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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 12, 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 pandemic persists. calls for new approaches to combat covid-19 grow louder, as infections and hospitalizations climbs daily. then, rising prices. we speak to the president of a regional federal reserve bank, as inflation increases at its fastest rate since the 1980s. and, tense talks. leaders from russia and nato meet, as the threat of an invasion hangs over eastern ukraine. all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour.
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of test shortages, and with infections piling up nationwide. william brangham reports. >> brangham: as cases surge and classrooms nationwide are disrupted, the white house is vowing to do more. >> so today we're taking additional actions. >> brangham: the administration announced today it's sending five million covid rapid tests and five million lab-based p.c.r. tests to schools every month. >> these ten million additional tests available each month will allow schools to double the volume of testing they were performing in november. >> brangham: this comes on top of the more than $10 billion allocated for testing in the covid relief law, as well as the $130 billion earmarked in that law to help schools operate safely. but the fresh wave of infections is triggering another round of debates over whether schools should remain open, enforce maskandates, or move again to remote learning. nevada's clark county school district, the fifth-largest
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in the country, announced a five-day pause yesterday, blaming its “extreme staffing shortages” on the “high number of positive covid-19 cases.” beyond schools, the virus is still running rampant across much of the u.s., driven by the ultra-contagious omicron variant. officials believe it accounts for 98% of new infections. the “new york times” tracker shows average daily cases now exceed 760,000. over two weeks, infections are up 185%, with the highest rates in northeastern states like new york, new jersey, and rhode island. on average, over 1,700 americans are dying every day-- up 40% over the last two weeks. c.d.c. director dr. rochelle walenksy says those deaths are likely from the lingering delta variant, but, even amidst this current surge, new data signal a possible silver lining with omicron. >> while we are seeing early evidence that omicron is less
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severe than delta. the risk of hospitalization remains low, especially among people who are up-to-date on their covid vaccines. >> brangham: and, president biden's top covid advisor, dr. anthony fauci, said today that while it won't be possible to wipe out this coronavirus-- and likely, most people will eventually get it-- it is possible for society to live with it. >> we're not going to eradicate this-- we've only done that with smallpox. we're not going to eliminate that. that only happens with massive vaccination programs like we did with measles, and with vaccines. but we ultimately will control it. >> brangham: but for hospitals dealing with this surge, the worst is far from over. just one example of how bad it is? in new york state, the health department has ordered 40 hospitals to stop elective surgeries. upstate, around rochester, hospitals there are so over- capacity and so under-staffed that many are asking ambulances
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to take patients elsewhere. for more on this, we turn to dr. robert mayo. he is the chief medical officer of rochester regional health. dr. mayo, very good to have you on the "newshour". it sounds like you certainly have your hands full up ther could you just give us a sense of what it's like where you are right now? >> yeah, this is a very challenging time for our health system and other health systems and healthcare providers in the region. we have a significant surge of covid patients in the community as well as, you know, quite a bit of our own staff are ill, exacerbating an understaffing problem, so it has stretched us quite a lot. >> reporter: for the covid patients in your hospital right now, who are those people? are the majority of those unvaccinated patients? >> well, many of the patients are diagnosed at the time of admission, they're asymptomatic, but because of admission testing, we discover they are
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carrying covid. those who are symptomatic and especially those seriously ill requiring i.c.u. or ventilator level of care, those are far and away unvaccinated individuals, about 88 to 90% of the patients are unvaccinated. >> reporter: obviously, this has got to be a very difficult time for your employees, and i know people are having to work lots of extra shifts. can you give us a sense of what it is like for the staff at your hospitals? what's it like for them practically speaking, week in and week out, dealing with this? >> well, our staff have done an incredible job of stepping up to these demands, but it is very wehreying for them, and we understand and appreciate that. to fill needed gaps in our staffing, we have shifted a number of our employees, so we have individuals who step forward and say, well, i'm willing to work in this department even though it's not my usual assignment, or we also have training courses where we do rapid, just in time training
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to get people up to speed to help out. we've even had individuals, like physician's assistants and nurse practitioners, to help work ends when needed to fill in nursing gaps. so everyone is helping out as best they can. it's heartening to see that but it is very challenging. >> reporter: the state health department asked a lot of hospitals to delay elective surgeries. what kinds of surgeries are being put off and how are patients responding to those? >> well, that's always a challenge. you know, patients anticipate their surgeries, they prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for that. they make take time off work and schedule family or neighbors to help them during that initial convalescent period, so changing surgeries, even when elective, is very disruptive to people. you know, many of the surgeries that are deemed elective are still important for individuals. they are surgeries like many
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orthopedic surgeries designed to reduce pain from degenerative joint disease. some of our cancer screening procedures are being deferred. all those things matter, and, so, getting back to a full service availability in healthcare is very important for our communities and nation. >> reporter: one last question, i mean, we are two years into this pandemic. is it your sense that this surge is driven -- is this largely just because of omicron's potency? >> that's a really important question, william. i would say it's not. i think there are many factors that are really coming tthe forefront of this pandemic now. we've had, you know, nursing shortages and physician and other healthcare career shortages for some time, and this has been predicted for years. we need to do more to increase enrollment and support students as well as to address the many inequities highlighted during the pandemic that are systemic
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in important societal concerns. >> reporter: all right, dr. robert mayo, chief medical officer of rochester regional health, thank you so much for being here. >> thank you. >> woodruff: ithe day's other news, inflation surged in december at the fastest pace in 40 years. the u.s. labor department reports the consumer price index rose 7% from a year earlier. used car prices spiked 37%, and clothing prices were up nearly 6%. we'll take a closer look, after the news summary. senate republicans fired back today after president biden denounced them for stalling voting rights legislation. on tuesday, the president likened opponents of the bills to confederate president jefferson davis, and he said abuse of the filibuster smacks of totalitarian states.
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today, minority leader mitch mcconnell called it an "incoherent rant." >> he invoked the literal civil war, and said we are on the doorstep of autocracy? talked about domestic enemies? it's rhetoric unbecoming a president of the united states. >> woodruff: the president was asked later about the criticism. he said, "i like mitch mcconnell. he's a friend." we'll return to the fight over voting rights and the filibuster later in the program. a congressional committee is asking to interview house republican leader kevin mccarthy about last year's assault on the u.s. capitol. the panel said today that it also wants to ask about president trump's actions on january 6th, and about events in the days before and after. mccarthy had no immediate response. the state supreme court in ohio threw out redistricting plans
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for the state legislature today. democrats had argued that the bodaries are gerrymandered to hold republican super- majorities. the judge ordered them redrawn within ten days. just yesterday, a panel of judges in north carolina approved new congressional and legislative districts, drawn by republicans. former u.s. senate majority leader harry reid lay in state at the capitol in washington today. lawmakers paid their respects in a limited ceremony under covid protocols. house speaker nancy pelosi called reid "a legendary leader" who made the world a better place. >> harry truly loved his home state of nevada. over his entire career, he fought tirelessly for nevada, in every possible way. for its working families, whether preserving its natural environment or protecting its political environment, including its coveted role in the presidential selection process.
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>> woodruff: later, president biden also visited the capitol to pay his respects. reid died last month from pancreatic cancer. he was 82. in kazakhstan, a government crackdown has hauled in another 1,700 people in the wake of last week's violent protests. that brings total arrests to 12,000. today, people waited outside a building in almaty that houses a large jail. they wanted informion on friends and relatives, but military checkpoints kept them away. a federal judge in new york will allow a sexual abuse lawsuit against britain's prince andrew to move forward. american virginia giuffre alleges that the prince abused her when she was 17, after the late jeffrey epstein arrang it. the judge today rejected the prince's argument that the suit violates a 2009 settlement between giuffre and epstein.
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on wall street, stocks had a quiet day. the dow jones industrial average gained 38 points to close at 36,290. the nasdaq rose 35 points. the s&p 500 added 13. the music world is mourning ronnie spector tonight. the leader of "the ronettes" in the 1960s died today in los angeles, of cancer. they were one of the leading acts of the girl-group era. their string of hits included "be my baby," "baby, i love you," and "walking in the rain." ronnie spector was 78 years old. and, a rat that became a hero in cambodia for sniffing out landmines has died of natural causes. over five years, the rodent, named magawa, found more than 100 landmines and explosives, left over from decades of civil war. he was retired last year, and given a gold medal.
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he deserved it for saving all those lives. still to come on the newshour: the prospects for voting rights legislation in a divided congress. british prime minister boris johnson under fire for hosting a party during a covid lockdown. a syrian government official faces war crimes charges for overseeing brutal prison torture. plus, much more. >> woodruff: the last time inflation rose 7% annually was back in 1982, and the latest consumer price report shows that costs are continuing to spike for americans across many categories. that is presenting real questions for the federal reserve, which is tasked wh promoting stable prices. mary daly is the president of the federal reserve bank of san francisco. she sits on the committee
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that decides what to do about interest rates and economic policy. mary daly, welcome back to the "newshour". so i don't think there's any doubt anymore that prices are seriously rising. what does this mean, do you believe, for american consumers? >> so american consumers are feeling the pain. i mean, there's no doubt that inflation is uncomfortably high and has been so for a while and people are feeling it in their pocketbooks. but what we are doing at the fed is saying we understand that that's there, we also understand more americans have jobs now than they used to, and it's really time for us to start removing some of the accommodation we have been giving to the economy and get supply and demand back in balance so americans can say we have price stability and full employment. >> woodruff: at the white house economic advisor brian deese was saying te white house expects prices to moderate by the end of this year, 2022.
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is that your sense as well? >> i do think we're going to see prices moderate. we're going to see supply chains get a little bit more back in balance. we have been saying we hope supply chains will get back in balance, and we have more covid and the supply cranes are out of balance. so i don't want to get too hopeful when we haven't seen the data yet. but i expect when we get past covid, covid recedes, the supply chain will get back in balance, but accommodation is putting pressure on the supply chains and easing it. the ease gz of supply chains, getting through covid, and the fed's response to this should help make it a better situation. >> woodruff: let's talk about the fed's response. the president of the st. louis fed bill dudley says he thinks the fed may need to raise interest rates as many as four times this year. what's your expectation about what the fed should do? >> so i don't want us to get too
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far ahead on calling the number of interest rate increases because we have to be data dependent. we're still sitting with omicron. we just saw in the previous segment where there are disruptions. i'm very bullsh about the strength of the economy, i think american consumers will weather this. we will continue to add jobs and go back to school and get through this, but i don't think it's appropriate really to call four or two or one. it is really going to be the fed will respond as the data come in and we'll be sure to deliver to the american people price stability and full employment. that's the job. it's a challenging one but we are committedo doing it. >> reporter: is there any doubt in your mind the feds are raise rates this year a full time? >> i definitely see rate increases coming as early as march, even, because it is really is clear that prices have been uncomfortably rises in uncomfortably high rates for some time. the inflation rate, won't seen
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this since 1982, that's not price stability, and i think every american knows and feels it but also the fed knows and feels it. >> woodruff: how often was the fed caught offguard by this inflation? >> really, it's not about being blind the curve or getting ahead of the curve. it's about watching the inflation data, seeing how long they'll per zit. i think the thing we have been surprised about, not just fed officials but the entire globe, is how long the pandemic lasted, even when we had vaccinations available, and, as a cons impression, this has been more disruptive than we ever imagined, and we have inflation to show for it. but the good news, and i think this is something every american should know, is, while we were waiting to react as the fed, you know, 5 million more jobs were created since early last year, and we got unemployment from 6% to 3.9, which is very close to what i would consider full employment, so achieving full employment in price stability is important.
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ultimately, americans want jobs and their dollar to have the same value year after year. >> reporter: i'm sure you're aware, but there are economists out there including former fed officials who are saying the fed has not fully grasped the depth of inflationary pressures. i think i used the name bill dudley earlier for the name of the st. louis fed, but former federal reserve governor today was quoted as saying that the fed is guilty of what he called alice in wonderland thinking, arguing it needs to be much more hawksh in its outlook. >> well, i'll be honest with you, we get criticisms on both sides. some people say we're being alice in wonderland because we're not reacting to inflation. others will say we're taking the punch bole away right when the economy is strong enough to bring 4 million workers who have not worked since the pandemic back into the labor market. it's never popular to be a
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central banker but what's important is you're always in the balancing act, we have price stability anfull employment, and i think policy is in a good place -- we are tapering asset purchases so we can complete it by march, we are in a positi to raise interest rates, to withdraw the support from the economy as it gets its own feet under it, and in a position to respond more and less if we need to, and that's exactly where we should be. so i feel very good about where we are and not like we're either blind or ahead -- behind or ahead of the curve. >> woodruff: so for ordinary americans listening and asking when am i going to feel relief from higher rents, higher costs for food, for clothes, used car- what do you say to them? >> well, first of all, i say i absolutely understand that this is painful. these are not comfortable adjustments for all of us. in fact, inflation are regressive tax, it hurts
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moderate around low-income communities more than any of us. these are painful things. what i say to the american people is we understand that, we are on that, we are withdrawing that accommodation as we go forward into this year, and this will be able to more quickly than we think, probably, bring demand and supply back into balance, but it's going to take most of 2022, in my judgment, to get those things back in balance, and the most thing every american can do to participate, get vaccinated, boosted, wear a mask and get covid behind us. when the pandemic is behind us, our lives will be able to return to normal. >> reporter: last thing i want to ask y about is the federal reserve bank, the federal reserve system and ethics. as you know, three top officials at the fed have left their posts over the last few months after it was disclosed questionable stock trades were made. we're now hearing from chair jerome powell that there's going to be an over-- overhaul of
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ethics rules. how much do you think the fed credibility has been hurt by this and how confident can people be this kind of thing is not going to beseen again? >> well, trust, as you know, is our most imprtant tool, but it's something we have to earn every single day. we have to show up and earn the trust. that this has told me buzz that the things we have been doing, trades that some fed officials have made, but mostly the rules we have been living by aren't up to the thresholds they need to be to assure the american people that we are actually working on their behalf, because we are working on their behalf, and i think these trading issues have been quite an unwelcomed distraction from the work that we need to do for the american people because, again, we are looking at inflation, we are looking at employment, and we are living through a pandemic, and those are the top of mind things. so i welcome the overhaul of the rules, i welcome getting our rules and guidance in balance with what the american people
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should expect and demand, and i am absolutely supportive of these changes. >> woodruff: mary daly, the president of the san francisco federal reserve bank, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: on capitol hill, democrats are searching for ways to push forward stalled voting rights measures. lisa desjardins joins me now to discuss where legislation stands and what options lie ahead. so, lisa, let's go right to it. the democrats have said -- the democratic leader chuck schumer said he wants to move on this in coming days. what's the plan and hair what are the prospects right now? >> historic and high stakes here, judy, and just in the past couple of hours, we've learned the beginnings of a plan from
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senate democrats, senate majority leader chuck schumer announced that he does plan to use a kind of fast-track method to combine those two voting rights bills that you and i talked about earlier in the week, combine them into one bill and then have the house send them over to the senate. that will allow the voting rights package to skip over one filibuster hurdle in the senate. so it's a fast track. however, it still leaves the underlying end game problem. that voting rights bill would still face a final filibuster, a 60-vote requirement in the u.s. senate and, unless the rules change, democrats don't have those kinds of votes. why not? why wouldn't they change the rules? well, we know two democratic senators, senators kyrsten sinema and joe mnchin so far have not been able to agree to any change in the rules that allows the voting rights package to move forward past that filibuster. there have been, however, negotiations with those two including today and last night
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and i spoke with independent senator angus king who caucuses with the democrats who was in those talks, he told me, frankly, he does think they are going to be tough to convince, those two. >> there are a lot of ideas kicking around. they're very reluctant, both for different reasons are committed. they believe that changing the filibuster rule would, in the long term, be bad for the country. >> woodruff: go ahead, lisa. >> reporter: judy. no, go ahead. >> woodruff: i didn't mean to interrupt, we're hearing from angus king. but what about republicans? they blocked this legislation last fall. what are their principal arguments against this and what are the dements going to do about that? >> reporter: republicans say that this is a power grab by democrat senate leader mitch mcconnell also says, in the past, these same democrats stood up for the filibuster when they were in the minority. democrats say this is a different case because what's at
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stake here are the voting rights and the state of elections in this country overall. what are they going to go about potential rules changes, how can they get around the filibuster? these are the most options under consideration. the first option that i know many democrats would like is to just get rid of the 60 vote threshold altogether. honestly, senators manchin and sinema is not on board. option two, a carve-out from the filibuster just for voting rights. some democrats are on board that idea specifically, but it doesn't seem to have enough to get over the hurdle and to have the carve out work, even though there was a carve out last year in the debt ceiling in regards to a 60-vote thresh model. option 3, the talking filibuster. everybody's seen "mr. smith goes
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to washington." the idea is senators would have to be on the floor, have a two-speech limit, which is the current rule, but it would lead to weeks and weeks potentially to debate on a single bill, but at the end of those weeks of debate, it would independence, and the idea is then there could be just an up or down majority vote on a single piece of legislation. i talked to senator king about that as well. he thinks that kind of idea could elevate the debate, in general. >> as you know, there's very little in the way of real debate in the senate. this would allow the american people to hear the democrats argue for why we need to do this, and they'd hear the republicans argue for why we don't need to do it-- rather than an occasional speech from chuck schumer or mitch mcconnell. and i think that could be a powerful way of solving this problem. >> reporter: and, of course, the problem is that would open potentially a can of worms. one other last thing, judy, i want to mention, joe manchin, my reporting is, isn't just having concerns about these kinds of
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rules changes, but he has a real problem with the way the rule would have to change. hoe thinks that sort of changing a rule in the senate should take two-thirds vote of the senate, not just 50 plus 1, and that procedural hiccup for him is a really serious issue that democrats are trying to get around. >> woodruff: takes a lot to follow the minutia parliamentary procedure and all the rest of it, lisa, but we appreciate you doing it. quickly, some republicans talking about electoral count reform. where does that stand? >> reporter: there are efforts, in fact some bipartisan efforts, to try get an electoral count reform going, something that would change the way we certify elections, but i think we're still months and months away from any real fruitful effort there. >> woodruff: we're saying democrats say that's a diversion, republicans are saying they're serious. we will watch, lisa desjardins on top of it. thank you, lisa.
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>> woodruff: british prime minister boris johnson is fighting for his political life. he was forced to apologize to paiament today, after it was revealed he attended a cocktail party in the garden of his official residence at the height of the covid crisis in mid-2020, when strict nationwide restrictions were in force. from the united kingdom, special correspondent malcolm brabant reports. >> reporter: never before in the 2.5 years of his turbulent premiership has boris johnson faced such heat over his integrity. he headed to parliament to explain why a cocktail party was held in the garden of 10 downing street in may 2020, when britons faced heavy fines for breaching lockdown rules. >> mr. speaker, i want to apologize.
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i know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. i know the anguish that they have been through, unae to mourn their relatives, and i know the rage they feel with me, and with the government i lead, when they think that in downing street itself, the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make them. >> reporter: riding high in the polls, opposition leader keir starmer went for the jugular. >> well, there we have it-- after months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who's run out of road. he's finally been forced to admit what everyone knew: when the whole country was locked down, he was hosting boozy parties in downing street. is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?
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>> reporter: in may 2020, the death rate for covid was rising exponentially, and no cure was in sight. as a consequence of stringent lockdown restrictions, victims died alone in hospital, and funerals were sparsely attended because of enforced social distancing. at the time of the downing street party, lindsay jackson was grieving for her mother, who died from covid. >> my mum was a very popular woman. there would have been hundreds of people who wanted to say goodbye to her. and there was seven of us. and i couldn't even hug my brother after the funeral. i want him gone. i want-- i want politicians i can respec >> reporter: analysts say that while johnson apologized for the public perception of wrongdoing, he did not admit breaking the law. >> and when i went into that garden just after 6:00 on the 20th of may 2020 to thank groups of staff, before going back into my office 25 minutes
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later to continue working, i believed implicitly th this was a work event. >> reporter: johnson is awaiting the outcome of a civil service investigation into the cocktail party. the governing conservatives are worried that he's become a liability. they are lagging in the polls, and historically, they are mercess about removing leaders who have become toxic in the public consciousness. johnson's position is more precarious than ever before. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant in brighton. >> woodruff: the united states and its nato allies met today in brussels with russian officials. it is part of a whirlwind week of diplomacy across europe, sparked by a massive russian troop buildup on its border with ukraine.
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nick schifrin reports. >> gd to see you. >> schifrin: in the room where it happened, the mingling was mutual. >> ambassador. >> schifrin: the russian delegation greeted all 30 nato members. >> there you are! >> schifrin: and among nato allies, smiles and uni, during a meeting that was essentially 30 against one. but the calm couldn't close the chasm. deputy russian foreign minister alexander grushko blamed nato and its ongoing support for ukraine. >> ( translated ): it's absolutely imperative to end the policy of open doors and offer ssia legally binding guarantees of further nato's expansion eastward. >> schifrin: deputy secretary of state wendy sherman said russian actions unified nato. >> i think one of the things that russia has done-- which it probably did not expect-- it has brought all of europe, nato and non-nato allies alike, together, to share the same set of principles, the same
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ambition, the same hopes and the same commitment to diplomacy. ( gunfire ) >> schifrin: diplomacy, to solve a crisis createby 100,000 russian troops deployed to ukraine's borders. the u.s. warns that number could double, and russia could invade. despite the dierences, nato sretary general jens stoltenberg noted both sides discussed future meetings, and the u.s. said the good news was, russia didn't walk out. >> the russians were not ready to commit to the series of discussions that the secretary-general will lay out, but nor did they reject those discussions. >> schifrin: while nato presents a united front, there are some differences, especially over russian natural gas. today, the european union imports nearly half its gas from russia. it used to import 85% of it via a pipeline that runs through ukraine. but, since 2011, russia has used the nord stream 1 pipeline under the baltic sea to export 55 billion cubic meters a year of natural gas.
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a twin pipeline, nord stream 2, will double that amount. it was completed last year. but germany has indefinitely paused the certification process. many in the u.s. say nord stream gives russia leverage over germany, and further cuts transit money russia pays to ship gas through ukraine. a republicanill, backed by ukraine and set for vote tomorrow, would mandate sanctions. idaho's jim risch is the senate foreign relations committee's top republican. >> it's no secret i, and many other members, are firmly opposed to this pipeline. and i will continue efforts to see it-- and putin's influence in nato-- are stopped. >> schifrin: the administration says there's no need for more sanctions, because the because germany can shut the pipeline down. >> from our perspective, it's very hard to see gas flowing through the pipene, for it to become operational, if russia renews its aggression on ukraine. >> schifrin: meanwhile, in ukraine, they're preparing for guerilla war.
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civilians outside kiev continue a decades-old tradition, and train to become weekend warriors against russia. and today, the government offered its own diplomatic solution-- a summit between ukraine, russia, france, and germany that would continue diplomacy born in 2019. >> ( translated ): we expect that russia will start fulfilling decisions of 2019 paris summit, and will join the process of setting up a new meeting of the leaders on the highest level. >> schifrin: for more on today's meeting, and whether the u.s. is in sync with allies, we turn to ivo daalder, who served as u.s. ambassador to nato during the clinton administration. he is now president of the chicago council on foreign relations. welcome back to the "newshour". u.s. and european officials insist they are united. are they? >> yeah, i think they are. really, the threat that russia poses, 100,000 troops, major kinds of equipment, tanks, artillery, exercises including live fire exercises that we saw
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just in the last few days, really has unified the alliance in a way that we haven't seen frankly since the last time russia invaded ukraine back in 2014 when it annexed crimea. you have 30 allies who know it is a real military threat and the only way to prevent the military threat from coming to the fruition ifor the alliance to be unified. >> reporter: many european countries criticize the way the biden administration was consulting them last year over topics like afghanistan. i heard this directly from european diplomats. is there still a concern among europeans that the u.s. could make some kind of deal with russia without consultation? >> you know, there's always a concern about whether the united states' interests and the european interests are 100% aligned. we're an ocean away. we have global interests including a particular interest in the indo--pacific and there's
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an understandable concern in europe upthat perhaps this crisis isn't getting the kind of attention they'd like. on the other hand, the biden administration has really gone out of its way since october, since they were the first signs of a possible military buildup and then of an actu military buildup to inform our allies about what was going on, sharing real intelligence of the kind you don't share with real allies, sending the secreary of state, the secretary of defense, the secretary of national intelligence to brussels to talk to the allies to hear their concerns and jointly draw up the strategy that is now being put on display. on the one hand, deterrence, willingness to take significant steps, helping ukraine, building up n.a.t.o. forces in the east and serious economic sanctions of the kind that few were contemplating even a few years ago and, on the other hand, dialogue, and i think you heard
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from the secretary general today and from allies around the table as wendy sherman, the deputy secretary, said a united n.a.t.o. but that spoke with one voice, even though there were 30 people speaking inhat voice. >> reporter: we just highlighted nordstream two, the pipeline between u.s. and germany. >> it is a source of division between the united states and germ and also poland and the baltic states who see this as a way for russia to bypass them, to bypass ukraine and to gain greater leverage over europe. but the reality is this is bigger than a pipeline. this is not about a pipeline, and i'm a little concerned that we're spending too much time in washington about a particular pipeline. what we really ought to be
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concerned about is a russia that is prepareperhaps to engagein the kind of military operations that we haven't seen in europe since 1945. this is very serious business, and we need to make sure that russia, if it does do so, does not succeed by changing borders for the use of force. it did so in 2014, and we' got to make absolutely sure witness we deverything possible to raise the cost for russia, and that would, of course, include not using the pipeline, if that were to come about. >> reporter: senior european officials i talked to described that the alliance is trying to buy time until basically it's too difficult for russia to invade ukraine because the ground would be too soft. to do that, the u.s. is talking about arms control, talking about exercises, not about the future of n.a.t.o. and in about the 45 seconds we have left, do you believe those topics the u.s. is talking about will be enough to buy enough time for the invasion not to happen? >> well, we don't know.
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we don't know what is on president putin's mind other than president putin. i don't think anybody really knows what is in his mind and whether he's going to use force, but it is the right strategy to say there are serious issues of security here, we need to get back to a serious arms control dialogue on nuclear missiles, conventional sources, transparency of exercises, notification of troop movements, of the kinds of things we did together in the 1990s, we need to go back to that and create a security environment in which everyone feels secure and the question of whether the country belongs to n.a.t. or not is truly secondary. so it makes sense to put this on the table. the question is will president putin bite or decide military force is the only thing left? we'll have to wait and see. >> reporter: thank you very much. #. >> my pleasure.
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>> woodru: tomorrow, in a german court room, a verdict will be rendered in the world's first trial against a high- ranking former officer in the syrian regime for crimes against humanity. anwar raslan was in charge of interrogations in a government prison while working for the syrian secret police. he stands accused of overseeg mass torture, rape and killings, at the start of syria's ongoing civil war. from our partners at "reveal," from the center for investigative reporting, reporter luna watfa and special correspondent adithya sambamurthy have the story. and, a warning to our viewers: this story contains graphic images from inside syrian prisons. >> reporter: hussein ghrer is getting ready for his day in court. ghrer is a plaintiff in the trial against anwar ruslan-- a high-ranking officer of the syrian regime of bashar al-assad-- for crimes against humanity. >> ( translated ): it's something we've been waiting
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for, for a very long time. we thought it's never going to happen, but then when it happened, you tell yourself, it's a dream, it can't possibly be true. >> reporter: in syria, ghrer blogged about his support of syria's wave of the arab spring, which began in march 2011, and has led to nearly 11 years of civil war. for his support of the demonstrations, ghrer says he was imprisoned and tortured at al-khatib, one of the largest in a labyrinth of government prison complexes in syria. >> ( translated ): for me, the psychological torture was worst. the psychological torment is in waiting for the next session of torture. as a detainee, i was always waiting for the next torture session. asking all sorts of questions. being between life and death. it was a difficult situation. >> reporter: ghrer was imprisoned for about 3.5 years. after his release in 2015, he fled to germany, joining nearly a million syrians who were granted political asylum by then-chancellor angela merkel's governme. and that created the conditions
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for this historic trial to take place, in a german courtroom in koblenz. most participants in this landmark trial, from the 2016 joint plaintiffs, to key witnesses, and anwar raslan himself, arred in germany as refugees in the last six years. patrick kroker is co-counsel to hussein ghrer and 13 other plaintiffs in this case, who allege being detained and tortured at al-khatib, when anwar ruslan lead the interrogations unit there. >> i mean, each and every story is very different, but they are some very common elements to them. it was really more about breaking the physical and psychological existence of t person, by-- by harming them, beating them with objects, hanging them on the wall, electrocuting them. >> reporter: ruslan, whose face cannot be shown due to german privacy laws, is charged with at least 4,000 counts of torture, at least 30 counts of murder, 26 counts of bodily harm, two counts of hostage taking, and three counts of sexual
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violence, from the time he was in charge of interrogations at the al-khatib prison. the defense claims that ruslan had no real power to stop the abuses at al-khatib. ruslan says he did what he could to help civilians detaineunder his watch, and that he defected and fled syria as soon as he could. kroker says he had initially hoped that a case of this magnitude would be referred by the u.n. security council to the international criminal court at the hague. >> in 2015, it became clear that the political chances of there being such a referral to the court aren't there anymore, simply because russia vetoed any attempt to refer this in the u.n. security council. and then china went along with that. so, at that point in time, it became clear no international court for syria, at least at this point. >> reporter: so the prosecutors used a legal principle called universal jurisdiction to try the case in a german court instead. universal jurisdiction states
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that countries have a duty to prosecute war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, even if the accused are not their citizens, and the crimes were not committed on their soil. germany's embrace of universal jurisdiction grew out of the nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war. allied judges tried prominent nazi leaders for their roles in planning and executing the holocaust and other war crimes. the tribunals created the legal definition of genocide and laid the foundation for contemporary international human rights law. 21st-century germany has adopted a very expansive definition of universal jurisdiction, giving prosecutors and judges a lot of leeway in trying such cases. to meet the threshold of crimes against humanity, prosecutors have submitted evidence and testimony to the court that details the industrial scale of torture employed inside syrian government prisons. these include some 30,000 images smuggled out of syria by a former military photographer, code-named caesar. a forensic examination of these images showed that detainees were beaten with blunt and sharp objects, shot, and exposed to electric shocks and burns. the caesar photos form an
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important part of the evidence, not only in the case against anwar raslan, but in future cases to come. the next trial in germany is due to start a week from today, and criminal complaints against high-ranking members of the syrian government have been filed in four european countries that allow universal jurisdiction. prosecuting these cases has created a need for authorities to work more closely with syrian refugee communities. in this workshop in berlin, syrians now living in eight untries across europe are being instructed by professor thomas wenzel on how to collect evidence that would hold up in court, and how to encourage potential witnesses to come forward and cooperate with law enforcement. all of the workshop participants used to be legal professionals in syria. >> ( translated ): next, we'll look at how to document properly. we're going to be doing a whole workshop about this. you see, this is a scar of an african patient. it's not the greatest picture,
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but you can tell from the ruler placed next to it exactly that it is 6cm. you wouldn't be able to do this by simply taking a picture. this kind of basic documentation is useful in court. >> reporter: workshop organizer usahma felix darrah believes the trial in koblenz has been a watershed moment, and that it is paving the way for syrians to play a crucial part in the quest for justice through national courts in europe. >> you have to understand how much hope really rests on this kind of work. this is the only semblance of justice that many syrians have seen, in nine years of a very very bitter war. the war is still ongoing, and we have syrians that are playing an active role in actually making accountability happen. our plan is to document testimonies of survivors, of victims, and of witnesses, and to systematize those in a manner that can be usable in a court of law. >> ( trslated ): when speaking with a witness, we always need to ask, was a doctor there? if a doctor stands by when someone is being tortured, and says, "stop; now you need to
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take a break, and now you can continue," that doctor is classed as a torturer. >> reporter: even advocates say that it's too early to determine if these efforts are scalable, and whether european court using universal jurisdiction will become a routine alternative to international tribunals in prosecuting war crimes cases. but, back in koblenz, hussain ghrer is clear that under the circumstances, this process is the best way forward. he's on his way to court to give his closing statement in the case against anwar raslan. >> ( translated ): i feel nervous. it's the first time ever, a casegainst a member of the syrian regime, and it's unusual that a plaintiff like me gets to give a closing statement in front of the judges. insha'llah, i can deliver my message inside. >> reporter: the state prosecutor has called for a life sentence for anwar raslan, with no possibility of parole after 15 years. should raslan be found guilty,
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it would set a precedent, marking the first time in history that a high-ranking officer of a government that is still in power is convicted of crimes against humanity. for reveal and pbs newshour, i'm adithya sambamurthy in koblenz, germany. >> woodruff: rebecca hall has been on-screen and acting since age 10, but in her new film "passing," she steps into the director role for the first time. tonight, as part of our arts and culture series, "canvas," she shares her "brief but spectacular" take on "passing," and on her own racial identity. >> i grew up with an american mother, and while i was growing up, there was a lot of mystery surrounding her ritage. her father was-- i suppose the cleanest way of puttinit was
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"racially ambiguous." i always looked at my mother, and i always felt that i was looking at a woman who was african american. when i would ask her about this, she would not have a clear way of answering me. somewhere along this journey of asking questions, somebody gave me a book called "passing," and it was the first time that i had heard that word. that it was something that black people did during jim crow in america. that they passed for many things-- passed white, passed indigenous. after reading the book, it was clear to me that the mystery and the enigmas within my own family were because my grandfather had spent his life passing white. >> "passing" is a novel that was written in 1929 by nana lawson at the height of the harlem
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renaissance. before i read the novel, i didn't have language or context for what my grandfather did. after reading the novel, i had, i think for the first time, a true understanding of that historical context. the erasing of history, the erasing of the stories of your family, that get passed on for generation to generation, is-- it's a hard decision to decide to erase that, and not tell your children those stories, and reading the book gave me a greater understanding of how hard that choice must've been for him. it also gave me a framework for thinking about my own racial identity.“ passing” is my directorial debut, and also my debut as a screenwriter. everything in thisilm is passing for something, and that includes the film itself. it has its own performance.
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it has its own dialogue of cinema. i think that my engagement with this book, to bring it into the culture, is in a way, my way of honoring my ancestors. it is not lost on me that the systems of white supremacy that forced-- encouraged my grandfather to pass as white, are also the systems that i now benefit from as a white- presenting person. there are privileges that come with looking how i look. i cannot choose how i present, but i can choose to honor that history. i'm rebecca hall, and this is my "brief but spectacular" take on passing. >> woodruff: and you can watch all of our "brief but spectacular" videos line, at and that is the newshour for
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tonight. i'm jy woodruff. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, ank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connect. we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our s.-based customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit >> fidelity wealth management. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals.
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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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"amanpour & co." is made possible by the anderson family fund. sue and edgar wachenheim fund. candace king weir, the cheryl and philip milstein family, the straus family foundation, bernard and denise schwartz, the straus family foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. additional support has been provided by these funders and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour from london isolating and working from home.


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