Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  October 25, 2021 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

6:00 pm
judy: i'm judy woodruff, tonight on the newshour. democratic divide. president biden enters a critical week as he pushes for a spending agreement ahead of his upcoming overseas trip. then, democracy in crisis. organizers of the january 6th capitol insurrection claim they coordinated their effort with gop lawmakers and top trump white house and campaign officials. and toxic water, residents of , another predominantly black city in michigan are exposed to dangerous levels of lead. >> environmental racism right here. we are looking at it. i'll always talk about how
6:01 pm
different things would be if it was a white community. judy: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour been provided by -- >> it's the little things. the reminders of what's important. it's why fidelity dedicated advisors are here to help you create a wealth plan. a plan with tax sensitive investing strategies. planning focused on tomorrow i'll you focus on today. that's the planning effect from fidelity. >> consumer cellular johnson & johnson.
6:02 pm
bnsf railway financial services firm raymond james bdo, accountants and advisors. the william and flora hewlett foundation the chan zuckerberg initiative working to build a more healthy, just, and inclusive future for everyone. and with the ongoing support of these individuals and institutions. ♪
6:03 pm
this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. judy: a divided democratic party continued to strive to reach agreement today in what's shaping up to be a make-or-break week for biden's presidency. moderates and progressives remain at odds as they try to work out the price tag for a plan to overhaul a massive spending bill. our congressional correspondent, lisa desjardins, is here with us again to lay out what's at stake. so, hello again, lisa. here we go, another week with this. there are still democrats out there saying they want a vote this week. where does everything stand right now? lisa: it was a good weekend for democrats trying to reach a deal. there was a meeting in delaware with president biden between him and joe manchin of west virginia, a pivotal senator, as well as senator schumer, the democratic leader. and everyone says that, actually, they did make real
6:04 pm
progress. but let's go through where we are at this exact moment. first of all, i want to talk to people about that there is some agreement on new tax ideas. that is absolutely key in terms of how you pay for the bill. there is also a question, though, still about the total size of the bill. today, senator manchin said he still wants $1.5 trillion. others say $1.9 trillion. that's a lot of money in that difference. and we now know we're about down to three or four issues, according to leader schumer. now, despite all of that, here's how senator manchin said he feels today in talks with, among others, our house speaker nancy pelosi. sen. manchin: i trust speaker pelosi. and she will make the right decion there, i'm sure. but we're all working in good faith. i have been talking to everybody, as you know. and i think that we have got a good understanding of each other now, better than we have ever had. lisa: that's positive for democrats. now, i think where we are, judy, is more likely to get some kind of outline this week than a vote. judy: and so what is known about these last unresolved issues here? lisa: right. well, let's talk about them. there's a few.
6:05 pm
number one at the list over the weekend, family leave is still on the board. that's an important priority for many democrats. it's unclear how large it will be or how small that could be, how many weeks of leave could be on the table. medicaid, expansion in the states. i believe it's a dozen states right now that don't have the medicaid expansion. that's the program for largely the poor. medicare, the health care program for older americans largely, that expansion also is a big remaining issue, especially important, as you have spoken to vermont senator bernie sanders, who would like dental and vision care. right now, it looks like that might not make it, but that's still under discussion, as is prescription drug negotiations. there's a lot of issues that have been resolved. these are four big ones that are not there yet. judy: yes, they are big ones. but let's go back to what you were saying about taxes. what do we know about what they are looking at in terms of raising taxes? lisa: a big issue has been senator kyrsten sinema of arizona, who has said she opposes raising tax rates on individuals or corporations. so here are some ideas floating around right now, not all the
6:06 pm
way agreed to, but they're talking about these three things, a minimum tax for large corporations that would be on their books, the income that they report on their financial books. billionaires, they're talking about a tax on the gains in their stock portfolio. that's not something they put on their income tax form right now, but it is an asset gain that they get, and they're talking about taxing billionaires based on whether their stocks and tradable assets go up. and that would be limited to those who have a billion in assets or $100 million income in multiple years, so really a small group of americans that would spend, that that would be targeted on. judy: but a lot of money, potentially, involved here. lisa: potentially. judy: so, lisa, what do the next few days look like? lisa: ok. so, here we are today. we're sitting at monday looking at this long week. now, what comes up next in this week? if we look at this graphic quicy, after today, the next thing to watch is on thursday, when president biden bees for g20 and climate conference overseas. then, on monday next week, sunday and monday, that conference begins.
6:07 pm
that's when democrats want to have this kind of climate portion locked in. another big date will be next tuesday. that's the virginia gubernatorial election. many democrats believe whether this package progresses or not will affect that electn. we will see. judy: so many people watching that election for so many reasons. lisa: yes. judy: this is one of the important ones. lisa: that's correct. judy: lisa desjardins, watching all of it, thank you very much. ♪ vanessa: we will return to the full program after the latest headlines. moderna says it's half dose covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 6-11. this comes as fda advisers prepared to meet tomorrow to discuss pfizer's covid vaccine for kids. meanwhile, the biden administration revealed details of its new covid travel policy. beginning november 8th, most
6:08 pm
foreign adult travelers flying to the u.s. will need to be fully vaccinated. those who are unvaccinated must show proof of a negative test within a day of travel. ought-stricken california is enduring a new bout of severe weather, as so-called bomb cyclone and atmospheric river storms converge. they're moving into the southern part of the state a day after the north was pummeled with torrential rain that shattered several single-day records. flash flooding inundated the san francisco bay area. and north of sacramento, heavy rainfall trigger rockslides on land recently charred by wildfires. in boise, idaho, a suspect is in custody after two people were killed and four others injured, including a police officer at a shooting today in a shopping mall. authority said officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect. he added the investigation is ongoing as a search for any additional victims.
6:09 pm
in the north african nation of sudan, the military seized power today in an apparent coup detaining the countries prime minister and deposing a governing council that included civilian leaders. as news of the takeover spread, thousands of protesters filled the streets to demonstrate against a return to authoritarian rule. the sudanese doctors' association reported security forces fired on the crowds, killing at least seven protesters and wounding 140 others. on the streets of khartoum today, protestors shouted the country belongs to them, rejecting a return to autocratic rule. >> they arrested the ministers, they detained members of the sovereign counsel. this is a full-fledged coup and we reject it completely. >> demonstrators burned tires and blocked main roads after the military seized power from a transitional government. in a televised address today,
6:10 pm
the militaries top general declared a state of emergency. he said a new government would lead the country until elections in 2023. >> let's all work to improve people's lives and ensure their safety and security, and to create the suitable environment for political parties in order to reach a specified date for elections. judy: in a facebook post earlier today, sudan's information ministry said military forces pressured prime minister abdalla hamdok to release a pro-coup statement. when he refused, the ministry said hamdok was moved to an unknown location. soon after, the ministry announced internet connections had been cut from the country's mobile phone networks. in a statement today, you and secretary general antonio guterres condemned the ongoing military coup d'etat and all actions that could jeopardize sudan's political transition and stability.
6:11 pm
in 2019 after months of protests thousand celebrated the overthrew -- overthrow of sudan's longtime autocratic leader, and accused war criminal, omar al bashir. military and civilian leaders created a transitional government to lead the country to democracy for the first time in three decades. for months, sudan's traditional government was under threat of military coup. a failed coup plot last month set off infighting between military and civilian groups. >> the u.s. state department reacted by announcing it's suspending $700-million dollars in emergency economic aid to sudan. the funds were supposed to be used to help sudan transition to a fully civilian government. levels hit a record highast year. a new you in report revealed that emissions increased at a faster rate in 2020 than the annual average for the last
6:12 pm
decade. this comes days before the start of a un climate change conference in scotland. microsoft sounded a new warning today that the russia-backed hackers are still waging cyber-assaults. they've been attacking the global technology supply chain by targeting cloud service re-sellers and other companies, breaching as many as 14 companies since the summer. a federal civil trial got underway today in charlottesville, virginia, to determine whether organizers of a 2017 white nationalist rally will be held responsible for the violence. clashes erupted after hundreds of white nationalists massed in -- gathered in the city to protest plans to remove a confederate statue. an ohio man is already serving life in prison for killing a woman and injuring dozens more when he drove his car into a crowd. still to come on the newshour, leaving afghanistan. america's former point man on
6:13 pm
negotiations with the taliban explains why he left the biden administration. the facebook papers, a newly leaked trove of documents reveal the social media giant prioritized profits while ignoring red flags. devious licks. how an online social trend has influenced school students across the country to commit acts of vandalism. and much more. >> this is the pbs newshour. judy: an alarming new report from rolling stone alleges direct coordination among planners of the january 6 insurrection and high-profile trump allies in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. yamiche alcindor explains. yamiche: the "rolling stone" article cites anonymous organizers who claim they
6:14 pm
coordinated with white house officials and republican lawmakers multiple times in the weeks leading up to january 6. i'm joined now by the author, hunter walker. thanks so thanks so much, hunter, for being here. now, you were at the capitol on january 6. you also talked to two of these individuals who were involved in planning the events that happened on january 6. what was the most important thing you learned about the former president, former president trump's, his effort to try to overturn the election that he lost, as well as his possible involvement in january 6, after talking to these individuals? hunter: i think the mere fact that these individuals who i confirmed were involved in planning and organizing the main rally on the ellipse, as well as multiple protests against the election that happened in the weeks leading up to that day, i think the fact that they spoke to the press and the fact that they are communicating with the committee is pretty notable, in and of itself, because it means that, with this aggressive investigation heating up, people are starting to turn and cooperate with the government
6:15 pm
here. yamiche: and you are, of course, talking about the house select committee investigating the january 6 attack. and i want to ask you about the multiple lawmakers that you write about in your article. who were the lawmakers talking to organizers, and what were they saying? hunter: so, both of my sources said they participated in, "dozens of briefings" with republican members of congress and their staff. that included marjorie taylor greene, lauren boebert, paul gosar, mo brooks, madison cawthorn, and louie gohmert. and we have already had some indications that these members were involved in the efforts to overturn the election. they spoke at the events at the ellipse. they were billed as speakers at this wild protest. gosar headlined a stop the steal rally in arizona. but what they specifically described was these members sort of strategizing to help them pick state locations for protests that would target persuadable senators to join the objection. and they were also going back and forth trading "evidence" of supposed election fraud. obviously, any of that would have been baseless. but they described them as
6:16 pm
intimately involved in kind of plotting a grand show that day, both at the ellipse and on the house floor. yamiche: and representative gosar dangled this idea of a blanket pardon. talk a bit about that, and explain that it was part of an unrelated ongoing investigation, but was also connected somehow to the events of january 6? hunter: given that these are cooperating witnesses in an ongoing investigation about a violent crime, i have granted them anonymity. so i'm not describing the other legal matter in great detail, as it would point in the direction of who i spoke with. but it was an unrelated ongoing investigation. and, frankly, both of these sources told me they still believe in trump's agenda. they still have questions about the election. they framed it as something they would have done anyway. but they left with the strong impression that gosar was saying, if you plan these events, if you help us out with this, you will be legally taken care of. yamiche: and based on your
6:17 pm
reporting, how much did the trump white house know? in particular, how much did the white house chief of staff at the time, mark meadows, how much did he know? and why is it problematic to have the chief of staff involved in a rally that was about supporting the president? hunter: there's supposed to be a bright line between the white house staff and the political operation. and this would certainly be a violation of that. but, of course, that was a pretty regular occurrence during the trump years. but i think the key thing here is that, a, the highest-level people in the white house were allegedly in contact with these organizers, but, also, they frame mark meadows as someone who had an opportunity to tone this down and stop the violence. but i think the key thing here is that trump himself was the major player. they framed the moment that the president said, let's march to the capitol, sort of encouraged the crowd to march, as a key turning point, where this went from the planned airing of objections to a charge toward the capitol dome. yamiche: there's a lot of reaction to your article. on one side, you have democrats
6:18 pm
who are saying that this really proved that lawmakers were involved in sort of really creating dangers for our democracy. on the other side, you have republican lawmakers, some of them that are named in this article, saying, this is all ridiculous reporting. what's your response to that? hunter: well, first off, there's a pile of indications prior to this that these lawmakers were involved to some degree. also, in addition to these two sources, in addition to the documentary evidence i obtained on my own, you have nick dyer, marjorie taylor greene's spokesperson, while sort of trying to refute this, admitting that she was working on the objection. i also had an unnamed house staffer who i also granted anonymity to discuss these sensitive matters who also seemed to confirm that there was some degree of planning meetings. so this isn't just two people. this isn't without evidence. and i think it's pretty clear. we may not know the exact specifics. this sort of presents one alleged theory. but members of congress were involved in january 6. yamiche: well, thank you so much, hunter walker. i appreciate you coming on.
6:19 pm
hunter thanks for having me. :judy: the future of afghanistan remains in doubt under taliban rule, after 20 years of american war ended there in chaos this summer. and now nick schifrin speaks with a former top american diplomat who spent much of those 20 years helping to manage america's role and ultimately its withdrawal from afghanistan. nick: from the beginning to the end of america's war in afghanistan, no american played a larger role than zalmay khalilzad. back in 2001, he helped write the afghanistan constitution. he was president george w. bush's special representative and then ambassador to afghanistan until 2005. for the last three years, he negotiated the agreement with the taliban that led to the u.s. withdrawal and, just in the last few months, has been intimately involved with the scramble to evacuate americans and allies
6:20 pm
from afghanistan, the country where he was born. zalmay khalilzad, welcome back to the "newshour." >> well, it's great to be with you, nick. nick: you resigned just a few days ago. why? zalmay: well, i thought that we were in a new phase in afghanistan with the taliban takeover. and my job was reconciliation between the republic and the taliban and to bring american troops home and make sure we get assurances on terrorism, succeeded with bringing americans home and terrorism commitments, but not with regard to reconciliation between the two sides, with one side collapsing. so it is a new chapter in our relationship. and, second, i am concerned that politics in our country could have a negative effect on the choices we make going forward.
6:21 pm
nick: well, let's look forward then. the most recent taliban u.s. meeting occurred in doha. you were not the leader on the u.s. side. that was led by the deputy cia director. your replacement has not been given your seniority. do you believe the biden administration is emphasizing counterterrorism too much and downgrading diplomacy? zalmay: i think counterterrorism is important. that is vital. of course, we have to be attentive to that. but i also believe that we have other interests, and our values are involved. there is a question of, do we want the afghan state, the taliban state to collapse? that will affect terrorism. and there are regional implications and even alliance implications if afghanistan was to collapse. millions of refugees might be, might head to europe. nick: the u.s. is withholding billions of afghan reserves. zalmay: yes. nick: you have said that the u.s. should continue to withhold it until the taliban meets
6:22 pm
certain conditions. but the u.n. says 97%, 97% of afghanistan could fall below the poverty line by next year. zalmay: right. nick: does the u.s. not need to do more right now to prevent afghans from dying? zalmay: what i advocate is that we sit with the talibs and see if we can reach a detailed agreement on what it is that they need to do in exchange for what it is that we will do, a kind of step-by-step road map. nick: but perhaps more than anyone, you know that road map would take a long time. there are afghans who will die from hunger in the next weeks and months. does the biden administration not need to do more now? zalmay: well, we should do what we can for the humanitarian needs of the afghans. there are moneys that the bank has, the international monetary fund and the world bank, that we could encourage that they release those funds to pay
6:23 pm
teachers' salaries, health care workers, to the civil servants; 500,000 afghans work for the state. and at the same time, our allies, they are moving in that direction it to provide more humanitarian assistance. the european union just announced that they will be open their mission in afghanistan within a month. nick: let's look back a little bit over the last couple of years. in the end, you worked for two presidents who wanted out of afghanistan. the deal you negotiated under president trump had conditions. but by the end of 2020, he drew down the number of troops beyond what he had to, and wanted to withdraw all of them, in fact. and then, this year, president biden decided to withdraw, despite the fact that the taliban had not met those conditions. did you agree with both presidents' decisions? zalmay: well, i worked for them, so i would have preferred a condition-based approach. and the agreement had that
6:24 pm
feature. it was condition-based, four elements, interrelated, a package. president biden decided to go for a calender-based approach. nick: did president biden have the option to say, the taliban are not living up to their agreement, we don't have to withdraw? zalmay: there was, there are things in the agreement, such as we could hold them to no hosting if there are people there as a condition that, and could have argued that not been made. but the concern was that, if we do that, especially on the political negotiations, that we would perhaps remain stuck there for a long time. nick: we have been talking about 2021, president biden's decision. let's go back to president 2020 an president trump. you were under enormous pressure to sign a deal that included a u.s. withdrawal. do you believe you could have received a stronger deal under a president who was less publicly pushing for withdrawal? zalmay: well, i did sometimes say to the president that if,
6:25 pm
our leverage is the presence. if we withdraw the presence, the taliban incentive to give us what we want on other things would be more limited, if not undermined. nick: do you think president trump gave away that leverage by withdrawing? zalmay: but the president had made it clear that we had been there for a very long time. we were not succeeding militarily. in fact, we were losing ground. so he was anxious to withdraw. nick: i will give you a chance to answer some of your critics. you negotiated, of course, directly with the taliban, not with the taliban and the afghan government. and into the 2020 agreement went a deal to release 5,000 prisoners by the afghan government, taliban prisoners. you did so over the government's objection. was it a fatal mistake, in retrospect, not to be negotiating both with the taliban and the afghan government? zalmay: we were negotiating with both, but not together, because i was shuttling between doha and kabul.
6:26 pm
i was showing drafts to the afghan government. we would have preferred, obviously, to do it together with them. but the taliban regarded the government as a puppet, a government that had been imposed by the u.s. forces, forces that they regard as occupation forces. nick: but, by inserting 5,000 prisoners, by forcing the afghan government to accept something that the u.s. was demanding, does that not play into the taliban's claim that that's a puppet government? doesn't that delegitimize the afghan government? zalmay: well, the afghan government had problems of legitimacy, given the problems of its election fraud, the problem of two presidents announced having inauguration the same day they were going to destroy the army from inside by dividing them between the two. but on the prisoners, this was a confidence-building measure in exchange for the talibs agreeing to sit with the government as the government. nick: senior military leaders i
6:27 pm
talk to say, with all due respect, history will not judge you well. and they say that you fatally weakened the will of the afghan army to fight by signing that deal in 2020. zalmay: i believe that the circumstances that we confronted in 2018-19, which were the result of the previous 17 years of problematic policies, failed efforts at building institutions, not dealing with problems such as the issue of sanctuary, and the choice that was made to bring the war home, deal with the remaining issues of afghan-afghan issues by diplomacy, by our other instruments, the american military was not the right instrument to enforce an agreement among afghans. nick: ambassador zalmay khalilzad, thank you very much.
6:28 pm
zalmay: thank you. judy: facebook once again is under fire over alleged harm caused by the platform and the tech giants willingness or lack thereof to stop it. the new details come in a series of news reports based on leaked internal papers given to congress and federal regulators by a former employee. amna nawaz has our conversation. amna: that's right, judy. the trove of documents shows company leaders ignored employee warnings that facebook's decisions could harm vulnerable populations, that the company was privately tracking real-world harm made worse by its own platform, and how ceo mark zuckerberg's public statements conflicted with private company data. yael eisenstat is a future of democracy fellow at the berggruen institute. in 2018, she was the global head of election integrity operations
6:29 pm
for political ads at facebook. she joins us now. yael, welcome to the "newshour." thanks for making the time. the documents really show the extent of internal dissent, people raising red flag after red flag and saying they were ignored. you said in 2018 you raised concerns about fact-checking political speech. what was the response you got then? yael: yes. so, 2018, when i started asking questions in the company about whether we should fact-check political ads, and that is a really key distinction, because political ads are things they were taking money for. so, they were paid speech. and it was very clear to me the harms that could happen when you allow people with the biggest platforms to lie about voting, about elections, about any sort of issue, and use facebook's targeting tools to target us with these messages. and lots of the engineers and program managers were really excited about my questions. but there was just no appetite from the senior leadership to even engage in that
6:30 pm
conversation. amna: when you say no appetite, people basically said, this is not a priority for us? yael: what i didn't realize at the time is, there had already been decisions made at the top that, to be frank, they wouldn't fact-check the president of the united states at the time. and we all saw later when they made those announcements. but because they, at the end of the day, they needed to preserve their power with the incumbent, and so they put that priority over what many people in the company believed would actually protect our democracy. amna: speaking of the former president, i want to ask you about january 6. and we know that lie about election fraud in 2020, that spread like wildfire across facebook and fueled the violence on january 6 on the capitol attack. internal documents have showed that facebook kind of had a what they call a piecemeal approach to containing some of it. here's what facebook said in a statement about that. they said: "as with any significant public event, debate about the election results would inevitably show up on facebook, but responsibility for the insurrection lies with those who broke the law during the attack and those who incited them, not
6:31 pm
on how we implemented just one series of steps we took to protect the u.s. election." yael, what do you make of that? does facebook bear some responsibility for that violence? yael: they absolutely do. and even all these documents prove that many internal employees agree. facebook doesn't bear responsibility for the fact that we have political figures who are willing to lie and sow division and hatred, but they do bear responsibility for how they let those lies not just spread on their platform, but how they connect people to hate groups, how they allow things like stop the steal to spread so quickly, because they viewed each post individually, as opposed to this whole coordinated authentic activity to tip the scales and to eventually lead to this. and, to be frank. i mean, i even warned about this a full year ahead of the election, that election violence was coming because of how the platform was allowing lies about the election to spread. so, it was long before stop the steal started that they were being negligent in how they were
6:32 pm
handling voter misinformation, hate groups, and some of the groups starting to rally and coordinate on their very own platform. amna: what about violence overseas? we know the company's single largest market is india. internal documents have shown in 2019 that they fueled hate speech on their platform. that was violence there targeting muslim communities. they have said that they're investing in technology, that they're updating their policies and their enforcement. does that line up with what you saw? yael: so that's another interesting case. i actually traveled with the facebook research team to india in 2018. and if you note, a lot of the documents are talking about 2019 on. and a lot of the facebook p.r. statements now are talking about 2019 on. when we were there in 2018, we met with lots of people who showed us without question about troll farms and fake engagement and hatred spreading. and they were imploring us to do something about it. and our research team came back and put forward their recommendations.
6:33 pm
and so to say that they didn't know these things were happening is blatantly untrue. but, as the documents now prove to us, again, they were making political decisions to protect their relationship with the party in power in india. and those political decisions were part of the reasons they didn't enforce some of their very own policies that could have possibly helped tamp down some of the just misinformation and hatred that spreads in india. and just one more quick point. another thing that we learned in the document is that they only spent 80% of their budget for classifying misinformation. 87% of that is spent in the u.s., as opposed to anywhere else in the world, and the u.s. only represents 10% of their user base. amna: it's a fascinating look from someone who knows how it works inside, and a story we're going to stay with. that is yael eisenstat, former global head of election integrity operations for political ads at facebook. thanks for joining us tonight. yael: thank you.
6:34 pm
judy: as congress debates a massive bill to overhaul the nation's physical infrastructure, one michigan city is an example ohow badly help is needed and how communities of color are often the last to receive it. john yang traveled to benton harbor, where the water is undrinkable and residents' anger is at a boiling point. john: for the people of benton harbor, michigan, a new morning routine. to make a pot of coffee or brush their teeth, they need to get their hands on bottled water. earlier this month, state officials told them not to drink or cook with tap water because of high levels of lead. so the state health department is delivering truckloads of bottled water to this small city on the shores of lake michigan.
6:35 pm
cherita bynum and her 2-year-old granddaughter kinslie got into line an hour-and-a-half before distribution started. >> i never imagined it. i didn't think it was this serious, but it is. >> it smelled real funny. sometimes, it will just come out brown. john: benton harbor native carmela patton grew up drinking the tap water. but, a few years ago, she began to sense that something wasn't right. carmela: a couple times, i done got out of the tub, out of the shower, i itched real bad, like constant itches. john: last year, patton had her water tested and found it contained over 100 parts per billion of lead. federal regulations say action must be taken after readings of just 15 parts per billion. patton uses a filter on her faucet provided by the state. but now, state health officials warn that current lead levels may be too high for the filters to work. for patton, it's all prompted questions, like about one of her daughter's developmental difficulties. carmela: i grew up off the water. i raised her, my 19-year-old, off the water. and i'm wondering now, because i
6:36 pm
have been looking and reading, is that why she's got delays, that she got her issues going on? john: the centers for disease control and prevention says lead is harmful at any level, especially in children, because it can slow growth and result in learning and behavior problems. how does that make you feel? carmela: i feel stupid. i feel stupid. but, then again, i don't. it just feel like i can't trust the state. i don't trust my mayor, because you said three years you knew this, but you never introduced us to it. john: benton harbor residents like patton might never have known the water isn't safe if not for the reverend edward pinkney. in 2018, he sent the water sample for testing that first revealed high lead levels. since then, six consecutive sets of tests conducted by the state have shown excessively high levels in some benton harbor homes. >> it went on for three years of silence.
6:37 pm
john: pinkney contends local officials ignored the problem. reverend edward pinkney: and that's what hurts me more than anything else. after one year, after one year, you should have done something. you should have told this community that the water was bad. john: pinkney and his grsroots group, the benton harbor community water council, have been distributing bottled water since 2019. in september, they asked the federal environmental protection agency to take emergency action. about a month later, the state issued its warning. reverend pinkney: that they had no concern about the community. if we had not done it, then they would not have done it themselves. >> we were doing what we could with what we had as resources. john: benton harbor mayor marcus muhammad says the city doesn't have the resources to deal with the problem all by itself. it needs the state help that michigan governor gretchen whitmer has pledged. marcus muhammad: a small city like benton harbor kind of got lost in translation, from our perspective.
6:38 pm
so, we're at the behest and the mercy of the state. johnelizabeth hertel, michigan's director of health and human services, acknowledges residents' complaints that they were left in the dark for too long. >> we need to continue to work at how and when we're communicating. i think the only way to repair that lack of trust is to continue to show up. john: at times, mary alice adams couldn't use the water to wash hair in the salon she ran in her home before the pandemic. mary alice adams: i'm not sure what this is. john: she's been a city commissioner for 10 years and blames city and state officials for failing to spot the problem on their own and to alert residents once it was detected. mick -- mary: i was getting very angry about it because our residents should know. but i didn't know the magnitude of it because i kept again asking. we need somebody to educate us on what these things mean. we have elderly people in the community who don't understand what a per, part per billion is. john: the crisis in benton
6:39 pm
harbor has echoes of another case of lead-tainted water running out of the faucets of a poor majority-black michigan city. the state reached a $600 million settlement with the residents of flint for its role in that city's lead crisis, which emerged in 2014. adams' daughter grew up both in flint and benton harbor. mary: my baby being epileptic, i didn't know that it could actually do greater harm with a condition like that. and her, between flint and here, she was like getting a double portion of lead. john: adams still wonders whether lead might have played a role in her daughter's death in 2018. mary: it's sad when you watch a child take all of these different types of medications, praying that they would get better, and then drinking water, bathing in water, brushing your teeth in water. to think that lead on top of the medications caused her even
6:40 pm
graver suffering, it's sad to watch a child, and can do nothing about it. john: for many in benton harbor, the current water problems are just the latest case of their city being left high and dry. after decades of disinvestment and government neglect, the schools are struggling, crime is high, and nearly half the population lives in poverty. but take the short drive across a river to the neighboring city of st. joseph and it's a stark contrast, a majority white city with a thriving downtown and safe drinking water. reverend pinkney: when you talk about st. joseph, michigan, and benton harbor, michigan, you're talking about two different worlds. john: pinkney points to a long history of manufacturing decline and so-called white flight that's left benton harbor struggling with few resources and a crumbling infrastructure. that history may be why outrage seems common among benton harbor residents, but surprise does not.
6:41 pm
reverend pinkney: environmental racism right here, we're looking at it. look around you. and i always talk about how different things would be if it was a white community. you know, they would call in the army, fema. joe biden would be here. you know, all of this would happen. but, by being a black neighborhood, they really don't care. john: meanwhile, residents like carmela patton are still paying for water they're being told not -- they can't drink. carmela: and i got a call down there, starting with the city manager, called them. why are we paying for bad water? nobody returned the phone call, e-mail or anything. and the bills is pretty high. john: meanwhile, benton harbor is racing to replace all 6,000 of its lead service pipes in the next 18 months. it's a project that will cost some $30 million. the state and the epa have both stepped in to help pay for it. state health director elizabeth
6:42 pm
hertel says it's about time. elizabeth: our water infrastructure in michigan and across the country has been woefully neglected. so while these are the two communities that we have seen it thus far, i do not believe that these will be the only communities in the state of michigan or across the country where we're going to see this. john: but for those stuck with water they can't drink, it's not fast enough. carmela: i mean, if you want to take a bath, then you pray over it. you do what you got to do. but, at the same time, are you all bathing in it? what is your water like? john: in the meantime, the people of benton harbor continue to pay the price. for the "pbs newshour," i'm john yang in benton harbor, michigan. judy: democrats are near yet
6:43 pm
another self-imposed deadline on president biden's build back better agenda, this one at the end of the week. to analyze this a great week, i'm joined by amy walter and tamra keith of npr. hello to both you. it is politics monday. amy, that's talk about this build back better. i remember asking the two of you about this. there does seem to be as lisa was reporting earlier, talk about the forces at play here right now. >> congressional democrats who are worried about a real deadline at the end of the month, the president is looking at wanting to go overseas with the victory, especially on something like climate change, and you have the governor in
6:44 pm
virginia with the democrat who saying he wants democrats in my state to feel good about what's going on, to feel as if biden is actually getting some stuff done . president biden is actually coming not far from where we are sitting right now tomorrow on tuesday to try to rally support, but it would be more helpful if joe biden were actually getting a lot more done. judy: these international climate talks taking place in scotland, the president is heading over there. he's using that as a reason to say let's do something. >> certainly he is saying that is part of the artificial deadline. there are so many aificial deadlines. in this white house has made clear that they think that these artificial deadlines are helpful, that they are clarifying, that they can push
6:45 pm
to get democrats to move, and president biden has certainly been more personally engaged in the conversations, getting down to some nitty-gritty details of what might be in and what might be out, or at least they are talking about it more publicly. whether he can throw some climate action into his carry-on bag seems pretty unlikely at the moment. who knows, but this would not be the first time an american president has gone to an international summit on climate and said america is going to do stuff, lead the way on climate, and then congress has different ideas, or more ambitious plans do not materialize. judy: and you were telling us at the same time there is a disconnect to a degree between what is being talked about in this old back better package and what voters think.
6:46 pm
>> many times those voters are the reason why one or the other wins. we've seen it drop double digits by 15 points in the gallup poll since february. a lot of it has to do with covid and frustrations they are seeing about other things that are happening. but the economy is another big piece of this. you hear a lot from swing voters on inflation, things costing more. while washington is talking about these issues that many people care about, is not that they don't care about climate are child tax credits, their day-to-day lives right now are consumed with still worrying about the pandemics impact on their lives, you have all been talking about the fact that there are not enough childcare workers, it is still challenging to get your child into childcare, people still not going back to work. on top of that, the fact that things just cost more.
6:47 pm
that's where voters are sitting right now. if it looks like washington isn't paying attention to the things that matter right now in their lives. and things that generally poll well, especially among democrats. judy: amy brought up these governors races that are happening right now, president biden today in new jersey campaigning, tomorrow he will be back in virginia with the race between democrat terry mcauliffe and republican glenn youngkin. people are voting now in virginia, but what we know at this point about how these races are shaping up? >> and indymac -- indication that terry mcauliffe is nervous is that everyone whose name is on the fundraising emails, they are all coming together and
6:48 pm
hanging out in virginia, all coming back to virginia. this is a close race. it wasn't clear at the beginning that it would be a close race but it is certainly close now. part of that is that republicans are really fired up. this is the way it works, every virginia governor's race, it's the year after a presidential election. democrats are in power wanting to forget about trump, terry mcauliffe is making the race sort of about trump and sort of about things that people care about. lynn young can is walking this tightrope and seemingly relatively effectively, wanting trump's base, not wanting to upset those people by mentioning things like critical race theory or some of these culture war hot buttons while at the same time trying to be extremely palatable, pro-business republican in the mitt romney mold.
6:49 pm
judy: moderate republicans, but he's talking about critical race theory and speaking about other topics that former president trump to hear about. >> what is fascinating in a state like virginia where donald trump been front and center, he has blotted out the sun. everything has been about donald trump, and the support democrats has gone up each one of those years from 2017 through 2020. but terry mcauliffe is trying to attach him as closely as possible, and it's also happening in new jersey. can trump still work as a motivator for democrats, especially in these states? that is what one of the most
6:50 pm
important things will be after these elections are over, if it doesn't work, democrats will say to themselves, what will wealk about next year? this will be one of our plans to motivate voters. he will be around but he's not in the white house this time. judy: the congressional women's softball game, women reporters playing women members of congress. >> an excellent catcher. >> and an excellent picture right over here. judy: all to benefit breast cancer. go girls, thank you. ♪ judy: it was just last month that a theme went viral on the social media platform tiktok,
6:51 pm
leading to widespread damage in schools across the country. known as the devious licks challenge, it has encouraged students to record a video of themselves stealing or vandalizing school property, everything from bathroom soap dispensers and exit signs to fire extinguishers, and amounting to untold thousands of dollars' worth of damage, and then posting the video on tiktok. our student reporting labs network asked young people and school staff about this trend and the effects on school communities. andrea: the first time i saw the devious lick challenge was on my for you page. this kid was running through the halls with this principal's car door. i was like, what's happening? what's going on? what are people trying to prove with doing this? >> my classroom had pretty much been destroyed. there was like posters tore off the wall. the kids had taken books that i'd personally bought. and they took the books and they, like, took them, took a paper cutter, and, like, cut the
6:52 pm
covers and pages of the books. >> a couple kids decided it would be funny to steal a fire hydrant. >> at my school, people are stealing the most obscure things, like exit signs, stall doors. >> well, at my school, i know that some people have taken soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers. and, really recently, i heard that someone tried to take a water fountain. >> i have to bring hand sanitizer because the second-floor soap for the girl'' restroom is gone. >> our school has decided to close the bathrooms down and only open one bathroom for each gender, so that they can monitor the bathroom. >> i like a fun time, but this is pretty insane. >> to be completely honest, from the teacher perspective, that just kill's a person's spirit, to see that level of disrespect. >> i kind of wanted to participate in it, but at the same time, i know the consequences that come with it. and taking things from my school would probably not be the best idea, because there's a lot of
6:53 pm
punishments. >> students that are participating in devious licks, they are receiving suspensions all the way up to expulsions. >> no matter the trend, no matter if it's vandalism or theft or doing a dance, i think kids will do what they can to get their five seconds of fame. >> one person's going to do something and they get viral from it or something, so then somebody else isoing to want to follow along. >> it'll die off within a couple weeks, but the impact and the destruction, it's going to last. >> once you start liking stuff, you guys hear the term algorithm thrown out a lot, but, basically, it just feeds you more of what you're already interested in and what you like. so, essentially, it's just going to keep going and keep happening because kids are going to see more of it and think, oh, this is going to make it good. this is all i'm seeing now. >> schools already have a small budget to begin with to be spending money on fixing damages. if this is the way we want to protest the school system, it's making it really hard for people to take us seriously. judy: taking a trend too far, and it's good to see so many
6:54 pm
students recognize that. meantime, a u.s. senate committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on tiktok and other social media apps, such as instagram and snapchat, where lawmakers will examine the pressures and risks for children, teens and young adults, who are increasingly using these apps. and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and here tomorrow evening. for all of us at pbs newshour, thank you. lee's be safe, and we will see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by. >> the landscape has changed, and not for the last time. 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. resilient is the ability to pivot again and again for whatever happens next.
6:55 pm
>> people who know, no bdo. >> pediatric surgeon, volunteer, topiary artist, raymondjames financial advisor taylor's advice to help you live your life. life, well-planned. >> consumer cellular. johnson & johnson. bnsf railway. the kendeda fund supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation.
6:56 pm
and with the ongoing support of these institutions. this program w made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.] >> this is pbs newshour west, from weta studios in washington and from our bureau at the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. ♪ >> you're watching pbs.
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm
7:00 pm
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -today on "cook's country," i'm making a saucy italian meatloaf, jack explores the world of garlic substitutes, toni's telling us all about scampi, and then ashley's making chicken scampi. it's all coming up next on "cook's country."

41 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on