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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 21, 2021 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 biden agenda-- facing major crises and challenges, a new presidency begins with a flurry of executive orders overturning many of former president trump's policies. then, one on one-- we discuss the new administration and the democrats taking control of the senate with voting rights activist stacey abrams. and, getting the vaccine-- the disconnect between production and distribution leads to an alarming backlog of doses. >> this is the largest logistical challenge that the country has ever taken on. >> woodruff: all that and me on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> we'd be closer to the twins. >> change in plans. >> at fidelity, changing plans is always part of the plan. >> the kendeda fund. committed to advancing restorative justice and meaningful work through investments in transformative leaders and ideas. more at kendedafund.org.
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>> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president biden is moving on a broad front tonight to put his stamp on national
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policy. leading the list: the war on covid-19. white house correspondent yamiche alcindor begins our coverage. >> please your right hand and repeat after me. >> a new president, and >> alcindor: a new president. and a new packed agenda. today, on his first full day in office, president biden was eager to hit the ground running. he unveiled a number of new measures. he also pledged to confront the nation's public health crisis head on. >> we didn't get into this mess overnight, it's going to take months for us to turn things around. but let me be equally clear, we will get through this, we will defeat this pandemic. and to a nation waiting for action, let me be clearest on this point: help is on the way. >> alcindor: today, he signed 10 executive orders to accelerate the distribution of covid-19 vaccines; bolster their supply, along with testing, by ramping up manufacturing; require masks
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on all public transportation, and address the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on communities of color by establishing a task force to offer recommendations. president biden's actions are at the center of a nationalized response. they stand in stark contrast to the trump administration's approach which relied heavily on the states to address the crisis. today's orders also come exactly one year since the first case of covid-19 was confirmed in the u.s. since then, well over 400,000 americans have died, and, in the last 24 hours alone, the nation reported another 4,300 deaths. very serious situation. >> reporter: at the white house today, dr. anthony fauci did not sugar coat the challenges. he said from now on the science would speak for itself. >> one of the things we are going to do is be completely transparent, open and honest, if things go wrong north point fingers but to correct them, and make everything we do based on
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science and evidence. >> dr. fauci's, now the president's top medical adviser on covid-19, also acknowledged the difficulties he had working under president trump. >> i can tell you... being in a situation of contradicting the president. so it was really something that you didn't feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions. >> leading efforts to return the u.s. to a major role in the global response to the virus. he is seeking to mend ties broken by president trump. >> the united states also intends to... >> this morning, via video conference, he aaddressed leaders of the world health organization. he spoke about president biden's move to resume funding and staffing support for the u.n. agency. he also said through the global initiative, known as covax, the u.s. will join in securing vaccines for poor countries. the w.h.o.'s direct general in turn hailed the announcement. >> thank you so much, my >> thank you so much, my brother
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tony. this is a good day for who and a good day for global health. >> alcindor: beyond the pandemic, the new administration moved to unravel president trump's hard-line immigration policy. mr. biden specifically rolled back the all-inclusive approach to deportations. instead, a memo from the department of homeland security last night focused on priority targets. it paused all other deportations for the next 100 days. the president has already sent his own immigration plan to congress. that was unveiled along with an initial 17 executive actions signed by mr. biden, hours after the inauguration. some relate to immigration including preserving the daca program that bars deportation of those who arrived in the u.s. as children. others direct that the united states will rejoin the paris climate agreement; revoke the permit for the keystone x.l. pipeline; and extend a federal moratorium on home evictions. meanwhile, the house of representatives moved to advance mr. biden's nomination of retired army general lloyd
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austin for secretary of defense. >> on this vote, the yeas are 366, the nays are 78. the bill is passed. >> lawmakers voted to waive a ban on recently >> alcindor: lawmakers voted to waive a ban on recently retired officers serving in that role. the senate approved the waiver as well. and today, there was also a hearing for the president's choice for transportation secretary. pete buttigeig, the former mayor of south end pete buttigieg, the former mayor of south bend, indiana, and once a primary rival of mr. biden, promised to work to rebuild an economy ravaged by the pandemic. >> infrastructure can be the cornerstone to all of this and you have my commitment that i will work closely with you to deliver the innovation and the growth that america needs in this area. >> alcindor: amid the covid-19 pandemic, that's one pledge from the new administration among many. >> woodruff: and yamiche joins us now from the white house. so, yamiche, this was day one for this new administration. overall, how would you say it's going? >> this is day one, the first full day of the 46th profit
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united states' term, president biden, hit the ground running. he is signing executive order after executive order. now, they say that they are really focused, this administration, on changing the tone, turning the page away from biden's predecessor, and really focusing on a number of issues, top among them being the covid-19 pandemic, wanting to really talk■ç about that and signed several executive actions, really based on trying to fight that virus, trying to really, they say, do it in an equitable way. but they're also focused on a number of pillars. they are four pillars-- covid-19, the economy, climate change, and racial justice. and they say racial justice includes immigration because we've seen a number of immigration executive actions as well. overall they're saying this is a complete change of tone. even today at the white house briefing. i should say we're already in the second white house briefing, which say big change since the trump administration was not holding those regularly. he says, and dr. fauci
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particularly, says he feels more liberated because science is leading the way. he said at times he felt uncomfortable when president trump was out there distributing information that he said was notit scientificallyased. >> woodruff: as we heard. and, yamiche, you mentioned what a priority covid is for this administration. what more is there to say about what they're doing on that front? >> the cleave thing that i've heard today, talking to biden officials about the covid-19 response, is they inherited a mess. i'm told that they're not starting from scratch, but they are very close to it. they say, yes, it's true, 16 million people have been vaccinated for the covid-19 pandemic and the covid-19 vaccine, but i just talked to a number of officials who told me the vaccine plan for the trump administration was essentially dumping it into states and letting the states deal with distribution. they say that can't be the way this is done. instead, they're going to be working with pharmacies, community centers and a number of other ways to try to get
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vaccines into people's arms as quickly as possible. they also told me the trump nrgz some way, they had some plans they're going to build on, so they weren't at all saying the trump administration was completely all bad. what they really said was this was a federal response that didn't really have all the tools and resources necessary to fully respond to the vaccine, fully respond to the virus, rather. they also said testing, which of course has been something we are struggling with, is still somethg they need to deal with in this country. >> woodruff: and, yamiche, i think almost everywhere we've seen the new president in the last day or so, we've also seen vice president kamala harris. what more are you learning about what her role is so far? >> the role of vice president harris, i'm told, is going to be evolving. but it's going to be including a number of different areas, including the covid-19 pandemic, trying to be in a number of meetings, trying to really be a counselor to the president. she's also going to be involved in, i'm told, the economy and labor and jobs, and racial equity across the agencies. i was also told something very
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specific. yes, it's true, she's a former prosecutor, but they are stressing her team not to make her-- not to make too narrow of a focus on criminal justice. they say they have a whole department of justice to deal with that, and she is not going to be overly involved in the department ojustice. but she is, of course, interested in criminal justice as well. >> woodruff: and, finally, yamiche, the question of when and how the impeachment trial for former president trump will take place in the senate. white house has been asked a lot of questions about that. what are they saying? >> well, first, we should say, nancy pelosi today held a briefing, and she said that president trump, even though he's gone, cannot get a pass. let's listen to what she had to say. >> you don't say to a president, "do whatever you want in the last months of your administration. you're going to get a get-out-of-jail card free because-- because people think we should make nice-nice, and forget that people died here on january 6.
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it will be soon. i don't think it will be long. but we must do it. >> now, lisa, of course, our congressional correspondent, she's really been digging into this. she said that sources are telling her that mcconnell wants to start the impeachment trial on the week of february 14. yes, that's right, february 14. that's a long way away. essentially, mcconnell also put out a statement after lisa's reporting saying he wants to make sure that president trump has the proper time to get his■ç defense ready and that the house should not be really trying to push this too quickly. he said that this has, of course, been a short process. and it was a short process between when they introduced the articles will of impeachment and when they voted on them, much shorter than the first time around. the democrats say the evidence is so clear that the president insciepted insurrection, that this should not be■ç a hard thig to do. president trump is building his defense team. i was giving a call to a lawyer that is essentially going to be part of his defense team, rudy giuliani, his personal attorney,
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might not be part of that defense team. i'm told he might be a witness because he was part of the rally before storming the mob. mitch mcconnell making very clear he wants to go into february. this is not going to be something he wants to go into next week. we are waiting to hear what democrats have to say, of course, because it's now senate majority leader chuck schumer. he is going to have a big say in that. and of course, mcconnell is the minority leader now. >> woodruff: right, we will have to see how that works out. yamiche alcindor, at the white house. thank you so much on this first day. >> thanks so much. >> woodruff: as we just heard, the president is calling for a "full-scale wartime" approach to the pandemic and its effects. william brangham gets an assessment of the proposals and real limits the president, the government and states are all
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facing. >> brangham: to look at little deeper at the biden administration's plans for the pandemic, and how steep a hill it has to climb, i'm joined by dr michael osterholm. he runs the center for infectious disease research at the university of minnesota, and recently served on the biden team's coronavirus advisory board. dr. osterholm, great to have you back on the newshour. before we get to the policy changes, can you just help us understand what has been the hik up so far in our ability to get vaccines to people? we know it's improving, but what have been the stumbling blocks so far? >> well, actually, there are three point to this. first of all, there has been a lot of misunderstanding to what's happening. when you actually look at the number of doses distributed to a state, which has been what everybody has been publicly seeing,s that actually means that the operation warp speed has decided to send yo the
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vaccine. and in many cases, for states that vaccine doesn't arrive for days to a week. and so, in a sense, we've been overestimating what the states can even put into people's arms. second of all is the doses received by individuals has also been underreported because sometimes it takes up to two days to get that information from the time the person was vaccinated into that system. so the numbers are not nearly as far apart as one would think. the second piece with those, we had no plans. when the-- one of the individuals mentioning just now said the vaccine was virtually dumped into the states, and that's what happened. they had plans that were general in nature for how to distribute this vaccine, but they didn't know who was going to be prioritized. they had no financial resources to actually hire people who do vaccinating or who would carry out the plans. and finally has been the uncertainty. there have been a number of major clinics scheduled in states out there that had to get
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canceled at the last minute because they suddenly found out the vaccine wouldn't be arriving for that clinic, which has really held up trying to set up clinics five days, 10 days, 15 days in advance. so those three in combination have led to the challenge we see right now of getting vaccine into people's arms. >> brangham: so the biden administration comes in today and says we're going to do all of these things that we can to ramp up that process that you're describing. they're going to set up these massive public vaccination sites that pima is going to work on, get pharmacies working quicker, set up mobile clinics. how difficult is it to start that process and to get that going? i mean, are we talking weeks are we talking months? how long? >> well, first of all, we have to understand that the state health departments, in some cases health departments depending on where you live, are the air traffic control towers for yo state. they are the ones who have to coordinate across all populations, no matter where you live, no matter what your racial
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ethnicity is, where you might work. they coordinate that. so■ç what we're really talking about is the federal access, which is really an important addition to this, being coordinated in a statewide manner. you don't want just a group of dinner organizations descending upon a state and saying,"hi, we're going to open a advocacy shop. so one of the challenges right now that is being addressed is how do the states and the federal government coordinate to do this kind of rollout?departma lot of ability to understand how to do vaccinations. we do this every day in terms of childhood immunizations. so i'm confident that over the course of the next seven to 14 days, we're going to see that kind of coordination resulting in more immunizations. finally, states need resources. we have to move that money that was just approved by the congress to the states as soon as possible so that we can hire the kind of people who can help us do this, who can serve as a coordinator for the volunteer organizations, who can help bring the national guard in,
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where they can best be used; who can work with the pharmacies to make sure that certain populations are covered. and until we get that, that's still going to be a challenge. >> brangham: the president also stressed that he was going to use the democratic republic, which is his executive power to basically force companies to turn their attention where it's needed. what are the supplies we are short of right now? and are there enough domestic companies to fill those needs? >> well, the defense production act, obviously, can be used for a variety of different reasons-- for developing personal protective equipment stockpiles, or at least delivering those personal protective equipment to the front lines right away. and surely it's been pointed out could potentially be used for the vaccine world. i was not involved with the reviews of what the current manufacturing companies need in ways of resources and are not currently getting. it's not evident that's going to be an immediate tool that will
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need to be used. but let's make no mistake about it-- right now these companies are pledging to deliver between 12 million to 18 million doses a week. now, remember, a dose is just one-half of the required need for one person. so, in other words, two doses mean that that's somewhere between six million and nine million new people a week that can be vaccinated with both doses. so we are going to be challenged for some time. we have to understand that. we're hopeful that additional companies will have their products approved that will then also bring vaccine into the market and for us to use. but right now, you know, we can't sugar coat it. we have to tell the public we're doing best we can. the companies are putting out as much vaccine as they can. and it's going to be short for some time, and that's just the reality of it. >> brangham: i think it was dr. fauci today said if we can get roughly three-quarters of the country vaccinated by this summer, we might approach some level of normalcy by the fall.
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of course, that is many, many months away. we know, also,that these new variants are spreading around the country. they seem to be more contagious. does that emergence of these variants make you-- argue that we should change our public health measures any way? are there things that we should be doing differently because these new strains are out there? >> well, first of all, we have to recognize what the implications are. and what i mean by that is we have basically shifted our baseline of what we accept for the covid-19 in our communities remember back in april, when we had 32,000 cases reported a day and we got the case downs to 20,000 cases a day by memorial day? and then we hit 72,000 cases a day in july, when the southern states were on fire, and we got our cases back down to about 26,000 caseaise day by labor day. ask then,sh, we saw these big peaks. we went from dwix,000 cases a
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day to 100,000, then 200,000, and finally we ht 300,000. today, we are back to about 185,000 cases a day being reported as our base. now, given that, if we do see this major transmission increase because of these variant islets, we are basically in for the very worst days of this pandemic nope mistake about it. we have to understand that. so we have to start talking now about how are we going to control it? what did the european countries do to try to control this? they literally had to go and take major, major restrictions in-- as everydayife in their■ç countries. and i think based on what we see with these varnts right now, i think the country has to be aware that the next months could be very challenging. >> brangham: dr. michael osterholm, thank you for a very sobering assessment. good to have you back on the show. >> thank you very much.■ç
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>> woodruff: on this first full day for the new biden administration, there is no shortage of crises or challenges. jen psaki is the n white house press secretary and she joins us now. jen psaki, congratulations on the position. welcome back to the newshour. it is not a slow day. >> no. >> woodruff: by any means. >> certainly not. >> woodruff: as we just heard from dr. michael osterholm, who is considered one of the leading figures in public health on the question of this pandemic, it sounds as if we are far in this country from getting this pandemic under control. we heard him say at the very end, he thinks it's very possible for the u.s. to do that, they're going to have to be extreme restrictions placed on the country, as europe had to do. is president biden-- is he able to rule out that there will be
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extreme restrictions, like a lockdown? >> well, the president doesn't want to lock down the country. he's been clear about that, and his point of view on that has not changed, including with the advice of his medical experts and health team, judy. but he did announce a number of steps today that do put some serious restrictions in place, including masking on airlines and federal transportation, on federal property, requirements about testing before individuals come over from overseas. we're also, of course, stepping up our vaccine distribution and supply production efforts, which will help get it into the arms of more americans. but he's hopeful that we can take all of these steps and help expedite this process. but you're absolutely right, and he said today-- and i'll repeat here-- it's going to take months and months. and it's our responsibility here in the biden administration to be honest with the american people about not just the sacrifices that will be required and that americans will have to
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continue to take, but also the length of time that it's going to take to really get this pandemic under control. >> woodruff: well, speaking of leveling, or being direct with the american people, the president is promising 100 million doses in the first 100 days. but it's our understanding that there were-- there are going to be twice that many doses available because there are already-- what is it-- 300 million that have been promised that are on track right now. so are you underplaying-- underestimating what can really be done in the first 100 days? >> well, the goal-- we set a bold goal and is called at the time and continues to be, "100 million shots in the arms of americans in the first 100 days." certainly, we welcome the expanded production and expedited production of more vaccine supply. but we also need ensure that americans know how to get the
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vaccine, where they can go to get the vaccine, that we do a great deal to address vaccine hesitancy, something you heard dr. fauci talk about today. so it's not as simple. we wish it was, as lining everybody up on their way into a football stadium. it requires a much greater herculean operational effort than that. >> woodruff: so you're saying it's more than just about the number of dotses available. but i do want to ask you about the period beyond the 100 days. because what manufacturers and others, federal and state health officials are saying, is that there just won't be vaccine available until april or later for the vast majority of americans. is that-- is the administration acknowledging that? >> well, judy, the reason that we laid out all these steps, or the president laid out these steps today and yesterday is because if we don't take steps now, it is going to slow not just the supply but slow
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distribution in a couple of months, and we have, as you noted, supply, a vaccine supply now. but it's something we need to look■hahead. we need to look down the horizon to april, may, june, to ensure that we're able to continue to get shots into the arms of americans. so this is a long-term effort. we set this goal for the first 100 days because we feel it's important to hold ourselves accountable and hold ourselves to a bold goal. but it is going to continue beyond that. and we need to keep looking in the months■ç ahead, beyond the first 100 days to make sure we're prepared when we get there. >> woodruff: so much else to ask you about, jen psaki, certainly the pandemic has affected the economy. the president is talking about an economic relief package. but as you know, republicans are already pushing back saying it's not targeted enough, especially these $1400 direct payments. is president biden prepared to compromise as necessary in order to get some more help out there? >> well, judy, the ckage was--
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it was a large package. nobody is denying that, certainly not the president. but it was designed with the advice of economists and the advice of health experts on what was required for this moment in the crisis the country is facing. as you noted, it's the pandemic. it's also the economic crisis and about half of the package is for unemployment insurance. there's money in there for vaccine distribution, for reopening schools. and the tricky question here is what exactly do you want to cut? because nobody wants to be having a conversation in may or june about why schools aren't reopening, as an example. so, you know, but he's doing what-- how he thinks the process should work, and, frankly, how it hasn't worked in some time, which is the president of the united states lays out his proposal, lays out the parameters of what he thinks should happen, based on the advice of policy experts. then he has a discussion with congress. they have a discussion with each other, and rarely does the sausage look exactly like it does coming out of the machine as is it did going in. he's certainly prepared for that. but we're at the early stage and we'll continue to have those conversations in the days ahead.
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>> woodruff: at the same time, you have, again, this is coming from republicans who are saying it's all well and good. good, the president's early days, but these first executive orders -- what is it, 16, 17 of them-- look like a wish list, a progressive wish list, something that doesn't sound very much like the president outreach for unity. in other words, they're saying if he really wants to work with us, why is he putting such an agenda out there that we can't go along with? >> well, i think the question there, judy, is what exactly are they opposed to? do they not think there is a climate crisis not all republicans, far from it-- do they not think americans should wear masks? you look at the polling and that's not what it says. so i think the president's outreach and success in engaging with members of the republican party is going to be jged by his words and by his actions.
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and that is going to be whether he can work with them, listen to themhear from them, take feedback from them on legislation, and find a path forward. but the executive actio that he proposed were what he felt are essential actions to take immediately to bring relief to the american people and overturn some of the most detrimental steps of the prior administration. but he's pretty confident there's still a path forward with republicans. >> woodruff: one other thing, jen psaki, and that is the senate republican leader mitch mcconnell is saying tod, late today, he believes the impeachment trial for former president trump should be delayed until the middle of february to give president trump time to pull his defenses together. is president biden prepared to see that wait? >> well, judy, the president's focus is primarily on the covid relief package that he announced just a week ago, and that's what
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he's having conversations with members of both parties about. we're going to leave the mechanics and the timing and the process of how an impeachment trial will proceed to leaders in senate. and we're certain that senator mcconnell and new leader schumer are going to have some interesting discussions about that. but we'll leave it to them to determine what the path forward is. >> woodruff: so the president isn't objecting to a delay? >> well, there's a lot of proposals out there that have been out there, even over the last two weeks, and we'll see what members of congress, of both parties agree on. >> woodruff: jen psaki, the white house press secretary on, what, a very slow first day.ver. no news at all. thanks for having me. >> woodruff:ot at all. thank you so much for joining me. >> my pleasure.
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>> woodruff: in the day's other news, another 900,000 americans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week. it was the latest evidence of economic wreckage from the pandemic. the number was down slightly from the previous week, but remained historically high. in iraq, at least 32 people were killed today by suicide bombings in central baghdad. two blasts tore through a busy market, injuring more than 100 people. it was the first attack on the iraqi capital's main commercial district in three years. the islamic state group. twitter has temporarily locked the account of china's embassy in washington, over the repression of muslim uighurs. the embassy had defended forced birth control for uighur women, claiming they are no longer "baby-making machines." twitter said that tweet amounted to dehumanizing the group.
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beijing responded today by asking for clarification. >> ( translated ): we are confused about the restrictive measures taken by twitter against the account of the chinese embassy in the u.s. we hope that twitter will uphold the principle of objectivity and impartiality, avoid double standards on the issue, and to strengthen the screening of what is true disinformation. >> woodruff: in one of its last acts this week, the trump administration accused china of committing genocide against the uighurs. president biden is proposing a five-year extension of a longstanding nuclear arms treaty with russia. otherwise, the new start treaty is set to expire february 5th. it's the last remaining agreement between the two countries that limits nuclear arsenals. the president has also asked f.b.i. director christopher wray to stay on. the white house made that official today, and said wray has agreed. he was heavily criticized by
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president trump for refusing to back false claims of voter fraud. and, on wall street today, stocks mostly drifted. the dow jones industrial average lost 12 points to close at 31,176. the nasdaq rose 73 points, and, the s&p 500 added one point. still to come on the newshour: we discuss the new presidential administration with voting rights activist stacey abrams. and the disconnect between vaccine prodtion and distribution leads to an alarming backlog of doses. >> woodruff: as president biden tries to pass major legislation in the months ahead, he'll have to navigate the narrowest of
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margins in the senate. but the fact that he has an advantage at all is due in large part to democrats winning both u.s. senate seats in georgia earlier this month. stacey abrams is the founder of several voting rights organizations including "fair fight," that fueled higher voter registration and turnout in georgia and elsewhere. she ran for governor of georgia in 2018, and lost by less than two percentage points, after serving as the state house minority leader. her work is a big focus of a new documentary "all in: the fight for democracy," which she produced. it can be seen on amazon. and she joins me now. welcome to the newshour. i want to talk to you about the documentary. but, first, let's talk about yesterday, the inauguration. what did it say to you? what do you make of this new administration so far? and is anything missing? >> president joe biden is the right man for this moment vice president kamala harris is reflective of so much progress
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that we've made. and i think as a team, they are going to lead a renewal of our democracy. but we cannot forget that the very people who attempted to overthrow our government just aç few weeks ago, that they're still out there. and, unfortunately, some of their sympathizers remain in the state-- in the-- in our congressional legislative body, but as well, in our state legislative bodies. so our work has to be to leverage this extraordinary opportunity for good leadership to ensure that both in d.c. and in our state legislatures that we do not see■ç a rescission of the advances we've beenable to make in voting rights and voting access. >> woodruff: and how much difference do you think the work of your organization, "fair fight," and others like it did, to make a difference in the fact that joe biden and kamala harris were time win? >> we believe that the work fighting against voter suppression, not only in georgia, but in places like wisconsin and pennsylvania and michigan and arizona, and
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nevada, that this was incredibly instrumental. in fact, if you talk to the leaders of those parties, the leaders of those voter protection operations, they will tell you that, yes, we had new voters, but we had voters who had been precluded from participating in 20 scene, who had an opportunity to show up in 2020 and make a difference. and we know absolutely in georgia that there was a sea change because we were able to push back against some of the most egregious voter suppression in the nation. and the result was that we were tiebl deliver 16 electoral college votes for a democratic nominee for the first time in 28 years, and a few weeks later, we were able to flip two u.s. senate seats. >> woodruff: and what about president biden's agenda, stacey abrams? i mean, we know he's got a lot on his plate. certainly, the coronavirus, the economy, the environment, the list goes on. how concerned are you-- there's so much focus for him right now on unity, he understandably is talking about bringing the
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country together after the last four years, but how concerned are you about how much he can get done? >> >> the fact that he began his administration by rescinding so many terrible statements that were made by donald trump, that he-- privileged and given primacy to covid relief, that he is intentional about democracy. those are important steps because he's not only saying we need to have unity. he's creating the space so those actions can speak for him. because covid relief is not just about a democrat or a republican. it's about the people of our country. climate action is about making certain that when we have disasters that hit our states, that we are prepared to respond and that we can anticipate what is to come. and i think what is so remarkable about his leadership is that he's bringing together not only different people across the country, but he's built a cabinet that reflects the diversity of our nation, knowing that that diversity is actually a strength. and i'm just deeply impressed with what he's done so far, and
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i have a great deal of hope for what's to come. >> woodruff: he's also made it clear he's prepared to compromise, when appropriate. could that be bad news, frankly, for the progressive agenda? >> i think progress is always a good thing. and sometimes progress requires that you have to compromise your actions but not compromise your values. if we can move forward on a host of issues that will improve the outcome for the people of our country, then we should want that to happen. we are not going to get everything we want. and we know that every change that needs to be made in this nation can't happen overnight and may not happen in four years. but what we have to hold him accountable for and what i think he's asking to be held accountable for is doing the hard work of moving us forward. we have a lot of ground regain because of donald trump, but we know that that ground is fertile, and i think he's going to do his best. but leadership isn't just about getting wur your way. we saw what that looked like the
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last four years. leadership is about moving forward and bringing the people with you. and sometimes letting the people lead. and i think that's the ethos that we will see from president joe biden. >> woodruff: about this documentary you've produce "alln: the fight for democracy," it is all about the right to vote. for those people who remember, say, the civil rights movement anremember the very clear and blightant obstacles to voting then, how do you explain to them what the obstacles are today? because they're not as visible in many ways, as they were 50 years ago. >> well, this is one of the reasons for the documentary. earlier last year, i wrote a book called "our time is now: power, purpose, and the figh( for a fair america," and the first half of the book really sought to lay out the history of voter suppression and bring it into the present day. i know everyone is not going to read a book about it. what we wanted this documentary
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to do was do exactly the me thing-- to ground us in the history, the horrid history of what voter suppression look likes, but then bring it to present day so we would know that it's not always guns■ç and hoses and billie clubs. sometimes it's long lines that make you stand for eight hours and miss out on a day's wage. sometimes it's being purged from rolls even though you've done nothing wrong and sometimes it's intingzal information about who who can vote and how. we were able to mitigate it in part in 2020. but we already see state legislatures led by republicans seeking to reinforce and renew past practices because they see when more people can vote, regardless of party, that when more people vote, they may not win. my mission is not to say that any party gets to win every election, but every voter should always have a voice. >> woodruff: and, in fact, what we saw in 2020 and at the end of the election, president trump and the people who support him making almost the opposite
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argument, that too much has been done to go out and make sure minority voters can vote, people who may not be citizens can vote, they claim. i mean, there's a-- there's a wave of belief out there today that something went wrong in this election. they're coming at it basically from the opposite direction. >> i wouldn't put this in terms of opposite direction. i would put this in terms of truth and lie. we know that it is true that voters have been purged from the rolls, thousands of whom should never have been removed. we know there are communities that experience multi-hour lines when communities are better situated and whiter have a faster attempt and a faster capacity. we know that the issues of voter suppression played out in plain sight when we saw state after state try to force people to go to the polls in unsafe conditions, rather than allowing them to use the safety of voting
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by mail. then you have the lies that were told by donald trump and by his adherents. we had more than 60 lawsuits where evidence could not be produced. we saw donald trump himself at the outset of his administration convene a voting fraud task force and dismantle it because they could not find proof. there has been absolutely no proof of widespread voter fraud. it did not happen. and this year, republican leaders acknowledged that that was true. and so the moment we create this false equivalence between voter suppression, which has been baked into our nation since its inception, and voter fraud, which largely in the 20th century and 21st centuries, has been a figment of imagination, then we cannot give them equal ti and equal measure. we have to dismiss and push back against voter fraudo we can focus on ensuring every eligible citizen in the united states of america has the same ease of voting, no matter who they are, where they live, or the color of their skin. >> woodruff: stacey abrams, who leads the organization "fair
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fight," very good to have you on the newshour. thank you so much. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: finally, let's dive in deeper on another concern about vaccinations: adequate production and supply. as we've discussed tonight, president biden is planning to invoke the federal defense production act more frequently. that's to make sure companies, manufacturers and states can get what they need. science correspondent miles o'brien looks at what some companies are already doing to avoid a bottleneck in production and delivery. >> reporter: hurry up... and wait. the warp speed effort that created covid-19 vaccines much faster than conventional wisdom predicted, has slowed to a crawl in the last mile. the federal government had
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promised 20 million vaccinations by the end of 2020. t it left the responsibility and the planning to the states. only about 15 million americans have been vaccinated so far. the devil, it turns out, is in the distribution. biochemist holden thorp is editor-in-chief of the journal science. >> well, if you just take the us with 300 million people and you've got to dose the vaccine twice. that's 600 million vaccine doses. that's 600 million hypodermic needles. that's 600 million appointments to go get your vaccine. this is the largest logistical challenge that the country has ever taken on. >> reporter: one of the potential bottlenecks: the vials in which the vaccines are shipped. are there enough of these suits? this could be a potential bottleneck too. i am suiting up to visit a clean room at sio2 materials science in auburn, alabama. my guide: lawrence ganti, chief
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business officer. this is a very busy place. what we're seeing here is just a taste of what's to come? >> this is just probably one quarter of what we're going to have. >> reporter: the vials they manufacture here for several pharmaceutical companies are unique, made mostly of plastic, until now, not an option for holding drugs because it is not airtight. air causes chemical interaions that spoil the medicine. to bring plastic up to snuff for medicine, they use a process called chemical vapor deposition, which bathes the vials in a blue plasma containing microscopic particles of glass. this hermetically seals them. >> we're basically bringing an outer shell of plastic and applying a nano layer. so really, really, really thin layer of glass on the inside of the container and when we say thin, it's 50 times thinner than the human hair. so it's taking the bt of plastic and fusing it with the best of glass. >> reporter: they've been researching and developing the technique for 11 years. coincidentally, it has reached
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maturity at this momentous time. and they are sprinting to answer unprecedented global demand. the privately owned company received $143 million in taxpayer money from operation warp speed, and is investing another 200 million of its own to expand. they plan to add more than a quarter million square feet of manufacturing space by mid 2021. right now they are producing 10 million vials a month, each can hold up to 10 doses. fast as they ramp up, sio2 still cannot meet all the demand. corning is producing glass vials that could ease some bottlenecks. brendan mosher is the general manager of corning pharmaceutical technologies. >> we developed a proprietary, low-friction exterior coating that we put on the outside of the vials that allows them to run at filling speeds, that are 20 to 50% faster. this is a benefit that really matters for the pandemic response. every hour, the moreoses you
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can produce, means more patients, and more citizens can get the vaccines. >> reporter: both the pfizer and moderna vaccines are using a new technique that carries the genetic blueprint of the spikes that cover the surface of the novel coronavirus. it's a way of teaching the body to make more spikes, which in turn prompt an immune reaction. but vaccines like these are very unstable. so moderna's vaccine has to be shipped at minus four degrees fahrenheit. and pfizer's: 94 degrees below zero. >> that's ultra low temperature. that's dry ice, and very, very difficult to store in large quantities. >> reporter: wes wheeler is president of healthcare at u.p.s. the shipping giant is plumbing its deep pockets to buy deep freezer farms in louisville kentucky and the netherlands. shipments containing vaccines are packed with dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, which is minus 109 degrees.
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inside the package is a device they call a sentry which records location, altitude and temperature. they are tracked in real time at command centers like this to insure the cold chain is not broken. >> so we'll be taking batches from pharma companies into our freezer farm, storing them for one day, two days, one week. the question now is how do we manage that cadence between incoming and outgoing of vials. >> reporter: no more than 30 countries in the world have an ultra cold infrastructure. huge swaths of south america, africa and asia, home to two thirds of the global population, are not well equipped to handle ultra cold chain deliveries. >> in a case where there is a worldwide pandemic, nobody is safe unless everybody is safe. >> reporter: dr. seth berkley is c.e.o. of gavi, the vaccine alliance. the 20-year-old public-private enterprise focuses on vaccinating people in emerging
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countries. gavi has immunized more than 822 million children, and prevented 14 million deaths. along with the world health organization, gavi has created covax, a multinational initiative to insure vaccines are available everywhere. covax has agreements to distribute two billion doses, at least two thirds of them earmarked for poorer nations this year. in 2018, gavi found a way to maintain an ultra cold chain to get a new ebola vaccine into parts of africa, where deep freezers are practically non- existent. >> and we were able to vaccinate 330,000 people using an ultra cold chain. so in the most difficult circumstances, it is possible, but it's expensive and obviously it's complicated. >> reporter: there are no less than 250 potential coronavirus vaccines in various stages of development right now. some do not require the ultra cold kid glove treatment and
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some will only require only one dose. ultimately the vaccine that people get may have much to do with how easy it is to get it to them. for the pbs newshour, i'm miles o'brien in auburn, alabama. >> woodruff: in tonight's brief but spectacular we hear from matt nathanson, a musician known for his romantic blend of folk and rock. perhaps best known for his 2008 single, “come on get higher,” matt shares his thoughts on getting older, gaining confidence, and finding his voice. >> music has always been the answer. it just makes everything work for me. it brings down the anxiety and
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it cracks open the roof and it's just the only way i know how to handle life. i love music so much that when i get to make it, i'm bringing so much baggage to it that i have to wade through that thing to get to what i actually mean to say. for so long i wanted to be my heroes. i wanted to make songs that sounded like the indigo girls, like bob dylan, like u2, like stevie wonder. i was a kid, i got into a public enemy record and i was like, "oh, it's got to sound like public enemy." and i would betray my own self because i'm just not a particularly confident person. and i would think that something else was obviously better than i was. and really my only real job as an artist is to as honestly as possible get what's in me out. and i was like, "i'm going to write anthems so that my fans and that humans can galvanize arou something that's
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positive. and that's like, hopeful." and all of a sudden, the first song that came out was like “why did you leave me?” ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ and i was like, okay, this must be just the cleaning out the tap because i'm in a great relationship the best it's ever been. all right, let's get to the next one. and the next one came out and the same thing. it was like, don't go, don't go. i'm worth it. aren't i worth it? so i kept cleaning out the tap essentially, and i just ended up with 15 songs about, why'd you leave me? so i was awkward throughout my entire life. i was a heavyset kid. then when i finally lost weight, i still thought i was a heavyset kid. from the first cassette walkman, i lived my entire life with headphones on my head and i listened to records and i soundtracked my entire life with them. i spent most of my childhood and most of my life in the pleasing-
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other-humans department. that's probably why i'm a performer. and so being late to the confidence game has meant that i've spent a lot of years writing songs that i thought other people wanted to hear and doing things i thought other people wanted to see. the only real gift of age, is the experience that goes along with it. that's the lesson that you get from being young, is that you squandered so much of it. you thought it was going to be forever. so that went by the time you're in your 40s, you're like, i definitely know this is not forever. i better get on with enjoying myself as best i can. my name is matt nathanson, and this is my brief but spectacular take on confiden. >> woodruff: and we like those child pictures. you can finlç all >> woodruff: and you can find all of our brief but spectacular segments on our website. that's at: pbs.org/newshour/brief. on the newshour online right now, 22-year-old amanda gorman drew raves with her reading of a poem written for president biden's inauguration.
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now you can read another of her works, about finding a way out of grief during the pandemic, on our website, pbs.org/newshour. all that and more is on our web and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> architect. bee-keeper. mentor. a raymond james financial advisor tailors advice to help you live your life. life, well-planned. we offer a variety of no- contract wireless plans for people who use their phone a little, a lot, or anything in between. to learn more, go to consumercellular.tv
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>> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station fromiewers like you. thank you.
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captioning sponsored by newsho productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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hello, everyone and welcome to "amanpour and company. here's what's coming up. >> so help me god. >> congratulations mr. president. >> morning in america. joe biden becomes the 46th president and we talk to historians doris kearns goodwin and eddie about the meaning of this moment. plus. >> i look forward to working with him and with the new administration strengthening the partnership between our countries. >> what does a biden presidency mean for the world? we ask the uk's former ambassador to the u.s. and former foreign policy adviser to mccain's presidential campaign, cory shahka. she's stepping up to bat as herself and that's a very strong message to girls and women everywhere.
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>> kamala harris and her

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