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tv   ABC7 News Getting Answers  ABC  February 24, 2022 3:00pm-3:30pm PST

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>> building a better bay area, moving forward, finding solutions. this is abc 7 news. kristen: hi there. i'm kristen sze. here watching getting answers. we're asking experts your questions. today, we have dr. bob walker to discuss the white house's move to overhaul the nation's covert strategy as we move out of pandemic mode. also, yesterday we had uc berkeley on to discuss how a lawsuit is about to force the university to have to reject thousands more applicants. today, the berkeley neighborhood group that brought the suit will be joining us. but first, the crisis in ukraine as pressure goes fulltilt with its assault. russian forces have today taken control of chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen.
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joining is now to discuss the latest developments and the reaction from the u.s. and nato, director of stanford center of democracy, also the author of russia resurrected: its power and purpose in a new world order. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. kristen: let's start with this. how well or not well is ukraine defending itself in its key city so far? >> i think it's doing the best it can with what it has. it's military compared to the russian military is minuscule. and it has culled up its reserves. it has a reasonable sized reservist army. but all of the ukrainian military forces put together come out to maybe 300,000 troops. they're nowhere near as well armed or well-trained, unfortunately, as the russian military forces, which have been modernized and updated, and
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battle hardened because they have been active also, most recently in syria. so, given what they have, they are doing pretty well. kristen: what targets are being hit? >> so, my understanding is that, initially, they're primarily military targets, so not civilian targets as much right now. however, the russian military also appears to be targeting infrastructure and taking over powerplant that would give a lot of leverage, obviously, to the russian occupiers. and we're just waiting to see whether downtown care for the other cities that have been targeted -- denton kyiv or the other cities that have been targeted. kristen: he mentioned kyiv. there certainly have been
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bombings and people have been trying to get out, but certainly not everybody. i want to ask you if you think putin's strategy here is to take the city and ultimately, the government. what do you think is happening here? >> yeah, i think so. i think the goal, and he more or less painted it out for us in a speech that he gave on monday, which granted against the corrupt elites that have brainwashed people in ukraine and that they are controlled by the west, and he more or less threatened president zelensky and his government. so, i think that will be the goal and i think he was intelligence also has told us everything they've said has been pretty accurate so far, unfortunately. but they also did mention that there is a list of possible replacements, putting in a government that would be loyal to putin and what is sovereign ukraine.
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this is a separate country of 44 million people. kristen: right, so perhaps a puppet government, one the answers to him. is his goal to put the old soviet union back together? >> you know, i don't think so, not in terms of the political economic system. he's no communist. but in terms of the territory of the soviet union, i think there are certain areas where he has told us again, monday night, that he things are, you know, russia. not the soviet union, but russia. and one of those is ukraine. and he could move against other places, but i don't think that he's going to take central asia or challenge the article five nato commitment to protect the baltic republics. kristen: let's talk about what could be next, because obviously that's the control -- concern of nato countries. the u.s. is looking at this to
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the west of ukraine, there are a lot of now democratic nations from the former soviet bloc. who is at risk your? >> -- here? >> well, you mean former warsaw pact countries, so that would be poland, romania. but i don't think it's very realistic that the russian army, again, will go into poland or romania because they are members of nato. remember, ukraine is not a member of nato so we don't have any kind of article five commitment to defend ukraine. kristen: it wants to be. >> yes, it has wanted to be for almost 10 years now, but there was no membership action plan. that usually takes eight to 10 years from just even having such a plan to joining. so it's not a member of nato, and that's why we're not putting boots on the ground there. we don't have missiles despite what mr. putin says. they're not in ukraine.
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they're a peaceful country that has been independent for 30 years. kristen: so if not boots on the ground, right now our response is sanctions, economic sanctions. i just heard the u.s. treasury announced additional actions. what are they? >> yeah, i was just reading those. so these are much more extensive actions against the russian financial banking system, really targeting a lot of russian assets so that the big bank -- they actually added a number of big banks here beyond the two big ones they targeted earlier this week. the big ones here that have been added are spare among, which is quite notable because it's where most russians keep their assets. so this is going to hurt the average person. the gazprom bank, alpha bank. and then beyond that, they also targeted the families of people
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very close to mr. putin, the sense of some very wealthy men who are close to mr. putin. go ahead, sorry. kristen: sorry. i thought you were done with that. i was just going to follow up. president biden was pressed on whether the most severe economic sanctions have been imposed yet because reporters asked about a personal sanction against putting himself and cutting pressure off from this swift international banking system. why aren't those things happening now? >> so i think with respect to swift, that's in easy one to answer. once they've done that, you can't really do much else. and that is the financial nuclear option. and i think the goal here is to slowly ratchet things up. so keeping that in the quiver, not that it wouldn't be done. and then putting himself, you could do that, but he doesn't really keep his assets in his name etc. russia. he keeps them -- outside of
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russia. he keeps them in the name of his people. so it may not be that effective on paper. it looks like he has not many assets, and has may be hundred thousand dollars. -- may kristen: with sanctions, it's really a game of chicken, and it takes a long time to really hit home and hurt. who do you think is poised to outlast the other here? >> well, you know, i as he said, initially mr. putin has been planning for this for a long time, not necessarily just even the past five or six months, but even before that. and russia has developed a warchest of financial powers, abilities. they have $700 billion in
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foreign reserves. that's one of the biggest foreign reserves counts in the world. the economy has been growing at 4.3%, 4.4%. so, they have retrained, reformed their army, and they're extremely determined here. and they care a lot about ukraine. and i'm just worried we don't as much, of course. kristen: how does this work out for ukraine in that they don't seem to have a lot of time the way russian troops are moving in? and putin does seem to have time because of the way he has prepared himself. >> i'm afraid it may not work out for ukraine at all. the goal is to absorb it. mr. putin has said they won't occupy it. but of course, he said a lot of things that turned out to be true in the last week or so. so, i'm afraid that what may well happen here is that ukraine
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loses its sovereignty and we will have a guerrilla war that will go on because the ukrainian people do not want this to happen, and they will fight it. they said they will fight it, and i know from friends and colleagues i have their, they are signing up for the reserves. they are getting equipment and they will fight it. kristen: dr. catherine stoner, thank you for joining us today with your insight. >> thank you for having me. kristen: and we'll be right back. the mask mandate is set to end in the final bay area county that's been holding out. so how do you assess if it's finally ok, safe for you to take off your mask?
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kristen: santa clara county
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announced today at noon that it's planning to drop its indoor mask mandate next week. the county was the last in the bay area to require masks. how the visuals there wanted to see kay's levels fall to a more acceptable level, and they say they're just about thee. dr. walker, always great to see you. things were coming on. >> my pleasure. kristen: santa clara county the last county in the area to have that mask mandate, but only for a few more days. by the way, that's only for vaccinated people. but assess for us where we are at right now with cases and hospitalizations, and how you feel about that. >> good. pretty good shape. we're coming down very rapidly in, hospitalizations, test positivity rates, every way you look at it. the promise from what we had seen in south africa of the rapid up and wrap it down with omicron is what exactly what we're seeing. so we're not quite at the level that i'm looking at to resume
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indoor dining's and dining and taking my mask of and large crowds, but we are getting close. kristen: ok. and what will convince you that you could do that? >> yeah, it's an arbitrary number. it really is a level of virus in the community that makes me feel like it's quite likely that the person sitting at the next table at the restaurant doesn't have covid. and that number, to me, is 10 cases per 100,000 people per day, and san francisco, as one example, is at about 20 now. a month ago, it was 200. so it's plummeting. i expect next week, it would be that number. would it be wrong to do that today? i don't think so. it's just a slightly higher risk. kristen: you going to make a dinner reservation for maybe three weeks from today? >> three weeks i think is pretty safe. kristen: google announced today that it's allowing workers to
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come back into the office voluntarily, and they will have to wear their masks as long as they are vaccinated. i imagine many other places are doing the same. i wonder if you think that's workable and safe practice in a big office. >> yeah, i think so. i'm hoping that they and others have thought about their office space and thought about better ventilation to be on the safe side. i'd say if everybody's had their three shots -- and very key -- if the rate of covid in the community has fallen to a very, very low level, then you're talking about a very, very small chance that any individual person has covid, a very small chance they would be able to transmit it. and an incredibly small chance they would get sick and die if they get it. so all of those possibilities multiply together to make it safe as long as the case rates are very, very low. kristen:'s or president biden will speak more about the nation's new path in his state of the union on tuesday. his team and the cdc are working on the details right now.
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perhaps you're a part of that, as well. what do you expect they will come up with? >> i think it would probably member what we heard from california. the california plan, i thought was a very thoughtful way of thinking about the next stage, and the next stage is one in which there is still covid around. i think it's going to be around probably forever. everyone's had in opportunity to be vaccinated, and most people have, so we're really looking at a long game here. what are the things we need to do to keep ourselves safe as we move to this different stage of the pandemic, recognizing that it is much safer and we can begin doing some things that we've given up for the last couple years? the also recognizing that no one can guarantee to you that that will be the way things are forever more. it's possible that we will see surges in the future, and we have to have ways of monitoring for that and be willing to re-up some of our restrictions if that happens again, although we're all going to hope that it doesn't. kristen: definitely hope for
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that. we're hearing experts are giving out various scenarios, paths of that the virus could take to ensure that the government is prepared no matter what happens. but to you, what are the potential paths from best case to worst-case scenario with this virus? >> the best case is we don't see another nasty variant, certainly nothing nastier than omicron, that the immunity that people have from their vaccines continues to hold up. and if it wanes, then we approve a fourth shot, that the people that got their immunity not from vaccination, and i will reiterate that they made a bad choice, but if they didn't get there immunity but they got omicron, that that immunity holds up, in which case we will see a low level of virus, but one that provides a pretty low level of threat to the community, really not that different than a flu year. that's the best case. the worst case is either a new variant comes and is nastier than omicron, or the immunity
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that people got from their infection, if they have not been vaccinated, doesn't last very long in which case they will become vulnerable again and we have the makings of another surge. kristen: so all those things are possible, all those scenarios. >> they are. kristen: come monday, dr. mark galli is expected to announce what will happen to the school mask mandate, which is still in place. what you think is most likely at this point? >> i don't have any inside information on that. i was asked to look at the report that came out last week, but i haven't seen anything around the schools. i don't know. i think it's becoming an increasingly challenging position, politically, to keep the mask mandate going in schools. and i think at some levels, it's a challenging position to say that for the grown-ups, it's ok to go in a bar and be shoulder to shoulder. we're ok to go to work without your mask. but for the kids, you have to keep your mask on. i think that's a tricky position to defend because, of course,
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the kids are at relatively low risk, and relatively low risk of getting sick, and the downside of masks, which i don't think are super, are more than they are for adults. so, lower risk and may be higher cost of masking on the kids, so i think it's hard to defend the position of full unmasking when the case rates are incredibly low and really getting to the point they are so low, it's hard for them to defend, continue mask mandate in the schools. kristen: that is true. as a parent, i'm often hypocritical and inconsistent with my child. i'm not doing that. i'm just telling you not to do it. >> i think we all are. and it supported to say that if there's no mandate, it doesn't mean you can't make a choice to have your kid wear a mask. if there's no mandate, it it does mean that you can't make a choice for you to wear a mask. it becomes a personal issue. kristen: any reason to be concerned right now about the subvariant, ba.2? >> not really. a little bit more infectious than the original omicron, but
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not so much that it's a game changer. the biggest reason to be concerned about is it demonstrates when we say omicron is as bad as it can get, well, actually not, because this thing is a little bit more infectious than the original version, but not so much so that it really changes the game. kristen: i was great talking to you. thank you so much. >> my pleasure. kristen: coming up next, we'll talk to a berkeley man who is leading the call for uc to actually build less, which led to a
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kristen: california high school seniors who applied to uc berkeley are waiting for the supreme court to decide whether it's going to step in in the case of a berkeley neighborhood group versus expansion plans. that intervention, if it comes, could be the difference between thousands of qualified students being accepted or rejected for lack of space. now, as things stand now, a lower court ruling means cal may
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have to cut its new enrollment by one third. yesterday, we were joined by university spokesperson and senator scott weiner, of berke's neighborhoods -- save a berkeley's neighborhoods, the group that filed the lawsuit. thank you for coming on the show today. >> thank you for inviting me. it's a pleasure to be here. kristen: so, cal has a severe housing crunch. less than 10% of students live in university housing. it has the lowest percentage of bets for the student body than any campus in the uc system. so i want to get to the bottom and the heart of what you filed the suit. is it to stop the construction of new housing for students? or is it something different? >> so, in fact, in this very lawsuit in which we're involved, we wrote to the university twice. we were supportive of the 250 beds in the housing project.
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all of the neighborhood groups supported the construction of the hall, which was constructed between 2017 and 2018, and has 700 beds. so, the focus of our suit has been on emilio rating the impacts of really massive enrollment increase. in 2005, the university said they were going to add students to the campus and build 2500 beds of housing. at the time we filed our lawsuit in 2019, the university added almost 11,000 students and had only built 1,600 beds, so there was a shortage of more than 9,500 beds at the time we filed the lawsuit. kristen: ok, so youo re -- you're concerned about new enrollment then. what do you fear will happen to the city of berkeley? where would the impact be that's negative for the residents should that happen? >> that's a great question.
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so, the university has an urban displacement project, which is actually studied all of the census tracts around the uc berkeley campus. and when we looked at those numbers, we found that between 2015 and 2018, 11% of low income households had been displaced by students around the campus. and what we're afraid of happening is what happened in santa barbara last fall, where thousands of students were living in their cars, camp surfing, university rented hundreds and hundreds of hotel rooms in order to house their students. and the housing market in berkeley is really, really tight. there's really no additional housing here. and so by adding all of these students, the university could create a tremendous housing shortage. kristen: correct me if i'm wrong, but has aircrew also
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opposed other university housing projects in the past? >> we have not opposed a single university housing project. kristen: ok. so you're ok with more housing? because i was going to state senator winters bill was basically streamlined, processed, call university housing environmentally friendly, so therefore make it a little bit simpler. i wonder if you overall support that and agree with his argument that, look, if students can live right on campus and not have to drive or even take transit, or employees that work with university kendrys walk to campus, that is environmentally sound and should be approved. what you think? >> we have identified several sites that the university owns, and we've submitted comments on legal documents and in public hearings supporting these sites. it's interesting that senator weiner's bill wouldn't apply to the two housing projects that the university has decided to do.
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the one project, the anchor house, as you may recall, the university bought a rent control building and evicted the tenants, and senator winters bill says tha -- senator weiner's bill says that kind of process would still -- and then at people's part, there are at least 100 people living in tents, and they would be displaced by the housing project there, absent some kind of litigation. so i'm not sure that senator weiner's bill would really do much. kristen: i think we'll have to take the rest
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kristen: thank you so much for joining us on this interactive
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show, getting answers. we'll be here every weekday at 3:00 on livestream answering tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. russia's full-scale invasion of ukraine. from the north, the east, the south. what's unfolding right now? the images coming in tonight. president biden revealing severe sanctions. will they be enough? russian forces attacking ukraine from nearly every direction. tonight, the video posted online from inside ukraine. russian ground forces crossing the bhorder into ukraine. u.s. military sources believe the russians plan to surround kyiv and, quote, decapitate it. another concern tonight, russia troops have reportedly taken full control of the area around the chernobyl nuclear site. the scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster. ukraine's military claiming video posted on social media tonight shows two russian helicopters destroyed during a battle. subways in ukraine n


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