reason you see the black vote up is because of intentionam effort that those campaigns targeted in a race where really every single vote is going to count. >> woodruff: and, ephen fowler, one o what are the camps saying? are you get anything sense from them about how worried they are, whether they're feeling confident? >> well, y know, both
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campaigns and both sides of the campaigns are cautiously optimistic. nobody feels that this is going to be a blowout for either side, absentee ballots counted many and so many early votes to be counted, it isn't going to be readily apparent at 7:01 who are going to be the next u.s. senators from georgia. but, really, it's going to-- really, it's going to come down to who doesn't show today. , you know, democrats need their metropolitan atlanta-area voters to go to the ant georgia in particular, republicans need those people to show up. it's really going to come down to who didn't get mobilized enough. >> woodruff: and, again, so much focus on georgia. the president of the united states, president trump, as w all know, has spent so much time and energy pointing to what wen wron georgia. he claims, of course, that he won in november, even though he did not.
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is there at this point still a lot of focus on potenti irregularities in voting? >> absolutely. i mean, we talked to peopl across the state today that were showing up and voting using in-person voacnghines, even though they didn't quite trust youe kelly loeffler saying just before the trump really, she's going to objecto electoral college votes r georgia. bvid perdue, who won't be able to be thereause his term ended sunday, also objected. and you have state lawmakers that are already preparing legislation to roll back voting laws, kind of crack down on what they see a widespread fraud, even though our republican cretary of state says there's no evidence of that. >> woodruff: but, clearly, just in the ndfew se we have, some confusi, surely in the minds of some voters, given all the talk about problems in november. but still asking people to turn out. >> absolutely. i mean, it's a very conflicting, messaecause before the november election, president
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trump said don't trust abstee mail. now they're saying don't trust the voting machines. and those are the only two ways to vote in georgia, and that's staying people maybe >> woodruff: well, we are going to be watching it closely. i e.ow you and we will be coming back to you as we watch these returns come in. stephen fowler,eorgia public broadcast, thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the u.s. death toll from covi-19 topped 356,000, a day after u.s. hospitalizations hit a record high of more than 128,000. as infections spike in los angeles county, california, ambulance crews there have been with little chce of survival.s meanwhe ile, malthcare
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workers across the country received their second dose of the pfizer vaccine, but in chicago, mayor lori lightfoot called on the federal government to step up the pace of distribution.>> f you want to have us bend this curve and ge people confidence that they can resume their normal lives, the must be anexponential increase in the amount of vaccine that i available to cities and towns all over this country. >> woodruff: overseas, britain re-imposed a six-week national lockdown, to help stop the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus. weill take a closer look at those new restrictions right after the news summa. the nation's top national security agencies acknowledged in a rare joint statement today that russia is likely responsible for the recent cyber ck against u.s. federal agencies.
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they said mutliple, but fewer than ten agencies were affected, and that the ongoing cyber attack appears to be a "ielligence gathering effort." they did not disclose which agencies were affected, and to what d a wisconsin prosecutor has decided not to charge the white police s officer wt and paralyzed a black man in kenosha, wisconsin last august. jacob blake ot in the back seven times after police responc ded to a domesspute. wisconsin's department of justice said authorities found a knife in blake's vehicle. at a pre conference, blake's attorney demanded justice. >> thehooting of an individual seven times while walking icay from the o is nothing less than intentional. we believe that all of th elements of attempted homicide were met. we are-- we're just immensely disappointed with that decision today. >> woodruff: also today, kyle
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rittenhouse, the illinois teenager who fatally sho two people in kenosha during protests after blake's shooting, pleaded not guilty to arges that nclude intentional homici. he insisted that he opened fire in sele f-defense. ump administration is rolling back more government regulations in its final days. the u.s. interior department today scaled back a century-old law tat protects most american wild bird species. meanwhile, the environmental protection agency finalized a rule that curbs the use of health studies in craftingbl c safeguards. it will require researchers to publicly disclose their raw data before the e.p.a. can rely on their conclusions. and, stocks bounced back on the dow industrial average gained more than 167 points to close above 30,391. the nasdaq rose 120 points, and the s&p 500 added 26.
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the u.s. sets another record for covid-19vnfections, as cination lags behind projections. we discuss the president's ongoing refusal to concede the election with current and form u.s. senators. pro-iran militias in iraq grow increasingly hostile to the u.s. and, much more. the ungdited k is under national lockdown tonight, as a highly contagious mutation of covid-19 has hospitals buckling there under the strain of new patien. daniel hewitt of independent television news reports from >> reporter: on the first full
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day of this third lockdown, even some semance of normality feels right now a distant hope. a few were making the most of the smfraldoms that remain as the prime minister revealed a big jump in the number of people with coronavirus. >> people understand overwhweelmingly thaave no choice when the office of nationlial statistics is t us that more than 2% of the population is now infected. that's over one million people in england >> reporter: a number so alarming, the chf medical office felt it worthrepeating in me stark terms. >> across the country as a whole, roughly one in 50 peoe have got the virus. >> reporter: getting that number down means at least another six weeks in lockdown as the p.m. repeated that the route out remains with the vaccine. >> as of this afternoon, we've now vaccinated over 1.1 million people iengland and over 1.3 million across the u.k. and that includes more than
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650,000 people over 80. >> reporter: but even with all of the most vulnerable vaccinated, there came this warning: that even 2021 may not be the end of restrictions on our lives. >> things will be lifted stage by stage, and we'll then get over time to a point where people say, "this level of risk is one that society is prepared to tolerate" and lift down to almost no restrictions at all. we might have to bring a few in, in the next winter for example. that ipoible because winter will benefit the virus. >> reporter: next winter may feel like a lifetime away. the near empty street of exeter tonight speaks of a city and countrtsy tryingest to get through this one. >> brangham: back here in the u.s., the virus' spread is especally bad in southern california. nearly o of every five people who is tested in los angeles county is posive. a record 74,000-plus new cases
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were recorded around the state yesterday. and the death toll for just one day was nearin400. because of this, hospitals are running short of crucial supplies, like oxygen, and we're joined again by dr. christina ghaly. she's the director of health services for l.a. county. dr. ghaly, very good to have you back it's newshour. the last time we spoke to y was christmas day. and you said at the time that hospitals were neither capacity back then. it sounds liot it'sn a lot worse even since then. can you just give us a sense what's happened in the last 10 days or so? >> sure, thanks for having me. the past 10 days, we consistently seen hospitals add, on average, of about 200 patients a day across the distribution of los angeles county, and hospitallation ein county are at 8,000. that means that just over half of our hospital beds are filled with patients, are filled with
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patients with covid, and three-quarters or more of the intensive care unit, the i.c.u. beds that take care t se most critically ill are filled with covid patients. this is stretchingtaff, stretching the supplies, stretching the emergency medical service system to a point causing a lot of strain and exhaustion, but, also, isk of obviously something that is toally not sustainable. it doesn't leahe condition where's we can provide outstanding patient care for each o ever person who needs hospital-level care, th those with covid and those without snra.>> brangham: i know there s been an effort to discharge a many patients as you can. given your case numbers, i imagine the minute you empty a bed, that gets fille almost immediate lie. >> yes, it does. of.n several times ov right now we're admitting more patients with covid than we're able to discharge. about 700 patients a day come i
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with covid but only about 500 patients a day are discharged. we're working to discharge patients as quickly as hospitals can. but thentire health system, not just hospitals, are experiencing strain and stress, and in particular, staffing shortages.s so that affe all of the lower levels of care, i affects long-term subacute facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and 's making it very hard to move patients through the continuum of care. what we need to do, though, is move them efficiently. we need to save those very precious, acute hospital resources for the patients that need them most. >> brangham: we know that the vaccine rollout has been sort of erratidacross the country, i know that in california, i think you vaccinated about 1% of the population. we've also been hearing reports aboutstaff at nursing homes and even health care facilitiesseho thves are reluctant to take the vaccine. have you been hearing that?
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and if so, what's your sense of what's driving that ructance? >> i think there's a number of things. i mean, first, i think it's important to remember that this is a provisionally approved vaccine. it has been shown to be safe. it has been shown to be effective. i think there was a rigorous process to demonstrate both its safety and effectiveness, but it's still just a provisional approval. and that may make se people nervous. and i hope they look to the safe they look to the data and realize it is safe. but many people, understandably, have some anxiety abouthat and don't necessarily want to be the first to get the vaccine. within our health system,nd for-profit hospitals and clinics we operate, we have seen good uptake of the vaccinearound the order of 75% to 80%, which we're experiencing across california. but that still means 20% or 25% of health care providers are taking another minute and they don't want to receive it.
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we're still continuing to message with them and encourage them tget the vaccine and we'll keep that effort going and we hope to improve the uptake rate in the future. but there's, understandably, a lot of anxiety. >> brangham: we've also just seen the u.k.oi isg under this lockdown because of the incredible surge in cases of this new variant. how concerned are you that that is a real driver of all the cases you're seein in los angeles? >> it's certainly possible. there's been several cases that have been detected in southe california, and while the public health officials haven't yet ptured or identified that particular variant in the sample theafs f testedrom los angeles very small fraction of the total positive case counts. and i think it would just be really hard to believe that that variant isn't out there. now, how much that variant versus the other ones a contributing to the very highca counts, we just don't know at this point.t hichever variant it is, i think the message is still the
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same, that the virus is virtually loerywhere i angeles county right now. 1%, if not more, of individuals are infected and infe, andt poteially actively infecting others, and everyone needs to do everything they can to protecte themes and protect others and should always assume everyone they're interacting with might have covid. >> brangham: all right, dr. christina ghaly, health services director for los angeles county. thdk you very much, and g luck out there. >> thanks very much. >> woodruff: it is a transition denying election results and defying the mocratic process. lisa desjardins reports on the >> desjardins: rising inn washigton today, both anxiety and volume level. >> stop the steal! >> stop the steal!
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stop the steal! d sjardins: hundreds gathered outside the capitol in support of president trump today, ai prw of what's expected to be a much larger protest tomorrow, as congress begins certifying election results. overniutght,de senator josh hawley's home in virginia, protesters from a group called shutdown d.c. railed against hawley's plan to object to election results, going on his porch and using megaphones. >> shame on essh hawley. >>jardins: on twitter, hawley said he would not be intimidated by threats, vandalism and "left-wing violence." a group of dozens of house and senate republicans plan to challenge the results tomorrow over uron allegations of fraud largely fueled by presidp.ent tr in dalton, georgia last night he campa republican senate candidates, and more often, for overturning the election. >> this was a rigged election, but we're still fight.s
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>> djardins: mr. trump pinned pressure, on his vice president. >> and i hope mike pence comes through fous, i have to tell you. >> desjardins: mr. trump explained on twitter that he thinks pence has "thjepower to t fraudulently chosen electors." in reality, while the vice president will preside at the joint session, he has no power over electoral votes. from lawmakers.will have to come objections could force votes but none are expected to prevail or change the results. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: as the ranking member of the senate rules committee, minnesota senator amy klobuchar will play a key role tomorrow when congress meets to certify the electoral college vote. and she joins us now from her office in washington. senator klobuar, thank you so ch for joining us again. constitutional scholars are saying this the greatest challenge toacmerican democr since the civil war. how do you see this?r >> thee right.
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we have a group of senators and house members that are literally just doing the president's bidding instead of respecting the will of the american public. and the first thing i want your viewerto know is that on january 20, at 12:01 p.m., joede n and kamala harris will be inaugurated. that is because the way thepr ess works-- it's set up by an old statute in thee00s-- th we know that we have a growing number of what i call "coup fighters" that are senators fm botharties-- we're up to 24, 45 republicans who have now made public ents, in addition to a the democrats, as well as a number, of course, a majority in the house, areoing to stand up to this and make very clear-- and you keep saying "certified," judy. i do want to correct that. we won't be certifyingnything. we're just receiving and counting the votes, and then there's a processec to o and you have to have a member from the senate and the house.
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but theotes have already been certified in every single state by both republica and democratic secretaries of state and governors. >> woodruff: the reaso i'm asking you these questions is cause there is still some doubt on the part of many people, even people who support joe biden, about whether or not there's anything that can be done at this stage to prevent his becoming pn,sident. i m tomorrow, you have challenges by republicans to the states, electoral results. a couple of those, pennsylvania and georgia, that wld be enough to undo joe biden's eltoral majority. >> the point is, is that joe biden got more thanenough electoral votes, and that is what will pre kil. and w that these people who we know are running for president in 2024-- josh hawley and ted cruz-- have garnered a lot of attention. another but look a the comments
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from other republican leaders, from mitt romney, who is the party candidate for president. fr ben sasse. from people like susan collins and lisa merkoswki, and john thune, who is the majority whip. so remember th. and we know this is high stakes. and, by the way, i just note georgia or people who know in people in georgia, you have about 20 minutes left, a little more tat, to get to the polls. if you are in line by 7:00, you can still vote. so we know what is at stake but tomorrow, this isn't just going to be a partisan fight. this is going to fe aht between those who are standing up for democracy and those who are literally seeking to undermine the votes of the people of this country. >> woodruff: president trump is saying that vice president pence-- and i'm quoting him today-- last night he said he hopes vice presidee pence "c through." but then today, the president
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tweeted, "the vice president has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors." that is not believed to be true, but the president said it. >> yeah, well, ifou believe that, you believe everything he says on twitter. and the answer is pretty straightforward. the vice president of the united states, whether it was joe biden four years ago or whether it is mike pence n today, is the decider. they're the presider. they can move things along, but the law is the law. decided if mike pence to do that-- and we have no reason to believe he will, but if he decided to do that, then someone would believe, someone would object, for sure. we have a plan for it. d then the same rules apply. we go back to the senate. the house stays there. two hours of debate, depending on thehe state that objection is-- or the electors are entered into, anthen we vote. and that is how we will win, and that is how joe and kala will inaugurated on january 20.
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he can try whatever he wants. and, again, we don't know that he will. but he is the decider. we are. >> woodruff: is there any argume, senator klobuchar, that the republicans areaking about the legitimacy of election results and electo results in any of these states that gives u concern? >> no. they have been rejected by over 80 judges, judy, including trump-appointed, republican-appointed judges. in michigan, a state they've talked about a lot, eight lawsuits rejected or withdrawn o fl. in wisconsin, seven lawsuits rejected or withdra straight out. have been withdrawn or rejected straight out. republican secretaries of state, like we see in georgia, standing up for the results against the bullying and the threats from the president of the united states. so something's going on here at the local level in our country.
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and, luckily for the people o america, some of the republicans in the senate are listening. woodruff: and, finally, senator klobuchar, what about this argument that some republicans make, well, there's hest so much doubt out it's better to have this audit, which a number of these republican senators are calling for. let's just spend 10 moreays oddting the results in these critical states, where the results were close. what's the harm in that? what's your ansr to them? >> it's the same. it's just josh hawle in a different package led by ted cruz. and it basically would require people to vote against the will of the people of the state. not only that, if they think 's so screwed up-- which they nnow it's not-- then why didn't they insist on audit in their own elections, in the house members from those states, in the senators that just got sworn in on sunday? they didn't because they kno it's bull. and in the end, democracy will
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prevail. >> woodruff: and for you, tomorrow, i mean, how fragile-- how careful do you have to be as a-- as a so-called-- i guess the term is "teller." there's a democratic teller, a republican teller. precise, how careful do you and the other people watching all this have to b >> i think people should know that it's bipartisan. senator blunt and i are the two eipointed by t senate, and we simply r and then report to the joint session the vote. we then lead the debate-- or it will lea debate on our side. and we have so many great senato srs from thtes that are being disputed. in this.will take a majorole and we will make our case. so that's really my role. and or me, this is a culmination of working on election issues in the senate,t seeinghe attempts at voter suppression, seeing joe biden get over 80 million votes, the mosever received by a
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presidential candidate in the history of america, and knowing that this, to me, is the last time he will ecbered victor, because he's been declared victor y, know-- i don't know, a dozen times-- while and then we head straight to the inauguration, where donald trump will no nger be the president. >> woodruff: senator amykl obuchar, we thank you once nkagain. >> t judy. it was great to be on. >> woodruff: as if there weren't enough going on, all ten living secretaries of defense signea column published in the "washington post" sunday that urged the trump administration to allow a peaceful transition of power, and to keep the pentaon out of it. among other points, it said,
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if the military is involved, it "would take us into dangerous, unlawful an unconstitutional territory." the bipartisan group was responding to news reports that president trump might employ the military to remain in power. one of the signatories, former secreary of defense and former senator william cohen, joins me now. senator william hen, bill cohen, thank you so much for being here. what made you decide this is something that you needed to do, to sign? >> wl, as i've mentioned, each of us have our own reasones yes we signehat letter, but the consensus was there were enough signs worrying us that we felt compelled to put that letter out. for me, it wasave culmination of things that the president has done. i have-- he has, in my judgment at lea, abused the military by using them for political purposes. the march through lafayettee
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squa was one of them, where he used the chairman of the joint chiefs and the secretary of defense to walk with him in his parade over to the church front where he held up a bible. there have been other instances-- the use of paramilitary forces, ueclared u.s. government employees to shoot rubber bullets at te heads of protesters in seattle. the call for the militias to and then, basically, a call coming from joeaiden-- no callersonally to me, but a hat jc declaration biden and his administration,-to-be administr watioe not getting sufficient information. the information was being and then you had the surfacing, at least, ofatn alln about martial law being floated in the white house, and then lieutenana general flyning about it publicly. all of those certainly influenced my judgmeat it was time for us to coalesce and
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those in the pentagon to make sure that they are not either used or abused in a way thatul involve our military in our political system. >> woodruff: i know tt, among other things, there is concern about whether the president might invoke something called "e insurrtion act." tell us very briefly what that is and what it would mean if the president did invoke it. >> well, it would mean that there was sufficient turmoil on our streets in the united states that were beyond the control of local officials-- poland other ate officials in each given state-and that it was important to call upon the military to help repress orsu ress the violence. president, on the political side, is saying people are angry out there. people think fraud has been committed. why? it's because the president of the united states is putting out a frautedulent snt, a false statement, to make people angry, and then he can sciet the anger
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as a reason why the vote should be challenged. the saerme thing appliesas far as the danger that the president might encourage people to commit violence in our street and then use the violence as a reason to invoke the insurrection act. so this is something we have to very careful about, watching what he does, what he's capable of. and we've seenlehere is nl too low to which he will stoop so he's been to the people. the people havete rej him. he has been to the courts. the cecourts have rd him. he's been to the governors. they have rejected him. and now he's going to congress. and i think it's a very dangerous period of time for us, becase we know in the transition phase of our transition of power it's verye daus and other countries try to take advantage of it. >> woodruff: are our military leaders obligated to follow an order from the president if he were to order them to step in somehow, to help him hold on to
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power? >> those in the military are obligated to follow the orders of the commander in chief if they are legal, if they are ethical, and if ty're constitutional. they have the right to walk away and say, "mr. president, we can't carry out this order because they can be relie duty or be fired." but they are able to make that judgment, based upon their own assessment of the situation. they are higedhlated, highly trained. thane what the intelligence is telling them what's on our streets and what's taking place in foreign capitals and elsewhere. carry out a legitimate,tio authorized, legal orr. but they also have the responsibility to make a judgment saying, "this isy totalltithetical to my personal beliefs. i cannot carry this out inood conscience." ordinarily, they would carry out the order, butep itds upon
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what the circumstancesick state. >> woodruff: i'm asking in part because today the commandef u.s. nuclear weapons was asked if he would obey an order from the president to strike iran's nuclear and h he would follow any legal order he was given. so trying to understand what that meahi. i mean, is iran. it's a different move, but we are now in the waynein days of this presidency and trying to understand what the military would obe obligatedo. >> well, if the president gave a command to attackn, i ordinarily, the officer in arge, from the secretary of defense through the commander centcom commander, would be obligated to carry that obuut. that again requires those in the chain of command to make an assessment: is this done for legitimate reasons? somig this that's done for purely political opportunild? they chen refuse to carry
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out that order. you may recall back during the impeachment period with richard nixon. secretary ofefense schlesinger put out the word do not follow any order at involves using nuclear weapons before you check with with me or secretary kissinger. i would expect the acting secretary of defense to do something quite simir to that. if the circumstanc warrant, if iran is doing something, attackinour forces in the region, obviously, the commander in chief is going to order a response to that and a very serious one. so i'm hoping that iran doesn't do anything that is clearly stupid and give president trump an opportunity, an opportunity he's looking forward to, to inflict damage raupon >> woodruff: and finally, as a republican, secrary cohen, in just a sentence, what is your reaction to the republican senators who tomorrow will be challenging the electoral vote count? >> disappointing. that's the mildest word i could
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use. but i think they're not living up to their oigation, much as vice president pence is now being tortured-- at least he's going to support president trump or he's going to support constitution. there shld be no question his obligation is to the constitution. and i say that to the members e enate who are now trying to come up with this fraudulent allegation of fraudulent voting. i think it's simply political in nature. i think they're taking a pass knowing it's not going topaz so they saan "oh, we supported president trump, and, therefore, we're the heirs of trumpism going forward in 2024 if the president decides not to run." >> woof:drormer secretary of defense, former senator, bill cohen, william cohen. thank you very much for being with us. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: tensions between the u.ees. and iran have
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heating up over the past few weeks as the one-year anniversary approached of the american killing of a top iranian general in iraq. militias therewith ties to this past weekend, iraqis converged and demonstrated their oppositetion to the united s newshour special correspondent jack hewson has this report from baghdad. >> reporter: thousands gathered at baghdad's tahrir square to mark the one-year anniversary of the kiing of qassem soleimani, by an american drone strike on baghdad's airport road. soleimani ran much of shia iran's military operations in the region, as head of the elite quds force. reviled as a terrorist by the a u. many in the region, he was celebrated in equal measure by others. riding with him that night was abu mahdi al muhandis, the deputy leader of iraq's popular mobilisation forces, a paramilitaries, many with strong ties to iran.
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the p.m.f. were instrumental in the fight against the sunni extremists of isis, and for p.m.f. suppoers like hussein i, the killings are a point of great bitterness. >>an ated ): we offer our >> ( translated ): and after this achievement and the iraqi victory over isis, america came to killel these twers. >> reporter: the u.s. kept troops in-country following the 2018 de estruction of is caliphate inside iraq to press the offensive against remnants of the group. of equal importance, though: using iraq as a strategic base agnst iran. rocket attacks against u.s.-staffed installations began to increase. very few people want to take responsibility for the rocket attacks against the american embassy, but as you can e from the pblic opinion here, there is significant appetite for more of it. president trump has id if one american is killed in the course of these attacks, then there will be reprisals. the assassinatn was the peak of a series of strikes and counter-strikes between the u.s. and irn, and pro-iranian groups, in late 2019, and early
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last year, a proxy conflict on iri soil. in response, the iraqi parliament passed a non-biing resolution to eject u.s. troops. >> ( translated ): we want these decisions to be implemented. the people voted on the decision to rems.ove the american for we want to remove all american forces peacefully, and if they are not achieved by peaceful means, then the people will resist. >> reporter: with 2,500 u.s. troops still in country, that resistance is made reality by continued attacks on convoys, and lands in the form of rockets launched on the u.s. embassy in baghdad. the u.s. repordly threatened to evacuate its embassy here, among ,the largest in the wor last fall. the last attack was on december 20, as eight rockets were fired at the u.s. embassy. red tr eacers from tassy's defense system returned fire. no groupas claimed responsibility, but government forces arrested members of a prominent pro-iranian faction called asaib ahl al haq, or a.a.h.
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in response to the arrest, masked men claering to be mes of a.a.h. made threats against iraqi prime minister mustaftea al kadhimi pon social media. a.a.h. spokesperson mahmoud al-rubaie denied the group's involvement, either with the attack or the video threats, and said that one of their arrested assocates had been forced to confess. >> ( translated ): they tortured him in order to extract a confession from him that he is a participant in this operation and that he works with rockets. this matter is all a lie, there is nothing of this subject. >> repoer: the iraqi security forces denied claims of torture. pushed further on a.a.h.'s alleged involvement, al-rubaie claimed that the u.s. was training fighters in jordan who could be responsible for the attacks against the baghdad bassy. century the >> certainly that's what we've seen throughout 2020, is
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smalleewr, groups that have been established, outside the p.m.f. framework. there's been concern that there's not enough command and controov these groups, and the fact that they seem to be a bit more dangerous and reckless. >> rep norter: and the subgroups may not be acting in the interests of iran itself. soleimani's replacanent, esmail visited iraq in november and is reported to have discouraged paramilitaries from days of the trumps in the last administration. >> i don't think they wanto escalate. i don't think the iranians are at that position at this moment. i think it's important for the iranians to keep thabalance betwen keeping pressure up on the u.s., meeting the demands and the messaging for domeic purposes, and also reminding and giving space for the next u.s. administration to enter into serious negotiations with them. >> reporter: it's that delicate balance, and capacity for mialculation, that has many here and in the region still on edge. for the pbs newsur, i'm jack hewson in baghdad. >> woodruff: and to discuss that, i'm ined by our nick hifrin. so, nick, we know there were no
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attacks over the anniversary this weekend. bad iran has me two significant moves, and so has the stayate department t. >> schifrin: yeah, the iranian revolutionary guard corps seized h sorean flagged oil tanker and iran enriched up to20 uranium at its nuclear plant. that lowers the so-calledo brea time if iran wanted to create a nuclear weapon. both moves, judy, remind the incoming biden administration of iran's leverage points tiand prior ahead of expected diplomatic talks. but the trump administration iso done yet. it sanctioned 17 iranian companies today, on top of 1,500 peoe and entities already sanctioned. >> woodruff: so, nick, looking t ov last few days, what steps did the u.s. take in advance of the soleimani killinv anrsary, and how high was the concern? >> trsenior adminion, and military officials told me they were very concerned a militia in
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iraq would attack the u.s. the administration was trying to send a unified message of deterrence to iran. first, there was a presidentia twitter threat, and then a rare photo release bide the navy of a g submarine sailoff iran's coast, and b-52s sent to the middle east. agon orderedhe pe the ""nimitz"" aircraft carrier home from the middle east. the decision was made over the advice of military leader sayini bring the ""nimitz"" home would send mixed signals. the administration said they were trying to send a calibrated midge saying the u.s. would respond militarily if iran k attacked aled a u.s. service person but didn't want to go to war. the mixed msages got even more mixed. the pentagon announced the ""nimitz"" would say in the region after all. a military official told me the white house made a last-minute desion that surprised eve the pentagon. i've talked to independent analysts about all this
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back-and-forth, and they say this is, frankly, bordering on incompetence. and a senior administration official admits to me there wasn't any stratic sen behind suddenly keeping the "nimitz" in the region, because there was no i newelligence that would require it to stay. but, bottom line, judy, the "nimitz" remains the region, as do the tensions between the >> woodruff: well, a lot of drama and so much to follow in these firs days of the new year. nick schifrin, thank you very much. >> schifrin: thank you. >> woodruff: nearly 400,000 people at american colleges and universities have contracted the coronavirus since march, enough to fill four rose bowls. as campuses prepare to stmeart a new er, the toll is mounting. inl some cases, the survi entire institutions could be on the line. the covid relief package
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included $23 billion for condllegesniversities, but schools say it doesn't come close to what they need. hari sreenivasan has our story, part of our ongoing series," rethinking college." > when you get intohe classrooms, whenou walk into he dining hall, when you go ceinto a sciab, you realiz that this is not a normal year. >> sreenivasan: squint hard, anokd this almoss like fall sr emes ohio wesleyan university, a liberal arts school of 1,500 students just outside columbus. >> we've been doing surveillance tethsting of about 15% o student body each week. yesterday, we tested 72. >> sreenivasan: so, this is just part of campus life. >> just a part of campus life. >> sreenivasan: but beyond the testing, the mks, the grab-and-go meals, and solo study, there's something even more unsettling afoot, here. >> normally, this place woulbe packed. >> sreenivasan: ohioesleyan president rock jones recently announced that his school would
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be eliminating 18 majors, nearly a fifth of its offerings, and they're cutting 20% of the university'saculty and staff. it's a move expected to save nearly $12 million. nearly every college and university surviving the pandemic has a caslow crisis. we refunded the room and board fees that students had pae for the second half of spring semester. we canceled our planned 3% inn creaseition, room, and board for this year. that's been a significant loss of revenue. we increased our financial aid bunedget, because wefamilies were having financial struggles with the recession, and unasemployment numbers increing. and then we've had added expenses for testing. >>reenivasan: so, you've increased ur cost, decreased your revenues. to a lot of colleges, that's not good math. >> well, it's not aiod math. and we've found ways to reduce expenses. >> sreenivasan: and it's on top decade. at's been bad for a since 2010, enrollment at two- and four-year colleges naabtionwide has dropped bt 2.5 million, driven in part by
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a smler population of high school students moving directly to colge, and concerns over the skyrocketing cost of college education.a am at ohio wesleyan had already begun looking for cuts before the pandemic. >> i believe that covid has not created challenges, but has acceleratechallenges. differently and >> sreenivasan: last spring, that meant transitioning to days.e-only education within and this academic year, for schools like ohio wesleyan, it also meant finding a way to bring students back for a very different version of the college perience >> it feels almost kind of like a zombie town, like a zombie apocalypse. everyone is walking around, they're all basically faceless because you can't really see them. >> sreenivasan: jack foley, a junior, self-quarantined for 22 days last semester after repeated exposures to the virus. but he says being on campus was worth the challenges. >> i needed the social life.
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even if it was going to be restricted due to covid, it's something where, really all my friends are here. so, it's where i took that risk. >> sreenivasan: not so for everyone. mo00re than 560,0 undergraduates in s.the ecided not to return to school this fall, either in-person or online. that's a 3.6% drop compared to 2019. freshman attendance saw an unprecedented 13.1% drop, according the national student nghouse research center. the pandemic has cost u.on schools, by estimate, $120 billion and counting. oo's devastating for small liberal arts sch, to be sure, but also bigger public schools that have seen sta support plummet in recent years. >>ie the state universof michigan, all 15 of them, are facing the most dire set of circstances many of them ever have since their founding. >> sreenivasan: dan hurley is the chief executive officer of
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the michigan association of state universities. >> as an example, michigan state university, one of the largest-- largest universities in the country, right now, they have 15,000 to 17,000 beds on campus that are completely empty because of the pandemic. >> sreenivasan: michigan state went almost entirely virtual this fall, leaving its 5,300- acre campus in east lansing desolate. >> dining centers that are empty. huge conference services programs, a summer youth program, camps, all that, alatl th auxiliary enterprise wensnt away, and with it, f tens of millions of dollars. and then you look at the athletic entprises, u. of m. and michigan state among them. i tg hink that's go be an impact in the tens and tens of millions of dollars. tht ose dollars dost benefit the athletic enterprise, they help subsidize other aspects of the university of michigan. >> sreenivasan: in ann arbor, iversity of michigan tri to offer students some semblance of normalcy with mask mandates and routintesting.
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but within weeks, covid cases surged. itsi didn't surprise n student christian magno. >> we are very tempted to go and hang out with a lot of peopl because it's the culture that this campus is. >> sreenivasan: in october undergraduate students were rdered to stay in their dorms until early november to help bring down the infection rate, and they have bemsked not to e back to campus after winter break unless necessary. most housing contracts for winter and spring have been canceled. >> i know there's a lot of controversy around it, but in my opinion, i think it's necessary if you take into consideration human lives, and whatnot. it reduces the amount of interaction that people have with each other. >>iv srean: but these moves come at a cost, hurley says. >> there's going to continue to be a lot of belt tightening. >> sreenivasan: u.s. colleges and universities have shed nearly a tenth of their employees in recent months, ti ted to both pandemic and longer-term challenges, including 2,900 adjunct professors at city university of new york.
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campus-wide furloughs at university of arizona. more than 230 college athletic tenaamonwide have been cut or slated for elimination. in ohio, urbana university, foopunded in 1850, closed completely this year due to the pandic and years of low enrollment. loalysts say hundreds of others are at risk of fng suit in the next few years. hannah carpenters a senior at ohio wesleyan. so how are the changes the university is king when it comes to the bottom line going to affect you? >> it's hard to see programs lose funding that yowant to see continue because, you know, that part of the liberal arts unihaversity experience ing all of those different fields available for you to explore. so, it definbeely is not the st feeling to know that your university is struggling financially, and that universities everywhere are struggling. but i know at the other end of thllis, there wie opportunities for growth in the end, and things will eventually
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be on the up and up again. >> sreenivasan: at least that's the hope. for the pbs newshour, i'm hari sreenivasan in delaware, ohio. >> woodruff: the pandemic is taki a particularly dramatic toll on students of color. we'll examine why in the nextn stallment of our "rethinking college" series, next tuesday. and that is the newshour for tonit. ploieaseus tomorrow starting at 12:30 p.m. eastern for spovecial liveage of the historic electoral college count in congress. we will report on this unprecedented debate. i'm judy woodruff. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you so. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> fidelity wealth managemt. >> consumecellular.
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>> johnson & johnson. >>nsf railway. raymond james.ervices firm >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement oanf international peac security. at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made porpssible by the ation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like thk you. newshour productions, llc
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hello everyone and welcome here's what's coming up. >> a new year begins. vaccines are rolling out but experts wa of a tou few months ahead. i asked the scientist who helped discover the ebola virus about vaccination. of mass then at the 11th hour, president trump still trying to overturn his defeat in georgia. declaring the election the over, i speak to one of them, veteran rean william cohen. then, the georgia run offs will determine the balance of power in amera, and i speak to former illinois senator carol moseley brawn.


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