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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 3, 2022 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the omicron surge-- as covid cases climb, schools weigh the risks and the f.d.a. approves booster shots for more children. then, nearly a year later, americans reflect on what led people from their communities to take part in the january 6th attack on the capitol. >> these were neighbors. we hang out together. we would go to happy hours together. it was shocking. but then when i took a step back and i started thinking a little bit more about who that person was, it was less surprising. >> woodruff: and, surprise bills. a new law aims to keep patients from getting hit with thousands of dollars in unexpected charges for medical treatment. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> woodruff: covid-19 has begun 2022 the way it ended 2021, spreading quickly throughout th country. the omicron surge is forcing airlines and businesses to limit operations as more workers fall ill or test positive. the chief medical officer in congress is urging lawmakers to work from home. and, the virus is disrupting back-to-school plans in many communities as well. amna nawaz reports. >> nawaz: students around the country filed back into classrooms in the new year, but thousands of schools chose to delay that return, as parents rushed to secure covid swabs amid record cases of omicron nationwide. >> nawaz: schools in newark, milwaukee and cleveland moving to virtual learning or cancelling classes altogether today. schools in washington, d.c., baltimore and detroit extending
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winter break to ease staffing shortages. north of the border, canada's most populous province of ontario moved all classes online, delaying re-opening until at least january 17th. back in america, districts forging on with -person classes, this weekend ramped up testing efforts. >> we've seen this for the last >> nawaz: in the nation's largest school system, new york city, families were urged, but not required to get their kids tested. newly inaugurated mayor eric adams, on abc yesterday, dermined not to shutter schools. >> we lost almost two years of education. we can't do it again. >> nawaz: all this, as the f.d.a. today authorized pfizer booster shots for kids aged 12 to 15. the c.d.c. will now consider updating guidance. >> in the setting of a tremendous number of omicron and
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delta cases in this country, the potential benefits of getting vaccinated in this age range outweigh that risk. >> nawaz: this weekend, the u.s. topped 55 million total covid cases. daily infections have jumped 200 percent in the last two weeks, now averaging more than 400,000 new cases a day. on sunday, dr. anthony fauci defended the c.d.c.'s new, shorter isolation guidelines for asymptomatic people from ten to five days, saying testing could be added to those protocols. >> looking at it again, there may be an option in that-- that testing could be a part of that. and i think we're going to be hearing more about that inhe next day or so from the c.d.c. >> nawaz: in parts of the u.s., the perfect storm of wintry weather and pandemic staffing problems froze travel plans for thousands this weekend. even today, around the world, more than 4,100 more flights cancelled, half of them, in the united states.
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forcing some, like ian harrison and his familyto improvise. >> we just need to get home, so we got in a rental car and arted driving. >> nawaz: as the nation wonders when this latest covid wave will pass us by. for more on how long this surge will last and what year three of the pandemic could look like, we are joined by dr. monica gandhi. she specializes in infectious diseases and global medicine at the university of california, san francisco. dr. gandhi, welcome back to the newshour, thanks for being here, so let's start with these cae counts because we see the u.s. breaking recordings. we continue to rert on those but with this variant. and at this point in the pandemic, how important in the metric are case counts to you. >> well, you know, not as important as they were a year ago. why were they so important a year ago? because when case counts went up, hospitalizations went up, to accommodate, not one-to-one but they were linged, tracking with
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each other. now they are becoming uncoupled. why are there two reasons for that, higher immunity in the population. september of 2021, january 2022, much higher immunity. omicron also less virulent, for some reasons it doesn't infect lung cells as wella cording to five studies so kaitions are diverging wildly. and why is that important? that is important because cases don't mean what they used to. and we should start tracking hospitalizations, for cooed vid as our main method of are you didding okay, what is your success method. >> nawaz: a dot of folks have been talking about the south african experience what they have been through with their omicron surge which most people say lasted four to six weeks. in your view how good of a guide is the south african experience for what the u.s. could see in. >> so the one difference between south african and here is it is true they have a younger population in median but they also divided their results by
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people who are older. and still saw less severe disease in every age strata. so there is something about less severe disease, again probably a more mild variant. of lung cells and hher rates of immunity. what is their rate of immunity, 25% vaccination, their study shows 75 percent in terms of natural immunity putting together with that. so they went up and came down in four to six weeks. we have those same levels of immunity. luckily a ot more actually because of higher rates of vaccinion. and then unfortunately we have natural immunity from the delta surge. so we should see the same findings where it goes up and comes back down quite quickly and we're hoping for mid january for cases to come down. >> so let me ask you about-- school, that is top of people's minds, we saw in the last two years with masking, distancing, ventilation, schools and correct me if i'm wrong,
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schools did not really drive outbreaks in communities but should we be think being that differently with omicron because it is so much more transmissible? >> so the difference is you are right that we were able to-- in many states in our country, with these mitigation procedures and everything went fine. and now we have something different. you could say oh, we have so many differences from omicron, could you also say we have teacher vaccinations, vaccinations of students down to the age of five, adult vaccinations. we have the power to prevent what was scaring us the most about covid-19 which was severe disease. we have vaccinations overlaid on top of all of those mitigation procedures. and it is terribly important to keep schools open. i think many, most public health official was not say otherwise because of the learning, because of the mental illness, because of eating disorders. everything we have seen. we can't act like we are in 2020 with schools. we are in 2022. we have vaccines and we know what to do to deep schools open.
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>> finally i want to ask you about testing as well because as we know there are not nearly enough tests for everyone who wants one. we know now that dr. anthony fauci has referenced they may add testing it to those new protocols for people who test positive or who are exposed. but i guess i want to ask you, if we had those tests available, how much more strong would that make the guidance? i mean if everyone who wanted one had one, if offices and schools had free tests, what kind of a difference would that make right now? >> you know, it would probably not make that much of a dirchesz. what do i mean by that and why did thing change om five years to-- five days to ten days is because we have two years of data, and the studies show that with almost all the transmission occurs within the first five days. the studies if you look at the guidance lines, it is probably the largest study there was zero transmission that occurred six days after someone got sick. all say five days, this is based
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on data of contact tracing. getting a negative test at five days will probably not change anything because a pcr doesn't mean you can pass if on, just low viral load and contact tracing studies tell us we are safe at five days. >> a few seconds left but i have to ask you, how worried are you about a new variant? or do you think that omicron will be the last surge we see in the u.s.? >> you know, one thing i will say is that global vaccine equities, i can't think of anything more important. because that is how we prevent new variants from happening. we will have new variants from animal reservoirs but i think omicron will be the one that gives so many people immunity, unfortunately who are not vaccinated. so we're with going to have much lower cases and get the pandemic to a very low space that we can feel safe. >> that is monica gandhi specializing in infectious di sighses in global medicine from
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the university of california san francisco. always good to see you. >> thank you. 6 >> woodruff: in the day's other news, a major winter storm snowed in the nation's capital and much of the mid-atlantic. up to 10 inches fell across the region, and winds gusted to 35 miles an hour. president biden was stuck aboard air force one after returning from delaware, until plows cleared a path for the stairlift. the storm closed schools, grounded flights and knocked out power as far south as alabama. despite the weather, the u.s. senate returned today, with democrats demanding passage of voting rights legislation. republicans have filibustered the package, forcing a 60-vote threshold for action. majority leader chuck schumer sa he'll call for changing filibuster rules by nuary 17th, the martin luther king junior holiday.
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house speaker nancy pelosi echoed the appeal to act on voting rights. >> there is nothing more important that congress has to do than to pass this legislation. everything that we do is affected by how elections, the sanctity of the vote is respected. >> woodruff: the voting rights legislation would be a response to election laws passed in republican-led states since the 2020 presidential vote. the attorney general of new york state issued subpoenas today to former president trump and two of his children. along with their father, donald trump junior and ivanka trump are being asked for testimony and documents. the civil investigation is focused on the family's business practices. there's fresh evidence of rising gun violence across the country. new data shows chicago and surrounding cook county, illinois had more gun-related killings in 2021 than in any
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year on record. the total was 1,002. that's 121 more than the record set in 2020. the great majority of the victims were black or hispanic. iran today marked two years since u.s. drones killed a top general, qassem soleimani, on president trump's orders. at a rally in tehran, president ebrahiraisi demanded that mr. trump be prosecuted for the attack. >> ( translated ): if a mechanism for a fair trial of trump, and the other criminals is prepared, and if they are punished for their shameful crimes, well, that's fine. if not, i'm telling all american leaders, don't doubt that the hand of revenge will come. >> woodruff: meanwhile, rebels in yemen seized a ship from the united arab emirates in the red sea. the u.a.e. is part of a coalition fighting the rebels, who are allied with iran. and, in iraq, troops shot down two armed drones at baghdad international airport.
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the words "soleimani's revenge" were painted on one, in arabic. the u.s. urged sudan's military today to restore civilian rule. that came a day after prime minister abdalla hamdok stepped down. protests have continued since a military coup last october, and troops killed two more demonstrators on sunday. nearly 60 have died overall. inouth africa, the fire that destroyed part of the historic parliament complex flared up again today. flames appeared on the building's roof in the center of cape town. officials are investigating the fire, but have arrested and charged one man with arson. back in this country, search teams in colorado are still looking for two people missing from last week's wildfire disaster. a wind-fueled inferno burned nearly 1,000 homes and other buildings between denver and boulder. the cause of the fire remains unknown. jurors in the elizabeth holmes
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fraud trial reported today they are deadlocked on three of 11 counts. the presiding federal judge urged them to try again. holmes is the former c.e.o. of theranos, accused of falsely claiming that her company had a breakthrough blood-testing technology. and, wall street started the new year on a high note: the dow jones industrial average gained 246 points to close at 36,585; a record. the nasdaq rose 187 points. the s&p 500 added 30 and also reached a record close. still to come on the newshour: we speak to the longtime girlfriend of a police officer killed in the january 6th riots. tamara keith and amy walter break down what we know about the capitol attack one year later. how technology is helping struggling dairy farms. and much more.
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>> woodruff: this week marks one year since the insurrection at the united states capitol. over the next few days, we'll be examining what happened last january 6th, as well as the misinformation, extremism and political divisions that contributed to the attack and continue to plague the nation to this day. william brangham begins our coverage. he recently traveled to one part of the country that produced an outsized number of people charged in the capitol riots, and heard from others in that community who are still trying to understand the forces that propelled their neighbors to the siege. >> any other patriots on the fence about joining us in d.c.? don't think, just do. >> brangham: as tv screens
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showed the destruction and chaos at the u.s. capitol on january 6, real estate agent hava johnston watched it all unfold on social media from her house in frisco, texas, as one facebook friend after another posted from the capitol. >> and then when i started recognizing not only names but faces, some people i had known for a long time. >> brangham: johnston worked in the same circles as jenna ryan, the notorious realtor who went to d.c. on a private jet, and livestreamed on facebook throughout the riot. >> there's the wonderful jenna ryan. that's the frisco realtor. >> brangham: johnston had also been friends since high school with another local realtor, who flew to d.c. with jenna ryan. >> these were neighbors. a lot of them from right here in and in north texas we hang out together. we would go to happy hours together. it was shocking. but then when i took a step back and i started thinking a little
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bit more about who that person was, it was less surprising. i think that there is a certain section of these people that became emboldened, and they felt like their cause is just and i believe that he is one of those that got swept up in that. >> brangham: this region was an epicenter for people who went to the capitol on january 6th. the dallas f.b.i. field office has arrested 35 people for their role in that day's events-- that's among the highest numbers of any field office in the country. when you saw that a lot of people in this region were being nabbed by the authorities for january 6, did that surprise you? >> no, it didn't it. we have seen a pretty dramatic change in shift over the last five years. i think that policians, you know, somehow keyed into the idea that divisiveness and demonizing the other side
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created more of a frenzy and >> brangham: george fuller is the mayor of the north texas city of mckinney. he's pushed back on the various lies and conspiries that animated so many people here to go to the capitol. the main one: the repeatedly debunked fantasy that donald trump won the election. >> i'm here to tell you, as a republican, the election wasn't stolen. republicans lost the presidency. >> brangham: and is that a fraught thing for you to say aloud? in front of a camera? >> well, i will, yeah, i will catch a tremendous amount of grief for that. >> brangham: the mayor says it's not just the election. he's had to push back on all kinds of conspiracies in his community, and even within his own family. >> well, you know, i have one sister that the fact that i was engaged in setting up a mega vaccination center, i was part of the deep state, that i am injecting people with tracking chips. you know, i said to my sister one day i said, i said, for you to be right, i have to be part
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of this conspiracy, and her response was, yeah, you are. you know, i say it with a smile, but it's actually very sad. i was very close to my sister. and but she finds, you know, she spends her time in the deep black holes of the internet and finds all kinds of things that convince her she's right and these things are real. >> brangham: those “black hole”" and different realities are expanding as fast as these north texas suburbs. as you see around me, this are is going through a housing boom. according to the u.s. census, the city of frisco, texas was the fastest growing city in all of america, over the last ten years. and as this region grows, the demographics are shifting as well. this local county dropped from 63% white population down to 51% over the same time period. debbie teaches at a local public school, and after we spoke, she asked that we use only her first name. she says, given the current atmosphere, she doesn't want to
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trigger any more anger. she's lived the area for over 40 years, and she's seen some backlash to its rapid transformation. >> we saw language about “keep plano suburban” and “keep away the apartments.” i mean, that's a dog whistle, right? it's against diversity of people, of socioeconomics. it's just another culture war, right? >> brangham: others point out that nativist and, at times, violent rhetoric is also coming from the pulpits of some of the christian evangelical churches in this area, like brandon burden, pastor of kingdom life church, who told his congregants on january 10th it was god's will for trumpo stay in office, and told them to keep their guns loaded. debbie saw similar inflamed talk in the schools: in increasingly heated fights over mask mandates, so-called critical race theory, and growing calls for banning books. >> we started the school year with tons of people showing up
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with signs and screaming with horrible things on their t- shirts and on these signs. it's terrifying. they harass people, they >> brangham: last year, sadaf haq was the target of that kind of harassment. her family is one of the many who moved to frisco for the growing economic opportunities. but when she ran for city council in 2020, she saw an ugliness laying below fris's shining surface. >> during my campaign, i started to face a lot of hate misinformation, just brainwashing. the attacks that i got from different extremist groups was just awful. i mean, trying to paint me as anti-semitic, trying to paint me as, you know, just anti anti- police, you know, anti-american anything and everything. even at the polls i was yelled at, i was spit at. >> brangham: haq lost her race, and now says if she knew the extent of the xenophobia that
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would bubble out of some of her neighbors she'd have thought twice before running. >> i think if i had seen what went down on january 6, if i had forecasted everything that happened leading up to november, i wouldn't have. >> brangham: really? >> i wouldn't have. >> brangham: it's a paradox: this region's booming development is quite literally built from the ground up and maintained by an influx of non- white residents and immigrants. >> they do construction workers, they do cleaning houses and roofing, electricians, everything to do with th building of a house. >> brangham: alex comacho is a longtime pastor in mckinney, and also a lawyer who helps immigrants work through the legal process. he says what he saw on january 6th turned his stomach. >> for us, the american flag is a symbol of respect. when we become citizens, we
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place allegiance to the flag. but now that we see these rioters using the flag as a symbol that the screaming attacking people and destroy property of the government in washington. is that the purpose of the flag? >> brangham: meanwhile, rioters like jenna ryan seemed to revel in their white privilege: she wrote, “sorry i have blonde hair, white skin, a great job, a great future and i'm not going to jail.” in fact, ryan reported to prison right bere christmas, for a 60-day sentence. another january 6th rioter from north texas, mark middleton, charged with assaulting d.c. police officers, is now running for a seat in the texas legislature on a platform of building trump's border wall, gun rights, and possible secession from the union. and the “big lie” conspiracies continue. this county is one of four in texas where officials have launched more audits of the 2020 election.
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initial results, released new yend wt all other audits found: no evidence of widespread voter fraud. for those who've born the brunt of lies and conspiracies, this new year could not come soon enough. >> there was a while where i couldn't even walk in my neighborhood because i just wasn't ready to face the world. i mean, i'm raising three daughters here, right? what kind of a world are we living in and how do we get out of it? >> brangham: a year since the january 6 attacks, and the gulf between families, neighbors, and political parties, seems wider and morenbridgeable than ever. for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham in collin county, texas.
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>> woodruff: on january 6th, as rioters breached the capitol's security perimeter, capitol police officers tried pushing back the crowd in an attempt to protect the building and the lawmakers still inside. one of those officers was brian sicknick. pro-trump rioters sprayed him with a chemical substance during the insurrection. he collapsed later that evening, suffered two strokes and died the next day, at the age of 42. officer sicknick and sandra garza were together for 11 years. and she joins me now. sandra garza, thank you so much for joining us to talk about something so personal to you. tell us a little bit about him. >> oh, well, brian was just one of the sweetest, kindest men
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i've ever met. and i know that sounds so cliche, you know, when a loved one or someone that you care about so much passes away, for people to say oh, they were the kindest, sweetest person i have ever met. but it really was true. they really emphasize how true that was about brian, even the investigators who were investigating brian's death, you know, because it took three and a half months so find out what caused his death, they actuay said to me that they could not find one person, not one single soul to say anything negative about brian. that's how well liked and how good of a person that he was. brian got along with everybody. he was just a warm, loving person. and so it really hurt me a lot to know that he suffered greatly before his death. so, he was a good person.
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>> woodruff: i know some people have looked at what happened, they have read a little bit it and they have questioned the connection between what happened to him as we mentioned, he was sprayed with a chemical substance. then he suffered two strokes. he died the next day. some people have questioned the connection. but you said there is no doubt in your mind that it was that, what happened in that riot that lead to his death. >> well, i said that i accepted the medical examiners conclusion and the report. but what i will say is the medical examiner did say that all that transpired that day definitely played a role in kind of escalating or tipping the scales to escalate his death. and i agree with that. and i hope i'm not, you know, misquoting the medical examiner. but that's pretty much how i see it. you know, brian was running from
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one end of the capitol to the other end of the capitol. he was exerting himself and you know, he was attacked. you know, all of those factors combined-and-being highly stressed, you know, producing a lot of adrenaline and court sol in the body, worrying about his colleagues as well as himself. i mean, inow if i was approached by thousands of people and there was only three or four officers next to me, and they're screaming at me and rowing things at me and assaulting me, i would be pretty darn stressed. so you know, i think definitely that played a role in tipping the scales for him to pass away much faster. >> woodruff: brian was, we know now, brian was, had been a supporter of former president trump. he had opposed his firs impeachment. but then of course these events took place. who do you hold responsible? to what extent do you hold the
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former president responsible for this? >> i hold donald trump 100% responsible for what happened on january 6th. and all of the people that have enabled him, enabled him that day and continue to enable him now. but definitely yes, and i think sadly brian did not live long enough to see the evidence that has come forth to show what kind of man donald trump really is. clearly he doesn't support law enforcement. i mean he watched for hours law enforcement being pummeled and beaten, attacked, and he did nothing. later we hadyou know, four officers kill thmselves because the events of that day, the stressors that they experienced. and of course the last two officers sadly that committed suicide, we don't know all the factors that, you know, combined
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that cause them to take their lives. but clearly we know that january 6th was a terrible event. and i think that coupled with maybe other stuff certainly played a role. and i think brian would be horrified. i think he would have viewed donald trump in a very different light. and of course on that day all the officers were in their, you know, respective areas. it it was only after the event that they got to see all of the footage from that day, that they got to see what their colleagues on the other end of the capitol were experiencing. so i think they were horrified, yeah. >> and you're right, it has taken a long time for many of those details, for the video, pieces of the story to come together. how do you think the former president should be held accountable? >> personally for me, i think he needs to be in prison, that is what i think. but you know, donald trump has been playing these legal wrangling games for decades. you know, he knows how it to
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skirt the system. you know, he knows how to-- he's a very let i believe us person himself-- letigious person himself and when he is sued he knows how to play these games it to get around things and avoid jail and prison time. so that is the sad piece. it twoo be very, you know, what is the word i'm looking for, satisfying for me to see him in prison. you know, i don't regret for voting for trump, i identify as an independent, by the way, briais a republican. but the horrific thing that he did on the 6th is unforgivable. and you know, it's terrible, yeah. is he just a horrible person. and he still has not contacted me, by the way. >> woodruff: he has not been in touch with you. >> no, no. he doesn't have the courage or the spine to do it.
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he just doesn't. >> woodruff: one other thing, what do you say to, or think as the members of congress, most republican members of congress are saying in effect, let's move on. january the 6th happened. it's in the past. we need to focus on the future. >> with what i would say to that is trump is the type of man who incites violence and you know, so it it is not going to stop. and if they don't stand up and say enough is enough, it is just going to continue. and sadly, i really worry abouted safety of our officers still. i worry about another january 6th-like attack. i mean this is serious stuff. and they're concerned about money in their pocket and power. it's ridiculous. it's really ridiculous. they don't care about the american people. that says it right there. they care about themselves.
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>> woodruff: well, sandra garza we know what a tough week this is for you, remembering all that. and remembering of course your long time partner brian sicknick. thank you so much for joining us. we appreciate it. >> thank you, judy. i really appreciate you having me. it it was nice speaking to you. >> woodruff: the attack on the capitol inflamed political divides across the country, impacted republican party messaging and presented new challenges for then president- elect biden. our politics monday team is here with me to assess the state of politics one year later. that's amy walter of the cook political report with amy walter. and tamara keith of npr. after listening to that sobering interview with brian sicknick's long time partner sandra garza i
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want to start with you, tam, it is not a news bull tin how divided the country is, but there is now fresh evidence of that, a poll that we've done with npr and maries, among other things we asked about whether people viewhat happened on january 6th is an insurrection. 89 percent of democrats view it, that way but only 10 percent of republicans. and meantime, 68 percent of republicans and just five percent of democrats say the congressional committee investigating january 6th is a quote witch-hunt. how do you explain this, tam? >> there are alternate realities that have been spun out over the last year. on january 6th in the days immediately following january 6th, it was widespread agreement between political leaders of both parties. you had kevin mccarthy and
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mitch mcconnell going out and giving the impassioned floor speeches, essentially blaming the former president, blaming donald trump for the attack on the capitol calling it an attack. and since then they had gone quiet. members of congress, republican members of congress as you say have tried to just get passed it. and don't want to talk about it. and as a result, at the same time, that president trump and his closest allies in congress and elsewhere have started describing it as a tourist visit or downplaying the attack, while at the same time continuing to play up questions about what happened with the election, claiming that it was rigged and flawed, falsely claiming, it it has created a situation where democrats and rep caps are existing in different universals. >> woodruff: amy, but all this, there is in evdence as i was discussing with miss garza new evidence has come forward about what happened, the
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president'role, exactly how violent so much of what these protestors, these riot-- rioters did at the capitol. it is difficult to under stand. >> it is, scwudy, but i think tam put it it really well that people are living in two different realities. when you look at the poll that you just referenced, the pbs and pr maries poll, overwhelmingly americans ross the political spectrum, 80 percent of americans, democrat, republican, independent say democracy is at risk. there are issues that are dividing this country that put our democracy at risk. but what those issues are differ by party. january 6th as you pointed out, not seen by republicans as a threat to democracy, overwhelmingly seen by democrats as a threat to democracy. interestingly enough, though, it's only about 40% of independents who believe that january 6th was a threat to
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democracy. then you go to the question, this was in a cbs poll that came out this weekend, what about voting illegally. do you think that is a major threat to democracy, overwhelming number of republicans said absolutely. 60% of democrats said it's not a major threat. so you can compartmentalize, and this is what people are doing, about what institutes a threat, what is an existential worry for our democracy. it's not coming from us. it's coming from them. it's interesting too, i go back 20 years, the 2000 election, judy, which was also incredibly contentious where you had a number of people who thought in this case democrats who thought that the election was-- should be invalled i had or that president bush was given the presidency and in a way that was not correct, because of the supreme court weighing in at the end. and yet two years later, by
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overwhelming consensus, democrats, republicans and the house and the senate passed reforms to the voting process. because of all the attention, remember the butterfly ballots and hanging chads, there was consensus that while maybe you were upset about the outcome of the election, that both sides agreed, we do need to fix what went wrong on election day. now the idea of what went wrong on election day, well, depends on which side you are sitting on. >> and what, amy says reminded us, tam, that democrats, the president are making a renewed push right now, this week. we heard about it earlier on the program tonight, to push for voting rights reform. in part because of the aftermath of january 6th. what's happened in stas around republican lead states around the country. what are the prospects that this is going to be successful.
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>> the prospects that president biden and democrats are going it to make a lot of noise about voting rights in the next several weeks are very high. the prospect of actually passing legislation are very low. because the numbers simply aren't there. president biden has expressed something of a willingness to entertain the idea of changing the rules of the filibuster. if only just for voting rights. but there are not 51 votes to do that. there are not 51 democrats who are willing to change the rules for that. so what amy was saying is truly the remarkable difference, right, that there are basically no republicans or maybe one republican who, a couple of republicans who are concerned about the state of voting rights legislation, that it has been eroded by the supreme court and see a need for renewed voting rights legislation. >> but it is not bipartisan and
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it's not overwhelmingly bipartisan and it's not bipartisan enough to make it through this narrowly divided senate. >> amy, how do you see the path forward for this? >> i agree with tam, and this is the thing that is sort of perplexing. and this is what has been realll gawking at democrats now for these last few months here which is they've been talking a lot about what they can't get done. build back better, well, you have to get joe manchin, it's really tough to do, 50/50 senate, want it to do voting rights, well, they have this filibuster. so you can understand why so many dem kracts, especially activists are feeling incredibly disillusion-- illusioned and disappointed, and many say what the party nieds to do rit now is lean into the things that they can do instead of focusing on the things that they can't. the idea that they are going to put republicans on, you know, on record, for these votes, is not going to have much of an impact
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electorally. i understand the desire to say look, it's republicanses standing in the way. but what democrats again with democrats that i talkedded to have been saying is what we with would rather see is democrats talking about the things that they have done. or using leverage of power that they do have at the executive level, no, you can't change a lot of the voting laws, a lot of them are also at the state level but focusing on the negative isn't doing democrats a whole lot of good. >> and in just a few secondsk tam, this means they've put off build back better. what are the pros spects there? >> the sense i got from the white house is that they are more hopeful about build back better, that potentially, you know, conversations are continuing. joe manchin, although he seemed to shut the door, may not have fully shut the door and they're still going to work on it and they're still going it to push for it it. >> woodruff: maybe with some
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changesk tamara keith, amy walter, at the start of this, this week when we are doing a lot of looking back. thank you both. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: millions of americans have new federal protections from unexpected medical cots if they see a doctor they did not choose and who doesn't accept their insurance. for years, the price tag from so-called "surprise" medical bills could range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands. but a new law that took effect at the start new year changes that. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: the bipartisan "no surprises act" covers nearly all out-of-network emergency procedures, among other care. joining me to explain: margot sanger-katz, a health care reporter for "the new york times."
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welcome to you, margot first, remind us why this was needed. >> people would go to the emergency room, they would have a health problem, or they would have a scheduled surgery. or c section, something like that, and it would turn out after they got their care there was some doctor along the way who was part of their care who didn't accept their insurance, it was a very common thing, about one in five people who went to the emergency room and about one in five people who had a scheduledded surgery would end up with a bill from a doctor they didn't choose, and those bills could be thousands, tens of thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of what their insurance covered. so congress really wanted to address this problem and make it so people did not get these nasty surprises when patients were doing the right thing and going to places where they thought their insurance was going to cover their care. >> brown: so is alot of people impacted, a lot of dollars at stake, how does it work now, what does the new law cover. >> it covers a lot of things, it is not perfect, there are a couple of holes to know about if you have a medical emergency and
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you go to the emergency departme of a hospital, go to an urgencare center, everyone that takes care of you will be covered by your insurance now. you have a deductible or you pay a cost-sharing of some kind like a copayment, you have to pay that the same as you ever would but are you not going to get any extra bills from doctorsho don't take your insurance. everyone is going to be covered. so one big exception to that is in you take an ambulance, you could get a bill from an ambulance, congress didn't take care of that problem. it is sort of a complicated policy area. think they are hoping to get back to it. but i think that is the mot important situation. if you have an emergency, your insurance is going to cover your emergency room care. >> i did notice the exception for the ambulance, it seems a strange one because of course it often is so necessary. >> yeah, it sort of unfortunate because of course a ambulance is a perfect example of a provider you don't pick. you just call 911 and whoever comes trk is not a person you selectedded. you don't have time to shop for a ambulance. but congress wasn't able to fix
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thisarticular problem. we do know it is a relatively big problem, that half of ambulances do send people bills without just accepting their insurance. so it is something that a couple of states have addressed but the federal government has not gotten to yet. >> what about the impact if any on routine or scheduled care. how would this affect that? >> so this also ovides a lot of consumer protections in that situation. so if you are going to have a scheduled surgery, say you are having a knee surgery or something like that, the hospital where you are having the surgery is covered by your insurance. and the surgeon who is doing the procedure is covered by your insurance, then you don't have to worry about anyone else. there should not be a situation where say an anesthesologist is not covered or radiologist, those people are all going to be covered by your insurance. if for some reason there is some special doctor that you really wa to be there, who your insurance doesn't cover, there is a procedure where you can basically sign a form where you say i will allow this person to send me an extra bill. but you have to get notice of
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that in advance. you have to sign the form and the form needs to tell tu two important things. it has to tell you how much they think it's going to cost so you are not surprised when you get that bill. and they also need to tell you here are some doctors that will take your insurance that you could choose instead. if you are in a situation where u are having a scheduled procedure and someone gives you that form, look at it really closely. consumer advocates that i talked to said there are very few situations where st really in your interest to stein that form. the hospital needs to it be able to provide you with options who will be covered by your insurance. >> so it sounds good, it it makes the system more transparent, presumably, but what is still on us as consumers. you get a bill, and it looks high, what do you do? >> so i think it's important to remember, you know, health policy people, calling you, sur plies medical bills, of course it st not the only way we get surprised by bills in the system. health insurance has really complicated, our health-care system is really expresence-- expensive. what in protects you against is some doctor sending a bill you weren't expecting.
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doesn't mean you will never be surprised by a medical bill. the big example where you get a surprise is if you have a high medical deductible, even if your care is covered by insurance, could you still get a bill for up to the amount of that deductible. so i think that is one thing that you need to be aware of. another thing that is important is if you are going to a doctor, you know, not going to taye hospital for a surgery or an emergency procedure but say you are just going to tan allergist or rheumatologist or some other kind of specialist, you do need to make sure that that person is in your insurance network. those people also can send you bills if they are considered what is called an out of network provider. that is exactly the same thing as not accepting your insurance, so the advice i would give you is you want to ask a doctor before you sced ult the appointment, are you in my insurance network. >> brown: all right, news you can use for consumers but still a lot to navigate. mar goa sanger katz, of "the new york times," thanks so much. >> thank you so much for having me on.
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>> woodruff: president biden held a virtual meeting with farmers today to discuss strategies to increase competition and combat rising prices for meat. with bigger farms taking over a larger share of the market overall, many smaller dairy farms are also at a crossroads where they have to adapt or call it quits. from milwaukee pbs and the "milwaukee journal sentinel," rick barret investigates how some of the smaller farms in central wisconsin are turning to technology to survive. >> reporter: dennis and suzie roehl are third generation dairy farmers in clark county, wisconsin. like many others, they've gone through tough economic times. >> i think our biggest challenge on the farm other than financial is hired help. it's getting people here. it's really tough. >> reporter: and they worry whether their children will be able to, or even want to, take
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over the farm. >> it's a hard job. that's a lot of hours, a lot of work, but there's payoffs to it. i think we have to adapt to the changes. >> reporter: kristyn nigon is the daughter of a farmer who's trying to bring changes to the family farm. after studying dairy sence in college, she quit an office job and returned home to help her father run the dairy operation, including 72 cows. >> he's willing to change with the times. he wants to try new things and is smart about it too and he does listen to his kids so that helps. he has a very open mind, which is not easy for a lot of farmers, especially older farmers, to open up and let their kids come back and teach them something different. >> reporter: one thing different is a robotic feeder that was installed two years ago at a cost of $21,000.
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>> so he goes down and pushes the feed in the cows, and he does that 24 hours a day, every two hours. so i don't have to do it with a broom. it's a big labor saver. >> reporter: robots are gaining ground in dairy farming. in addition to robotic feeders, there are also robotic milkers. >> i've been doing this forever but i still learn things every day. >> reporter: at his farm in clark county, max malm has installed two robotic milkers for his 350 dairy cows. >> cows have to be milked every single day. so we looked at expanding and we could put in a parlor and hire people to milk, or you can choose robots. >> reporter: how much would it cost for someone to put in robots? >> they're anywhere from 200 to $250,000 per robot. and then you have to build the barn around it, you're looking at, for a two-robot barn, easily, a million dollars. >> reporter: the malm's are part of about one percent of
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america's 31,000 dairy farms that use robotic milkers to help cut labor costs. while farmers have little say in milk prices, the u.s. department of agriculture says robots can provide up to nearly 30% cost savings in milking cows. and spending less time in the barn allows farmers to focus on other sources of income, like raising beef, alternative crops, even part-time jobs off the farm, ultimately helping them remain profitable. global futurist jack uldrich agrees that dairy farmers have to invest in new ways of thinking, including technology. >> there are going to be man- less tractors. there are going to be satellites looking down on your individual farm fields, identifying which crops are growing, which ones aren't and you are going to be able to apply the exact amount of water, the exact amount of pesticide, herbicide, whatever you need on it. >> reporter: back at the roehl farm, dennis and suzie decided it was time to install robotic milkers for their 500 cows. >> i do think farming is gonna
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continue, but i do think we have to change for our children to want to continue. >> reporter: the roehls' robots will be up and running in early 2022. using this type of technology is the leap some dairy farmers will have to make to remain profitable and encourage the next generation to stay on. for the pbs newshour, i'm rick barrett in clark county, wisconsin. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> a raymond james financial advisor tailors advice to help you live your life. life, well-planned.
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh
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[bright music] - hello everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & company." here's what's coming up. - i feel attracted to that and activated by it and invigorated by the fact that i get to tell stories about my people, about black people. - [amanpour] oscar-nominated director ava duvernay joins me on her new series about colin kaepernick, revealing the young man who became the activist, and what needs to change in hollywood after that fatal shooting on a movie set. then micheal lewis, author of "moneyball" and "the premonition," grapples with his own unimaginable loss at a time when the whole world is numb with grief. plus, "a shoto save the world." journalist and author, greg zuckerman tells walter isaacson why so many immigrants are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. [bright music]


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