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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 11, 2022 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: ballot battle. the president and the vice president make a new and urgent push for voting rights legislation, but face an uphill fight in a divided congress. then, the surge continues. covid hospitalizations reach a record high, as the white house rushes to ramp up at-home testing. and, lockdown. we look at a chinese city under some of the world's toughest covid restrictions, to examine the human toll of a "zero covid" policy. all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president joe biden and vice president kamala harris both traveled to georgia today to up the pressure on congress to pass long-stalled voting rights legislation. geoff bennett begins our coverage. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: president joe biden today with an urgent new call to protect the right to vote.
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>> reporter: the president throwing his full support behind a one-time change to the senate filibuster, to ease passage of voting rights legislation. >> i believe the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills. debate them. vote. let the majority prevail. and if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this. >> reporter: but that requires the support of all 50 democratic senators-- and west virginia's joe manchin and arizona's kyrsten sinema aren't on board. and republicans are nearly unanimous in opposing the bills as government overreach. >> it's a power grab to enable a power grab. >> reporter: senate minority leader mitch mcconnell says democrats are promoting a what he calls "fake outrage" and "fake hysteria" on voting
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rights, "ginned up by partisans." >> if my colleague tries to break the senate to silence those millions of americans, we will make their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this white house than what anybody has seen in living memory. >> reporter: the white house insists president biden will "work in lockstep" with senate majority leader chuck schumer, who promised a vote on voting rights legislation as soon as tomorrow. schumer warnsthat if republicans filibuster the effort, he will force another vote by martin luther king jr. day. >> failure is not an option, for the democracy of america. >> reporter: president biden's choice of georgia for today's major voting rights speech is no accident. it served the cradle of the civil rights movement, and home to two of the nation's most prominent civil rights leaders: dr. king, whom the president honored today, laying a wreath at his crypt and with a visit to king's pulpit at ebenezer baptist church; and, the late congressman
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john lewis, who represented the district where the president delivered his address. and, the state is ground zero for the current challenge. after president biden beat former president trump in georgia by less than 12,000 votes in 2020, the state became one of the first to pass more restrictive voting laws. supporters point to one measure, an additional day of early voting, as the law increasing voter access. but, other provisions take aim at mail-in voting, implement stricter voter i.d. requirements, and limit the use of ballot drop boxes. georgia is now one of 19 states that have passed tougher voting laws since the 2020 election. taken together, the president has said the laws are the biggest threat to democracy since the civil war. >> each one of the members in the senate is going to be judged by history, on where they stood before the vote, and where they stood after the vote. there's no escape. so let's get back to work.
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>> reporter: and he says he is bracing for a bruising fight ahead to take action. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the number of people hospitalized with covid-19 in the u.s. has hit a new record. there were nearly 146,000 as of today-- topping the peak of 142,000 last january. also today, chicago teachers ended a walkout that canceled five days of classes. they have agreed on new covid safety measures. and, new orleans re-imposed an indoor mask mandate, as it readies for visitors during mardi gras season. president biden today defended his response to the pandemic. he said he is "confident we're on the right track." his top covid adviser, dr. anthony fauci, accused a longtime critic of lying about him to gin up campaign
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donations. at a u.s. senate hearing, fauci charged that republican rand paul's attacks are encouraging potential violence. >> all of a sudden, that kindles the crazies out there. and i have life-- threats upon my life. harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls. because people are lying about me. so, go to rand paul's website and you see "fire dr. fauci," with a little box that says "contribute here." you can do $5, $10, $20, $100. >> woodruff: fauci cited the arrest of a man in iowa last month with an assault-style rifle. police have said he had a hit list with fauci's name on it. an arctic wave moved into new england today with sub-zero temperatures. public schools in boston and
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elsewhere cancel classes for fear of students suffering frostbite. wind chills hit minus-72 on mount washington, new hampshire. the observatory there posted an image of a fork sticking straight out from a plate of frozen spaghetti. the head of the federal reserve system says the u.s. economy is recovering strongly, but that inflation is now a serious threat. jerome powell had his senate confirmation hearing today for a second term as fed chair. he acknowledged the need to act, with price hikes at a 40-year high. >> if we have to raise interest rates more over time, we will. we will use our tools to get inflion back, and the main reason is this-- a reason is this-- to get the kind of very strong labor market we want, with high participation, it's going to take a long expansion. fed officials have already indicated that they expect three rate hikes this year. powell's remarks indicate there could be more. north korea claimed a successful launch today of a hypersonic
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missile. south korea says the weapon was fired from a province near china, and flew east into the sea, reaching 10 times the speed of sound. around the same time, u.s. aviation officials briefly grounded some flights on the west coast. they gave no explanation. the united nations is appealing for a record $5 billion in humanitarian aid for afghanistan and neighboring countries. the world body cites a looming catastrophe for 23 million people. in response, the u.s. announced $300 million in aid today. afghanistan's international funding dried up when the taliban took over in august. a russian-led military alliance will begin withdrawing more than 2,000 troops from kazakhstan. that comes as violent protests have been quelled, and nearly 10,000 people detained. the kazakh president made the announcement today in a tele-
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conference with his parliament. >> ( translated ): the situation in all regions is stable. thereby, the main mission of the peaceeping forces has been successfully completed. in two days' time, a phased withdrawal of the contingent will begin. the withdrawal process will take no more than ten days. >> woodruff: the kazakh leader also announced new economic measures to narrow the country's wealth gap. back in this country, the u.s. navy will drain an underground fuel facility that is blamed for contaminating drinking water around pearl harbor, hawaii. a navy official confirmed today that the service will comply wi a state order. people had complained of tap water smelling like fuel, and reported getting sick after using it. on wall street, tech stocks led a market rebound. the dow jones industrial average gained 183 points to close at 36,252. the nasdaq rose 210 points-- nearly 1.5%. the s&p 500 added 42.
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and, the georgia bulldogs were basking in the glow today after beating alabama 33 to 18, for players celebrated the victory in indianapolis for georgia's first football title in 41 years. all the sweeter, as they lost to alabama in last month's conference championship game. still to come on the newshour: a member of the white house covid response team discusses the push for testing. chicago teachers agree to return to school, after a protracted standoff. we examine the legacy of the guantanamo bay prison, 20 years after its opening. and much more. >> woodruff: as we reported earlier, president joe biden and vice president kamala harris are stepping up their push for
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democrats to pass federal voting rights legislation. geofbennet gets two different views on the significance of their trip to georgia today, and what lies ahead. >> reporter: thanks, judy. while the president was joined by several civil rights leaders today during his events in atlanta, some local voting rights advocates chose not to participate. one of those organizers joins me now. latosha brown, co-founder of black voters matter. it's good to have you with us. and president biden did today the thing that you and so many other advocates have been calling on him to do which is to inject new urgency into the push for voting rights. why did you oose not to attend his speech today. >> we weren't trying to be combative. we want his agenda to pass. we want him to be successful. we helped put him in office. but we also wanted to send a message loud and clear the
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seriousness of the issue that we wanted to show and send a message that we were way past just a speech, that it was going to require action, that we wanted to make sure there was a firm commitment to end and carve out the the filibuster and a firm commitment from the white house to do whatever it could to pass voter legislation. >> reporter: what about what you heard from the president today. >> i think it was a good speech. we are cautiously optimistic. one of the things he said, it's a measure of a man to be able to acknowledge and admit, you know, when you are wrong. for him to say he's been silent long enough is essentially i'm so glad and i commend for him to speak and give voice to that because nats been part of our criticism the last few months. he's also been a staunche defender of the filibuster. he said adamantly he would not support moving the filibuster,
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that he felt the filibuster. to see him recognize the serious of the moment and acknowledge the work on the ground in georgia, i thought it was promising. >> reporter: when it comes to preserving access at the ballot box, so much to have the work falls to you and the groups you represent. given the case the laws changed in georgia, can you out maneuver voter suppression. >> most of the organizers are the best in the country and the world but there's only so much we can do. we have been nonstop working. we've done everything we could to put pressure on the white house, on the senate, on the house. we've gone back and forth to d.c., we've organized on the ground, we've protested, we have been arrested. my point is that there is no way out of this other than we have to really make some structural changes and there has to be some
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federal protection, that we cannot allow people to be punished because the way they voted or who they voted for. that is a serious, serious attack on democracy of this nation. >> reporter: there is a palpable frustration i pick up when i speak to grassroots organizes like yourself. the political realities in washington have not really changed an iota, despite the speech the president gave today and the attention he's trying to focus on voting rights right now. if nothing changes between now and election day, can democrats, can the biden administration, can they count on support from organizations like yours? >> let me say, the work we're doing is not work we supported because to have the political party or candidates, we are literally fighting for our lives. when we're supporting a legislation around healthcare, that's because we need healthcare. when we're supporting legislation around jobbic a seases, that's because we need jobs and we need quality jobs. the truth of the matter is we
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are being attacked right now, that there are barriers that have been set up, and i often talk about these three strategies that the republicans and the rights have used historically to actually impact the right to vote. that's one creating the culture of fear, we're seeing that every single day that even with the lies, the information that actually attacks on us. the second thing is to be able to weaponize is administrative process. georgia's a prime emple, what we're seeing now in my county, fulton county, which is the largest county in the state of georgia, the republican parties have an effort now to take over the election board here, and the third thing is to restrict access. we've seen that in the closing of polling sites like we're dealing with in lincoln county, we've seen it when we're talking about access around ballot voting. there's a bill proposed in the georgia legislature that would eliminate drop-off boxes. we've seen this strategy, it's like a play book we've seen over
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and over again. what it is going to take to move forward if we have to recognize that we're in a different kind of political landscape. we cannot allow to think of voting rights as another bill, like part of another agenda. we have to see this as a fundamental needo preserve democracy in this nation. no matter who you vote for, there should not be punitive measures because of the way you voted. that is a dangerous, slippery road for us to go down. >> reporter: latosha brown, thank you so much for sharing your pepectives with us. >> thank you for having me. >> reporter: and now to one of the republican officials, tasked with implementing georgia's new voting law. gabriel sterling is the chief operating officer of the georgia secretary of state's office. it's good to have you with us. you are one of the few republican officials who has pushed back against the lies that former president donald trump has been telling about the election that he lost. president biden has suggested that those lies have transformed into a potent threat facing our
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democracy. do you agree with that assessment? >> i think lies when it's done by republican-losing candidate or a democrat-losing candidate undermine overall faith in elections. the reasons we have ballots is to avoid bullets. if both keep on weaponizing election administration the way they are, we'll have a serious situation in the years to come. >> reporter: president biden was speaking about republican election officials like yourself today, and he said too many people voting in a democracy is a problem for folks like you, so they're putting up obstacles. how do you react to that? >> i said it before. it's hyperbole whether by president trump or president biden, it's dangerous and wrong. the voter integrity act actually extends the number of days people can early vote. it makes it easier to request an absentee ballot and for people to be identified as being the right person. the main thing we want to make sure is every legal vote is counted and every legal voter is
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casting a vote and no illegal vote is cast. your job is to minimize illegal votes and to make the election administration as easy as you can. many of the things he talked about simply weren't true. we didn't have absentee dropoff boxes until this last. we had emergency in covid rules. so for the first me ever georgia authorized dropoff boxes. the idea it's harder to request a mail-in ballot is not true. we no longer have to match significants. democrats tried to saw us to get away -- do away with signature match. we're trying to make it easy to vote. it's easy to vote in my state and very, very hard to cheat and that's the goal of these laws. >> reporter: but there are elements to have the georgia voting law that had been a political process into a
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partisan one, given the state oversight of the state election board. why is that appropriate? >> people have so misunderstood and lied about this law that it's just becoming -- i was so frustrated at the beginning of this year and now, people lying about this law. it lets the state election board go into where there is a failing county, where people are being abused by the election officials locally. take fulton county which has been a problem. thousands of peopleid not get their absentee ballots in the primary, which is wrong. there has to be a mechanism of accountability. there's a lot of due process. there has to be an investigation that goes a minimum of 30 days. one to have the claims is republicans can put in people to overturn election results. that's impossible with the way the law is written. it's not reality. to certi an election, it goes ten days. the investigation to be called for has to go at least 30. the hyperbole and lies, i know it's great politics. for trump he thought it was great politics to claim the
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sten election. for biden, they claim voter suppression claiming is good politics. for both sides, it's wrong. >> reporter: the voting law for lots of people is a solution in search of a problem. there was no fraud in the 2020 vote in georgia to the degree it would have changed outcome. what there was was increased turnout and as a result come the stricter voting laws. why was that the sequence? >> well, the claim it's stricter voter laws is somehow very by czar to me because -- bizarre to me because our office wrote a good amount of this law. it's about election administration. we had a brand-new voting system first used in 2020, a paper based parking lot done off touchscreen. so we knew there were things to learn and change. we had to get a tighter control on the balloting process absentee because it was not as well regulated given the larger
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volume and put lots of stress on the counties. one of the important things is they were claiming we were limiting the times you can vote by mail. the issue was if people requested a ballot within ten ys of the election, only 52% of the people voted, whereas if they requested it ten days before that, 92% voted. so we put an absentee ballot deadline so the counties can process them and if you have time you know you're not going to get a ballot and you can vote early or on election day. this is about franchising not disenfranchising people. >> reporter: thank you. thank you. go dogs! >> woodruff: during today's senate hearing about the pandemic, lawmakers leveled tough criticisms at the biden administration, including around the lack of available testing. the president has announced plans to ramp up the response. that includes requiring insurers
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to pay for eight rapid at-home tests per person per month, starting this weekend. and, making 500 million tests available to ship to those who request them. we look at key questions about all this with dr. thomas inglesby, who is a senior advisor to the white house covid response team. dr. inglesby, thank you so much for joining us. the calls for these tests have been out there for a long time. how much difference are these steps the white house has announced going to make? >> judy, thank you so much for having me tonight. good to be here. the steps that have been announced this week i think are going to make a major difference in the availability of over-the-counter tests for americans. the insurance plan you just referenced will come into effect this weekend, and every family that's covered by private insurance will be able to access tests on a regular basis for all family members. then as you noted, the second
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part of this new announcement this week is the presidential plan to provi 500 million rapid tests to americans across the country through a simple web site. that will be put in place later in this month. people will be able to be ordering later this month and tests will start to arrive during january. so those different component of the plan will add to the already growing market of o over-the-counter tests in the united states. if you look back at the the summertime, we had 25 million tests available to americans in august, over-the-counter tests, and in december 300 million tests, and the numbers will grow in january, february, march and beyond. >> woodruff: in so many word, how are you ramping up the supply of tests when we know for so long there haven't been near the number of tests available. how are you suddenly going to make this happen? >> well, the number of the tests has been growing over the course of the fall. we've had a number of new
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manufacturers get their authorization from the f.d.a., in october, november, december, so there are new beforers, even right before the holidays two major companies just got their authorization, and they're not even providing tests yet to america, and they will be soon. there are many more companies that have been seeking authorization of the f.d.a. these announcements have incleedz the interests in companies making these tests. so we have momentum. we owed like to go faster and we are and will make more tests available. >> woodruff: how is it going to work for people who are going to want to access the tests through the u.s. postal service? are they going to go through a web site? i mean, how is that going to work for people? >> exactly, people will be able to go to a web site which will be launched relatively soon, so they will be able to see it before the time they can start ordering tests. it will be a simple, straightforward web site where people would go in and put their address and say they'd like tests to come to them. that will be happening
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straightforward. that will be happening relatively soon. >> woodruff: meaning by the next few weeks? >> yes, the web site should be online by this weekend, and then, sometime in the days to follow, people will begin to be able to order their tests. >> woodruff: and then how long to receive them? >> tests will begin to arrive during january, and then into february. >> woodruff: i'm asking because i did see reporting today that it may take two month for these 500 million tests the administration is talking about to reach people. >> woodruff: the details of the timing of the arrival are still being worked out with companies. the contracts are just closing today in the next couple of days. so i think some of the details will be announced by this friday. but we're going to be getting tests out as quickly as we can as the manufacturers deliver them. >> woodruff: dr. inglesby, given the demand is still going to be exceeding the supply, how are you going to decide who gets
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the tests that are available? how are you going to ioritize this? >> so, in this plan to tribute 500 million tests, there are enough tests for every household in america, and, so, there is no need to make a choice between one household or another. any household that will want these tests will be able to get these tests. as orders come in to the web site, we will distribute those tests accordingly, and we will not have a problem in reaching all americans. >>oodruff: so, in other words, you're not -- there's no plan for prioritization, that certain people will have access before others? >> right. this web site will provide access to all americans at the same time. it will be able to handle a very large load of requests. it's being built to handle a very high volume in the earliest days when we expect there will be a lot of interest and a lot of demand. >> woodruff: so, for example, individuals of lower income who
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may not be able to go to the drugstore afford to get them to pay for them, they will be thrown in the mix with everybody else, and everybody will need to have internet access. . so we are very very conscious of the equity issues involved in having a web site like this. there will be a phone line available for people to call in their orders, for people who don't have internet access or have some kind of disability which limits their ability to be on the internet. we also have -- i mean, it is part of a larger program of testing in the uted states. we have a variety of different testing channels providing tests for americans, over-the-counter tests. so, for example, the president announced a commitment last month to provide 50 million overhe-counter tests for free to community health clinics around the country and to rural health clinics, and that is already happening, about 9 million tests have already been ordered by clinics around the country.
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we'll continue to do that. we will continue to provide free testing in pharmacies in 10,000 pharmacies around the country which are disproportionately located in underserved communities, so all those programs will continue as is. we are adding an additional program. we will be making sure to communicate very broadly and carefully with communities underserved before this program launches. >> woodruff: with regard to the announcement about insurers will be providing, will be reimbursing to everyone who has insurance coverage, reimbursing what they pay for tests, that's obviously doesn't cover all americans and it covers people who have insurance, so you're looking at two different buckets of people. is that how you see it? >> well, in this case, for the insurance program, we've taken a step to cover everyone who has private insurance, which is 150 million americans. medicaid providers also have a provision for including
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over-the-counter tests and providing them for free. some states, we're work through whether someone might need a prescription, but we're hoping they will be able to access the tests in the same way as anyone with private insuran. and we also have and have had in place since the beginning of the administration a program for the uninsured. so we have a $5 billion program through hersa to provide testing for the uninsured. so we're going about this in a variety of ways consistent with the programs we have. but the insurance program is a private insurance program, but we have other channels for people who are covered in other ways. >> woodruff: dr. tom inglesby. i know a lot of people have many questions about how this is going to work. thank you very much for joining us. we appreciate it. >> thank you so much for having me. >> woodruff:oday after
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discovering two cases of omicron, chinese authorities locked down anyang, a city of 5.5 million people, about 300 miles southwest of beijing. it's the third chinese city in lockdown. the largest is xi'an, with 13 million people. that shut down more than two weeks ago, after 120 residents tested positive for delta. less than a month before the beijing olympics, these lockdowns are tests of china's zero covid policy, which authorities have called a success. but, critics ask, at what cost? nick schifrin reports. >> schifrin: on the streets of xi'an, the only signs of life are state-mandated covid tests. as seen on chinese tv, every resident has to test nearly every day. xian's suffering the country's largest community outbreak and its longest lockdown in nearly two years. at first, residents were desperate. ( yelling ) from their windows they yelled, they don't have enough food.
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their pleas were ignored. a city official says, “as long asou have one grain of rice, stay home.” authorities say they've recently made progress delivering groceries. but shortages remain. >> it's really difficult to find food. it's been difficult to find bottled water. a lot of my coworkers and friends are down to boiling their water. >> schifrin: one american working in xi'an spoke anonymously, for fear of reprisal. he compared his quarantine to solitary confinement. when you say solitary confinement, what do you mean? >> it means that i can't open the door of my apartment. the only time i can leave is to go downstairs and get tested for covid. that's the only time i can leave. and i try to go down there when the line is long, so i can stay down there as long as possible. >> schifrin: what would happen if you tried to go outside? not in the context of getting tested? >> i might be arrested.
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i might-- yeah, i could be taken in jail, i guess. because this is serious. >> schifrin: "zero covid" can be deadly serious. hospitals require negative tests for entry. this woman was refused care for two hours. she was eight months pregnant, and miscarried. in another video, a woman says her father had a heart attack and died when he was blocked from all of the city's hospitals. and tens of thousands, forcibly bussed to quarantine centers, far from the city center. and now, more cities are under lockdown. disinfecting trucks are out in yuzhou after three residents last week developed asymptomatic cases. it's all part of china's“ zero covid” policy to prevent community transmission. beijing says it's worked. cases are far lower than in the west, saving thousands of lives. >> ( translated ): we need to try to stay ahead of the virus. we should carry out more strict management in areas with frequent movement of patients and try to control risks at the
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community level. >> schifrin: at the national level, the top priority is the olympics. as president xi jingping saw last week, athletes and spectators will be kept in a“ closed loop.” anyone entering the bubble must be vaccinated or face a three-week quarantine. >> they want to make sure there's no major outbreak in the country, like, period, before the winter olympics. but in the meantime, they also don't want the zero covid strategies to fail. >> schifrin: yanzhong huang is the council on foreign relations' senior fellow for global health. he says china wants its covid policy success, to prove the communist party's success. >> so that can be very convincing, like, in terms of showing case, you know, china superiority, right, as a successful political system. >> schifrin: but scientists say, what's not superior? state-manufactured sinovac and sinopharm vaccines.
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chinese authorities have voiced concerns their vaccines can't stop infections, despite an 86% vaccination rate. >> now this two-dose regimen is still not very effective in preventing new infections. >> schifrin: xi'an's lockdown mirrors wuhan's, two years ago. the covid epicenter was a ghost town. for not wearing a mask, this woman was arrested, and this family, dragged out of their home to be quarantined. but one doctor was brave enough to speak out. in december 2019, 34-year-old dr. li wenliang sounded the alarm about a virus spreading between patients. on chinese social media, he wrote, “i decided to inform my classmates and help protect them.” chinese police later reprimanded him for “spreading rumors.” exactly two years ago, he contracted covid. from his death bed, he wrote,“ today, my nucleic acid test came bk positive. the dust has settled.”
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he died a few weeks later. two years on, hundreds of thousands of chinese still write online to dr. li's ghost, including from xi'an. >> ( translated ): "when i see that in xi'an, sick patients are repeatedly turned away from hospitals and die, i vent my fury again and again, because it is just like seeing dr. li wenliang with his foreknowledge. if there is any one lesson we can learn, it should be that we are unable tlearn from our past!" >> ( translated ): "#xi'an. a man was rejected by three hospitals and died. who still remembers dr. li wenliang whistling the first whistle? nowadays, there is no one who dares to whistle." >> people relate to him not only because he's speaking truth, and he paid a price. he was being wronged. and also his courage. >> schifrin: xiao qiang is the editor in chief of the california-based "china digital times." he says the anniversary of dr. li's reprimand, and xi'an's
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lockdown, reveals the true nature of an authoritarian state. >> a healthy society should have more than one voice. for even have a reasonable room to have a policy debate about "zero covid" policy. none of this existed. not then, and not now. what's happening in xi'an reminded them, the human cost of those rigid, top-down authoritarian policy can cost the human suffer in chinese society. >> schifrin: and now tianjin, a major port city about 80 miles from beijing, reported the country's first cases of omicron. omicron has led other countries to abandon "zero covid" policies. but china is sticking to it, and its low infection rate creates a country more vulnerable to future disease, says huang. >> china will continue by, to be in that lockdown mode, right? that immunity gap that there will be very dangerous because
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even a small opening, right, could lead to a devastating impact. it could quickly overwhelm the country's health care system. it could also, right, that because of the fear and panic associated with the disease, it could have social, political, stability implications. >> schifrin: which means even as "zero covid" saves lives, it might prove self-defeating. for the pbs newshour, i'm nick schifrin. >> woodruff: with the spread of omicron exacerbating staffing shortages, returning to school after winter break has been a significant struggle in many parts of the country. the overwhelming number of school districts are back in person, but some have gone virtual for a few weeks. and, as stephanie sy tells us, the biggest battle over whether
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to return to in-person learning has been playing out in chicago. >> sy: judy, students are expected to return to in-person classes in chicago tomorrow, after nearly a week of canceled classes. the breakdown started last week when the chicago teachers union, or c.t.u., said teachers would not return in-person without better covid testing and stronger safety protectis for staff and students. mayor lori lightfoot and the chicago public school district said remote teaching was not an option. teachers were locked out from virtual accounts, and were not paid. parents have been extremely frustrated with both sides. >> my name is lauren lehman. my son's name is bryson mosley. he is six years old, and is in first grade at newfield elementary. >> my name is ally ward. this is my husband, marcus ward. we live on the north side of chicago, and we have twin boys who are in the fourth grade in c.p.s. >> my name is joseph williams. i am a proud father of five children who attended the chicago public schools, and
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i reside in the englewood community. last week was very frustrating as a parent. we had to watch the news to find out if there was going to be school or not. and to have to base a family decision on looking at the news at night to see what's going to happen, i don't think that's fair to families at all. >> with bryson having his a.d.h.d. and anxiety, it is much better for him to be in a structured leaing environment, it was, for both of us, kind of a constant stop/start all day wednesday, thursday, and friday. and, by the end of the week, we were both mentally and emotionally drained. >> they're thinking, like, "oh, are we flashing back to where we were when we went on break?" we went on spring break and never went back to school. "is this what's going on again?" >> as parents, we have to adjust to every known variable that's going to happen. so why doesn't c.p.s. have to do that as well? i think it's a poor example for parents and for students who are living through this, certainly, and i think it's hard to know how to explain to your kid what's going on. >> the parent's voice was not there, and i feel like we should
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be at the forefront of these issues, and there is no reason why parents aren't at the table. we have folks that are making decisions about our children without us being present. >> letting them just sit, and i don't know how they expect kids to just bounce back mentally, emotionally, academically, from a loss of roughly, now, four days worth of education. it's really hard for them, and we're losing sight of that with the constant bickering and back- and-forth and passing the buck in between c.p.s. and c.t.u. enough is enough. >> my nephew is in l.a., and they told the parents about how school would look coming into the new year, before they left for christmas break. "if we need to go remote, this is what it will look like. if we need to go hybrid, this is what it will look like." and it seems like, with our situation, is that we are kind of just-- we're chasing after answers. >> we've gone through this now for almost two years, and you didn't think to already have these type of measures in place?
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other folks around the world are looking at c.p.s. for guidance, and we can't even do it. we're literally creating things day by day, and these are folks' lives at hand. >> i did not think, as the nation's, like, third-largest school district, that we would be going through this much. i would not have anticipated this, as a parent, you know, initially coming into the school district. so this is-- it's a bit alarming for me, and it kind of makes me question how much longer i really do want to keep him in an environment like this, where we could be consistently going back and forth. >> sy: the agreement that allows students to return to school tomorrow also sets new guidelines for when they might go back to remote learning. but the mood remains acrimonious between the mayor and the teachers. here's some of what mayor lightft and the union's vice-president, stacy davis gates, had to say last night. >> someone asked who won and who lost. no one wins when our students
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are out of the place where they can learn the best and where they're safest. there does come a time when enough is enough. three work stoppages in three years-- of course people are frustrated. why wouldn't they be? so i'm hopeful that this is the end, at least for this school year. >> you have more testing because the mayor was shamed into taking the testing from the governor-- who, by the way, offered it months ago. this mayor is unfit to lead this city, and she is on a one-woman kamikaze mission to destroy our public schools. she has not taken good care over the safety of the workers or the students that attend it.
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>> sy: and another twist, this afternoon, mayor lightfoot announced she tested positive for covid, and said she is working from home while experiencing cold-like symptoms. for more on all of this, i'm joined by brandis friedman of "chicago tonight" on wttw, chicago. brandis friedman, thank you so much for joining the "newshour" on this busy day for you. did anyone benefit from this five-day work stoppage in the end? did the agreement reached lead to concrete safety measures that we will see implemented tomorrow when students return? le. >> i think the teachers union will say to some degree they were to able to move the ball and get closer to some of what they wanted. they felt the testing was insufficient in chicago public schools and they will say that since they finally have gotten the district to agree to at least 10% of all students in all schools being tested that that is something. it is not what they fully wanted and so the union is taking a bit of criticism from some members who don't think this is the best deal they could have gotten especially since they were out of school, off work, not getting paid for five days. so i think with regard to
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testing they think they've made some progress. there are some metrics for a school-by-school return to remote learning when necessary, which the union asked for. the mayor did hold firm on her position that there would be no metric for a district-wide closure of schools and return to remote learning. so it seems like everybody -- there are worse compromises made on each side. >> reporter: brandis, you said there is some agreement there could be a return to virtual learning school by school. could students and parents face more school closures? >> if the schools are reaching the metrics yes the schools could experience a return to remote learning. i think the me frick is 40% of students in isolation are quarantined and 30% of teachers are out of school or are in isolation and/or if 25% of teachers are absent after bringing in substitute teachers then, yes, some schools might
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experience it and i'm wondering if it will be in the communities that have already experienced disruption because of high case rates in those communities. >> reporter: and some of those same communities may have experienced the brunt of threrng loss, how is that being addressed by the district? >> that's yet to be seen. students have definitely fallennen behind. no surprise, remote learning is hard. the teachers union said remote learning is subpar to in-person learning but in-person can be dangerous if the proper mitigation strategies are not in place and the argument that the district sails we've done x, y and z to make it safer, teachers say the reality on the frowned that we are experiencing is not that. the other thing, the other days that have been missed, the five days, it is up to the district to decide whether the days will be made up in the school year. that's five days of learning lost. >> reporter: to drive home how
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contagious omicron is, the mayor has it and everybody at the press conference has to be tested. teachers and staff are also falling ill to the variant. is that a problem addressed as students go back? >> i don't see it anywhere in this agreement that was just discussed. i think they're hoping to implement this new testing as soon as possible. the problem with what has been contentious about the testing plan is that the mayor was firm about not having an opt-out plan. so we've got an opt-in testing system where parents have to opt in to the testing. the teachers union has taken it upon tmselves to work with their communities and students and families to get more students signed p to you can at ast reach a large number of students in each school who agree to be tested so you're not testing the same 10% all the time. so as far as folks having been out of late, the testing that was intended to happen before schools resumed last week didn't go well at all. there were pictures of tests stacked up outside fed xboxs
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and a lot were deemed invalid. before they show up tomorrow, any testing that has to happen, that has either already been done or not. school's happening tomorrow, as far as we know today. >> reporter: hard choices a lot of school districts around the country are facing. brandis friedman of "chicago tonight" on wttw, thank you for joining the "newshour". >> thank you, stephanie. >> woodruff: the detention facility at guantanamo bay, cuba has been on for 20 years today. it is one of the most enduring symbols of the united states' war on terror. but, it is also a symbol of government waste and mismanagement, and a legacy of torture. amna nawaz looks back at the detention facility's two decades, and what's to come as it enters its third. >> nawaz: on january 11, 2002,
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the first 20 detainees arrived at guantanamo bay detention camp. it was four months to the day after the september 11th terrorist attacks. since then, it's held about 780 detainees. the majority have never been charged. 741 have since been transferred out, and today, 39 men remain. so too, do questions about their future-- and the future of guantanamo bay itself, as president biden renews a pledge to close it. for more on all this, i'm joined by "new york times" reporter carol rosenberg. who has done extensive reporting at guantanamo bay. carol, welcome back to the newshour. carol, welcome back to the "newshour". thanks for being here. let me ask you about those 39 men who are still there. about a dozen or so have been charged, right, the majority are awaiting trial including five men we should say for the 9/11 attacks, but most have never been charged. so how is it that the u.s. is still holding them?
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>> so you're correct that there's six people there awaiting death penalty trials and the majority have not been charged, a few more have been charged through the years. it is essentially was offshore p.o.w. camp in this irregular war on terror, so they call them law war psoners rather than p.o.w.s. but the concept was not that they were bringing in war criminals, the concept was they were removing people from the battlefield. >> reporter: and is it also true, we've heard, you know, some of these men whorcht been charged will likely never be charged because to have the treatment they have endured while being in u.s. custody? >> part of the problem in some cases may be nat the evidence is so badly tainted that they can't bring charges against them, there's no clean evidence. but, again, these detainees are being held there not as alleged war criminals but as they call them war detainees.
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the intention was never to charge a majority of them. >> reporter: so we should say most of them have been transferred out and critics say, if you want to close the camp, you've got to transfer the remaining men out, especially if they have never been charged. so the process is they make their case before a review board that has members from six different agencies including defense and justice had a chance to sit in on a review hearing for one man who remains in dust di, went to a rom in the pentagon, a live link to guantanamo bay. you reported this week on one detainee, a somali man who is the first high value detainee approved for transfer out of guantanamo. explain the significance of that. how big a deal is that? >> first of all, he's one of 18 men. we have more transfer decisions come out today. the significance of the somali man is they've never before
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cleared someone who came straight to guantanamo from a c.i.a. black site for transfer to another country and there's a number of those former c.i.a. prisoners who were not charged with crimes. this suggests if the c.i.a. felt at some point they couldn't ever be released, some might be released. the best one not charged is a man who's had a hearing, never been charged with a crime and there are some expectations we'll hear about whether he can be located to another country. >> reporter: let me walk you through the time line for anyone catching up on how this has been opened for 20 years. january of 2009 is when president obama and one of his first executive orders ordered the closure of guantanamo bay detention facility within a year. that wasn't able to happen during his presidency. congress put up a number of hurdles that kept him from being able to move people out. january 17, president trump takes office, reverses the closure order. february 2021, president biden
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comes into the office the month before and launches a review. he has committed to closing it. carol, you followed this more closely than anyone. do you see those steps being taken? could this facility be closed under president biden? >> so, you know, three presidents out of four have said they wanted to close it. for president bush, it was aspirational. he said we shouldn't need to do this. for president obama, it was intentional, meaning the former constitutional law professor was offended by the notion of indefinite ention wit charge. president biden doesn't tathatu. we don't know where he lands on the as separation -- aspirational spectrum. the argument there are so few of them it can be handled by a number of people in government, but the counterargument is if you want something done, make someone responsible for it, and
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they can move government. so i think the question is how badly does he want it, and i think i told you this before, amna, closing guantanamo doesn't mean opening the gates and letting everybody go. it means moving guantanamo, picking up a number of detaineen facilities in the united states for some sort of similar kind of detention. and right now, congress won't have it. the law says they can't move them here. >> reporter: carol rosenberg of the "new york times" who follows the proceedings and the ups and downs at guantanamo bay more closely than anyone else, a facility that remains open 20 years later to the day. carol, thank you so much for your time. always good to see you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: and for more on guantanamo's legacy, follow us on instagram. there, we examine the detention camp's history "by the numbers," including a look at how much it costs to hold each detainee. and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff.
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