tv PBS News Hour PBS January 12, 2022 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
♪ judy: good evening. i am judy woodruff. tonight, the pandemic princess, new approaches -- persists, new approaches as infections and hospitalizations climbed daily. rising prices, we speak to the president of a regional federal reserve bank, as inflation increases at the fastest rate since the 1980's. and tense talks, leaders from russia and nato meet, as the threat of invasion hangs over eastern ukraine. all that and more on tonig's "pbs newshour." ♪ announcer: major funding for the
oh foundation.org. -- skoll foundation.org. committed to improving lives through invention and the u.s. and developing countries, on the web. supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur fountion, committed to building a more just and peaceful world. more information online. and, with the ongoing support of these institutions. ♪ this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. judy: a biden administration is pressing tonight to ship more -- the biden administration is pressing to ship more tests to keep schools open, amid growing
criticism of test shortages, and with infections piling up nationwide. we have this report. correspondent: as cases surge in classrooms and they are disrupted, the white house is promising to do more. >> we are taking additional actions. correspondent: the administration is saddening 5 million -- sending 5 million covid test two schools every month. >> these 10 million test will allow schools to double the volume of testing they are performing in november. correspondent: this comes on top of $10 billion allocated for testing in the covid relief law, as well as the 130 billion as 130 billion dollars to help schools operate safely. -- $130 billion to help schools operate safely, but it's triggering another round of debates. that is clark county school district, the fifth-largest --
nevada's white county school district, the fifth-large, blame shortages on th high number of positive covid-1 cases. beyond schools, the virus is running rampant across the u.s., driven by the ultra contious omicron variant. officials believe it accounts for 98% of new infections. the new york times tracker shows average daily cases now excd 760,000. infections are up 185% over two weeks, with the highest rates in new york, new jersey, and rhode island. over 1700 americans on average are dying every day, up 40% over the last two weeks. the cdc director says those deaths are likely from the lingering delta variant, but amidst this current surge, a possible silver with omicron. >> omicron is less severe than
delta. the risk of hospitalizati remains low, especially among people up-to-date on their covid vaccines. correspondent: president biden's top covid advisor dr. anthony fauci said today that while it will not be possible to wipe out coronavirus, and likely most people will eventually get it, it is possible for society to live with it. >> we will not eradicate this. we have only done that with smallpox. we will not eliminate that. that only happens with massive vaccination programs like measles. we ultimately will control it. >> for hospitals dealing with this surge, the worst is far from over. when example of how bad it is, in new york state, -- one example of how bad it is, in new york state, 40 hospitals have been ordered to stop elective surgeries. in rochester, new york, they are
so overcapacity and understaffed, that many are asking ambulances to take patients elsewhere. for more, return to robert mayo, the chief medical officer of rochester regional health. very good to have you on the "pbs newshour." you certainly have your hands full. can you give assistance of what it is like? >> it is a challenging time for our health system and health care providers in our region. we have a significant surge of patients in the community, as well as quite a bit of our own staff creating a problem, so it has stretched us a lot. correspondent: for the covid patients in your hospital now, who are those people? are the majority unvaccinated? >> many of the patients are diagnosed as having it, but because of testing, we
discovered they are carrying covid, but not symptomatic. those who are symptomatic, especially those seriously ill, those are far and away unvaccinated individuals, 88% to 90% are unvaccinated. correspondent: this has to be a difficult time for your employees. i know that people are having to work extra shifts. can you give us a sense of what it's like for your staff practically speaking week in and week out dealing with this? >> they have done an incredible job stepping up to these demands , but it is wearying for them. we appreciate that. to fill apps, we have individuals who are willing to work in this department, even though it is not my usual assignment, or we have training courses where we do rapid
training to get people up to speed to help. we have had individuals like our physicians assistants and nurse practitioners who have been working as registered nurses to help when needed, so everyone is helping out the best they can, and so it is heartening to see that, but challenging. correspondent: as i mentioned, the state health department has asked hospitals to delay elective surgeries. what surgeries are being put off? how are patients responding to those? >> that is always a challenge. patients anticipate surgeries, prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for that, take time off work, schedule family or neighbors to help them during that initial convalescence, so changing it is disruptive to people. many of the surgeries deemed elective >> are still important for individuals -- are still
important for individuals. they are designed to relieve pain from degenerate bone disease. some cancer screening procedures are being deferred. all those things matter. so getting back to a full service availability and health care is very important for our communities and nation. correspondent: one last question, we are two years into this pandemic. is this surge largely because of omicron's potency? >> that is an important estion, william. i would say not. there are many factors coming to the forefront of this pandemic now. we have had nursing shortages and physician and other health care and careeshortages for some time. this has been predicted for years. we need to do more to increase enrollment and support students and to address the many inequities that have been highlighted during the pandemic
that are systemic. correspondent: thank you so much for being here. >> thank you. ♪ >> wilreturn to the full program after the latest headlines. -- we will return to the full program after the latest headlines. latest reports, cpi rose from a year earlier. used car prices spiked, and clothing was up 6%. we would take a closer look after the new summary. senate republicans fired back after president biden denounced them forestalling voting rights legislation. the president likened opponents to confederate president jefferson davis, and he said
abuse of the filibuster smacks of totalitarian states. today, mitch mcconnell called it an incoherent ramp. >> he invoked the literal civil war and said we are on the doorstep of our talk chrissy -- autocracy. talk about domestic enemies. rhetoric unbecoming of a president of the united states. >> the president wassked later about the criticism and said "i'd like mitch mcconnell. he is a friend. we will return to the fight over voting rights in the filibuster later in the program. a congressional committee is asking to interview house republican leader kevin mccarthy about the assault on the u.s. capitol last year. the panel once information about president trump's actions on january 6, and about events in the days before and after. a issued a statement late this
evening saying he will not speak with the committee. -- mccarthy issued a statement late this evening saying he will not speak with the committee. redistricting plans have been thrown out for the ohio legislature today, saying ty are gerrymandered to hold republican super majorities. the judge ordered them redrawn within 10 days. former u.s. majority leader hay reid laid in state and the capital today. lawmakers paid their respects in a ceremony restricted by covid protocols. nancy pelosi called is a legendary leader who made the world a better place. >> he loved his home state of nevada. he fought tirelessly for nevada over his career in every possible way, for its working families, preserving its natural environment, or protecting its political environment, including its coveted role in the presidential selection process. >> later, president biden
visited the u.s. capitol to pay his respects. he died last month from pancreatic cancer. he was 82. in kazakhstan, a government crackdown has brought in 1700 people in the wake of last week's protests. that brings total arrests to 12,000. today, people waited outside a building that houses a large jail. they wanted information 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 -- an american alleges the prince abused her when she was 17 after jeffrey epstein arranged it. the judge rejected the argument that the suit violates a 2009 settlement. the music world is mourning ronnie spector tonight, the
leader of the run it's in the 1960's. they were one of the leading acts of the girl group era. their string of hits included be my baby and walking in the rain. ronnie spector was 78 years old. a rat that became a hero in cambodia for sniffing out landmines has died of natural causes. over five years, the rodent found more than 100 landmines and explosives left over from decades of civil war. also, a correction to last night's newshour west broadcast. we reported the u.s. senate had voted to award the congressional medal of honor to emmett till in his mother. the senate voted to award the congressional gold medal. still to come on the newshour, the prospects for voting rights legislation in a divided congress. british prime minister boris johnson fire for hosting a party
during covid lockdown. and a syrian government official faces were crime a charges for overseeing brutal prison torture. plus much more. ♪ announcer: this is the "pbs newshour" in washington, and from the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. judy: the last time inflation rose 7% annually was 1982. the latest consumer price report shows that costs continue to spike for americans acrs many categories. that is presenting real questions for the federal reserv tasked with promoting stable prices. the president of the federal reserve bank of san francisco sits on the committee and decides what to do about interest rates and economic policy. welcome back to "pbs newshour." i don't think there is any doubt that prices are seriously rising
. what does this mean for american consumers? >> american consumers are feeling the pain. there is no doubt that inflation is uncomfortably high. it has been so for a while. people are feeling it in their pocketbooks, but we are saying that it is there, and that we understand more americans have jobs, and it is time to remove some of the accommodation and get demand and supply back in balance so that american site we have price stability. judy at the white house, and economic advisor was saying the white house expects prices to moderate by the end of this year . is that your sense as well? >> i do think we will see prices moderate. i think we will see supply chains back in balance. we have been saying we hope supply chains get back in balance, then we have more covid
in the supply chains are out of balance, so i don't want to get too hopeful when we have not seen the data, but when we get past covid, i hope supply chains will get back in balance, but withdrawing accommodation by the fed is putting some of that pressure on supply chains. so those two things together, the easing of supply chains, getting through covid, and the federal response to this should help make this a better situation. judy: let's talk about the fed response. we heard the president of the st. louis fed bill dudley say he thinks the fed may need to raise interest rates as many as four times this year. what is your expectation? >> don't want us to get too far ahead -- i don't want to see get too far ahead on calling the number of interest rate increases. we are still sitting here with omicron. we saw that in the previous segment where there are
disruptions. i am bullish about the strength of the economy and think that american consumers will continue to add jobs and go back to school and get through this, but i don't think it is appropriate to say how many. the fed will respond as the data come in, and we will deliver to the american people priced ility and full employment. right now, it is a challenging job, but we are committed to it. judy: is there any doubt that the fed will be raisinrates this year a few times? >> i definitely see rate increases coming as early as march. it is clear that prices have been uncomfortably high for some time. this inflation we are seeing, we have not had something since 1982, that is not priced ability. i think every american knows it, feels it, but the fed knows it and feels it. judy: how much was the fed caught offguard by disinflation?
>> it's not about being behind the curve or getting ahead of the curve, but watching the data , seeing how long it persists. the thing we have all been surprised about, the entire globe, is how long the pandemic has lasted, even with vaccinations available. as a consequence, this has been more disruptive than imagined, and we have inflation to show for it, but the good news, something every american should know while we were waiting to react as the fed, 5 million more jobs were created since early last year, and we got employment from 6% to 3.9%, close to what i consider full employment, so full employment and price stability is important, because jobs for americans are wanted, and they want their valor to have the same value year after year. judy: there are economists including former fed officials
who are saying the fed is not fully grasping the depth of inflationary pressures. i think i use the name bill dudley earlier for the st. louis fed, but former federal reserve governor today was quoted as saying that the fed is guilty of what he calls alice in wonderland thinking, arguing it needs to be much or hawkish in its outlook. >> i will be honest, we get criticism on both sides. some say we are being alice in wonderland because were not reacting to inflation, others say we are taking the punch bowl away was that economy is strong enough to bring workers who have not worked since the pandemic into the labor market. what is important as you are always in this balancing act. we have price stability and full employment, and i think policy is in a good place. we are tapering asset purchases
and are in a position to raise interest rates, withdrawal the support from the economy as it gets its feet under it, and in position to respond if we need to, unless if we need to, and that is where we should be, so i feel very good about where we are, and not like we are behind or ahead of the curve. judy: ordinary americans listening to this and asking and wondering, when will i feel relief from higher rent, higher costs for food, clothing, used cars? what do you say to them? >> i say i absolutely understand this is painful. these are not comfortable adjustments. inflation is a tax and hurts moderate and low income communities more than the rest of us. those are painful things. what i say is, we understand that. we are on that. we are withdrawing that accommodation as we go forward into this year, and this will
more quickly than we think probably bring demand and supply back into balance, but it would take most of 2022 to get those things back in balance, and the most important thing that every american can do to participate is get vaccinated, boosted, wear a mask, and get covid behind us. when the pandemic is behind us, our lives will return to normal. judy: the last thing i want to ask you about, the federal reserve and ethics. 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 are hearing that there will be an overhaul of ethics rules. how much do you think the fed credibility has been hurt by this? how confident should people be that this kind of thing would not be seen again? >> rest, as you -- trust, as you
know, is our most important tool. we have to show up and earn the trust. what this has told me is the things we have been doing, trades fed officials that made, but mostly the rules we have been living by are not up to the thresholds they need to be to ensure the american people that we are working on their behalf, because we are working on their behalf. i think these trading issues have been an unwelcome distraction from the work we need to do for the american people, because we are looking at inflation, looking at employment, and living through a pandemic, and those are the top of mind things. i welcome the overhaul of rules and getting those rules in balance with what the american people should expect and demand, and i am absolutely supportive of these changes. judy: the president of the san francisco federal reserve bank, thank you very much. >> thank you. ♪
dy: on capitol hill, democrats are searching for ways to push forward stalled voting rights measures. we now discuss where the legislation stands and what options lie ahead. let's go right to it. the democrats have said, the democratic leader chuck schumer had said he wants to move on this in coming days. what is the plan and what are the prospects now? corrpondent: is stork -- historic and high-stakes. we have learned the beginnings of a plan from senate democrats. chuck schumer has announced that he does plan to use a kind of fast track method to combine those two voting rights goes we
talked about earlier, combined them into one big and heavy house send them to the senate, allowing the voting rights package to skip over one filibuster hurdle in the u.s. senate, so it is a fast track, but it leaves the problem. the bill would face a final filibuster in the u.s. senate, and unless the rules changed, democrats do not have those votes. why not? why would they not change those rules? two democtic senators so far have not been able to agree to any kind of change in the rules that allows the voting rights package to move forward past that filibuster. there have been negotiations with those two, including today and last night, and i spoke with one person who caucuses the democrats who was in those talks, and he told me that it will be hard to convince those two.
>> there are a lot of ideas kicking around. they are reluctant. they believe changing the rule would be bad for the country. correspondent: democrats have given -- so we are following. judy? go ahead. judy: i did not mean to interrupt. what about republicans? they blocked theegislation last fall. what are the principal arguments against this, and what with the democrats do about it? correspondent: republicans say that this is a power grab by democrats. mcconnell says that as well. they said they stood up for the of a buster when they were in the minority. what is at stake are voting rights in the state of elections in this country overall, so what will they do? how can they get around the filibuster? here is my reporting of the many
options on the table, the ones under consideration. that's take a look. the first is to just get rid of the 60-book threshold, but honestly, two senators are not on board, and that is off the table, so what else? option two, a carveout just for voting rights. 48 democrats are probably on board for that idea specifically. but it does not seem to have enough to get over the hurdle and have this carveout work, even though there was one last year for the debt ceiling in regard to the 60-vote threshold. option three, the talking filibuster. everybody has seen mr. smith goes to washington. the idea is senators would have to be on the floor. they would have a two-speech limit, which is the current rule, but this could lead to weeks and weeks of debate on a single bill, but at the end of
those weeks, it would end, then there could be an up or down majority vote on a single piece of legislation. i talked to senator king about that. he thinks that kind of idea could elevate the debate in general. >> as you know, there is very little real debate in the senate. this would allow the american people hear the democrats argue why we need to do this and hear the republicans argue for why we don't need to do it, rather than an occasional speech from chuck schumer or mitch mcconnell. that could be a powerful way of solving this problem. correspondent: of course, the problem is that would open a can of worms. one last thing, joe manchin, my reporting is he is not just having concerns about these changes of rules, but has a problem with the waiter would have to change. he thinks changing a rule in the senate should take two thirds of the senate, not just 50 plus
one, and a procedural pickup is a serious issue for him the democrats are trying to get around. judy: that is a lot to follow, the minutia and the rest of it, but we appreciate would you are doing. some republicans are talking about electoral account reform, where does that stand? correspondent: there are efforts , and some bipartisan efforts, to get an electoral account reform going, something tha would change the way we certify elections, but we are still months and months away from any fruitful effort. judy: we know democrats are saying that as a diversion. the republicans say they are serious. we will watch. you are on top of it. thank you. ♪ britain's prime minister boris johnson is fighting for his
political life. he was forced to apologize to parliament 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 the 2020. there were strict nationwide restrictions enforced. our special correspondent reports. correspondent: ever before in two and a half -- never before into an half years has boris johnson face 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 face heavy fines for breaking lockdown rules. >> mr. speaker, i want to apologize. i know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. i know the anguish they have
been through, unable to mourn the relatives, and i know the rage they feel with me and with the government i lead when they think that downing street itself, the rules are not being properly allowed by the people who make the rules. correspondent: riding high in the polls, the opposition leader went for the jugular. >> there we have it. after months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road. he has finally been forced to admit when everyone knew, that was 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? correspondent: in may 2020, the death rate for covid was rising exponentially, and no cure was inside, the consequence of stringent lockdown conditions, victims died alone in hospital,
and journals 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. >> my mom was a popular woman. there would have been hundreds of people who wanted to say goodbye to her, and there were seven of us, and i could not even hug my brother after the funeral. i want him gone. i want politicians like him to respect. correspondent: while forced johnson apologize for the public perception, he did not admit to breaking law. >> when i went to that garden to thank group's of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working, i believed this was a work event. correspondent: e is awaiting the outcome of a civil service
invest -- he is awaiting the outcome of a civil service investigation. some elements of his conservative party are concerned he has become a liability. the party is lagging in the polls, and is merciless about getting rid of prime ministers considered toxic and the public consciousness. his public position has never been more precarious. ♪ judy: the united states and its nato allies met with russian officials today in brussels as part of a week of diplomacy across europe, sparked by a massive russian troop buildup on its border with ukraine. the crisis comes as questions about nato cohesion persists, and about a strategic natural gas pipeline from russia into europe. we have this report. correspondent: in the room where it happened, mingling with
mutual, the russian delegation met all 30 members. among nato allies, smiles and unity in a meeting that was essentially 30 against one, but it cannot close the chasm. a deputy foreign minister blaine native ended support for ukraine. >> [speaking in foreign language] translator: it is imperative to end of the policy of open doors and offer russia legally binding guarantees of further nato expansion eastward. correspondent: the u.s. deputy secretary of state suppression actions amplified nato. >> one of the things russia has done, which it did not expect, it has brought all of europe, na and non-nato allies alike, together. they share the same set of principles, same ambition, same hopes, and same commitment to diplomacy. correspondent: diplomacy to disarm a crisis created by 100,000 russian troops deployed
to ukraine borders. the u.s. worn that number could double in russia could invade. the nato secretary-general said both sid discuss future meetings, and the good news is russia did not walk out. >> the russians were not ready to cmit to a series of discussions that the secretary-general will lay out, but nor did they direct those discussions. correspondent: there are some differences, especially over russian gas, the european union reports nearly half its gas from russia -- imports nearly half its gas from russia. since 2011 marissa has used the norge dream one pipeline under the baltic seat --, russia has used the nordic pipeline under the baltic sea. the pipeline was completed last year that would double that amount, but germany has pause the certification. many say it is russia leverage
over germany and further cuts transit money that russia pays to ship gas through ukraine, ukraine supports a republican bill set for boat tomorrow that would mandate sanctions. the senate foreign relations committee's top republican. >> it is no secret that we are firmly opposed to this pipeline. i will continue efforts you see that that influences stop. the administration says correspondent: there is no need for sanctions because germany can shut the pipeline down. >> it is hard to see gas flowing through the pipeline for it to become operational if russia renews its aggression on ukraine. correspondent: meanwhile, in ukraine, they are preparing for war. civilians continue a decades-old tradition, training to become weak and warriors against russia. today, the government offered its own diplomatic solution that would continue diplomacy.
>> [speaking in foreign language] translator: expect that russia will start fulfilling decisions of the 2019 paris summit and will join the process of setting up a new meeting of the leaders on the highest level. >> are more on the meeting and whether the u.s. is in sync with -- for more on the meeting and whether the u.s. is in sync with its allies, we turn to our guest , president of the chicago council on foreign relations. welcome back to the newshour. u.s. and european officials insist they are united. are they? >> i think they are. the threat that russia poses, 100 thousand troops, tanks, artillery, exercises, including live fire exercises we saw in the last few days, really has unified the alliance in a way we have not seen frankly since the last time russia invaded ukraine in 2014, was it in next crimea.
you have -- it annexed crimea. the only way to prevent it is for the alliance to be unified. correspondent: many european countries criticize the way the biden administration was consulting them over topics like afghanistan last year. is there still a concern among europeans that the u.s. could make a deal with pressure without consultation? >> there is always a concern about whether the united states and european's interests are aligned. we have global interests, including a particular interest in the indo pacific, and there is an understandable concern in europe that perhaps this crisis is not getting the attention that they would like. on the other hand, the biden administration has gone out of its way since october, since the
first signs of a possible military buildup, then the actual military buildup, to inform our allies about what was going on, sharing real intelligence of the kind you don't normally share with allies, having multiple briefings, sending the secretary of state, sending the secretary of defense, sending the director for national intelligence to brussels to talk to the allies and hear their concerns, then to jointly draw up a strategy that is now being put on display. on the one hand, deterrencea willingness to take steps to help ukraine build forces in the east, and series economic sanctions of the kind that you were contemplating even a few years ago, and on the other hand, dialogue. i think you heard from the secretary-general today and from allies around the table, as the deputy secretary said, a united nato that spoke with one voice,
even though there were 30 people speaking in that voice. correspondent: we just highlighted norge dream to -- no rd stream 2. our significant is that? -- how significant is that? >> it is a source of tension. some see this as a way for russia to bypass them, ukraine, endgame greater leverage over europe, but this is bigger than a pipeline. i am a little concerned we are spending too much time in washington about a particular pipeline. we ought to be concerned about a russia prepared perhaps to engage in the kind of military operations we have not seen in europe since 1945. this is very serious business.
we need to make sure that russia does not succeed by changing borders through the use of force . it did so in 2014, and we have to do everything possible to raise the cost for russia, including not using a pipeline if that were to come about. correspondent: senior european officials describe the alliance is trying to buy time until it is too difficult for russia to invade ukraine because the ground would be too soft. they are talking about arms control, exercises, not the future of nato. you believe those topics that u.s. is talking about will be enough to buy enough time for the invasion not to happen? >> we do not know. we do not know what is in putin's end. i don't think anybody knows, but it is the right strategy.
there are serious issues of security. we need to get back to serious arms-control dialogue on nuclear missiles, conventional forces, tranarency, exercises, notification, troop movements, the kinds of things we did together in the 1990's. we need to go back and create a european security environment in which everyone feels secure, whether the country belongs to nader or not is secondary, so it makes sense to put this on the table. will putin fight, or will he decide that military force is the only thing left? we will have to wait and see. correspondent: thank you very much. >> my pleasure. ♪ judy: tomorrow, in a german courtroom, a verdict will be rendered in the first trial against a high-ranking former officer in the syrian regime are
crimes against humanity. he was in charge of interrogations in a government prison while working for the syrian secret police. he stands accused of overseeing mass torture, rape, and killings at the start of syria's ongoing civil war. from our partners at the center for investigative reporting, a reporter and special correspondent have the story. a warning to our viewers, this story contains graphic images from inside syrian prisons. correspondent: he is getting ready for his day inourt. he is a plaintiff in the trial agait a high-ranking officer of the syrian regime for crimes against humanity. >> [speaking in reign language] translator: it is something we have been wting for for a very long time. we thought it was never going to happen, but then when it happened you tell yourself it is a dream and it can't possibly be true. correspondent: in syria, the
syrian spring began in march 2011 and is led to 11 years of civil war. -- has led to 11 years of civil war. for his support, he says he was imprisoned and tortured at one of the largest and elaborate government prison complexes in syria. >> [speaking in foreign language] translator: the psychological torture was the worst, waiting for the next session of torture. i was always waiting for the next torture session, asking also took questions, being between life and death. it was a difficult situation. correspondent: he was imprisoned for 3.5 years. after his release in 2015, he fled to germany, joining a million syrians granted political asylum. that createdhe conditions for this historic trial to take place in a german courtroom. most participants in this landmark trial, plaintiffs, witnesses, and he himself,
arrived in germany in the last six years as refugees. other plaintiffs allege being detained and tortured when he led the interrogation unit ther e. >> each story is different, but there are common elements. it was more about you have breaking the physil existence of the person by harming th em, -- beating them . correspondent: he is charged on multiple accounts at the time he was at the prison. the defense claims he had no power to stop the abuses. he says he did what he could to help civilians detained under
his watch, and that he defected and fled syria asoon as he could. he said he hoped a case of this magnitude would be referred by the un 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 are not there anymore because russia vetoed any attempt to referred this in the un security council, and china went along with it, so it became clear that no international court for syria, at least at this point. correspondent: the prosecutors used universal jurisdiction to try the case in a german court instead. universal jurisdiction states that countries have a duty to prosecute war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, even if the accused are not the citizens in 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 try prominent nazi leaders or their role in the holocaust and crimes. the tribunal created the legal definition of genocide. 21st century adopted an expanse definition, giving prosecutors and jues 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 the details industrious scale of torture, including 30,000 images smuggled out of syria by a formal military photographer. forensic examination shows detainees were beaten with a blunt and sharp objects, shot, and exposed to electric shocks and burns. the photos form an important part of the evidence in the current case in future cases to come. the next trial in germany is due to start in a week, and criminal
complaints against high-ranking members of the syrian government have been filed in four european countries that allow universal jurisdiction. prosecuting the cases has created a need to work more closely with syrian refugee communities. in this workshop in berlin, syrians living in eight countries across europe are being instructed in 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. >> [speaking in foreign nguage] translator: see, this is a scar of an african patient -- you see, this is the start of an african patient. it is exactly six centimeters. you would not be able to do this by taking a picture. this kind of basic documentation is useful in court. correspondent: one workshop organizer believes the trialas been a watershed moment and is
paving the way for syrians to play a crucial part in the quest for justice through national courts. >> we have to see how much hope really rests on this kind of work. this is the only type of justice that syrians have seen in nine years of a very bitter war. the war is still ongoing. we have syrians who are playing a role in it. our plan is to document testimonies of survivors, victims, and witnesses in a manner that can be usable in a court of law. correspondent: when speaking with a witness, we always need to ask, was a doctor there? if a doctor standby when somebody is being tortured and to stop, now you need to take a break and now you can continue, that doctor is classed as a torture. correspondent: even advocates say it is to early to determine
if these efforts are scalable and whether using general jurisdiction will become normal in prosecuting war crimes cases. back in court, he is clear that under the circumstances, this process is the best way forward. he is on his way to court to give his closing statement in the case. >> [speaking in foreign language] translator: i feel nervous. it is the first time ever there is a case against the member of a root syrian regime, and it is unusual a plaintiff like me gives a closing statement in front of judges. i can deliver my message inside. correspondent: the state prosecutor has called for a life sentence with the no possibly a parole. should he be found guilty, it would set a precedent, marking the first time in history that a high-ranking member of the government was convicted of crimes against humanity.
♪ judy: rebecca hall has been on-screen and acting since 10 years old, but in a new film, passing, she steps into the director role for the first time. tonight, she shares her brief but spectacular take on passing in her own racial identity. >> i grew up with an american mother. while i was growing up, there was a lot of mystery surrounding heritage. my father was i suppose the cleanest way of putting it, was racially ambiguous. i always lived with my mother and felt i was looking at a woman who is african-american. when i would ask her about this
but she would not have a clear way -- this, she would not have clear way of answering me. somewhere along this journey of answering questions, somebody gave me a book called essen, and it was the first time i heard that word -- passing, and it is the first time i heard that word, and that it was something that was done during jim crow in america. after reading the book, it was clear to me that the mystery and enigma in my ownamily were because my grandfath spent his life passing qui -- w hite. the novel was written in 1929. before i read the novel, i did not 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 famy that get passed on for generations. it is 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 have been for him. it also gave me a framework for thinking about my own racial identity. passing is my directorial debut in my debut as a screenwriter. everything in this film is passing for something, including the film itself with its own dialogue for cinema. 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, encourage my grandfather to pass as white are also now the systems, benefit from is a white dissenting person. there are privileges that come with looking how i look. -- presenting person. there are privileges that come with looking how i look. i am rebecca hall, and this is my brief but spectacular take on passing. judy: you can watch all our videos online at pbs.org/newshour. that is the "pbs newshour" for tonight. i am judy woodruff. join us tomorrow evening. for all of us at newshourhe ts "pb," thank you. stay safe.
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