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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  October 6, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: high stakes. and at the brink, a possible breakthrough, as senate democrats and republicans may be moving toward agreement on avoiding a first-ever default on the federal debt. then, ethiopia in crisis. children in its northern region of tigray are suffering, as the ongoing civil war exacerbates widespread food shortages. and, biting back. how scientists are using genetically-modified mosquitoes to combat the spread of deadly viruses. >> if we can introduce another tool that, you know, is cost- effective and works very well,
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then that's something that we're really hoping that this trial will show. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> fidelity wealth management. >> consumer cellular.
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thank you. >> woodruff: there is a new offer on the table tonight-- a potential pathway out of the impasse between congressional democrats and republicans, over raising the federal debt limit. the consequences of a default would be severe. but, will this new offer get any traction? congressional correspondent lisa desjardins begins there. >> desjardins: at the capitol, a dizzying day. after weeks of impasse, and increased ccern over the debt ceiling, senate republican leader mitch mcconnell told democrats he could agree to two tailored ways to raise the debt ceiling. option one, he wrote, "republicans would help expedite a long-term increase, if done through the budget reconciliation process, which takes 51 votes." or two, "republicans would allow a short-term extension into december, if done by the normal, 60-vote process."
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this after another similarly vertiginous day on wall street, where earlier, goldman sachs warned its clients, there is a real risk that congress will miss the debt ceiling deadline approaching in the next two weeks. and the pentagon expressed concern as well. defense secretary lloyd austin warned today that a default would “seriously harm service members” and risk retiree benefits. >> it's a meteor headed to crash into our economy. we should all want to stop it. >> desjardins: president biden, for his part, again stressed, this is dire. meeting with banking and other business leaders, he laid out a worst-case scenario. >> social security benefits will stop; salaries to service members will stop; benefits to veterans will stop; and much more. >> desjardins: but the focus today was on mcconnell and democratic senate leader chuck schumer. while they negotiated in the afternoon in private,
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public, the rhetoric was still barbed. >> even now that the democratic leader complains that he's short on time, he continues to waste time with partisan stunts that are dead on arrival. >> republican obstruction on the debt ceiling over the last few weeks has been reckless. reporters were told they will take mcconnell's offer of a short term extension. good news for holding breath like on wall street and others worried with a nuclear procedural fight in the senate after president biden offered this possible solution last night. are democrats going to be given a nuclr option to raise e debt >> are democrats considering using a nuclear option to raise the debt limit-- using a carve-out with the filibuster to raise the bt limit? >> oh, i think that's a real possibility. >> desjardins: in other words, that democrats change the filibuster rules, for just the debt ceiling, to require 50, not 60, votes. but they'd nd senators kyrsten sinemand joe manchin to agree.
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a world wind solution to the debt crisis is in the air but allows for another potential crisis in just weeks. >> woodruff: and lisa joins me now here in the studio. you said it right, a dizzying day, so, tell us, where does this stand? have they averted a crisis over the debt ceiling or not? >> here's the word, we're in a strange moment right now, judy. neither senator leader chuck schumer nor republican leader mitch mcconnell have publicly said anything about this deal but behind the scenes all of us have gotten reporting from both sides saying they are nearing this agreement and here are the details of what is on the table, where we think they are going now. this is the deal senator mcconnell proposed. it will set a specific dollar amount for the debt ceiling to reach and that dollar amount would also coincide roughly with so time in december. so essentially it would give about a month or two, a little over month, two month of grace period here and then important to this is that, under this
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deal, it would require 60 votes in the senate. it would be that normal process where a filibuster would be allowed, which means ten republicans would be needed. speaking to republicans in all cornerof the party and the the senate, they believe that will be possible that essentially senator mcconnell has given them the ability to do this by saying it's a temporary deal only. of course what this means is this entire debt ceilg fight would be kicked down the curb just till december. we're going to get to that later. let's talk about tonight some more, something else we need to see happen as we're seeing details worked out tonight between the two leaders in the senate, the house would have to pass this as well. the house is out of session right now. i do not think they would come back this week. they've told members they would give them three days' notice so the house would likely come back next week. all of this is happening as the markets have been waiting. we saw the market react very well to this today. our debt now is at $28 trillion. so in the air is a larger conversation about the debt itself, but is was a crisis
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and there is hope tonight that the crisis will be averted in the next day or two. >> woodruff: but we don't know what that next number would be that they would set for december. >> reporter: no, that's right, and it's going to be a very important point of fact because part of this battle is all about the larger reconciliation bill, how much larger will that be and debt will that incur and republicans trying to build up ads for next year saying look how much the democrats raised the debt. if they do a number short term, democrats are not necessarily going to want to do that again. >> woodruff: a lot of speculation about why mitch mcconnell did this, why did he make this offer? we safe former president trump today accusing him of caving but what are you learning from people you're talking to? >> reporter: this was my reporting. a few things in play for senator mcconnell. i believe he calculated senator schumer in one of their real faceoffs together was going to back off first. it went the other way. democrats stood up and called out republicans saying we
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believe you are to blame. then also the business pressure that we saw today, obviously real problems on wall street, real concern. quickly, that is something that republicans were hearing a lot from constituents and donors as well as business groups. ththirdly, the phil burts. i'm told by people in the room that senator mcconnell did not want to try and risk the filibuster over this issue. he was worried it could open up other issues like voting rights. if senators manchin and schumer broke on this, maybe they would on other things as well. the rules in the senate. lisa, you mentioned the reconciliation bill, the larger social spending bill the president is negotiating now, the build back better bill is the name for it. where does that stand? we keep hearing there have been some coming together. >> reporter: that's right. it is the fact that the democrats are now circling around the $2 trillion number,
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some a bit higr, 2.5 or lower, 1.5 trillion. but speaking to those on the record like debby stabenow, committed chairperson, she says, despite what joe manchin has been saying she thinks it's around the higher end 2.2, 2.3 trillion. raising the debt ceiling, if that discussion is pushed back, it could actually give democrats more motivation to work faster because they would want to pass the larger biden bill before the debt ceiling comes up again in december. with the december deadline is government spending deadline in december. while democrats said they want to deal with reconciliation this month, get it done by december, a lot of us are skeptical they could, now this debt ceiling deadline gives them the harder reason to push for it and try to figure out reconciliation as soon as possible. >> woodruff: a sense things are piling up toward the end of the year.
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>> reporter: hold your breath for christmastime and thanksgiving. >> we're not ready to face it yet. lisa desjardins, thank you very much. >> woodruff: for more on the state of play and what's at stake, we hear from jared bernstein. he is a member of the president's council of economic advisors. and i ske with him a short time ago. jared bernstein, welcome wack to the "newshour" -- back to the "newshour". >> always a pleasure to be here. >> woodruff: as you and i sit here at the table a little bit before 5:00 in the afternoon, where do things stand with regard to democrats and republicans and the debt ceiling? >> well, the debt ceiling has not been raised and it should have been, already. this should be a joint effort wherein democrats and republicans work together to raise the debt ceiling in order to make payments that both of them have already agreed to. i think this is a source of confusion, judy, sometimes on this issue of the debt ceiling that somehow it's forward looking, it has to do with spending coming down the pike.
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that's not what it's about. it's about paying for bills that both sides have already incurred and that's why 80 times over the past 60 years, the debt ceiling has been increased, in many cases bipartisanly, and in fact in the trump administration, democrats worked with republicans to increase the debt ceiling three times, and this was the trump administration that added 8 trillion to the debt. so it is time for democrats and republicans to work together to get this behind us. >> woodruff: so if what the senate minority leader mitch mcconnell is offering is a temporary extension saying, all right, we'll go along with extending the debt ceiling, but only for a limited period of time, does that allow you, the president and democrats, to do what you need to do right now? >> well, i think what we have from the minority leader is a press release at this point. i don't know of a formal offer. so it's a little bit hard to talk about details and it's the kind of thing you want chuck schur to take the lead on. what we really don't want to see
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is a complicated two-step process, nothing that kicks the can down the road that says we'll raise it a little now, more later, and the reason for that really gets back to the economics. we have an economy with a robust recovery ongoing, but delta is still upon the land. the virus is still out there, and this is absolutely no time to be fooling around with the faith and credit of the u.s. government's debt, and that's precisely what this effort urn necessarily does. so, again, debts incurred by both parties hold hands as we've done in the past, work together, we could get this behind us in the next five minutes, not in the next two, three, four, six months. >> woodruff: but what the minority leader, senator mcconnell and other republicans are saying is that this is a democratic debt, that democrats simply want to move ahead right now in order to pay for the programs they want to -- >> let me say that is factually incorrect and it's important to get this straight. this is not democrat debt and
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not necessarily all republican debt. it's both. the reason for that is this has nothing to do with forthcoming spending, build back better, the infrastructure plan, the rescue plan, it has nothing to do with new spending, it has everything to do with the stock of debt that both parties have accumulated and the debt ceiling is simply a linin the sand that says, when you hit that, the treasury can't go out and borrow what it needs to borrow to pay bills both parties already incurred. this is analogous to the two of us going out to dinner and after dinner the check comes and we say, mmm, no thanks, we don't want to do that. but one party is doing that. the republicans are not cooperating with the democrats not working together as democrats did under the trump administration to lift this ceiling quickly and efficiently. >> woodruff: few other quick questions, jared bernstein. should the democrats have anticipated that this was going to happen given that you've got such small margins -- a small margin in the house and virtually a one-vote margin in
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the senate? >> totally fair question and one i can answer from the perspective of someone on the inde. we have been working with republicans from the minute we got here because we foresaw this. this kind of ting you can see coming because you know the inflows around outflows of revenues and receipts. we began trying to make these negotiations occur in a seamless way just as democrats worked with republicans to raise the debt ceiling three times in the trump administration, an administration that added a trillion dollars to the debt. it's not democratic or republican debt, it's debt that's been incurred by both parties over the years. and we were planning from the very beginning to do this. initially, republicans wouldn't help us and we said, okay, get out of the way, we'll do it ourselves. then they started playing filibuster games. they're standing in front to have the cart. >> woodruff: treasury
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secretary janet yellen and others are saying it's time to do away with the debt ceiling. what about that? >> very little janet yellen economics that i don't agree with and i would include that as well. the debt ceiling played a role at one time but it's bee weaponized in a way that's destructive for the economy. second start to see that in some of the spreads in interest rates reflecting some nervousness about this. so there is absolutely no reasons for republicans and democrats noto work together and get this behind us. >> woodruff: and do away with debt ceilings in the future. is that what you're saying? >> i think that is a perfectly fine aspiration. i think, for now, let's focus on getting this episode behind us, let's raise the debt ceiling and get back to the business of gring this recovery and legislating the building back better agenda that doesn't just get us to theother side of the crisis but builds back an economy much more ben initial for the middle class it was what's at stake this this doesn't get resolved?
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>> i think unthinkable. janet yellen mentioned the word catastrophic. any kind of undermining u.s. debt which plays such a fundamental role in global markets would be cataclysmic not just for us but other countries as well. it's unthinkable. it's something, again, that both parties can resolve right away. the idea of tricks and weaponizing and let's do it in parts, no, we should work together tonight to get this done. >> woodruff: jared bernstein, who is part of president biden's council of economic advisors, thank you very much. >> my pleasure, judy. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the white house announced plans to expand access to rapid covid-19 tests for use at home. the federal government is also doubling the number of pharmacies providing free testing. the president's covid
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coordinator, jeff zients, says demand for tests is growing, even as new infections are falling. >> today's billion-dollar investment to further expand production puts us on track to quadruple the amount of at-home rapid tests available for americans by december. so, that means we will have available a supply of 200 million at-home rapid tests per month, starting in december. >> woodruff: also today, the los angeles city council approved one of the country's strictest vaccine mandates. starting next month, it requires proof of full vaccination for anyone entering indoor public spaces, including bars, gyms, restaurants and sports arenas. businesses argued that it will be unenforceable. there's word that some of the oil spill off southern california is starting to break up naturally. a weekend pipeline leak off huntington beach spewed up to 126,000 gallons of heavy crude.
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the coast guard says it's being dispersed, and pushed down the coast. >> what we're seeing right now is the oil that's showing up on the shore. and putting in place those protective strategies as a precaution, ahead of oil continuing to move in a southerly direction. and the oil that's already moved south from the original location of the oil spill. >> woodruff: officials suspect a ship's anchor may have damaged the pipeline. this year's nobel prize for chemistry goes to two scientis who managed to build molecules with much less hazardous waste. scottish-born david macmillan, based at princeton university, was honored along with benjamin list of germany. their discoveries are used in everything from medicines to pesticides. the u.s. supreme court heard arguments today over letting a guantanamo detainee question former c.i.a. contractors about torture. abu zubaydah was held at a c.i.a. site in poland after
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9/11. a u.s. senate report found that he was waterboarded more than 80 times. so far, the trump and biden administration have blocked his requests. in the philippines, the son and namesake of ex-dictator ferdinand marcos filed today to run for president next may-- triggering protests. demonstrators burned effigies of both marcos' and president rodrigo duterte, an ally. they accused the late president marcos of human rights abuses and outright theft. >> ( translated ): the marcos's remain scot-free from jail. they haven't returned all the money that they had got from the nation's coffers, and now they are making a comeback in the highest position in the land. >> woodruff: president duterte is not running again, but his daughter is. back in this country, the u.s. housing and urban development
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department moved today to prevent evictions from public housing. it follows the expiration of a nationwide moratorium on all evictions during the pandemic. the new rule calls for giving public housing tenants 30 days notice. meanwhile, the education department temporarily eased rules on forgiving student loan debt. it could benefit teachers, military members and other public employees who already made ten years of payments. under existing rules, the program helped just 5,500 borrowers since 2007. and on wall street today, stocks recovered somewhat, as hopes rose for a debt ceiling deal in washington. the dow jos industrial average gained 102 points to close at 34,417. the nasdaq climbed 68 points. the s&p 500 added 17. and, an old bridge that became part of the classic "winnie the
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pooh" children's stories was sold at auction today. the so-called "poohsticks" bridge in southern england was built in 1907, replaced in 1999 and has since been fully restored. sealed bids were submitted i advance. still to come on the newshour: some of the nation's largest pharmacies face lawsuits over their role in the opioid crisis. the ongoing war in tigray, ethiopia, exacerbates widespread food shortages. how scientists are genetically modifying mosquitoes to combat the spread of deadly diseases. plus, much more. >> woodruff: a closely-watched opioids trial began this week in
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ohio-- the first to go to federal court. the trial focuses on questions of accountability and responsibility for the opioids crisis, which has been connected directly with the deaths of half a million americans. william brangham is here with the latest. >> brangham: this trial focuses on four pharmacy chains-- cvs, walgreens, walmart and giant eagle-- and the millions of pain medications that were prescribed through their facilities. two ohio counties, lake and trumbull, both near cleveland, allege that between 2006 and 2014, these companies recklessly dispensed opioid prescriptions, and ignored clear warning signs as people became increasingly addicted. brian mann covers addiction for npr, and he's been in cleveland covering this trial. brian, thank you so much for being here. could you just tell us a little bit more? what is the main argument that these counties are making? >> basically, the idea is that under the controlled substances act, federal law requires
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pharmacies like other businesses that handle these really risky opioids to do so super -cautiously, to make sure that the pills go to the right people, to look at prescriptions thatome in from doctors and think about whether these are proper prescriptions. and what the counties say is that, rather than doing that kind of diligence, these companies just kept funneling pills out the door, and that a lot of people got hurt as a consequence. and what they're supposed to do is call the drug enforcement administration, call local law enforcement. if they feel like that, ere's a serious, sort of drug-dealing situation that goes on. and, you know, the pharmacy chains can point to cases where they did do that. but there are also many instances that are already coming forward in this trial where doctors, who had really suspicious track records, kept sending patients to these pharmacies, and the pills kept going out the door. >> brangham: so that's, i guess, part of the pharmacies'
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argument, that "we did do some of" this and that. but they're-- i know that they're pointing the finger elsewhere as well. what's the rest of the argument that they make? >> what the pharmacy chains' basically say is that the deciders, the decision makers, were elsewhere. one of the attorneys has already come forward for the pharmacy chains and said, look, it's up to the doctors how many pills got distributed. not just here in lake and trumbull county, ohio, but all over the country. doctors started prescribing more and more of these pills. they say, that's not our fault. and so again, that's what these jurors are going to have to parse out. it's a complicated trial. they're going to have to decide whether these pharmacy chains played some significant role in creating this epidemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands of americans. >> brangham: and as you have well reported, continues to this day. i understand that some intnal documents from these pharmacy chains have come to light as well as in your own reporting. you got some internal documents where it seemed employees were raising red flags internally.
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can you tell us what those documents showed? >> yeah, this is really troubling. already at this trial, documents from cvs and walgreens have been entered into the record that suggests that employees of these pharmacy chains were saying to corporate executives, look, we're worried by what we're seeing. we're not sure that we're doing enough. we think that some orders are coming in that could wind up with these powerful, addictive pills being diverted and abused. and i should say that, you know, npr's own investigative reporting has-- has found pharmacists, at wal-mart in particular, who say, over and over, we tried to reach out to corporate executives, we tried to warn them that this was going wrong, and we were silenced or we were ignored. >> brangham: i know this is still somewhat early days, but you've been watching a lot of this litigation in different jurisdictions around the country for a couple of years now. do you have a sense-- does this seem like a strong case that the counties have, that they're making? >> on one level, there's sort
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of a common-sense question-- how did this make sense? why, at a time when addiction rates and overdose deaths were surging, why did this just keep happening? at the same time, some of the legal arguments being made here are new. that's why this is a test case that's going to resonate all over the united states. more than 3,000 governments like lake and trumbull county have filed similar lawsuits, saying that these corporations contributed to what's technically called a public nuisance. that's how they're defining this opioid epidemic in legal terms. if these corporations are found liable, they're going to have to pay billions of dollars to help clean up that public nuisance. but again, under civil law, this is still kind of untested territory. so we're just going to have to see what happens here really is going to be precedent-setting. >> brangham: and lastly, if the these counties prevail, what do they say they want this money for? >> you know, it's interesting in
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reporting on this. this is something i try very hard to make clear that this isn't just legal mumbo jumbo. this isn't just corporations fighting in civil courts. this is life-and-death stuff. the question of how much money companies may have to pay if they're found liable, relates directly to how much drug treatment, addiction treatment, health care programs can go on in communities all over the united states. and this is happening in a year when overdose deaths are expected to top 100,000 fatalities for the first time in american history. this is a devastating, ongoing crisis. there is not enough addiction treatment out there. and so, that's what the counties say. we will put this-- this is them speaking here-- they say we will put this money directly into keeping people alive. and so, that's what's on the line here. that's one of the questions being asked is how much resource and dollars will go out to communities that are seeing this spike in deaths right now. >> brangham: all right. brian mann of national public radio, thank you very much for sharing your reporting with us. >> thanks for having me on.
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>> woodruff: today before the u.n. security council, the secretary general criticized the ethiopian government for recently kicking out u.n. aid workers. he urged the government to allow aid to flow into the northern region of tigray. where, for almost the last year, ethiopia and its allies have been fighting an ethnic, regional force. and now, a warning: from the very beginning of this story, the images are disturbing. hundreds of thousands in tigray are starving. and, as nick schifrin reports, as fighting continues, the very real specter of famine looms. >> schifrin: in tigray, children are dying. >> when you see malnourished ildren, you will see a very distended abdomen and you will see some swelling also in the extremity.
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>> schifrin: until a few months ago, dr. hayelom kebede was the acting director of ayder university hospital in mekelle, the capital of tigray. he shared photos that were taken last month. >> the one in the ventilator is unable to breathe properly, because he is getting weak and weak. you see a very pronounced head. the other kid is, if he cannot get a continuing supplement, of then the kids who will die. >> reporter: kids are dying already. in the last three weeks, tigray tv-- which is run by the tigrayan government-- broadcast these videos from outside mekele. the children are in rural tigray, where conditions are even worse. the u.n. says 400,000 are facing famine. the crisis began late last year, when tigrayan forces who used to run the country attacked a federal outpost. federal forces and their allies from neighboring eritrea, and the amhara region, waged a scorched-earth campaign and occupied parts of tigray. but in late june, tigrayan forces pushed federal ethiopian soldiers out of tigray.
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that's when senior u.s. officials say the ethiopian government and its allies effectively blockaded tigray. in september, five convoys of food entered tigray. the u.n. says this is one-tenth of what's needed. and the u.n. has been blocked from bringing in any fuel or medicine. >> medicine is running out of stock, and we used to give also food and-- and also some supplements. we have around 60 intensive care, malnourished children in our hospital. and out of these, six has been died in the last week, because we don't have anything that we can give them. >> schifrin: will those other 54 children die? >> yeah, definitely they will die. >> the combination of lack of medical care-- most of the health institutions there are inoperable-- and lack of food will mean that people will start to die. >> schifrin: last week, the u.n.'s top humanitarian
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official, martin griffiths, sat down with the associated press for a rare interview. after it aired, ethiopia kicked seven u.n. aid workers out of the country. and u.n. officials say whenever aid workers arrive, ethiopian government officials take away their phones and cameras-- anything that can record. kebede was able to speak to us because he now lives in baltimore. is the government, the federal government, blocking tigrayans from sharing these images with the world? >> yes. the government is blocking all communication, is the reason is just not to reveal what's happening in tigray. >> schifrin: can you hear me? over a sketchy zoom line to mekele, i spoke with mulugeta gebrehiwot berhe. we're just going to have to be patient, i think, because we lost you for a few minutes there. he is a former tigrayan fighter, turned academic and u.n. mediator. >> we're seeing the peasants are survivg on weeds and flowers that they have never used before because they have literally nothing to eat.
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if the world doesn't act properly, it could be witnessing another disaster similar to that of 1985 in a very short period of time. >> schifrin: in the 1980s, famine killed a million ethiopians. it too was man-made. and, tigrayans warn, this one could be worse. >> the encirclement was not 360 degrees, as it is today. this time the siege is completed. >> schifrin: the ethiopian government accuses tigrayan military forces of fueling the conflict by sending soldiers from tigray into neighboring amharra, and afar, and blocking aid delivery. they call tigrayan forces, and their political arm, the tigrayan people's liberation front that used to run the country, “terrorists.” and human rights watch accused tigrayan forces of killing civilians indiscriminately. ethiopian deputy prime minister demeke mekonnen spoke at last month's u.n. general assembly. >> in ethiopia, groups that
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consider equality as subjugation are making their best effort to create and prolong anarchy. at this stage, we are merely convinced humanitarian assistance is a pretext r advancing political considerations. >> schifrin: tigrayan forces admit they've crossed borders. but berhe, who says he is now a member of wh he calls the resistance, is unapologetic. >> there is massive mobilization of the people. they're just sayg, nobody's going to save us. the world, it has forgotten us. >> reporter: i'm joined by mark lowcock, who until july is the u.n.'s top humanitarian official and outspoken on ethiopia. he's a fellow for the center of global development. welcome. is the ethiopian government trying to starve tigray? >> yes, it's an attempt to cover
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up what's going on. what we're seeing play out i think is potentially the worst famine the world has seen in the 21st century and everything that you've said in that piece is corroborated by what i'm seeing privately and what i'm hearing from lots of other people who have insight and who are able to extrapolate from the lens of information there is about what's going phon in the places we can't see. >> reporter: you used the word coverup. the ethiopian vernment accuses tigray forces of blocking aid. >> tigrays need to pull back from the advanced positions they've taken but it's not true the tigrayans are trying to block aid. the ethiopian authorities are running a sophisticated campaign to stop aid getting in by making hit impossible for truck drivers by setting up checkpoints with
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militia people, by preventing fuel getting in. they're trying to starve the polation of tigray into subjugation or out of existence. but to avoid the approprium that would still be associated with a deliberate successful attempt to create a famine taking the lives of millions of people, the take ryans definitely want assistance and it is not being able to get to them. >> reporter: the u.s. is thatening further sanctions on the ethiopian government. is europe doing enough to pressure the president? >> i think it would be a good idea for theine countries and others to stand more clearly behind what the u.s. is doing and work with thm on the mediation. what is in danger of happening is not just a total catastrophe in tigray, but the disintegration of the whole of
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thette opian state. the loss of 30 years of developmental progress and throwing the whole region into turmoil. >> reporter: in ten years of war in syria, president assad has evicted three u.n. aid workers. last week in one day, prime minister avi evicted seven workers. how concerned are you? >> the reason they were thrown out is the ethiopian authorities did not want them to be able to see what was going on, and is a very unusual thing, as you've said, to throw people out like that. and the secretary general of the united nations has made clear, speaking to the security council, what happened is not acceptable, but we just need to understand why this has happened. it is part of the coverup, and what that tells us the ethiopian authorities do not want the world to see what's going on, and that's why it's so important toeep describing the events that are playing out.
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>> reporter: secretary general gutierres this afternoon criticized the ethiopian government but he has been criticized for not going enough. do you believe the u.n. should be doing more? >> i know how hard antonio gutierrez worked. i hope they get into a mediation and dilogue process. the u.n. has to do two things always in these circumstances, first, they persuade people in power and authority to give them access to people who need help and, secondly, to raise money. now, in is case, the money is not a problem, there is money available and, so, the u.n. has to keep trying to persuade these ethiopians that their best interests are served as well as legal obligations by ling aid into ethiopia and i know they will keep working on that. >> reporter: do you believe it's possible to pressure prime minister aby where he and other
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leaders have been much more concerned about domestic politics than international opinion. >> every country has to pay attention to what the world thinks. what's particularly is interesting is how the sentiment has swung against thethiopian authorities in the last few months in africa. the state we heard from the kenyon ambassador to the u.n. basically said to the ethiopian authorities you're making a big mistake, you need to step back, allow aid inand get into a dialogue process and need to stop listening to the people, the siren voices who are telling you to give war a chance because war will destroy your country. that is the message from the rest of africa to the ethiopian authorities and, ultimatel i think they're going to have to pay attention to those kind of voices. >> reporter: mark lowcock, thank you very much.
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>> woodruff: a milestone development today in the fight against malaria. the world health organization endorsed the widespread use of a vaccine aimed at stemminthe effects of malaria, particularly in sub-saharan africa. an estimated 400,000 people, the majority of them children, die from the parasitic disease each year. the new vaccine reduced the number of cases by 30%. it requires four shots. malaria is transmitted by the anopheles mosquito, making it the most deadly animal on the planet. miles o'brien looks at efforts to tackle other diseases, carried by a different breed of lethal mosquitoes. in most cases, there are no vaccines, and precious few ways to control the mosquito population. his story begins in the florida keys, where scientists are testing a way to kill
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mosquitoes-- with mosquitoes. >> reporter: bud conlin won't set foot in his key largo garden without spraying on mosquito repellant. in june of 2020, he got sick, with flu-like symptoms. >> you, you can't move. you are so sore. everything aches, including your bones. >> reporter: of course he feared it was covid, but it turns out, he had dengue fever-- a tropical viral illness so painful, it is commonly called the “bone crusher.” >> unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. it is time-limited, and you can weather it out. certainly madee confront my mortality. >> reporter: he was among about 70 neighbors infected with dengue. the virus has been steadily spreading in the florida keys for the past ten years, and now is starting to spike. the culprit is one of the most lethal animals on the planet, a
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mosquito called aedes aegypti. aside from dengue, it is a vector for zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. >> so as long as we have these mosquitoes in enough numbers for these transmission to occur, that's when we're going to continue seeing these outbreaks. >> reporter: andrea leal is executive director of the florida keys mosquito control district. >> we're talking represents about 4% of our mosquito collection, so a very small percent of our population, and it's responsible for 100% of our mosquito-borne diseases. >> reporter: she and her team are fighting a multi-million dollar, multi-front war on these efficient disease spreaders. a fleet of helicopters routinely spreads a bacteria called b.t.i., which kills mosquito larvae, as well as liquid pesticides that target adults. and on the ground, 35 foot soldiers march door-to-door, on
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patrol for standing water, where the mosquitoes hatch. this ceramics dealer in key largo is a frequent stop for mosquito control field inspector ryan rodriguez. >> this is a prime area for them. you got water, you got shade, and it's so damp and humid right now that this is like their good stuff. this is where they like to be. >> reporter: he adds b.t.i. larvicide to standing water... >> i just drop one in there. >> reporter: ...that is home to aegypti larvae. >> standing water is potentially a breeding spot for aegypti. so, no matter what it is-- it can be in a bottle cap even-- you look in there. >> reporter: they estimate they have reduced the aedes aegypti population by 50%,ut that is not nearly enough. >> if we can introduce another tool that is cost-effective and works very well, then that's something that we're really hoping that this trial will show. >> reporter: the trial. after a decade of tribulation,
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it is finally underway here. >> this is our release box. this is where we have our eggs and some of the food. >> reporter: entomologist rajeev vaidyanathan is director of u.s. programs for oxitec, a company that produces genetically- modified male mosquitoes with a gene lethal to females, which do all the biting. >> the male mosquitoes mate with the female mosquitoes, and when those females lay eggs, all of their males will live and their female progeny will die. >> reporter: oxitec mosquitoes first flew in the field in brazil and the cayman islands in 2010. the company claims dramatic reductns in the local mosquito population. in brazil, public health officials are seeing reduced outbreaks of disease. biochemist nathan rose hea regulatory affairs at oxitec. >> we've seen in brazil a 90% reduction in disease in the
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areas where we released our mosquitoes, against approximately a 50% reduction in other parts of the city, where other col measures were potentially being used. >> reporter: researchers the world over are watching the high-stakes oxitec field trials very closely. >> what are we looking at in the bucket today? >> reporter: cate hill is a professor of entomology at purdue university. climate change, population growth and travel patterns have put about half the world's population in harm's way of mosquito-borne diseases. >> human-vector contact is increasing. the chance or risk of acquiring an infectious bite from the mosquito is also increasing. and unfortunately, we have a very limited set of tools to control mosquitoes and t diseases that they transmit. >> reporter: oxitec's trial run here is modest. they are releasing their modified mosquitoes at six locations, mostly to track their
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flight patterns. a second gene is added to them that makes them fluorescent, so they can be spotted under a microscope. the team uses boxes that emit the odor of stinky feet, an aedes aegypti favorite, as a way of running a real-time mosquito census. michael boehmler is a research biologist for the florida keys mosquito control district. >> we try to get an idea of how much aedes aegypti are breeding in a particular area. >> reporter: look at those tiny little things. >> so those are fresh born, maybe a day old. >> reporter: mama can produce how many in one set of eggs? >> 100 to 300. for every female that we kill, we potentially can knock out 42,000. >> reporter: one female equates to 42,000 mosquitoes? >> it can. >> reporter: is that how you-- how you do the math? >> yeah. >> reporter: wow. that's the appeal of the oxitec approach. and while a majority of people here support deploying g.m.o.'s for this purpose, the idea has
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its skeptics, even bud conlin. >> it would be a great alternative to spraying. you know, so often when we mess with mother nature, there can be unintended consequences. but i guess i would say i lean in favor of that... other than-- rather than spraying a lot of chemicals and having people getting dengue. >> reporter: if it goes well here, oxitec will seek e.p.a. approval for nationwide use, hoping its randy boys with the killer genes can stem this growing threat to human health. for the pbs newshour, i'm miles o'brien in marathon, florida. >> woodruff: when most people think of the artist robert indiana, they think of the iconic sculpture “love,” with a tilted “o”. while his art endures, a new book also paints a
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portrait of him as a troubled, isolated artist. maine public's jennifer rooks has a look for our arts and culture series, "canvas." >> reporter: vinalhaven island, maine, is an hour and 15 minutes by ferry from the mainland. it's a tight-knit community, home to generations of lobster fishermen and their families. for 40 years, it was also home to one of america's most significant contemporary artists: robert indiana. indiana moved to vinalhaven in the early 1970s, fleeing the art scene in new york city where he felt under appreciated. he bought and moved into an historic building right on main street, the oddfellows hall. renaming it the “star of hope,” indiana transformed the building into a studio, living space and museum of sorts. >> i don't think it's possible
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to understand who he was and what his work was about without experiencing it with him in that building. he created what i view as one of the most remarkable artist environments in the united states. >> reporter: to the public, robert indiana was a famous pop artist. as the creator of the iconic "love" sculpture, he was one of the best-known pieces of public art inhe world. but on vinalhaven, not everyone liked him. to many, indiana was an outsider, who boarded up doors and windows on the star of hope. >> and it just felt like he was creating a fortress. so, this building, that was always open to the public, the door was closed, literally. so he was controversial. he was a very controversial man. >> reporter: still, no one on vinalhaven or elsewhere could have foreseen the controversy and tragedy that would surround the final years of robert indiana's life. >> just a very sad story. >> reporter: "portland press
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herald" arts reporter bob keyes has written a new book about those days, "the isolation artist: scandal, deception and the last days of robert indiana." keyes first interviewed indiana in 2002, and then a half dozen times or more over the years. he found indiana to be cagey and challenging, but also charismatic. >> in his prime, he was very robust and full of energy, and he had a big voice and a lot of hair, and he had a commanding presence. >> reporter: keyes says robert indiana always took his calls, until one day in 2016, when indiana's art dealer rebuffed him. keyes thought that was odd. >> as time went on, people that i know who dealt with indiana expressed concern that he was being isolated, and that maybe some bad things were happening to him on vinalhaven. >> reporter: two years later, on may 21, 2018, keyes learned
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robert indiana had died, probably just a few days before. then he learned that a lawsuit had been filed the day before that. >> during the course of the evening, while reporting and writing about indiana's death, i was also reading this incredible lawsuit about how he had been allegedly isolated, and how work had been made fraudulently under his name. and it was a bombshell, in the sense that someone so prominent could be taken advantage of and that his life could unravel so quickly. but it was equally newsworthy that this man was dead. >> reporter: keyes' book reads like a mystery, with a cast of art dealers, lawyers, caregivers and assistants, many of whom were treated badly by indiana. many of whom made a lot of money from their association with him. and his cause of death? ruled “inconclusive” by the medical examiner. >> i don't believe we'll ever know exactly what happened to
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him, and the precise circumstances of his death. i'm not sure we'll ever know. >> so, this was mr. indiana's living quarters. he lived here. he slept up here. >> reporter: meantime, back on vinalhaven, indiana's home is undergoing a rebirth. the star of hope is being preserved and renovated. crews have saved the building structurally, replaced windows and doors, and painted. eventually, this will be an island center for arts education. >> here's the way we look at it. one of our missions is to celebrate the legacyf the art of robert indiana. but the other part that's important to remember is that this was not just a place where his art was, this was not just a place where things were stored. he lived here. he lived on this island for over 40 years, and that meant something to him. >> reporter: three years after his death, indiana's public sculptures are as popular as ever, and galleries and museums continue to exhibit his work. this exhibit of indiana's hartley elegies will be on
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display at the farnsworth museum in rockland, maine until january of 2022. >> there's a great richness in his work that i think will continue to appeal to both visitors and artists, and that is a sign to me of an artist, to me, that really has something to say. >> i want people to know he was a very complicated person. the problems he had were of his own making, many of them. but that he didn't deserve what happened to him in the end. that he was badly treated in the end. and that we still haven't necessarily paid him the respects that are due, in terms of his artwork. >> reporter: in fact, despite indiana's enduring appeal, there has never been a public memorial to him. for the pbs newshour, i'm jennifer rooks in portland, maine. >> woodruff: such a mystery. and on the newshour online, we explore the arab american
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national museum in dearborn, michigan, the only museum in the united states dedicated to arab history, and look at how it is still serving as a critical community space during the pandemic. that's on our website, and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> the rules of business are being reinvented, with a more flexible workforce, by embracing innovation, by looking not only at current opportunities, but ahead to future ones. >> people who know, know b.d.o. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connect. we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our u.s.-based customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit
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