Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  July 22, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

3:00 pm
to learn more, visit captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: summer surge. rising infections prompt renewed concerns about covid-19. we speak to the u.s. surgeon general about this next phase of the pandemic. then, the road ahead. infrastructure negotiations face an uphill battle in a divided senate. we speak to a key republican about the legislation's future. and, desperate journey. migrants crossing the aegean sea to greece face increasingly harsh efforts from the coast guard there to repel them. >> ( translated ): they abused us. they didn't respect us, or anyone's human rights. i thought that if you come here,
3:01 pm
to their country, to request asylum, they'll listen to you. but they killed that. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> before we talk about your investments-- what's new? >> well, audrey's expecting... >> twins! >> we'd be closer to the twins. >> change in plans. >> at fidelity, changing plans is always part of the plan. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> consumer cellular. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> the kendeda fund. committed to advancing restorative justice and
3:02 pm
meaningful work through investments in transformative leaders and ideas. more at >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of iernational peace and security. at >> 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: the white house
3:03 pm
is issuing urgent calls to action tonight in the face of covid-19's latest assault. the appeals come amid talk of reimposing restrictions. amna nawaz begins our coverage. >> nawaz: the biden team issued a sober warning today, and an urgent call for far more vaccinations, as the number of delta-related infections are rising around the country. dr. rochelle walensky is the director of the centers for disease control and prevention. >> we are yet at another pivotal moment in this pandemic, with cases rising again and some hospitals reaching their capacity in some areas. we need to come gether as one nation. the delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains. it is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that i have seen in my 20-year career. >> nawaz: as new cases of covid surge, the biden administration is maintaining its mask
3:04 pm
guidance. >> there has been no decision to change our mask guidelines. any decisions about public health would be driven by the c.d.c., but of course we are engaged with public health experts and the c.d.c. about how to continue to attack the virus. and we've never said that battle is over-- it's still ongoing. >> nawaz: the seven-day average of new cases in the u.s. is up 53%. 83% of cases are now comprised of the delta variant. and three states, florida, texas, and missouri, account for 40% of all new cases nationwide. hospitalizations and deaths are still a fraction of what they were at their peak, due to vaccinations, which experts say also protect against the delta strain. last night, president biden urged the public to get inoculated at a cnn town hall. >> if you're vaccinated, you're not going to be hospitalized. you're not going to be in an i.c.u. unit. and yore not going to die. so, it's gigantically important that you act like-- we all act like americans who care about our fellow americans. >> nawaz: as u.s. officials
3:05 pm
attempt to ramp up the vaccine effort, the effort to investigate the virus' origins also continues. on capitol hill, some republican lawmakers also spoke of the need for vaccines. but, they focused more of their attention on china, and questions that remain over how the virus first spread in 2019. >> we brought in medical experts from around the country, and it was very, very eye-opening to see what they said. every one of those medical doctors testified that the virus likely started in the wuhan lab. everybody in america ought to be concerned about those findings. >> nawaz: while some public health experts say there's not enough evidence to support the lab leak theory, the biden administration has said the idea and evidence should be investigated further. last week, the world health organization backed that, too. but today, china rejected the idea entirely. >> ( translated ): to be honest, when i first saw the who's second phase of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, i was very surprised.
3:06 pm
i feel the plan disregards common sense and defies science. >> nawaz: the u.s. and other governments say more information from china is needed to prevent the next pandemic, even as the work to contain this one is far from over. we take a deeper dive on the biden administration's efforts to combat the delta variant, with surgeon general dr. vivek murthy. dr. murthy, welcome back to the "newshour." help us understand now, this is confusing for a lot of people. we know that masking helps to contain virus spread. so why not change the masking guance so more people wear them now? >> doctor: it is a great question. let's review what we know. we know masks are helpful in preventing spread, but what we also know is from the science that the c.d.c. shared about two months ago, if you are fully vaccinated, your risks of getting sick or transmitting the virus is low. now, there are circumstances where individuals may want to consider wearing masks,
3:07 pm
where counties may decide to put mitigation measures like masks requirements back in place. those would be, for example, if they had a lot of virus circulating, as some communities do. if you're an individual who has kids at home who are not vaccinated, or you, yourself, or immunocompromised, they may decide they want to wear masks again. in a moment like this, when we're seeing covid spreading so likely because of the delta variant, it is prudent to err on the side of caution. a lot of people are getting infected, primarily unvaccinated, but be cautious, depending on your situation. >> nawaz: what do you do about areas where you have leaders, where there is a large amount of covid and spreading, floridafor example, governor desantis said he opposes any mask mandates, especially when the school starts in the fall. >> what i can tell you
3:08 pm
from a public health situation, which is what we learned, is that the mas help. when you don't have high vaccination rates, which is the case in my home state of florida, masks absolutely can be a useful tool. i understand that people are tired of so much of what we've dealt with over this past year, wearing masks, not seeing your friends, going through the uncertainty of covid. it has been exhausting for all of us. and we've made a lot of progress. but this is one of the moments, amna, with the delta vaant spreading so quickly, we have to take measures to reduce spread. we've got to get vaccinated quickly, but if you're trying to reduce it in the order of days to weeks, it is measures like masking and distancing that are among our most powerful tools. >> nawaz: doctor, the delta variant was spreading back in may, when the c.d.c. chose to relax that masking guidance. in hindsight, looking back, was that a mistake? did that send the wrong message, that we were past the worst of it?
3:09 pm
>> doctor: i think the c.d.c. made that decision because the cases were dropping, and the science was telling us fully vaccinated people were almost 100% protected. what the c.d.c. was seeing, yes, there was delta, but it was at very, very low levels at that time. what we've seen since then, delta has really surged. it is more than 83% of cases that we're diagnosis of covid right now. but what the c.d.c. is also saying here is not that people shouldn't wear masks, but what they did 60 days ago was give counties and individuals the flexibility to determine when they use masks, based on their risk tolerance and based on how much infection was in their community. amna, one of the things we're seeing is as we're vaccinating, we're seeing covid become a more local and regional phenomenon. we're seeing rises and surges in pockets, where the unvaccinated population is high.
3:10 pm
i think it makes sense to mitigate in those areas. for counties that are putting mask measures in place because they see it rising, it is a very good step to take. >> nawaz: we're about 500,000 or so a day, and 56% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated. what, for you, is the goal? what percentage do we need to get at to say we're at herd immunity, we're at a better level where that virus spread can slow. >> doctor: i use the proof is in the pudding example. i don't think there is a specific number that we're targeting because, quite frankly, we don't know what that number is. it changes based on how contagious the virus is. and now we're dealing with a more transmissible variant, which means the, quote, unquote, number to reach herd immunity is greater. here is how we'll know we got there: when cases come down and stay down for a period of time, and we will know we're at the point where we've hit a
3:11 pm
good vaccination target. we are not seeing that yet in the country. and while some areas are actually doing pretty well, that have greater than 80% vaccination rates, in many other parts of the country we're seeing surges among the unvaccinated. one other important point, and we've got to make sure everyone understands, is that the increase in cases we're saying is not evidence that the vaccine doesn't work. quite to the contrary. 99.5% of deaths from covid, 97% of hospitalizations, are among those who are not vaccinated. which means if you're fully vaccinated, you're well-protected against the worst outcomes, severe illness and death. so it is so important for people to go out there and get vaccinated. >> nawaz: officials have said repeatedly you've got to get the right measures to those unvaccinated. and we've seen a number of republican lawmakers recently silent on vaccinations publicly speak out and urge people
3:12 pm
to get vaccinated. but we are still, in terms of vaccination rates, now lagging other countries we were once ahead of. is that a sign that even that messaging shift isn't going to make a difference? >> doctor: i think every person who speaks up influences the person who believes in them. seeing more political leaders stepping up, leaders in business and faith leaders, increasingly step unin their communities to talk about the importance of getting vaccinating. it takes people a little bit of time to absorb those messages and make the decision to get vaccinated. and once they get vaccinated, it is takes a few weeks to get the protection they need from the virus. this is very encouraging. this is what we need to do more of. the things to remember is as powerful and important as doctors and nurses are as messengers, we actually have recent data that tells us that all of us, family members and friends, can be powerful messengers as well. one in five of people who were on the wait and see
3:13 pm
category, if you will, as far as vaccines are concerned in january, made the decision to get vaccinated and got vaccinated. when asked what changed their mind, they said it was talking to their family and their friends, seeing their family and friends get vaccinated and do well. i say that to remind everyone in this phase of the vaccination campaign, it is up to talk to our family and friends, those who trust usand ask them if they got vaccinated. if they haven't, have them go to to help them answer questions. that's how we're going to end this pandemic once and for all. >> nawaz: dr. murthy, you have said at the social media companies and the tech companies need to do more to stop the misinformation that is out there in keeping people from getting vaccinated. what else specifically else do you wants them to do to help to end the pandemic sooner? >> doctor: the reason i issued a surgeon general's advisory last week, which called on technical and
3:14 pm
stakeholders to more because health misinformation is harming our health. we deserve to be able to make the right decisions for ourselves based on accurate information. a lot of people don't have that. there are eight things we laidous, but a few i will mention to you here: number one, acting more quickly to get disinformation reduced on their site. number two, changing their algorithms so they don't continue to serve up more and more disinformation. and third is being more transparent with their data so we understand how much misinformation is being transacted on their site. when they say we removed "x" number of pieces of misinformation it doesn't mean much if we don't know how much existed. four million out of four million is different than four million out of four billion. we need to make more product changes to reduce the spread of misinformation. we just need them to act with greater urgency because lives depend on
3:15 pm
it. >> nawaz: that is the u.s. surgeon general dr. vivek murthy. always good to see you. thanks for the time. >> doctor: great to see you, amna. take care and be well. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, the u.s. justice department announced the formation of strike forces to target gun crimes. they will be based in new york, chicago, los angeles, san francisco and washington, d.c. deputy attorney general lisa monaco said the focus is on gun violence and gun trafficking. >> we all know that our job is to go after those who pull triggers and end up critically injuring, and in some cases murdering innocent people. but our job is also, of course, to go after the sources of those guns, the corridors that they travel in, and the networks that feed those guns. >> woodruff: later, attorney
3:16 pm
general merrick garland met with police in chicago, just hours after mass shootings in the city that killed three people and wounded nearly 20. fire crews in the western u.s. are finally getting help from the weather against the giant bootleg fire in southern oregon. as of today, some 2,200 firefighters had the huge fire about one-third contained. but elsewhere, the tamarack fire that originated in northern california has crossed into nevada, forcing new evacuations. the blow-up over investigating the january assault on the u.s. capitol is still echoing. on wednesday, the speaker of the house of representatives, nancy pelosi, barred two republicans from a special committee-- both of them trump allies. republican leader kevin mccarthy then withdrew his other nominees. neither side backed down today. >> the american people want to know the truth, and in light of actions and statements taken by
3:17 pm
them, i could not appoint them. >> it doesn't matter today what she does with that committee, because it's not going to change the outcome on what it seems to be a predetermined or already written report. >> woodruff: pelosi insisted the committee will do its job, even if republicans boycott. mccarthy said the g.o.p. might mount its own probe, although it has no power to do so, under house rules. the house came together today on giving refuge to more afghans who worked with the u.s. military. by an overwhelming vote, lawmakers added another 8,000 visas to 26,000 allocated already. meanwhile, the pentagon confirmed that a series of air strikes targeted the taliban this week. the militants have made sweeping gains in recent weeks. cuba now faces u.s. sanctions over its violent crackdown on protests. thousands of people demonstrated this month against food
3:18 pm
shortages, high prices and pandemic restrictions. u.s. penalties announced today affect a cuban military leader, and a special security unit. it's a departure for president biden, who once talked of liberalizing relations with havana. at the tokyo olympics, the director of tomorrow's opening ceremonies was fired after reports that he joked about the nazi holocaust back in 1998. a musical composer for the games had already stepped down over bullying classmates at school, and the head of the tokyo organizing committee resigned weeks ago over sexist remarks. today, organizers acknowledged the scandals have plagued their efforts. >> ( translated ): i am very keenly aware of my responsibility. the fact that so many problems have been unvered, one after another, and that we have to deal with them, leaves the public the impression that we are responding too late. we deeply regret this.
3:19 pm
>> woodruff: separately, u.s. first lady jill biden arrived in tokyo, leading the u.s. delegation to the games. she was welcomed by japan's prime minister. and, a spoiler alert: we now have results of today's u.s. softball game. the top-ranked americans defeated canada 1-0, for their second win in as many games. in economic news, first-time claimsor unemployment benefits shot back up last week to 419,000. that's the most in two months, but economists said it is due mostly to one-time factors. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 25 points to close at 34,823. the nasdaq rose 52 points. the s&p 500 added eight. and, the n.b.a. champion milwaukee bucks got their victory parade today. players and members of the organization rode in double-decker buses as thousands of fans cheered them
3:20 pm
in dntown milwaukee. the bucks beat phoenix tuesday night for their first title in 50 years. still to come on the newshour: migrants crossing the sea to greece face harsh moves by the coast guard to repel them. we meet the iowa teen behind an innovation to detect infection in stitched wounds. plus, a new book details the inner workings of facebook, and its ambitions. >> woodruff: a bipartisan group of senators is still negotiating the details of an infrastructure bill, after a procedural vote to start debate failed yesterday. they say they're making progress and hope to have the details by early next week.
3:21 pm
the biggest sticking point in negotiations remains how to pay for it. the $1.2 trillion framework includes about $600 billion in new spending. that money would go towards public projects, like shoring up roads and bridges, expanding broadband, and investing in electric vehicles. democrats are also planning a separate $3.5 trillion spending bill. for more on where infrastructure stands, i'm joined by republican senator shelley moore capito of west virginia. she led a separate bipartisan effort on infrastructure last month. and, senator, welcome back to the "newshour." we appreciate you joining us. we know you're not part of this group that is negotiating the current plan, but is it your sense that there will be an agreement incoming days, that both parties can sign on to? >> you know, i think that the efforts of the
3:22 pm
bipartisan group has put forward has been very straightforward and very honest, very narrow in terms of a physical infrastructure, much like the package that i was negotiating with more dollars into it. i doexpect that early next week, hoefully as soon as monday, that they will have actual bill text so we uld know what we would be voting on. it it may take a couple of days to work the through the system, and maybe even another week. but i do think they'll be able to lay the last issues to rest and bring forward a bill. and then we can make the judgments on it when we see it. >> woodruff: we'll be watching very closely for that. but this has been, as you suggest, in the works for weeks and weeks, even months. it is taking a long time. much of the hang-up is how to pay for it. democrats say that republicans have repeatedly said no to ideas like putting more money into the i.r.s. to go after tax cheats. and what's reported right now is that republicans are looking at something
3:23 pm
called rolling pharmaceutical rebates, but we know this will only pay for a fraction of the costs. so where would the money come from? >> we had to look at certainly the base of what goes forward for paying any kind of infrastructure, which is the gas tax. but it falls short of meeting the demands of where we are. i think this group has, as i did, worked with the white house to get the white house to rebrand some covid dollars that are either going unspent, or finding that as we're coming out of this pandemic are not going to be able to use in the right times. it is hundreds of billions of dollars. we, as republicans, did not want to touch the 2017 cuts because we think they've been very successful in stirring the economy. the president himself did not want to ask users of electric vehicles to pay into any kind of user fee. they use the roads, they don't pay. so we had a bit of a disconnect there. i think both sides are trying to get to reasonable pay force, but i expect in the end it is
3:24 pm
will be tough to meet all of the touches of the pay-for. i guess the question will be: is enough of it paid for? and will the economic growth take care of the shortfall? and people are going to have to answer that for themselves. >> woodruff: why do republicans mainly oppose the idea to give the i.r.s. more money to go after tax cheats? >> that's a good question. i think because the overhang of some of i.r.s. issues that we had with the i.r.s. targeting conservative groups, i think we saw tax returns from the wealthiest individuals just all of a sudden public information -- where did that come from? there has to be some sort of a leak. i think these things feed on each other, and the trust of the i.r.s. knocking at your door. and the other thing is the parameters which the democrats set forward in terms of getting to -- the president told me $700 billion, and i think he came off of that figure, would be that banks would
3:25 pm
share records, your accountants would share records. are we getting into a fine line of invasion of privacy and privacy of financial records? these issues, i think, are very sensitive to us as republicans. i think in the end, the group knew we wouldn't -- to the amount they wanted, we couldn't go with the tax gap. i expect that to be in their larger bill, their $3.5 trilln large bill. >> woodruff: senator, you expressed concern also about this infrastructure legislation being tied to the separate $3.5 trillion so-called reconciliation bill, what the democrats are calling social infrastructure, and democrats are saying this is the most consequential piece of legislation for working families in modern american history. they talk about the money in there for home, health care workers, for pre-"k," for child care, for the poor, elderly. why are these things not worth spending money on? >> well, we do, now, spend money on these things. i think these are
3:26 pm
discussions that we need to work through our committee. do we need to increase -- i believe home health care is something is, after hang my parents go through this, i realize the tremendous cost to families. these are issues we need to work on together, w don't need to ram through. what i disagree is where the democrats are going -- they set an amount, we're going to spend $3.5 trillion and they're filling up the bucket. shouldn't we be looking at thneeds and then look at what the cost is. if we're going to make consequential, huge social reform, we should be doing that together. it won't be that. it will be singularly done. this was a huge tax increase on the american public, and a lot of reckless spending. >> woodruff: when you say there is already money that the country -- sorry, that theovernment is already spending money on these things, like home health care, we hear from democrats that is just not the case. that much, much more needs to be done? >> i'm not saying we're spending as much as we
3:27 pm
need to. let's define the need. how much more do we need to spend? what would keep a senior in her home longer to have home health ca e and not make a greater cost to medicaid or to the family? these are the kinds of discsions we need to have. >> wdruff: a different subject, quickly, senator, and that is the federal government's debt ceiling the amount of money the government has to pay its bills to keep running. it is not a popular thing, but a necessary and routine thing, in order to keep the government open. however, the senate minority leader mitch mcconnell is saying right now that all republicans will vote against raising it. we know you voted for it. we looked it up, three times under president trump. why would now be different? >> well, i think -- i'll tell you what, the debt ceiling vote is always a difficult vote. it always has some sort of controversy through the years, i'm sure you know that having covered it probably dozens of times. i think what we need to look at is we spent $1.9
3:28 pm
trillion on a reue package, and we see our communities flooded with money, and some of the money cannot be unspent, in the unemployment areas, and i think we see a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, and a $3.5 trillion package coming down t road after that. at some point we have to look at what impact this is having on our whole finances in this country. the debt ceiling, in all likelihood, will be raised. we're not going to default on our responsibilities, but i think we need to look at the spending and who it is costing, and what is it doing to future generations. that's the discussion we need to have. >> woodruff: does it matter to you that the chief economist at moody's is saying that passing these two infrastructure bills, both social infrastructure and the other one, are going to boost the economy and reduce all of the concerns about inflation? in other words, that the concern that there is too much spending is overdone? >> well, you know, i think -- ie
3:29 pm
for 20 years. we used to talk in billions. it is now trillions. remember, in 2010, when president obama came forward with a trillion-dollar package and we all about fell over. we're now up to $10 trillion. i think every economist has a different opinion. i have great respect for mark zandy, but you can find an economist who thinks differently, that too much money is being flooded into the system. >> woodruff: senator shelley moorcapito, thank you. >> all right. thanks, judy. >> woodruff: greece has been accused of breaching international law with a new, aggressive migrati policy. pro-refugee groups allege the greek coast guard are endangering the lives of migrants in the aegean sea, by pushing back them back towards turkish waters. critics also accuse the european union of ignoring greece's behavior, six years
3:30 pm
into the migration crisis. we sent special correspondent malcolm brabant to the greek island of samos to investigate, at the extreme edge of the european union. >> reporter: this is the greek island of samos. the mountains, a mile away across the sea, are in turkey. appearances are deceptive. these are not gentle waters. this is an alleged attempted pushback by greece's hellenic coast guard in june. the migrants told a norwegian non-profit, called the aegean boat report, that the greeks removed the dinghy's engine and left, expecting them to float back to turkey.
3:31 pm
>> reporter: after the dinghy drifted for 17 hours, the greeks relented and took the migrants ashore. it's very rare to get the chance to talk to a pushback victim in greece, for the very reason that they've been pushed back. but we're on our way to see a pushback victim who's come from central africa, going down a very bumpy road. she was pushed back to turkey, and then she managed to make her way back across the sea here to. samos. we're going to see her outside the samos refugee camp, which is extremely squalid, and it's guarded by police who are very hostile to journalists and their cameras. turkish coast guard footage shows a group of migrants, including the central african woman, landing in turkey after being rescued. this and other geo-located photographs prove she was on the greek island of lesbos. our interviewee, who escaped conflict in her home country,
3:32 pm
doesn't want to be identified for fear of retribution. she picks up the story. >> ( translated ): they took us up through mountains and all around until we came to a port. we saw the big boat and we said, oh lord, we're going back to turkey. they put us on the boat. there were too many waves. they made us wear lifejackets and said they might hit us again if we didn't get on the big boat. they threw us little crates of oranges. that was when turkey came to rescue us. >> reporter: the pushback happened under the cover of darkness. the woman and fellow migrants were taken eastwards from lesbos and abandoned near turkish waters in this dinghy, filmed by the turkish coast guard. >> ( translated ): we were in the raft for a long time. there were too many waves. people were screaming. it really affected me. i couldn't talk, i was too dehydrated. they abused us. they didn't respect us, or anyone's human rights. i thought that if you come here,
3:33 pm
to their country, to request asylum, they'll listen to you. but they killed that. >> reporter: this is what it's like to be cast adrift. under international law, nations are obliged to help those in peril on the sea. according to the 1951 refugee convention, asylum seekers should not be expelled if their lives or freedom are threatened. >> the life rafts that we've seen have no means of propulsion, and are often hugely overloaded to the point where it's dangerous for them to be in those life rafts. >> reporter: former british army officer nick waters is a digital analyst with bellingcat, a website using open source information from the internet to expose international wrongdoing. here, a turkish drone camera captures a life raft apparently being pushed back by a vessel fr greece's hellenic coastguard. >> there is no way for them to be crossing the aegean in those kind of life rafts. and we believe they are being put in those life rafts by the hellenic coast guard. >> reporter: samos lawyer
3:34 pm
dimitris choulis represents asylum seekers. he accuses greece of doing the european union's dirty work. >> they left them with no water, with babies. they put their lives in danger. our hellenic coast guard, that they a the people that do these crimes. until two years ago, they were heroes. they were diving in the sea to save babies. we have seen the photos. they saved a lot of people. and suddenly, the same people, they are doing the worst thing that they can do for greece. >> reporter: listen to the screams. and then the warning shots from the greek patrol boat. this turkish footage is part of a propaganda war against greece. the two countries have been adversaries for centuries. greece's migration ministe notis mitarachi, declined to be interviewed, but in response to persistent allegations about pushbacks, issued a video statement.
3:35 pm
>> turkey is a safe country, and can provide what is needed, appropriate international protection. sadly, instead of turkey preventing a lawful departure, it is often too busy filming them. >> reporter: six years into europe's migration crisis, greece is exasperated that the asylum seekers just keep coming. but whatbout the pushbacks? >> allegations affecting greece are clearly unfounded, relied on footage or testimonials provided for from the country of departure. >> to be frank, some of the greek government denials about events have been bordering on absurdity. it is inconsistent with the evidence that is available. i think it's worth noting that this is what we'd expect from a government like russia, for example, but not from a government of a european country. >> reporter: greece is currently home for an estimated 120,000 asylum seekers. most would prefer to be elsewhere, but are stuck here because the e.u. sealed its borders in 2015 after more than a million migrants managed to enter.
3:36 pm
last week, center-right prime minister kyriakos mitsotakis justified his tough migration policy. >> greece is committed to protecting its borders, which are also the borders of the european union, while always, always ensuring full respect for human rights. and this, of course, includes intercepting attempted illegal crossings at sea. >> reporter: asylum seekers are well aware of greece's stance, but appear undeterred by the threat of pushbacks or the living conditions on the greek islands. this video appeal was sent to a pro-refugee non-profit on saturday. >> hello. i would like to tell you that we have reached samos island. we have these kids, children. we are three adults. and my wife, these children, just we are calling you to save us as soon as possible because these children are facing a
3:37 pm
problem since last night. >> reporter: he wasn't the only one sheltering in the undergrowth. we're still on samos, and we're on our way to see a palestinian called mohammed who's hiding out. now, this young man, who is 25 years old, apparently swam all the way from turkey to samos over the weekend. but because it's the weekend, he can't get officially registered by the authorities, and he's afraid, as are non-profits, that he might be picked up and pushed back. mohammed, a telecoms specialist from gaza, took eight hours to swim across. he showed us bites he suffered while ding in a forest. >> ( translated ): i heard from a lot of people and friends that the greek coast guard will catch them, put them back on the ship and return them to the turkish regional wers. they don't allow them to apply as refugees and don't grant them their legal rights.
3:38 pm
>> reporter: mohammed laid low until monday when, under the protection of the u.n. refugees agency, he was formally registered and was admitted to the refugee camp. from there, the central african push back victim urged the european union to force greece to adhere to its own core values. >> things have to change. there just needs to be an attempt to save people. there is too much risk on the water. it's not easy. they need to listen to people. they need to accept people instead of throwing them into the sea. >> reporter: she has nothing to go back to. her parents were killed, and her african home was destroyed. asylum is her only hope, but it's not guaranteed. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant on samos.
3:39 pm
>> woodruff: all over the world, infections in the place where surgical incisions are made are a major cause of new illnesses, extended hospital stays, and even death. in the u.s. alone, these infections cost more than $3 billion annually. but in developing countries, those statistics are even worse. stephanie sy reports on one scientist who's working on a more affordable way to detect these infections early. it's the latest in our series, "breakthroughs on the leading edge of science." >> the colorful one here is prince. >> sy: for the past year and a half, dasia taylor has been developing a unique invention to detect infections after someone's had surgery. >> i came up with color-changing stitches that provide early detection for infections, and with the specific focus on surgical site infections in developing countries, because those can be very deadly if they're found too late. >> sy: how does it work? >> when you have an infection, there's chemical imbalances
3:40 pm
going on, and my stitches pick up those chemical imbalances and then they change color. >> sy:he stitches change color? >> the stitches change color. >> sy: she can't get too specific, because of a pending patent application, but taylor says she uses sutures dyed with beet juice to make the magic happen. >> beets are natural indicators. so, a natural indicator is just a baseline term for a substance that changes color when the ph changes. >> sy: healthy skin is naturally acidic, but if a surgical site gets infected, that acidity decreases. when that change happens, taylor's sutures go from a bright red to a grayish-purple color. by the way? taylor is only 17... >> dasia t. taylor. ( cheers and applause ) >> sy: ...and she just graduated high school in june. her path to these color-changing sutures began junior year, in a chemistry honors class... >> this is where it all started.
3:41 pm
>> sy: ...after a suggestion from taylor's teacher, carolyn walling. >> she sat in the front row the very first day. and when i brought up, "would anyone like to do a science fair project?", she raised her hand immediately, and she stayed after school and she said, let's talk about this. >> i read an article about how these scientists somewhere created these stitches that involved this really fancy technology, that i perceived to be inequitable to those that would actually be able to need this technology. >> sy: in low and middle income countries, 8% to 30% of procedures result in surgical site infections. but so-called “smart stitches” require smart devices, which are expensive. >> i said, hey, i can do it better. i can do it more equitable. >> sy: issues of equity are personal for taylor. she and her motherladonna, live in the suburbs of iowa city, a predominantly white area, and have experienced their share of discrimination. taylor says her previous school even tried to keep her from joining a science competition
3:42 pm
team. the lack of representation was even more apparent at her first science fair. >> she looked around and she said, i am the only black person in this room. and that was-- that was like, one of those things where maybe you know it, but you don't really notice it. >> sy: you've never experienced the world that way. >> yeah. and so, she looked around and there was nobody else like her. and she looked at me and she said, well, i'm going to win this thing. >> sy: and she did. >> and she did. >> sy: dasia helped open her teacher's eyes to racial discrimination, and, from creating black history bulletin boards in her elementary school to co-chairing her school district's equity advisory committee, dasia's been on a miion to educate those around her. she sees her invention as another tool in that mission. so, what did it feel like when you saw th this worked? >> yeah, i was like, oh my gosh, i did science. >> she'd be in my room constantly. it was probably every friday after school, she was in here cutting up beets and boiling
3:43 pm
beets and just doing all of her stuff. and it was a good, probably, four to five months that she was working on it. >> sy: and it paid off. >> my project is a novel suture additive... >> sy: this year, she was named a finalist in the prestigious“ regeneron science talent search,” a national science competition for pre-college students. past finalists include nobel prize winners anmacarthur fellows. >> from iowa city, iowa, please welcome 17-year-old dasia taylor! >> sy: taylor's work even landed her on the "ellen degeneres show," where the host declared her the winner of the show's science fair-- which of course, is not really a thing. >> that's a gorgeous trophy, and all i had to do was come here. >> sy: taylor's next big step, though, is college. in the fall, she heads to the university of iowa. >> i'll actually be majoring in political science. so, really, social sciences and getting in tune with that and creating this equitable plan on a greater scale. >> sy: and she's not done with her infection-detecting sutures yet. taylor says she won't stop until
3:44 pm
the people who need the stitches have them. what are you pinpointing as the challenge you're currently focused on? >> so, right now, it's just a pure focus of making this suture commercially viable, so that everything can go smooth when everything goes to market and these stitches actually get to those developing countries. >> sy: there are still barriers to it being used in the real world, safe to say. >> yeah. >> sy: but do you consider it a success either way? >> yeah, because it works. it does detect ph, it does change colors where it needs to change colors. there are just some details that need to be worked out, but they're not insurmountable. >> sy: while many in the medical community have praised the invention, there is a technical obstacle: sterilizing the sutures. but she has already overcome a major hurdle: helping others that look like her believe they can find success in science, too. >> knowing that i've inspired people all over the world is the
3:45 pm
real prize to me. that's the real recognition that, hey, i'm doing good in the world. and this isn't just for me, this project. this research is quite literally outside of myself. >> sy: for the pbs newshour, i'm stephanie sy in iowa city, iowa. >> woodruff: facebook is under fire again, for allowing misinformation around the coronavirus and vaccines to proliferate on its platform. as we heard, the president and his team have ramped up their pressure on the company to other social media giants to combat false information. william brangham looks at a new book that focuses on similar questions that about facebook's role, larger responsibilities, and its business. >> brangham: the authors of this
3:46 pm
new book detail how facebook has struggled-- and sometimes failed-- to curtail hate speech, disinformation, and violent rhetoric on its platform. it also examines how facebook has become an enormously lucrative data-mining operation, capturing the personal likes and dislikes of its users and serving them up to advertisers. the book is called“ an ugly truth: inside facebook's battle for domination,” and it's written by two "new york times" reporters, sheera frenkel and cecilia kang. welcome to the newshour. good to have you both here. the title of your book comes from this memo that was written by a facebook executive, where he's describing the company's mantra of how they "connect" people, and he writes in this memo about some of the possible dark sides of that connection. "maybe it cost someone their life by exposing someone to bullies. maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack, coordinated on our tools. and still, we connect people. the ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more
3:47 pm
often is de cto good.” sheera, that's the essential tension in facebook writ large, isn't it? >> that's exactly right. and that's a pattern that we show through this book. and for us, it was one of the most powerful parts of writing this book, was discovering that over and oveand over again, this company was essentially making a calculus that growth was the most important thing to it. engagement-- people coming on as often as possible-- that's what matters. that's their, really, their bottom line. we can't forget this is a business that has to answer to its investors and to the stock market. and so all the decisions kind of stem from that central tension of needing to put-- another part of the book says it well, i think: "company over country." >> brangham: cecilia, mark zuckerberg's founding idea was this free speech utopian ideal that, if in the presence of“ bad speech”-- quote unquote "bad speech"-- more speech is the solution. but they quickly realized-- the executives at facebook-- that lies and misinformation were what were percolating to the top, not countering those
3:48 pm
things. how did the company, broadly, react when they saw that that was what was so popular on the site? >> well, they have taken some efforts to try to clamp down on the spread of misinformation and harmful speech. but this is after many years of prioritizing speech that tends to be content that tends to be the most emotive, the one-- the kind of content thatakes you respond. >> brangham: an emotional reaction? >> absolutely, by either getting angry, by either gettinglike, fearful, and making you want to share and amplify. and this is a really important thing to note, as we explore in this story, about how the technology is used-- the algorithms, to make that kind of content surface to the top. so what facebook did is it hired lots of content moderators, and it tried to use artificial intelligence to try to find, weed out the worst speech. but by the time they did-- and they had been warned so many times that this was a problem, and they're acting very late. by the time they did, the problem was so enormous for them
3:49 pm
and even the many thousands of content moderators that they had been hiring, were playing catch up, but they're so far behind. >> brangham: cecilia, your book documents many instances where facebook became aware of troubling things brewing and blossoming on their site, and then went through this familiar pattern of their response-- january 6 was the perfect example. the election. the lies about it being stolen. and then the plotting that went forward leading up to january 6. how did those people who came to d.c. use facebook to plot? >> you know, journalists we seeing this happen in real time. they were seeing people, on the far right, especially, organizing on facebook. right after the election, they were posting photos of-- of arms, actually in the plan-- the kinds of rifles that they planned to bring with them to washington. and they were warning facebook-- journalists like sheera were actually emailing facebook and saying, this is going to be a problem, and that the company was warned. >> brangham: and what was the company's response to that?
3:50 pm
>> when i emailed them about a group i had found, where people were posting those photos-- as cecilia mentioned, of assault rifles-- they took them down. but, it took me finding that group, and that was on the eve of january 6. i remember sending that email the night of january 5-- for them to take down that particular group. what groups did i not find? what groups did other journalists that work in this space not find? you know, the platform is so big and used by so many people, and faceok likes to say, we take down 90% of this, or our a.i. systems can't catch whatever percentage of that. when you're dealing with millions of posts, 90% is still, you know, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands that are online and which are active. and so i think the company often uses its metrics to make people feel like it's safer than it is, when in fact, even one really damaging group in which people are orchestrating violence in the capital can be too much. >> brangham: in fact, this touches on-- facebook issued some statements, after your book has come out. i'd like to read this one to you. this is from facebook, saying, "our teams were vigilant in removing content that violated our policies against inciting violence leading up to january 6.
3:51 pm
we banned hundreds of militarized social movements, took down tens of thousands of q-anon pages, groups and accounts from our apps, removed the original stop the steal group, labeled candidates posts that sought to prematurely declare victory, and suspended former president trump from our platform for at least two years.” they're saying, "we did a lot, sometimes more than other companies." how true is that? >> right after the january 6 capital riots, sheryl sandberg, the chief operating officer, said an interview, yes, there are some problems on our platform, and we definitely have had some problems with enforcement, but the vast majority of the problems occurred on other platforms. and it actually happens that thatas just not-- that, that was just not the truth. that there was so much organizing that was happening on facebook-- facebook messaging and facebook groups. and we saw that, actually, in the indictments of many of the people who actually stormed the capital later. >> so while it is fantastic that they took down that original group, if that original group
3:52 pm
spurred hundreds of others, and those hundreds of others weren't taken down, it begs the question of, you know, when-- when can you act? i mean, how can facebook say sit there as a company and say to the public, we're doing as much as we can. we are being as aggressive as we can. and i wonder, you know-- they are a trillion dollar company. do they have in their possession the metrics to say, right, we need to hire this many content moderators. we don't need to hire 30,000 people on our security team-- we need to hire 100,000 people on our security team. >> brangham: the back of your book has this sort of-- a sort of humorous way of pointing out this pattern. this is 14 years of mea culpas“" we got its”, “we understand the problems,” from sheryl sandberg and mark zuckerberg. do you get the sense that they really do appreciate that this is an ongoing problem, or is this-- these mea culpas, a the sort of kabuki that they go through to keep the regulatory wolves at bay? >> the reason why we put those blurbs in the back is beuse we realized the patterns are what's really powerful.
3:53 pm
and so, the dichotomy is that if they contie to want growth to come first here, it will be collateral damage. and so, yes, they do recognize their problems, and they do try to correct them. but it's always a few steps behind, at least. >> brangham: we know we're at this moment where congress is debating what to do about these big tech companies. there's complaints coming endlessly. and listen, we just heard recently the surgeon general complaining that social media sites, including facebook, don't do enough to take down covid misinformation. when you look forward as to what congress might do, sheera, is there a sense that there is a solution, that there are things that congress could do that could help in this regard? >> you know, one thing congress can do is really tackle misinformation head on, as its own problem. i think facebook and a lot of other companies would love to see congress give them stricter guidelines about what they see as hate speech, what they see as information that leads to voters being disenfranchised. but i really think we're in a moment right now, where congress is struggling with how to define misinformation for itself. there's a lot of energy around anti-trust and other ideas, but
3:54 pm
misinformation, which is difficult because it comes up against our american values of free speech and free expression, that's something they haven't quite been willing to touch yet. >> brangham: the book is "an ugly truth: inside facebook's battle for domination." sheera frankel and cecilia kang, thank you both very, very much. >> thanks so much. >> thank you for having us. >> woodruff: a on the newshour online right now, ahead of the 2020 olympics opening ceremony, we share ten things to know about the tokyo games. you can find that on instagram, @newshour. and that is the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> architect. bee-keeper. mentor. a raymond james financial advisor tailors advice to help you live your life. life, well-planned.
3:55 pm
>> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering no-contract wireless plans, designed to help people do more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you. to learn more, visit >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> fidelity wealth management. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour.
3:56 pm
>> this program was made possible by the corporion for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh >> you're watching pbs.
3:57 pm
3:58 pm
3:59 pm
4:00 pm
hello, everyone. welcome to "amanpour & company." here's what's coming up. >> we need to provide actn and we need to do it now. because time is running out. >>orrential rain in china. raging wildfires in north america and russia. cataclysmic floods in europe. i asked john kerry what needs to happen right now to reverse climate change and environmentalist katherine wilkinson about how to change reluctant hearts and minds. then. victims of vaccine