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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  August 6, 2021 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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resistant to vaccines, west virginia. today, amping up the urgency. that same urgency is apparent on the federal level. this week, we've seen the administration scrambling to speed up full-fda approval of vaccines to finalize a booster strategy. and now, according to "the new york times" and "washington post," authorize additional shots in the coming weeks from people, specifically with compromised-immune systems. we've, also, seen big companies doing their part. with amazon, today, for instance, becoming the latest mandating that all warehouse workers mask up, nationwide. that starts on monday. and all across the country, city, county, and state governments have been doing the same. today, new jersey's governor ordered mask wearing for everyone, vaccinated or not, in all schools, public and private, notably, from preschool through the 12th grade. not so, however, in texas or florida where governors not only oppose these measures.
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they've issued orders barring cities and counties from imposing them. florida's governor, ron desantis, framed it, today, as preserving parents' freedom to choose what is best for their children. he did not mention the fact that florida, now, leads the country in children hospitalized with severe infections from covid. and those such numbers are harder to come by for texas. telling cnn affiliate, ktrk, they have seen cases climb steeply. up 50%, in just the past several days. that is part of the backdrop of today's decision by houston school superintendent to propose a mask mandate in defiance of texas's governor. >> this mask mandate will be for our students, staff, and visitors at all of our schools, buses, and facilities. >> whether or not this holds, texas schools are, already, at a delta disadvantage.
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under new-state rules, they will not be required to do contact tracing, even if a student gets the virus. the -- the reasoning here, it just seems bizarre. quoting, now. the data from 20 to 21 showing very low covid-19 transmission rates in a classroom setting. in other words, they are basing policy for dealing with a new variant using numbers from before it was widespread here. and federal-health officials, all of the above is symptomatic. >> the places that are having the problem, the places that are having disease that is transmitted in the schools are the places that aren't taking the prevention strategies. um, the places that aren't masking. the places that you are seeing kids in the hospital. the footage of kids in the hospital are, all, places that are not taking mitigation strategies to keep our children safe. >> you heard her there. they are looking at the data. the places where the numbers are jumping. the places who are not taking
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these public-health measures. joining us now is the mayor of houston, sylvester turner. mayor, thank you so much for taking the time tonight. >> thanks, jim, for having me. >> so, you have, in effect, defied the republican governor of texas, greg abbott, by ordering city employees in houston to wear masks. we are seeing the houston schools superintendent do something similar for students, staff, and visitors. do you support that? do you think masks should be mandated in houston schools? >> i do. i do support that. i do support the -- the steps that the superintendent of the houston independent school district has taken. and hopefully, the board will concur. and they will debate and vote on that measure next week. and i do fully support it. look. respect to the city of houston. our municipal employees. i've seen the number of cases rise, dramatically, over the last couple of weeks. as of today -- as of today -- i have 122 municipal workers who have gotten sick with the virus.
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there are 88 police officers, in addition to that, and 40 firefighters who have come down with covid-19. three of my police officers are in the hospital, right now. and that number has increased, dramatically, over the last -- over the last two weeks. and the numbers continue to rise. so, to sit back and to do nothing, and to watch this situation occur when there could be healthcare measures put in place. that, at the very minimum, slow it down while we continue to encourage people to get the vaccine. would just -- would -- it's just not an -- an acceptable thing to do so i have a responsibility to protect the people in the city of houston. and do whatever i can to do that. >> that, of course, contradicts the republican governor's position on this. do you believe he will take additional steps, try to block the houston school system from doing this? >> well, jim, that, i -- i don't know. and, look. the -- the focus that i'm taking is on the health and safety of the people in this city. the same thing applies for the superintendent.
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look. we want to protect our children. school will be starting, you know, sometime-next week after next. and i think we have to employ every-available tool we have to ensure that we have in-person learning and that our children, the teachers, and all of the support personnel receive the measures that they need to keep themselves safe. >> you see that exact standard you're describing there. and by the way, what the recommendations are from the cdc and others from the texas education agency be -- because texas school districts. they're basically standing in the way of contact tracing, right? which is a recognized method of trying to keep the virus from spreading further, right? i mean, you -- you would think the best way to keep schools open, right, if folks get infected, you figure out who else might have been exposed and, you know, you take measures. but the tea is saying schools can't do that, anymore. and i am just wondering what your reaction is to see something like that. i mean, frankly, it looks
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politicized. >> well, it is. i will agree, it is a bit bizarre. from the beginning, when we started dealing with this virus, contact tracing has been one of the major tools that we put in place, in order to slow the progression. and to make sure that it -- it doesn't reach a greater population. it is a bit bizarre that the ta, the texas education agency, which say to the school districts that you -- it's -- contact tracing will not be required. it's my hope that they will reconsider that. >> uh-huh. >> and -- and adhere to the advice and the recommendations of the medical professionals in our -- in our state. >> well, we'll see. we'll be watching. mayor turner, we know you got a lot on your plate. we -- we wish you and the people at houston the best of luck. >> thanks, jim. appreciate it. now, some medical perspective from, both, texas and florida. facing their own surges here. houston, dr. peter hotez, he is co-director for vaccine development at texas children's hospital. and in miami beach, florida, dr.
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eileen marty, she is infectious disease expert at florida international university. thanks to both you. dr. hotez, if i could begin with you, you heard the mayor of houston there, city. you know, of course, very well. you know, struggling with this, right? because the -- the -- the health advice is clear. you know, on things like masking, contact tracing, et cetera. but now, even as the delta variant is -- is -- is getting worse, you see even more of a pushback against these simple-health measures. tell us, as a medical professional, what impact that's having. >> yeah. you know, jim, i've spoken to mayor turner, off and on, quite a bit in the last two years. and there's -- there's -- there are few other public officials who are as committed to halting covid-19 as mayor turner. and enormous respect for -- for his abilities and his insights. and he's -- he's right. i mean, we have to do everything we can to protect our children, especially in the schools. look. we don't want to reproduce what we're, already, seeing in
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louisiana, mississippi, and florida. which is, now we're starting to see large numbers of young people pile into hospitals and lots of kids going into pediatric intensive-care units. and to me, that's the game changer. we've not seen kids pile into picus, pediatric icus, across the south like we're seeing right now. we didn't see that nearly as much last summer, as far as i can tell. we don't want to reproduce that here. we have to give our kids every chance and -- and quite honestly, i would take it even a step further. yes, mask mandates. i think we absolutely need vaccination mandates for schools if we're really going to give our kids our best hope. so every kid over the age of 12 needs to be vaccinated in schools. >> dr. marty, the state of florida is, as you know, now has the dubious distinction of leading the country right now. i mean, it's effectively the current epicenter of, in particular this delta outbreak. when we talk about children, in particular, are you, like dr. hotez, seeing more cases? and i guess, the question is
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why? is the delta variant fundamentally more dangerous to children? >> so, let me start by saying that the numbers of cases in our hospitals in children and our children's hospitals are completely overwhelmed. the local hospital here has 116% occupancy for covid. that is mind boggling. our pediatricians, the nursing, the staff are exhausted. and the -- the children are suffering and it is absolutely devastating. yes, this delta variant is far more aggressive. it, also, carries a special mutation that alters cells it gets into. so the cells sort of melt into each other, and form a s-- this makes it much harder for the immune system to tackle that virus. so we are dealing with a virus that is far more contagious. that we are seeing fully-vaccinated people able to -- to askew just as much as
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virus particles as unvaccinated. thank goodness, don't end up in the hospital, usually. but they are sick. our children are very much affected. we've never seen numbers like this, before. and we really need to take the steps that are, absolutely, necessary to reduce the transmission which means not just vaccinations but using the public-health measures that we, all, know, the nonpharmaceutical ones, that work to reduce transmission. >> trouble is, as you know, dr. marty, and you know as well, dr. hotez, is -- is that the politics has gotten in the way of recognized public-health measures. first, to you, if i can, dr. marty. you -- you have a governor there who's -- who's outright banning, right, some of these public-health measures. he says, you know, as it relates to schools, that he is trying to protect parents' rights here. given what you're seeing there
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in those pediatric units, what's your response to him? >> well, florida has, for decades, since 1984, had phenomenal, excellent vaccine mandates. and florida has, for decades, done things to protect the health and welfare of children. it is normal for the government to impose certain restrictions on parental behavior. the temperature of the faucets. the protecting swimming pools. not letting your child sit in a hot car. all these things, yes, they -- they alter how women and men can raise their children. but in a way that protects the children and that's the same thing that has to be taken into consideration here. >> yeah. by the way, child seats, right? i mean, required by law. dr. hotez, fda is looking at the possibility of speeding up booster doses, particularly for people who are immunocompromised. but there is also this question of, you know, speeding up, if
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that's even possible, but -- but approval of the vaccine for -- for -- for children younger than 12. and i -- and i wonder what you think is the right thing to do, as the delta variant, you know, takes hold here? >> yeah. i think we're not going to have the approval for kids under 12 soon enough. and -- and certainly, during this early part of the -- of this massive surge we're seeing across the south. so we're going to have to get by with maximizing vaccinations among adults and adolescents. and by the way, if you do that, it has an extraordinary impact. where if you notice, we're not seeing those big surges across the northern states if you can get all of the adults and adolescents vaccinated like they're doing. so that has to be a -- a priority. and as you mention, you know, the good news is we vaccinated half the u.s. population. the bad news is we've not vaccinated half the u.s. population. and about 35% of that is vaccine eligible. that has to be -- and a lot of that is down here, in the south. i think the other for
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immunocompromised, those on immunosuppressive therapy. we have two studies at least showing those who are on immunosuppressive therapy from solid organ transplants do benefit from a third immunization. one study out of france. one out of johns hopkins. and yes, i think we need to move in that direction, as well. >> well, dr. hotez, dr. marty, we know you got a lot of hard work to do. thank you for what you're doing. and thanks for joining us tonight. >> thanks so much. >> pleasure. coming up next. new york governor andrew cuomo, now firing back at the sexual-harassment investigation and report that it put him on the verge of impeachment. later, exclusive reporting from the very dangerous ground in afghanistan where the taliban is, quickly, on the march. centrum multigummies aren't just great tasting... they're power-packed vitamins... that help unleash your energy. loaded with b vitamins... ...and other key essential nutrients...'s a tasty way to conquer your day. try centrum multi gummies. now with a new look. welcome back to milkshake mustaches, high fives and high dives.
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through his attorneys on the allegations and evidence, 165 pages worth, against him. more now from cnn's erica hill. >> this investigation was conducted in a manner to support a predetermined narrative. >> reporter: an attorney for governor andrew cuomo slamming the findings in the attorney general's report. >> governor andrew cuomo sexually harassed multiple women. and in doing so, violated federal and state law. >> reporter: and the investigators behind it calling into question their independence and their methods. >> we're entitled to get the transcripts, the underlying documents that support that report. this was one sided, and he was ambushed. >> reporter: the attorney general's office responding in a statement. there are 11 women, whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate. the friday-afternoon press
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conference, coming just hours after learning of the first-criminal complaint filed against the governor by a current staffer. identified in the ag's report as executive assistant number one. >> on november 16th, 2020, in the executive mansion, the governor hugged executive assistant number one, and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. this was the culmination of a pattern of inappropriate-sexual conduct, including numerous close and intimate hugs. >> reporter: allegations, the governor denies. >> a woman in my office who said that i groped her in my home office. let me be clear. that never happened. >> reporter: his attorney, pointing to visitor logs from the governor's mansion, and e-mails that day she says support his claim. my client has consistently said and testified that she did not know the exact date the accuser's attorney told cnn and she will respond further, in due course. allegations from a former member of cuomo's security detail,
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identified as trooper number one, also, raising new questions. at least three county das have asked the ag for information about her claims. >> in an elevator, while standing behind the trooper, he ran his finger from her neck down her spine and said, hey, you. another time, she was standing, holding the door open for the governor. as he passed, he took his open hand and ran it across her stomach. she told us that she felt completely violated. >> the governor will address that allegation, himself. and so, i will let him speak, for himself, when he does. >> where will he do that? >> i can't give you a timeline, but i know he wants to do it soon. >> erica hill joins us, now. erica, there are -- there are additional questions about why, specifically, this trooper was hired. the report suggests she was transferred to the governor's security detail pretty quickly after one, brief meeting. did -- did we learn more details about that today?
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>> yeah, actually, his attorney was asked specifically about that. what was it the governor saw in that one, brief meeting that encouraged him to -- to think that she should be transferred to his detail? so his attorney said, and i just want to make sure i get this correct here -- said that brief encounter, he quote liked how she maintained eye contact and is that she was assertive. he also -- she also said that the governor did not change the qualifications for her hiring. that's a question that cam e up. it was such a brief meeting and she actually didn't have the required amount of service, at that time, to be on the governor's detail but was transferred, anyway. he also said in his testimony, jim, that he needed more diversity on his security detail and she, being a woman, helped with that. >> okay. erica hill, good to have you on the story. for more, particularly on the legal questions, we are joined now by former federal prosecutor, kimberly wearily. good to have you back on. i want to start with the -- the governor's lawyers' argument here against the investigation, itself. they argue that there was no
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open-minded fact finding. that's their wording. in this case. that they didn't have access to the evidence that investigators for the ag's office had. what kind of legal grounds would they have to -- to -- to meet for that pushback to -- to stand? >> well, at this point, jim, there's really nothing pending, specifically, against mr. cuomo. so if -- if there were a criminal charge that came out of this investigation, his lawyers would be able to push back, to challenge the evidence, to get additional facts. and in this moment, it's -- it's a report about not just mr. cuomo's behavior but what looks like a -- a culture of harassment and intimidation that many people were complicit in. and i think that's really a critical element of this story that gets lost. >> okay. the -- there -- there are questions there, particularly on the civil side, on the -- on the criminal question here, right? in layman's terms, this criminal complaint filed by this one woman against the governor, in
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this case with the al ba bany sheriff's office. what happens from there? does a da, in effect, have to look at the evidence here and then decide whether or not to proceed? >> there are reports there are a number of das in various parts of the state of new york that asked for this information. regular people can't -- we hear about pressing charges but regular people can't bring charges. the government has to bring charges. so this complaint would give rise to, potentially, an investigation. and of course, without witnesses, government cannot bring charges. so the fact that someone's willing to testify, presumably, against mr. cuomo in the criminal context suggests that -- that this might move someplace. but in this moment, there's nothing criminally pending against mr. cuomo that we are aware of. >> what would the -- the -- the burden of proof be? i mean, what's the threshold to establish criminal behavior here with any -- with any of the allegations, so far? >> so, it would be if it were ever to be charged either through a grand jury or what's called information, then it
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would go to a jury. beyond a reasonable doubt. very high standard there. we also don't know what could possibly be charged. groping, physically groping without consent under new york law can be assault, it can carry jail time. but then, we also have this other, pending question of impeachment. and we saw this twice with the last president, donald trump. and -- and strangely, under new york law, unlike under the federal constitution, there is no standard, jim. we know it's high crimes and misdemeanors under federal law. for new york law, we don't know. so that's really a big question. and unlike, again, with the -- with donald trump and the republican party, democrats are not coming to mr. cuomo's defense. so there might be more political accountability, before there's any legal accountability for what looks like some serious wrongdoing, potentially. >> that's right. two tracks -- arguably, three tracks, because then you have the civil track, as well. maybe, seeking financial damages. kim wehle, appreciate the time. thanks for breaking it down. >> thank you, jim. new reporting on jeffrey clark, the high-ranking member
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of the justice department under the former president and his apparent willingness to go ahead with the president's attempts to undermine the election, despite receiving a classified briefing that said his information was simply wrong. that's coming up. we have to be able to repair the enamel on a daily basis. with pronamel repair toothpaste, we can help actively repair enamel in its weakened state. it's innovative. my go to toothpaste is going to be pronamel repair. as someone who resembles someone else...
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breaking news, tonight, on jeffrey clark. the once-little-known justice department lawyer in the last administration who has now become a major figure in the saga of then-president efforts -- the then-president's efforts to get the doj to interfere with the nation's election results on his behalf to overturn the election. cnn's learned that around new year's, 2021, clark received a classified briefing from then-director of national intelligence, john ratcliffe, that showed there was no evidence that foreign interference had impacted the vote tallies in the vote. which went against his
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conspiracy theories that clark was pushing at the doj, in support of the outgoing president. one of the theories clark was spreading -- we're not making this up -- was that chinese intelligence used special kinds of thermometers to change results in voting machines. again, i'm not making that up. meanwhile, tonight, cnn has learned that another, former high-ranking doj official, former-acting deputy attorney general, richard donoghue, testified before the senate judiciary committee, today. donoghue, according to his own notes, previously, provided to congress, resisted pressure from trump to interfere with the election results. democratic senator, mazie hirono, sits on the judiciary committee. i spoke with her, just before air. senator, hirono, i know you, of course, cannot divulge into details of the private testimony of richard donoghue before the judiciary committee today. but -- but in general terms, how much closer do you believe congress is to learning the full scope of what then-president
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trump and at least one loyalist, it appears, in the justice department, jeffrey clark, were trying to do here? >> i think we are getting closer to the -- the full range of trump's big lie. and his use of the department of justice, like it was his own law firm. jumping over the attorney general -- acting-attorney general. and trying to get them to push out the big lie. and so, we are closer to getting to the truth. by the way, is -- this is important because the big lie is, still, going on with all of these voter-suppression bills being considered in state legislatures. >> and so many people, sadly, buy the -- the big lie. >> yeah. >> there's -- there's new reporting that -- that jeffrey clark was, actually, given a high-level intelligence briefing by trump's own appointee as director of national intelligence, john ratcliffe, was told directly. there was no evidence of foreign interference in the election, which clark had been trying to float at the doj.
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but that clark didn't believe ratcliffe. basically, that there was no information that would convince him otherwise. >> jeffrey clark is turning out to be trump's guy in the department of justice. and he tried to replace the attorney general with this person that would have been disastrous. thank goodness that there are other people in the doj, who still thought that they were a separate department, apart from the -- from trump. but this went far. you know, president went far to -- to get -- to -- to perpetuate his big lie and to overturn the election result. >> i mean, we saw a process underway here, right? repeated fronts where the president was -- was trying to overturn the election. >> uh-huh. >> abc news reporting that clark had actually circulated a letter, internally, in the doj. falsely, claiming that the justice department had identified, quote, significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election. we know, already, that --
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that -- that bill barr who, of course, prior, was trump's guy, had said no. had not found such evidence. >> yes. and therefore, trump, i think, really leaned on jeffrey clark to do his bidding. and we now have an attorney general who is saying that we are not going to assert executive privilege. we all can testify and -- and produce documents. huge difference. >> yeah. >> in having an attorney general, who views the -- the -- the ag's office as not just the law firm for the president. >> one sad consequence in the last several years is we have seen the limits of the power of a congressional subpoena, right? that they've been challenged in court, delayed, delayed, defied. >> uh-huh. >> are you concerned that clark, trump, himself, other allies that -- that you want to hear from to -- to complete this investigation will try to fight or ignore subpoenas? how can you enforce 'em? >> oh, i'm sure they -- they'll try to do both, and so we are
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going to need to resort to the courts. or i would hope that, maybe, we can think about legislation that will prevent this kind of -- from happening. that's why it's important for us to figure out what -- what went on. >> yeah. >> there's a lot that went on that shouldn't have happened. >> senator mazie hirono, good luck to you, and thanks for your time. >> thank you. well, there is a lot more ahead, on this busy friday. as united airlines joins a growing list of companies requiring employees to be vaccinated. what about a vaccine mandate, next, for passengers? it's a question with no, easy answers. we'll take a look. centrum multigummies aren't just great tasting... they're power-packed vitamins... that help unleash your energy. loaded with b vitamins... ...and other key essential nutrients...'s a tasty way to conquer your day. try centrum multi gummies. now with a new look. my name is monique, i'm 41, and i'm a federal contract investigator. as a single parent,
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go to and see how golo can change your life. that's at the top of the program, we spoke about the issue of mask mandates in school with children, now, returning to the classroom. or will be, very soon. masks, of course, have been required on airlines, since the start of the pandemic. but the question of vaccination, now, looms large. united airlines now says it will require all of its employees to be vaccinated by late october. those who do not must show a
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valid religious reason, by then, or be fired. but when it comes to passengers, there is no-such vaccine mandate, yet. writing in the atlantic, ju juliette kayyem favors the idea. suggests that unvaccinated people are being ordered around arbitrarily. she argues quote, what is actually going on mostly is that institutions are shifting burdens to unvaccinated people denying them access to certain spaces. requiring them to take regular covid-19 tests. charging them for the cost of that testing, rather than imposing greater burdens on everyone else. americans, still, have a choice to go unvaccinated. but that means giving up on certain societal benefits. juliette kayyem joins me tonight, along with cnn political commentator, mary katharine ham. juliette, this question is obviously one that is causing a lot of controversy and division, now. explain why you think a vaccine requirement would be a good idea, specifically for -- for airlines, given the risk
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involved there. what's your argument? >> so, it's not really about what's happening on the airplanes. it has to do with what can we do to put a burden on the unvaccinated? so that they begin to get vaccinated. that's the only solution here. we have about 93 million americans who are not vaccinated, yet. 20% of them are in the never-never world. and about 80% of them are moveable and they are telling us what's going to move them. a lot of them want fda approval. others want to be able to access the vaccine in their doctor's offices. but 41% of them, overall, say that a -- a ban on the ability to fly would, actually, move them or convince them to get vaccines. this is the time when we have to continue with the care. it's make sure we have access for communities that don't have access. you know, fight the -- the disinformation. but we have to begin to use the sticks in a way that gets more americans to the vaccination line. >> mk, federal government does require us to do a lot of things, right? i mean, for instance, to get on a plane, you got to go through a
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metal detector. and -- and it's widely understood, you're doing that, you know, to protect all of us, right? to keep bad guys off the plane with guns or bombs. why can't you make a similar argument for -- for vaccines, in this case? >> well, i think you can make that argument. but i think it's incumbent upon us to look at the downsides of these things. i think, too often, during this public-health crisis, and it is a crisis, and talk to people you trust if you haven't got a vaccine, yet. and -- and hash through that with them. i am -- i am convinced that the persuasion part of it actually shouldn't be over. um, and that the punitive part, perhaps, has come on very heavy handed in the last couple of weeks and i'm not sure how effective that's going to be. but there's, too often, during this, we have jumped to sort of maximal curtailing of liberties in hopes that it would have really good outcomes. in my area, they haven't had school, in person, or didn't, for about 12 months. and then, minimally, at best. and it turned out that, that had had a lot of really bad effects
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on kids. when it comes to flying, for instance, can i fly with my kids? there is no vaccine for them. um, that would cause real problems for families. it causes problems for people who need medical exemptions for vaccines. and then, there -- like i said, this punitive part of it. i just am not sure how effective it is because what you had, for a long time when there was no vaccine was, hey, why don't these selfish jerks who won't stay inside, stay inside? well, those selfish jerks were actually working and doing the things people who were staying home couldn't do, right? there is not a small number of those exact people who are hesitant. so now, it's like, hey, why don't you selfish jerks do this? and it's like, well, they're not selfish. they were serving in a lot of capacities and you see those unions, for instance, saying, i'm not sure about a mandate. >> i think there's some misrepresentation about my point. i mean, just, mary katharine, i want to be clear. obviously, there are exceptions for medical issues or exceptions for children.
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so let's just be clear, what the data is telling us rather than talk theoretically. the data is telling us both that carrots and sticks work. >> new york's approach is interesting, right? because a vaccine passport. i mean, you could still choose not to be vaccinated but it gives you benefits, in effect. i mean, i've talked about this. it's sort of like a vaccine-gold card. right? it gets you access to broadway or to a cruise liner. you know what i am saying? would you be more open to doing it as a, here are the rewards for vaccination as opposed to here are the penalties for being unvaccinated. >> i certainly like that argument better but here is the thing. i would call myself weary, at best. and juliette, i'm not assigning to you -- what i am worried about is with the individual airlines or with the government sort of monitoring this situation, that it won't be done effectively so those people really end up in the lurch. in new york, already, they have essentially written children out of public life. they have made the rule about the vaccine passports. children don't have them.
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so these sort of things happen, in the implementation of these things. the other issue i have is, look, we are already talking about and we advocate again for the vaccines. it is a miracle they were come up with so quickly. >> yep. >> we were already talking about boosters, within six months. so i think people are right to be concerned that this is not the only ask. >> the issue, right, to both of you, is that, you know, when we talk about folks making choices here. there's a -- the well has been poisoned by disinformation. >> yeah. >> it's not like folks are looking, well, my doctor says this and here are the side effects, et cetera. you have loads of folks just lying to people, right? saying the vaccine doesn't work. saying that hiydroxychloroquine can do the same thing as a vaccine, right? so, i wonder, given that disinformation -- which is coming, by the way, not just from folks in media but even some politicians, right? >> yeah. >> do you need a more forceful hand? >> yes. people are free not to get the vaccine but they should not be
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free to do anymore is to keep pushing the cost of not getting vaccinated on the vaccinated and our kids. >> and, kay, you get the last word. >> yeah. i would just say that freedom is not just an idea. it's incredibly important part of american life and it is right to push back with concerns about losing precipitously more of it as we've gone through this. and people are right to have questions about exactly when does the goalpost stop moving? >> mary katharine ham, juliette kayyem, thanks so much to both of you. >> thank you. have a good weekend. coming up next. an exclusive report from the battle lines in afghanistan with taliban forces, quickly, gaining ground. el on a daily basis. with pronamel repair toothpaste, we can help actively repair enamel in its weakened state. it's innovative. my go to toothpaste is going to be pronamel repair. you founded your kayak company because you love the ocean- not spreadsheets. you need to hire. i need indeed. indeed you do.
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just a brutal day in afghanistan. weeks before the u.s. is expected to complete its withdrawal of forces from the country, the taliban easily captured a major provincial
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capital. this one, on the border with iran. the first to fall since the biden administration announced a full withdrawal of u.s. troops by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. another, big target is kandahar. major city. cnn's clarissa ward got exclusive access to the fighting there. >> reporter: on the road to kandahar's front line, there is still civilian traffic. even as the taliban inches deeper into the city. afghan commandoes have agreed the take us to one of their bases. this used to be a wedding hall. now it's the front line position. most of the fighting here happens at night. the taliban snipers are at work 24 hours a day. >> from snipers? >> yes. >> the men tell us the taliban are hiding in houses just 50 yards away from us. >> and they shoot from people's homes? >> yeah. you see this is our civilians' homes. we cannot use, you know, the big weapons, the heavy weapons.
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>> reporter: up on the roof major habibulah shaheen wants to show us something. >> you can actually see the taliban flag just over on the mountaintop there. >> you see flag. >> reporter: it's been nearly a month since the taliban penetrated afghanistan's second largest city. since then these men haven't had a break. u.s. airstrikes only come in an emergency. rest of the time it's up to them to hold the line. "we feel a little bit weak without u.s. airstrikes and ground support and equipment," he says, "but this is our soil and we have to defend it." >> using heavy weapons. >> reporter: in a villa in the eastern part of the city kandahari lawmaker ghul ahmed khamin is hunkered down. in decades of war he says he's never seen the fighting this bad. >> millions of people in this city are waiting for when they
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will be killed, when someone will kill them, when their home will be destroyed, and it is happening every minute. >> reporter: just spell out for me here, the taliban is basically surrounding the entire city of kandahar now. is that correct? >> definitely, yes. >> reporter: and so where is there to go? >> nowhere. so there is only two options -- do or die. >> reporter: do or die. >> yes. >> reporter: and what does do look like? >> that is the thing to convince different sides to cease-fire, to work on peace, to convince them not to fight, not to kill. >> reporter: but that is a tall order in a city where war has become part of everyday life. >> you can probably see there is a lot more cars on the road than
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there were previously, and that's because in just two minutes at 6:00 p.m. the cell phone network gets cut across the city, and that's when the fighting usually starts. [ explosions ] throughout the night the sounds of gunfire and artillery pierce the darkness. kandahar is the birthplace of the taliban. they are intent on taking it back. and the government knows it cannot afford to lose it. by day an eerie calm holds. the u.n. says more than 10,000 people are now displaced in this city. on the outskirts of town we find 30 families camped out in an abandoned construction site. he's saying that none of these children have fathers, all of their fathers have been killed in the fighting. 35-year-old rubina fled with her two daughters to escape fighting after her husband was shot dead.
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but still, it gets closer and closer. "last night i didn't sleep all night," she says. "and the fear was in my heart." in the short time we are there more families arrive. street vendor mahmed ismail says they fled the village of malejad after an airstrike hit. "three dead bodies were rotting outside our home for days but it was too dangerous to get them," he says. "the talent is attacking on one side. the government is attacking the other side. in the middle we are just losing." back at the base dust coats the chairs where wedding guests would normally sit. as the siege of kandahar continues, life here is in limbo with no end in sight. >> clarissa, the taliban has marched through a large section of the country. what do we know about how much additional territory the taliban is claiming?
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>> reporter: well, today there was another grim milestone, jim. they took zaranj, which is the provincial capital in nimruz. this is the first provincial capital that the taliban has exclusively taken. but unfortunately it doesn't look like it's going to be the last. 17 of afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals are now under threat by the taliban. three of them are completely under siege. kandahar, as you saw in that piece, one of them, completely surrounded by the taliban. they're in control of a quarter of the city and making gains every day. and the broader concern across the country is that things are very quickly unraveling. and no one yet knows, jim, how can these gains from the taliban be reversed? can afghan forces successfully launch some kind of counteroffensive? so you have really profound anxiety being felt everywhere amid an increasingly grim situation, jim. >> i'm sure. and i'm sure the people are genuinely scared. clarissa ward, thanks so much. it's good to have you on the
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♪ crews in northern california are thankfully making progress in the fight against a wildfire raging just northeast of sacramento. it is now about 30% contained but has burned so far 2600 acres and forced thousands of people to evacuate with more than 3,000 more still in jeopardy. at least three people including a firefighter have been hurt but officials say their injuries thankfully are not life-threatening. the news continues. so let's hand it over to michael smerconish sitting in tonight for chris and "cuomo prime time." jim, thank you for that. i am michael smerconish in for chris cuomo. welcome to the primetime covid command center. we have finally crossed the halfway mark but still a long way to go. can't stop now. half the u.s. population now fully vaccinated. nearly seven months after the vaccine rollout began.