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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  October 28, 2021 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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judy: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight. the president unveils the framework of his trillion dollar domestic spending bill, and calls for party unity: but key progressives say they are not on board. then board , getting the vaccine. u.s. public health agencies will soon approve pfizer's shot for millions of children between the ages of 5 to 11, in what could be a turning point in the fight against covid-19. we hear from the cdc director and big oil under fire. congress takes top industry executives to task, accusing them of decades-long denial and a misinformation campaign against climate change.
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>> for far too long big oil has escaped accountability for its central role in bringing our planet to the brink of a climate catastrophe. that ends today. judy: all that and more on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by -- >> fidelity dedicated advisors are here to help you create a wealth plan, planning focused on tomorrow while you focus on today. that's the planning effect from fidelity. >> johnson & johnson. bnsf railway. consumer cellular.
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the kendeda fund committed to advancing restorative justice and meaningful work. carnegie corporation of new york and with the ongoing support of these institutions. ♪ this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs
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ation from viewers like you. thank you. judy: after months of negotiations, democrats in washington say they are one step closer to agreement on a sweeping proposal that would touch education, health care, climate change and more. while a number of specifics are still unresolved, president biden is touting the progress made. yamiche alcindor begins our coverage. yamiche: this morning on capitol hill. an optimistic and determined president biden. with him a $1.75 trillion , framework for his social policy plan. after weeks of negotiations, he said he was confident he could unite his party around the plan which aims to make massive changes to healthcare and childcare and to rewrite the tax code. if passed, the plan would also be the largest investment in climate change in u.s. history.
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back at the white house he called the framework historic and overdue. >> this agenda, the agenda in these bills is what 81 million americans voted for. yamiche: the outline is the result of hours of closed-door meetings, hand-wringing and public feuding between moderate and progressive democrats. it's one of the most challenging efforts of president biden's long legislative history. president joe biden: no one got everything they wanted, including me. but that's what compromise is. that's consensus. and that's what i ran on. yamiche: that framework includes $550 billion for universal pre-k, child care, and eldercare, $200 billion to extend the child tax credit through 2022. on climate change, there's $555 billion for investments in clean energy, and on health care, $165 billion to strengthen and expand the affordable care act and add hearing coverage for those on medicare.
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the white house says all of this is paid for by nearly $2 trillion in tax increases on corporations and the wealthiest americans. rep. omar: collectively, we are optimistic about the framework that is currently being put forth. i think there's a lot of buy-in. yamiche: house progressives, like congresswoman ilhan omar, said they are enthusiastically, unanimously behind what the president proposed, and ready to vote on a resolution endorsing it. rep. jayapal: there are too many no-votes for the bif to pass today. yamiche: but progressive chair pramila jayapal said they were not ready to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal today, potentially delaying a vote on roughly $1 trillion for roads, bridges and railways that cleared the senate in august. rep. pelosi: let's not just keep having postponements. yamiche: and pushing back on house speaker nancy pelosi, who said today's progress should be enough. rep. pelosi: for those who said i want to see text, the text is there for you to review, for you to complain about, for you to
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add to, to subtract from, whatever it is. yamiche: but jayapal did give up on progressives' original stance that the two bills needed to pass simultaneously. she's now signaling an infrastructure vote could come as soon as this weekend, trusting the larger package would follow. rep. jayapal: we're going to trust the president on the senate vote. and we're going to trust our senate colleagues, all of them, all 50 of them, on the senate vote. yamiche: those senators include joe manchin and kyrsten sinema, who pushed to decrease the package from its original $3.5 trillion price tag. still, neither of them have announced whether they support the biden framework. meanwhile, the gop stance is clear. rep. mccarthy: people shouldn't vote for it. yamiche: on both sides of the capitol, republicans are uniformly opposed. sen. mcconnell: it's one vision of the future all right, but it's not one that americans want. and it's one that senate republicans will fight every step of the way. yamiche: as democrats vowed to
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work through the weekend to iron out more details, president biden flew to europe. at the vatican, he is planning to meet with pope francis. later, in rome, he will meet with the group of 20 world leaders. then, in scotland, he will participate in a pivotal climate summit now with this framework , to promote. judy: and yamiche joins me now, along with our congressional correspondent, lisa desjardins. so, hello to both of you. i'm going to turn to you first, yamiche. the president is saying that he's confident that he's going to be able to get this framework through, that he's got the votes. what is the white house thinking on this? what is their strategy here? ok, i'm told we may have lost yamiche's earpiece for just a minute. we're going to come right back to her. but, lisa, let me come to you. we heard in yamiche's reporting what's the story on the infrastructure vote. and you have some late-breaking information. lisa: there is news in just the past couple of minutes. while speaker pelosi had told her caucus even just this
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morning that she wanted to vote tonight on that infrastructure bill that already passed the senate, i can now report that that vote will not happen tonight. instead, the house will vote on a short-term extension of highway funding. that was in the infrastructure bill. but to keep that highway funding going, they now need a short-term patch. that vote will happen shortly. and more than that, judy, the house is leaving for the weekend. there will not be the weekend vote that we heard in yamiche's piece that there was potentially in theory. and i want to go over exactly why. let's talk about where we stand on everything right now and help people understand the situation. first, right now, the house has, as yamiche was reporting, a first draft -- let's call it that -- of the build back better bill, the text. we saw that today. but it is just a first draft. the issue, the senate is still negotiating. there are many issues still on the table for them unclosed. so progressives are waiting exactly for a senate guarantee to try and figure out if joe manchin and kyrsten sinema will back this version of the bill. after they get that kind of
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guarantee, progressives say they will support the infrastructure bill as well. as she reported, the progressives are now saying that those bills are still linked together, but they have made it a little bit easier. they're not going to wait for the senate to pass the build back better bill. they're saying maybe the house can pass it first, and then we will be ok. they put out that statement shortly. but, basically, we're waiting for the senate to kind of give a guarantee to house progressives on what it wants to do. judy: well, clearly, there's been some kind of a slowdown. we have yamiche now. yamiche, what is the white house thinking on this? the president expressing confidence. what is that based on? what are you hearing? yamiche: well, this is really president biden saying it is time for democrats to get together. it is time for democrats to make a deal and vote. this is really a political calculation on the part of the president and in some ways a political risk. the white house put this framework out without actually securing whether or not senators, especially senators manchin and sinema, as well as house progressives, were
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actually going to back this framework and vote for it. there was a sense, and white house officials were telling me all morning that they believed the president, as well as this framework, would earn the vote of the house and the senate. but it really was a calculation the part of the president to say, i'm going to put out the ideas after talking to people for weeks, and i think that this is what the caucus can get behind. the other thing to note is that the president, when he went to capitol hill today, he went with a clear message. and that message was, it's not hyperbole to think that our majorities, democrats' majorities in the house and the senate, as well as his own presidency, the future of it, will be determined what by what happens in the next week. that is really, really extraordinary language by president biden, because he's saying, essentially, that his legacy and his ability to be able to be reelected and the ability for democrats all over the country to be elected really is riding on this idea of whether or not they can get these infrastructure bills through congress. so that is really, in some ways, the white house thinking here. the president is confident because he says, at the end of the day, he's the leader of the party. and after having all these discussions, he hopes that people in the party will be able to trust him and be able to vote
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for these bills. judy: so, with these delays, lisa, what is known about what is still not resolved here? lisa: there's a lot in the air. one part of this bill is immigration. the president did include money in the framework for a potential immigration reform for potentially millions of green cards, but we don't -- we're not counting that in the calculation of how big the bill is, because we don't know if that will pass muster in the senate. also, we know negotiations continuing even on family leave. i talked to senator kirsten gillibrand, who is working on that, just before i sat down with you. she said she just talked to joe manchin, who's maybe opening to some other creative ideas. prescription drugs, same situation. there are talks about some creative ideas. those are two big areas that are not in the bill now, but senate democrats are trying to get them back in. and i think that one other thing i want to talk about is the taxes. here's where we are. i know this is a lot of information for people, but it's also important. this is what's been agreed to, 15% corporate minimum tax. now, what's in flux? the millionaire surtax, because,
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again, joe manchin, the name we keep hearing, has a new idea from this morning, a 15% patriotic tax that would be on the wealthy. that's floating around. i guess this is all to say that there are just too many things, big ideas, complicated ideas, that have not been pinned down yet. so it's no wonder that progressives are not quite ready to move yet. there's a lot in the air. judy: and just finally, to pick up on that, yamiche, given that progressives don't seem to be getting all that they wanted, by a long shot, how is the white house, how is president biden defending what he's apparently agreeing to? yamiche: well, before president biden flew off to europe, which is where he's on his way to now, he spoke about this issue specifically in the east room of the white house. and he said, not everyone got what they wanted. and he was really talking to house progressives, because a lot of this bill, it really is the vision of senator joe manchin, because he was the one who in some ways had a lot of the power in these negotiations. so when you think about what house progressives gave up, and what the president gave up, it's
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two years free community college. it's also paid family leave. and when you think about what the president is really saying to his party here, he's saying there are other times that we can get what we want. so he has made the commitment to other lawmakers, as well as to activists, to say, we won't get it in this bill, but we might be able to get it later on. i should tell you, i spoke to an activist named jocelyn frye. she's the incoming president of the national partnership for families and women. and, essentially, it's a large group that advocate for paid family leave. and she said it was disheartening and unconscionable that paid family leave wasn't in this bill, because so much of what working women need in this country is paid family leave. it's time to be ae to take care of their families. and the fact that the united states stands out among all sorts of other countries around the world as not having that for our citizens is something that advocates are really, really upset about, and she was really upset about at the incoming president. that being said, the president essentially saying, trust me on this. i will be able to get it down the line. judy: well, the president's on an airplane. the clock is ticking. the calendar pages are turning.
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and the hard work continues. lisa desjardins, yamiche alcindor, thank you both. stephanie: we will return to the full program after the latest headlines. protests broke out in glasgow, scotland, ahead of the united nations' climate change summit that begins this weekend. demonstrators carried banners and signs with flames, while others waved smoking flares to depict global warming. they insisted that world powers must act now. >> from wildfires in the u.s. to flooding across the world, we are in a full blown climate crisis. world leaders know this. they've seen what's happening. now is the time for them to come together here in glasgow and hammer out a deal to avert the worst of the climate catastrophe. stephanie: also today, you and backed reports at 10 of the
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world's great forest, including yosemite national park, are emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb. researchers blamed wildfires, logging and land-clearing for farms, among other factors. oil company executives are denying that for decades they dismissed the dangers of climate change and denied any role in causing it. they testified today before a committee of the u.s. house of representatives. democrats accused them of outright lying. we'll get the details, later in the program. on the pandemic, the state of florida filed suit today over a vaccine mandate for federal contract workers. the suit argues president biden has no authority to require vaccinations. and, in russia, daily infections and deaths hit new records again. the country's official death toll has topped 235,000. the highest in europe. in me and mark, a new report says that the military has
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-- in myanmar, a new report says that the military has systematically tortured and murdered people since seizing power in a coup in february. the associated press reports the army and police have killed at least 1,200 people. human rights groups say no one seems immune. >> it's targeting a wide variety of myanmar citizens, young and old, various ethnic groups. all of these facts indicate to us the widespread and in some ways, systematic nature of the torture that's occurring in the country right now. >> the ap investigation also finds that more than 9000 people have been taken into custody since the military takeover. taiwan's president was confidence today that the u.s. would defend the island nation of china attacks. siding -- also confirming a small number of u.s. troops are in taiwan training its troops. china quickly denounced any military exchanges. he regards taiwan as part of its territory and has stepped up military harassment of the island.
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i can this country, the u.s. justice department will pay 80 $8 million to survivors and families of nine people killed in charleston south carolina in 2015. dylan roof carried out the mass shooting at a black church. a faulty background check allowed him to buy the gun he used at an in washington today, family members of the victims welcome the settlement. >> that paid attention and they valued my father's life and the lives of the eight other people who died. my father is not the only one. this is a step in the right direction for the government to continue acknowledging the african-americans who are losing their lives on a daily basis. this is the start to change. >> roof was convicted of the killings and sentenced to death. his legal appeals are continuing. the cdc announced stricter standards for how much lead is considered harmful in children. change means the number of children age one through five
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considered to have high levels of lead in their blood could double to a half million. experts say even at low levels led can harm kids. former u.s. governor andrew cuomo is now facing a mixed demeanor -- misdemeanor sex crimes charge. he's accused of groping a woman at the governor's mansion last year. the woman resigned in august after state attorney general's report found he had sexually harassed numerous women. facebook has officially changed its corporate name to meta. the new name refers to a combined physical and virtual-reality internet of the future, dubbed the meta-verse. today's announcement came as the company is facing allegations about disinformation and damage to children. the nation's economic growth slowed sharply in the third quarter. the u.s. labor department reports it ran at a 2% annual rate, as covid cases surged and supply chain problems worsened. growth topped 6% in the year's first 2 quarters.
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still to come on the newshour, big oil under fire. lawmakers take top industries to task in a scathing oversight hearing. coup in sudan, deadly protest breakout in the streets following the u.s. -- militaries takeover of government. one man's brief but spectacular take on protecting what he calls like genius, and much more. >> this is the pbs newshour. judy: in the battle against covid, the u.s. is in a substantially better place than it was even a month ago during the peak of the delta variant. new cases are down nearly 60% since then. deaths have fallen by nearly a third. a growing number of americans are getting boosters. and younger children may be able
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to start getting vaccinated by the end of next week. but deaths are still far too high, nearly 1,400 a day over the past week. we look at the latest now with dr. rochelle walensky. she's the director of the centers for disease control. dr. walensky, thank you so much for joining us again. thank you so much for having me. >> delighted to be here. judy: so, we know that we are getting closer to seeing approval for vaccines for young children, 5 to 11. and we also know that many parents are eager for their children to get the vaccine. but there are also a number of parents who are worried, who are concerned. are you going to be urging every parent of a child in this age group to get vaccinated, get their child vaccinated? dr. walensky: right. so we heard from the fda advisory committee, and we're the fda authorization. and then, next week, i'm really looking forward to the conversations and deliberations of the advisory committee to the cdc, after which i will make my recommendations. and i will make my
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recommendations based on those deliberations. so, i don't want to get ahead of the process. but what i do want to say is, after we hear those deliberations, and should all of this move forward, we have work to do, the same work that we have done with the general public about how we educate the public, deliver information, communicate, and make sure that parents have all of the information that they need as their children move forward to roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated. and that is the work that we are doing, absolutely, right now. we're working with our professional organizations, the american academy of pediatrics, and making sure we get trusted messengers to those parents, making sure these vaccines are delivered to pediatrician's offices, children's hospitals, federally authorized health care centers and pharmacies. judy: and i'm asking, in part, dr. walensky, because we know there are some scientists out there, specialists, who are saying that they don't believe that the vaccine is right for every child, that they would like to see some specific guidance, that, for some children, yes, but, for others, they don't need the vaccine.
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dr. walensky: here's what we know about how covid has impacted children. first, we know that elderly people, people with underlying conditions don't fare as well as young people. that is true. but it's also true, if we look at the data over the last 20 months, that covid has been one of the top 10 killers of our pediatric population. we know that we have seen over 700 pediatric deaths over the last year-and-a-half. and just to ground that, the typical deaths in pediatrics from a typical flu season are somewhere between 100 and 200. so, we are seeing severe disease. we see those multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, as well as long covid. so there are many reasons to get our children vaccinated for both severe disease and death, as well as for just averting infections, not only in their children, but on what they could bring home. judy: so, it sounds like you're going to be recommending that most parents, if not all parents, seriously consider getting -- or just that they get their child vaccinated.
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dr. walensky: well, so, i want to see what the advisory committee says and hear those deliberations. but i think that there's a lot of evidence that this is not necessarily just a benign disease in children, and a lot of evidence that our children can potentially transmit in our households to people who are vulnerable and can't necessarily be protected, either because that they have younger siblings or because they live with older vulnerable people. judy: in that same vein, dr. walensky, i want to ask you about booster shots, because we are now seeing news reports several scientific advisers at the cdc and fda are saying that the data show the vast majority of americans don't need boosters, that they are protected without them, with the original dose. dr. walensky: yes, this is important. last week, we took an important step in boosters in this country, and we have now recommendations for all three of our vaccines, for the j&j vaccine, the moderna, and the pfizer vaccine. to be clear as to what our
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booster recommendations are, for those who got the j&j vaccine, if you got that vaccine more than two months ago, we are seeing waning with that vaccine, and we do recommend a booster shot. for the pfizer and the moderna vaccines, if you're more than six months out of your second dose, we are absolutely recommending a booster shot for those over the age of 65, as well as for those over the age of 50 and have underlying medical conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to covid-19. and then the one thing i do really want to make sure is very clear is, we are working to optimize protection of our vaccine with these booster shots. but, really importantly, we still have 64 million americans who have not rolled up their sleeves for the initial vaccine, and that is critically important as we work to move ourselves out this pandemic. judy: well, i'm asking about boosters because there's been more reporting in the last several days, interviews with scientists who study the vaccines. the new york times reported several of them, and i'm seeing
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one in particular, feeling obligated to green-light the booster, in part because of the way the federal agencies framed the question to them about it. and, in connection with that, dr. celine gounder, who you know, she's an infectious disease specialist. she was advising the biden administration. she said what preceded the recommendation on boosters, the presidential announcement, and then she called mixed signals, she said it was a confusing mess. dr. walensky: yes, i think that this is important to convey. first, we were starting to see waning data both in the united states and in israel, in countries that were ahead of us, early in august. and so the announcement early in august was really, we are planning. we are doing everything that we need to in order to plan, so that, when we have a recommendation for boosters, we are ready to give them. and that was the hard work, really, of august and september. by september 24, when the fda met to have a discussion about boosters, and then we followed, we saw data that there were certain populations that have
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waning protection from severe disease. and those are our elderly populations, our long-term facilities populations, and people who are medically vulnerable. we also made it possible for people who live and work in high-risk settings, our health care workers, our front-line workers, we made it possible for them to also get a vaccine. but that's really where our recommendaons lied with regard to who really should absolutely get a vaccine now and who is eligible to get their vaccine now. judy: well, we -- it caught our attention, of course, because here's somebody who was advising the administration, but calling it a mess. but i want to go on and quote -- this is a member of the cdc advisory committee on vaccines, another infectious disease expert. her name is dr. sarah long. she also weighed in, in the new york times, and said, some administration officials -- quote -- "pay lip service to science and the evidence," in other words, that her sense is that this was being driven by something other than data.
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dr. walensky: we were absolutely following the data. data. in the recommendations to have people be eligible if they live and work in high-rissettings, i wanted to be very clear. these are people who are eligible to receive the vaccination. we want to make su that our health care workers have eligibility to receive a booster. and if we did not make those folks eligible through our recommendations, then they would have not have access to a booster. so this is really about access for our front-line workers, making sure we have equitable access, and that was really -- it was a science-driven, evidence-based vote. judy: final question. i mentioned in the lead-in, even though the number of cases and deaths is going down, we know the number of deaths still far too high in this country. do you see a day coming in near term, medium term, when the number of deaths from covid is going to be about what it is for the regular flu? do you see that coming?
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dr. walensky: you know, i'm really encouraged with our case rates falling. but, as you know, our death rates are too high. here's what we know. we know that the people who are dying from this disease are 11-fold more likely to pasif they are unvaccinated. and so what i would say is, it's up to us. and we have the power to get a hold of this. and, really, the work that we're doing now is to provide the information that people need one-on-one, trusted messengers, outreach to make sure people have the information that they need so they get vaccinated, because we anticipate that most of the of those deaths at this point are preventable deaths. judy: dr. rochelle walensky, the director of cdc, we thank you so much. judy: days before a global
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climate summit is set to begin, the leaders of major oil and gas companies testified today at a tough public hearing on capitol hill about their companies' roles in greenhouse gas emissions, the acceleration of climate change, and allegations of past deception and misinformation. william brangham has our report. rep. maloney: for far too long, big oil has escaped accountability for its central role in bringing our planet to the brink of a climate catastrophe. that ends today. william: executives from exxon, chevron, shell, and bp america, some of the biggest players in the oil and gas industry, faced a grilling on capitol hill today. rep. khanna: i don't believe you purposely wanted to be out there spreading climate disinformation, but you're funding these groups. william: the companies are accused of funding and waging a decades-long disinformation campaign to mislead the public on the connections between the
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burning of fossil fuels and climate change. the executives all denied the charge, and acknowledged some of the reality of climate change. here's chevron ceo michael wirth: michael wirth, ceo, chevron: we accept the scientific consensus. climate change is real and the use of fossil fuels contributes to it. while our views on climate change have developed over time, any suggestion that chevron has engaged in an effort to spread disinformation and mislead the public on these complex issues is simply wrong. william: one of the triggers for today's hearing was this video. earlier this year, greenpeace u.k. secretly recorded an exxon lobbyist describing the oil giant's efforts to suppress scientific findings on climate change. keith: did we aggressively fight against some of the science? yes. did we hide our science? absolutely not.
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did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? yes, that's true. but there's nothing -- there's nothing illegal about that. william: that lobbyi, keith mccoy, also claimed exxon's support of a carbon tax was essentially a ruse. keith mccoy: nobody is going to propose a tax on all americans. and the cynical side of me says, yes, we kind of know that. but it gives us a talking point that we can say, well what is exxonmobil for? well, we're for a carbon tax. william: exxon has said mccoy's statements were not reflective of the company. democrats pressed the executives, claiming the companies knew for decades about the potential threat posed by climate change. chairwoman carolyn maloney of new york zeroed in on a 1981 exxon memo.
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rep. maloney: a top exxon scientist wrote that it was distinctly possible that climate change would -- quote -- "produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic, at least for a substantial fraction of the earth's population." do you believe that it was ethical for exxon to run a new york times advertisement that downplayed, downplayed the risk? >> if you look at the full context of the memos that you're referencing, the messaging that came across in that full -- those full memos, and is very consistent with what the general consensus of the scientific community was and our advertorial that you mentioned again concluded that there's enough knowledge to know that we should be taking action. william: republicans on the committee denounced today's hearing, saying it was nothing but political spectacle. >> the purpose of this hearing is clear, to deliver partisan
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theater for prime-time news. this hearing is simply a distraction from the crises that the biden administration's policies have caused for the american people. william: they also touted the companies' progress on reducing emissions and accused democrats of disparaging the u.s. energy industry. rep. clay higgins: they have used innovation to clean up their industry on their own. it's abhorrent that my colleagues across the aisle have called a so-called hearing today to demonize american industry whose products make modern life possible. william: republicans also brought as a witness a welder who was laid off after president biden canceled the keystone xl pipeline. >> i may have been the first casualty of the build back better plan. william: progressive democrats blasted the energy executives, alleging they were sacrificing a livable future for present-day profits. rep. rashida tlaib: you can poison the planet to make money, but we're going to defend the planet so we can live.
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william: other democrats wanted executives on record regarding the scale of the problem. rep. carolyn maloney: do you agree that it's an existential threat, yes or no? yes or no? gretchen: i agree that this is a defining challenge for our generation, absolutely. william: public opinion has been on the side of addressing climate change. a recent poll by the associated press found that 55% of americans want congress to move the country away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. in recent years, the energy industry has sponsored an ad campaign to cast itself as environmentally friendly and supportive of cleaner renewable energy. but behind the scenes, they continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying in washington, d.c., often to block action on climate change. the vast majority of that money goes to republicans. for the "pbs newshour," i'm william brangham.
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judy: president biden said today that the united states stands with peaceful protesters in sudan who are demonstrating against monday's military coup. and the u.n. security council called for a restoration of the civilian-military shared transitional government. on the ground, at least 11 protesters have been killed. nick schifrin has the latest. nick: in central khartoum, weeping, and wrath, under the shroud, mohamed abdelsalam, killed this week by a military sniper during anti-military protests, his mother's heart burned and broken. >> may you suffer as much as you have made us suffer. nick: activists' anger pointed at the top. >> i accuse general burhan personally. he killed our brother and continues to destabilize the security of the sudanese people.
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nick: on monday, general abdel fattah al-burhan, the nation's top general, deposed the transitional government that he led with prime minister abdalla hamdok just weeks before burhan was supposed to step down. at first, general burhan detained hamdok himself. gen. al-burhan: the prime minister was in his house. however, we were afraid that he'd be in danger, so he has been placed with me at my home. nick: the transitional government and a new constitution was the negotiated settlement of the 2019 overthrow of longtime autocratic leader and accused war criminal omar al-bashir. military and civilian leaders led the country together, and were supposed to transition to the first sudanese democracy in three decades. that transition has been replaced with soldiers on patrol. the military even cut off the internet. so i spoke with activist muzan alneel by phone. muzan: a total state of civil disobedience is ongoing in the country. the whole country is shut down by protesters right now. nick: shops are shuttered, after
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protesters called for a nationwide strike. they have also filled the streets to denounce the return to autocracy and set up barricades to try and keep soldiers out of residential neighborhoods. the military responded with force. soldiers targeted protesters with live ammunition. pro-democracy demonstrators ended up bloodied and beaten at this khartoum hospital. muzan alneel: the military in sudan has no limits on -- in how far they will go to protect their ruling. they will go into massacres, displacing people, and into wars just to protect their ruling. nick: today, president biden said in a statement: "the sudanese people must be allowed to protest peacefully, and the civilian-led transitional government must be restored.' but the protesters who plan a massive demonstration this saturday say that 2019 transitional power-sharing deal won't be good enough this time. muzan alneel: the one thing that all the protesters agree on right now is that there is no place for the military in the coming government. it is the military generals who
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cannot run the country without us, not the other way around. and we have compromised two years ago, and we showed that this took us no place. and we will not compromise again. nick: and joining us now is ambassador jeffrey feltman, the u.s. special envoy for the horn of africa, which includes sudan. ambassador feltman, welcome back to the "newshour." let's start with the activist and what she just said. the street does not want a return to the 2019 power-sharing deal. do you hear their concerns, given that the 2019 deal ended up in this coup? jeffrey: i think we all understand their demands, their concerns. general burhan and the army, they betrayed the spirit of the 2019 revolution, and they betrayed the letter and the spirit of that constitutional document. this was supposed to be a military-civilian partnership. the civilians did not get to choose the military leaders who were their partners. and the military was not supposed to be choosing their civilian partners.
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this week, general burhan and his forces attempted to choose the military -- civilian partners that they were going to be dealing with. and that is simply a violation, a betrayal of the aspirations of the sudanese people. nick: but what are you asking the military to do? are you accepting if they simply go back to the 2019 status quo? or do you want more? do you want a more civilian-led government? jeffrey: it's not realistic to think that you're going to sideline the military entirely from the transitional -- from the transitional period. but, certainly, you have to have a -- more of a level playing field between the civilians and the military if there's ever going to be the start of a conversation again, which we actually hope that there will be. i think the general burhan is going to discover that it's not quite it's so easy as he and his forces may think to return sudan to its dark past. i mean, you heard those activists. they are committed to making
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sure that this does not work, that the military does not control the country, that they don't go back to the type of pariah regime that was under president bashir. so there's a street issue. and then you have also seen incredible regional and international pressure on general burhan. yesterday, the african union suspended sudan from all african union activities. the security council has spoken. a number of international leaders have spoken. so it's not just the united states that's raising its voice opposing the military takeover. it's the street, it's the region, it's the neighbors. and i think that general burhan is going to discover that, in fact, it's not so easy to turn back the clock, and that he's going to need the type of real, genuine partnership with the international community and with the sudanese people that his action monday has so deeply damaged. nick: but we have not seen the yet full-throated condemnation from some of the sudanese
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military's most ardent supporters, egypt, saudi arabia, and the united arab emirates. what are you doing to try and convin those cntries to end their support? jeffrey: we have had conversations at a number of levels with those -- with the countries that you mentioned, as well as a number of others. and there is a shared concern about stability in sudan, a shared concern about the potential for violence, particularly on saturday, with the mass demonstrations planned. there's -- but you're right that there are a number of countries that are more comfortable than they should be with the idea of a strongman military rule. but, again, i think they're going to see that it's not going to be as easy as general burhan or they may think. i mean, look at the economic situation. sudan was in the process of restructuring something like $85 billion worth of debt. i don't think that the countries
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you mentioned are going to be able to replace the international community, the international financial institutions in dealing with the economic issues that sudan faces. there was excitement in the international community, a real desire to help overcome the legacy of the bashir years. and that excitement, that enthusiasm, those helping hands are -- have pulled back in a way that the other countries are going to take notice. nick: you spoke with general burhan in person just hours before he launched the coup. there have been these concerns that he would be willing to launch this coup for weeks. is the fact that he took those actions literally just hours after you left a sign that the u.s. has lost diplomatic leverage? jeffrey: well, of course, i have been thinking about this ever since monday. i landed in doha, flying from khartoum, turned on my phone and saw what was happening in khartoum. and so i have been replaying the conversations i had with general burhan. i saw him twice,
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two-and-a-half-hours on saturday, an hour or so on sunday. on sunday, it was one-on-one. and he was talking to me about his concerns with the transition, what he saw as stumbling blocks in the transition, problems in the transition, disarray on the civilian side, the lack of some institutions. but when i look back now, i realize that concern was not a concern in good faith, because, if he was really concerned about the civilians, and the civilian -- and the civilian part of the transition, he wouldn't have gone out to take over, to depose the civilian -- all the civilian institutions, to try to hand-select thpeople who he would want to work with. i will say that he and general hemeti, his sidekick in this, they never hinted to me that they would take matters into their own hands and force the dissolution of the cabinet through military means. instead, what they did is, they engaged with us on a number of
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mechanisms that would have addressed their ostensible concerns with how the transition was going. but we really believed that there were mechanisms, in accordance with that constitutional declaration, that could have addressed what the military said were their concerns and what some of the civilian said were concerns as well. and, eventually, i think we will probably have to go back to some of those mechanisms. but the first step is that there has to be an end to the emergency decree, a release of all the detainees. there has to be sort of a return to that -- to the civilians being able to exercise the civilian responsibilities of the transition, without fear of military takeover and arrest. nick: ambassador jeffrey feltman, we will have to leave it there. thank you very much. jeffrey:thank you. judy: a global pandemic. a struggling economy. a tumultuous election.
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natural disasters. the past two years have tested the federal government's response to crises. and while congressional oversight committees and often the news media focus on the problems within government. one organization chooses to highlight the good, through the samuel j. heymann service to america medals, or, sammies, which are being awarded tonight. >> we're finding the innovators and the people who had done things that had made a real big difference for the american people. judy: max steir is the founding president and ceo of the partnership for public service, which recognizes civil servants through the sammies. known as the oscars of government service. max: we were looking for the people that were ultimately solving these big problems for the american people and they were unheralded. no one really was celebrating their accomplishments. judy: why not? max: i think the first reason why is that we tend, when we think about government again, to
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think about the policy and not the implementation, not the execution. the second is it's a lot easier, i think, to find a problem than to find a solution. internally, the federal government workforce itself, they're incredibly modest. they don't tout their own horn. judy: so, we will. many honorees this year are recognized for their work responding to the coronavirus pandemic. over one weekend in january 2020, two doctors at the national institutes of health designed the basic structure of the covid-19 vaccines that would later save millions of lives. as the virus spread globally and shuttered borders, the state department oversaw the return of more than 100,000 americans traveling abroad. back at home, doctors established programs that increased covid-19 testing and vaccine trial participation among minority communities.
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a director at the food and drug administration worked with pharmaceutical companies to accelerate their timelines for vaccine development. and as americans lost their jobs, three women at the internal revenue service led the distribution of $600 billion in stimulus payments. there are more accomplishments recognized in the world of science. >> there are scientists at nist that are figuring out how to address problems with 3d printing. judy: others are recognized for their work monitoring mammal populations, strengthening aging dams across the country, surveying children's health, developing vaccines and therapeutics for ebola, and breakthrough medical treatment for children with inoperable, painful tumors.
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the sammy's honor a range of accomplishments that stier says exhibit why our government is so important. >> it really is our only tool for collective action that has the imprimatur of the public and taxpayer resources behind it. judy: accomplishments in outer space, to successful flights to the space station, and the landing of a rover on mars. and on earth, the coordinated national response to an active hurricane season, made more difficult by the pandemic. >> you're going to see that storm surge from louisiana all the way back to florida. judy: one honoree reduced the backlog of veterans' disability appeals by 87% in two years. another led the presidential transition after a tumultuous election, devised a new method for forensic labs to safely identify opioids and toxins, improved the department of agriculture's i-t operations, and created new ways to break down disinfectants and packaging into harmless substances.
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>> there's a team at the department of housing and urban development who are focused on, you know, children who are in the foster care system and making sure that when they age out of it, that they're actually taken care of. judy: civil servants are also recognized for combatting misinformation around the 2020 census, their work in robotics, developing a new weather-forecasting system, and improving pre-travel security screenings. >> there are people at the department homeland security focused on trying to make sure that we don't bring in goods that are created by slave labor in other countries. judy: that team at customs and border protection, led by ana hinojosa and eric choy, won the sammies people's choice award for their accomplishments. >> in a number of countries where we have found forced labor, the governments are making changes to their laws, there are significant improvements that are happening for workers' conditions in those, in those countries.
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and it's a real benefit. judy: hinojosa and choy say they and others stay motivated despite often low public regard for government workers. >> to hear the type of criticism, you know, that civil, you know, civil service servants you know, lazy and are not not effectively working. i would say that that is just not the case, in my experience, they are incredibly dedicated incredibly focused on the , mission. knowing that you know you are contributing to the broader good, that you are affecting folks lives overseas. it is an honor and it's very self-satisfying. judy: and five individuals are recognized for their full careers in public service: working on infectious diseases at the cdc, studying the transport of invasive species by cargo ships, driving the country's wireless revolution at the federal communications commission, saving coral reefs as an oceanographer, and
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engineering data-collecting systems for the census. >> it's everything and anything. it's an extraordinary array of achievement and the american people should be immensely proud in their workforce. judy: and because they've done so during such a challenging time, we salute them. judy: will jackson founded village of wisdom, a nonprofit that seeks to empower black students and families in durham, north carolina, advocating for more nurturing learning environments in their community. he says the knowledge black students and families bring into classrooms is often recognized and even punished in some schools. tonight, jackson offers his brief but spectacular take on
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protecting what he calls "black genius." will: learning is the action of connecting prior knowledge to new information. but what people seem to be missing is that prior knowledge is so much shaped by who we are and the culture that we've grown up in. and so then you ask all of these students to come into school environmen where you don't respect their culture, where you ostracize their culture, where you tell them that their hair is unacceptable, where you tell them that their clothes are unacceptable, where you tell them how they speak is unacceptable. to me, it was very clear that cognitively, we were creating an inequity for black children, and so the more i thought about like, man, we're asking black children to figure out how to navigate discrimination and learn at the same time. that's the racial inequity that i'm talking about. so the question becomes, what can we do? what should we do? and what do black parents and their children deserve and our
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classrooms in terms of providing environments where they can actually learn, where they can do this thing that public education is designed to do, which is advanced their intellectual curiosity. the black genius framework is steeped in the ideas of racial identity development, and also what a lot of folks refer to as being culturally responsive. things that stand out that oftentimes black children aren't given access to because of the dehumanization that we see. it brings all of those things to the front and it forces parents, students, and teachers to have conversations about that. -- about that child's individual beliefs and ideas around those things, right? how can we support black parents to really do more of delivering positive racial messages to their children? that your black and beautiful that you are black and smart that you are black genius , because we know that will fill
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that child's cup up because we know when we send them into school, people are going to steadily be taking stuff out of that cup steadily with a straw, trying to suck up the black pride out of that child. and so if you know, you're sending a child into that environment and, you know, we're asking black parents to do that really complicated thing. then the question is, is when do they actually get a space to be loved on? black parents care for, and actually strategize for that very difficult conversation that a large swath of this country just doesn't have to worry about. my name is william jackson, and this is my brief, but spectacular take on protecting black genius. judy: such a great message, thank you. you can watch all our brief but spectacular episodes at pbs.org/newshour/brief. that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow. please stay safe, and we will see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by. >> the rules of business are
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beingeinvented for the more flexible workforce by embracing innovation, by looking not only at current opportunities, but ahead to future ones. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering no contract wireless plans to help people do more of what they like. >> johnson & johnson. bnsf railway the ford foundation. and with the ongoing support of
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these institutions. and friends of the newshour. this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs news station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.] this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> 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.
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