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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  August 22, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> hill: on this edition for sunday, august 22: evacuation efforts in afghanistan continue as thousands are desperate to flee. tropical storm henri batters the northeast. the debate over covid boosters. and an ambitious initiative to replace lead water pipes in newark, new jersey. next on “pbs newshour weekend.” >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-
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smith. leonard and norma klorfine. the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. barbara hope zuckerberg. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make e most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. >> 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 additional support has been provided by: and byhe corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the
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american people. and by contributio to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> hill: good evening and thank you for joining us. i'm michael hill. hari sreenivasan is off this weekend. in afghanistan, the evacuation of americans and afghan civilians who supported the war effort remains chaotic a week after the taliban took control of the cntry. late this afternoon, president joe biden addresd the ongoing crisis in afghanistan from the white house. >> at my direction, the state department continues to reach out to the remaining americans we have identified by one, e-mail, and other means to ascertain their whereabouts and their plans. we are executing a plan to move groups of these americans to safety and to safely and effectively move them to the airport compound. for security reasons i'm not going to go into the details of what these plans entail, but i will say again today what i have said before: any american who
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wants to get home will get home. >> hill: thousands of desperate afghans are gathered outside the kabul airport, and the surging crowds turned deadly this weekend. at least seven afghans, including a toddler, were killed in crushing crowds yesterday according to british defense officials who have troops stationed at the airport. the deaths occurred the same day that the u.s. embassy warned americans to stay away from the airport until contacted, citing potential security threats. national security advisor jake sullivan said today that those threats include an attack from isis at the airport. >> the threat is real, it is acute, it is persistent, and it is something that we are focused on with every tool in our arsenal. >> hill: flights from the u.s.-controlled kabul airport do continue, with about 7,800 people evacuated in the last 24 hours according to biden administration officials. there are now agreements with two dozen countries to serve as transit points for evacuees,
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according to the administration, in addition to u.s. bases in the region. today, the pentagon dered six u.s. commercial airlines to help move people from these temporary sites outside of afghanistan. u.s. secretary of state antony blinken said today tt the u.s. is committed to evacuating afghan allies, including those who worked for non-governmental organizations. >> obviously, american citizens are our priority, awell as the people who worked directly for us. allies and partners were committed to them, and to helping them get out. but also to your point, afghans more broadly at risk. we're focused on all of that, but our intense focus is getting our fellow americans out if they want to leave. >> hill: president biden will meet virtually with leaders of the g-7 nations on tuesday about the evacuation and plans for humanitarian assistance for afghan refugees. tropical storm henri reached the northeast today with heavy rain, storm surge warnings and 60 mile per hour winds.
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the storm, once a category one hurricane, made landfall shortly after noon along the coast of rhode island, and swirled westward into the region. tropical storm warnings extended from long island, new york, all the way to southern new england. rhodisland's governor warned residents to sheltern place. >> and so, we're as focused today on the safety issues. and that's why we're saying people stay home, let's be safe, let the people do the work that it's behind me that know how to do the work. i'm taking their guidance as well. >> hill: new york's governor andrew cuomo also declared a state of emergency early this morning ahead of the storm making landfall. >> when we can obtain a pre- landfall declaration from the federal government, it means all the preparatory work we're now doing will also be subject to federal reimbursement. >> hill: last night, an outdoor concert in new york city's central park was cut short by lightning and rain from the
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approaching storm. power outages, extensive coastal flooding and heavy rain are expected to continue from new jersey to maine through tomorrow. heavy rains and flooding in central tennessee left at least 15 people ad and dozens more missing yesterday as rescue workers raced toelp residents still trapped in their homes. according to the national weather service, an average of 8-15 inches of rain fell in the region washing away homes and rural highways. the catastrophic storm triggered a state of emergency, and the tennessee national guard was deployed to support rescue missions. about 60 miles west nashville, one town was hit with more than 17 inches of rain over a 24 hour period. tt may now be a new record for the state. at least four shelters were set up last night. search and rescue efforts remain complicated due to disrupted cell phone service andamaged roads. in northern and central california, firefighters are facing high winds in the battle
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to contain dozens of wildfires this weekend. close to 30,000 people are being evacuated in the path of the caldor fire burning east of sacramento. that fire started more than a week ago and has destroyed more than 90,000 acres. this year, fires in california have already burned through more than 1.5 million acres. fi officials say a two-year- long drought is making forests and grasslands exceptionally dry. climate change is contributing to the fire conditions, and making what used to be a fire season into what experts now say is a nearly year-round danger. the national interagency fire center reports more than 80 large fires are currently uncontained in the u.s., with most in the west and pacific northwest. the pace of vaccinations is increasing slightly, but as of this weekend only 51% of people in the u.s. are now fully vaccinated against covid-19. hospitalizations are ring, and "the new york times" reports
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that intensive care units are at capacity in many counties along the gulf coast. florida, alabama, mississippi and louisiana are recording some of the highest rates of new covid infections while also showing some of the country's lowest vaccination rates. and civil rights leader and former presidential candidate the reverend jesse jackson, and his wife, jacqueline, are both hospitalized today after testing positive for covid-19. according to a statement yesterday, doctors at chicago's northwestern memorial hospital are monitoring the jacksons' conditions. reverend jackson, who is 79 years old, was vaccinated earlier this year at a widely- publicized event. >> i'm trying to guide people to because of for my lesson in safety challenging so much money to big donors, it's really complicated and especially because of the lack of coordination. >> rescue and aid >> hill: rescue and aid efforts are ongoing in haiti.
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to hear more go to >> hill: this past week, the biden administration announced at by september 20, fully- vaccinated americanshould be eligible to get a covid booster shot eight months after their second dose. the food and drug administration will have to approve the plan. but with millions of americans unvaccinated, and parts of the globe with little to no vaccines at all, some health professionals say a booster shot may be premature. hari sreenivasan spoke about that with stat reporter helen branswell. >> sreenivasan: helen, when the date came out from the biden administration, that hopefully by september 20, there would be a third booster shots, you went out and talked to a lot of epidemiologists, experts in the field. what was their thinking? >> i mean, these are people i talk to all the time and have been sort of pinging them regularly to find out what they think about how well the vaccines are holding up. and most of them think that the evidence is still very strong. the vaccines are doing what we
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really need them to do, keep people out of i.c.u.s effectively. we are seeing breakthrough cases, which are unfortunate, but not super surprising. it's really hard to make a vaccine against a respiratory pathogen that will stop all infections. so, that some people can get cold and flu-like symptoms is unfortunate, but not surprising. but in terms of the bigger question, are they protecting people from serious covid illness? in the main, they still are. so, a lot of the people i spoke to were like, "we don't see that this is the right time to be pulling this trigger." >> sreenivasan: what sort of evidence are these expts looking for before saying that there needs to be a booster shot? >> yeah, it's a really tough balance to, sort of, hit. you don't want to give boosters before you need to because
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there's a global scarcity of vaccine. and if the united states gives a third dose to everyone, that means people elsewhere are going to wait longer. on the other hand, you don't want to wait too long, because if you do start to see fully vaccinated people ending up in i.c.u.s and very sick and even dying in large numbers or even significant numbers, that also is not an end that you want to see. so, they're trying to find the right balance. and, you know, it's an ongoing process. they're constantly evaluating data from both the united states and abroad to see what the evidence is saying >> sreenivasan: where is the f.d.a. in this process? because so many people have been waiting on what does the f.d.a. say? do they make it approved? do they create a different category? is this emergency use? is this fully approved? where's the f.d.a.'s thinking in a booster shot? >> well, we don't know that yet. pfizer has filed an application.
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in fact, on monday of this past week, it filed an application to f.d.a. for a booster shot. they want to be able to give a third shot in their series. that application is still before the f.d.a. there isn't really a timeline publicly known on when a decision on that mige made. as you will remember, the f.d.a. is still dealing with the application from pfizer and moderna to swing their vaccines over from being used under emergency use to under full licensure, at least for the pfizer vaccine. that decision is expected sometime next month. but when they are going to decide on a booster dose is unclear. but i don't think that the country can start rolling out booster doses unless f.d.a. rules on this. >> sreenivasan: right, so, i look at this and say, wait, if the f.d.a. hasn't decided that the booster is necessary, how do
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you put a date out there saying september 20 we can start giving booster shots? >> that is a very good question that i don't have an answer for you. but it was certainly one of the questions that the people i spoke to yesterday. >> sreenivasan: are the experts concerned about the kind of moral and ethical repercussions here of countries like the united states or israel authorizing a third shot for their citizens when the bulk of the planet hasn't seen the first shot? >> a lot are. i mean, you have to tease out a few things there. i mean, some of the countries that are using third shots are using them in people who are severely immunocompromised. the united states just went there last week and nobody arguing that that is an appropate thing to do because, you know, people who have had chemotherapy recently or who've had a solid organ transplant and are on immunosuppressive drugs, they don't get protection from two doses. and there is some evidence that
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a third dose will protect some of them. and so, nobody is arguing about that. but the statement from the administration yesterday said all americans, and that's what i think a lot of people get very concerned because that's a lot of vaccine to suck up. and the country has already used a lot of vaccine. far more people are vaccinated here than in many countries in the world. and yesterday, the head of the w.h.o.'s emergency response program, dr. michael ryan, equated giving third doses in wealthy countries to giving more life jackets to people who already have life jackets when many people don't have any life jackets and are drowning. >> sreenivasan: helen branswell from stat news, thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> hill: the water crisis in
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flint, michigan, drew stark attention to failures across the country to replace an estimated 6-10 million lead water lines. the bipartisan infrastructure deal allocated $15 billion for a lead removal initiative-- far less than the $45 billion initially proposed, and a fraction of what the water industry says it would take to fully replace all lead water service lines across the country. but newark, new jersey, has set a model. two years after its own crisis with lead-tated drinking water, nearly all of its 23,000 lead pipes have been replaced with copper ones. i recently spoke with newark mayor ras baraka about the progress his city has made. mr. mayor, thank you for joining us. how is it possible that within two years or so, newark is able to replace some 18,000+ lead service lines, lines that the city doesn't even own? >> besides god's grace, brother, a lot of work, i think, that's
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been put in by the water department, the kind of collaborativeffort that was engaged in by the city, the county, the state, working together to find a solution to this, and us obviously finding the money up front that i know a lot of municipalities have not been able to do, and that's really the crux of t issue, like, being able to find a capital to do this work. >> hill: you're providing a service at amounts to what is free to the homeowners who actually own the lead service lines. why do the free option, why not have homeowners pay some of the cost of this? >> well, we believe it's a public health issue, and i think it's the responsibility of the state and the municipal government to deal with public health issues like that, unless you're talking about a demographic of folks who may not have the money to pay for it. if we left it up to people to replace their lead service lines, we would be going over this still for years and years to come. >> hill: it sounds to me as if
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this might be really hard to duplicate in other places across the country. >> i would agree. the way we did it, absolutely. and when people say, "oh, this is the model," theoretically, yes, right, but it's very difficult. it was difficult for us to go on people's property to change their lead service lines, difficult to get the permission to do so, and use public dollars to pay private people's lines. all of that is state law and needs to be changed, transformed. those things need to happen in multiple cities across the country. and then the federal government has to provide the revenue up front to these municipalities to get these things done in an expeditious way, or else it won't get done. >> hill: now, you couldn't just go onto people's property. and some of thesproperty owners, like absent landlords, for instance, are hard to reach when they own property. >> over 70% of the people in the city rent. and so, most of this work will be done in homes where people are renting and the landlords
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are not present, right. and so, in order to do that, we would have to get a signature from every homeowner that would allow us to go on their property and change their lead service lines. obviously, we have a lot of homeowners that are not here in newark, that are away, some that can't be reached, and we used that to pass a municipal law that allowed us to, in this emergency situation, go on people's property, you know, and change the lead service line without their consent. >> hill: mr. mayor, there are some missteps along the way. you put out a brochure and you spoke about the water meeting federal and state standards, and there was a lot of pushback from that. what were you trying to tell the public, and do you have reservations now, regrets now about putting out that brochure? >> you know,t's interesting. i think a lot of people talk about the brochure, but they actually have not read i what was being said was the water at the source was fine. the problem was the fact that you had a lead service line. and it said that very clearly. and what we were doing was pushing back against this
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n.r.d.c. kind of complaint that they had in the court at the time. >> hill: that's the natural resources defense council, the n.r.d.c.? >> yes, we are pushing back against that. and, you know, ultimately, i think that our misstep was focusing on that, when we really should have just been trying to get the message out to the folks as clear as possible. >> hill: mr. mayor, the infrastructure bill through congress right now has $15 billion and the president wanted $45 billion. we're talking about some, across the nation i believe it's some 10 million lead service lines that need to be replaced. is $15 billion, based on your experience in newark, is that going get the job done? >> i think it's an incredible start to where we need to be. obviously, what happs is, see, the number of lead service lines is what people have on record, right. so, even in newark, we had on our record about 18,000 or so less service lines.
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we've changed over 20,000 now, right, because we didn't just go by what our records say, we actually went out to places that we assume may have this based on the age of the home, all this other stuff, and some of the places were changed by the grace of god, and other places we had to change ourselves. and so, i think that that number is going to increase, right. and so, those numbers, the funding is based on what people are estimating. i think when we really get in the ground, you'll figure out that it's probably a lot more lead service lines than people anticipate. and so, we're going to have to spend some real money to get these things fixed or changed. you know, our lead levelare below what the federal government requires, but they're way below now. you know, if you don't have a lead service line with the corrosion control work in the system as well, you know, the-- in some houses it's non detectable. and that's what we want. >> hill: even though it's below the e.p.a. of 15 parts per
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billion, i believe it is, even though the levels now are way below that, there are still some people who don't trust and aren't going to trust newark's water. what do you say to that? >> newark's had the finest water in the ste, probably in some of the top in the country for a very long time, that's why we always had all the beer companies here. you know, we have a huge water reservoir. we never had, when the state has a drought, newark never periences that. we have, you know, millions of gallons of water in reserve here in the city, in a pristine system up there that obviously has to be treated because it's out in the open. and i would tell people to get their water tested. like, it's free, and, you know, there is no secret, like, go ahead and get it done. and if you see something wrong or hear something wrong, you call the water department and they'll be right on out. >> hill: newark mayor ras baraka. mr. mayor, thank you for your time. >> absolutely.
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thank you. >> hill: that's all for this edition of “pbs newshour weekend.” for the latest news updates visit i'm michael hill. thanks for watching. stay healthy and have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access gro at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:
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sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthingn mayo- smith. leonard and norma klorfine. the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. barbara hopeuckerberg. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. addional support has been provided by: consumer cellular. and by: and by the corporation for
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public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
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