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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  August 11, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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to learn more, visit captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> brangham: good evening, i'm william brangham. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight, the road ahead-- beyond infrastructure: democrats push for a broader investment in jobs, families and ways to combat the climate crisis. then, afghanistan in crisis-- the taliban continues to rapidly seize territory in its bid to regain control of the country. and, rewiring-- an experimental new technology hopes to harness a brain-machine interface to help people with paralysis. >> we would like to be able to design technology that records from the brain, bypasses the spinal cord injury and allows the person to control meaningful movements. >> brangham: all that and more
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on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at
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>> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundaon. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brangham: the u.s. senate has gone home for its summer recess, leaving a big spending fightor the fall. early today, democrats passed a blueprint for a $3.5 trillion bill to expand family, health and environmental programs. but, party moderate joe manchin of west virginia warned the price tag has to come down when actual spending bills are voted on. and, majority leader chuck
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schumer acknowledged there's tough going ahead. >> there are some in my caucus who might believe it's too much, there are some in my caucus who believe it's too little. in reconciliation, one: we are going to all come together to get something done. and two: it will have every part of the biden plan in a big, bold, robust way. >> brangham: the u.s. house will cut short its recess and return this month to try and pass the budget outline and a bipartisan infrastructure plan. we'll return to all of this, after the news summary. on the pandemic, california today became the first state to require all public school teachers and school staff to get vaccinated, or get tested weekly. also today, the c.d.c. fully recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated. it also said new research shows the vaccines do not increase miscarriages. infections are rising among mothers-to-be, and their vaccination rates are low.
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jailed russian opposition leader alexei navalny is facing new criminal charges, as the kremlin cracks down ahead of elections next month. officials alleged today that navalny's anti-corruption group incited illegal protests, by highlighting government corruption. navalny is already in prison for violating parole when he was treated in germany for a poison attack that he blamed on the kremlin. in afghanistan, three more provincial capitals fell to the taliban today, making nine so far. the latest are in northeastern and western provinces. insurgents also seized an army headquarters in kunduz. this lightning advance comes amid the u.s. withdrawal. but pentagon spokes-man john kirby dismissed suggestions that officials underestimated the taliban. we could revisit the past all you want but what matters really is today and where we are now. and again, we believe that afghan forces have what they need to make a significant
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difference and it's really going to come down to leadership. >> brangham: kirby would not confirm reports that u.s. intelligence now believes the afghan capital, kabul, could fall within weeks. we'll get details, later in the program. dozens of fires raging in algeria have now claimed at least 65 lives, including 28 soldiers who were fighting the flames. the fires have scorched forests and villages across the north african country's mountainous region, leaving a thick, smoky haze. algeria will observe three days of national mourning, starting tomorrow. crews in northern california are facing new flare-ups from the "dixie" fire. it's already the state's largest ever, and has burned more than 550 homes. many were in greenville, where before and after satellite images show the devastation, after the fire swept through last week. making matters worse, a new heat wave moved into the pacific northwest, which could send temperatures well over 100
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degrees fahrenheit. tropical storm "fred" formed in the caribbean overnight, and crossed the dominican republic hours later. the storm is on track to pass north of cuba on friday before moving toward florida this weekend. downpours of up to six inches of rain could trigger flooding and mudslides. the incoming governor of new york, kathy hochul, promised today to change the culture in state government. democrat governor andrew cuomo is resigning over allegations that he sexually harassed 11 women. hochul, also a democrat, is now lieutenant governor. she said today she had not known about cuomo's alleged abuses. >> i think it's very clear that the governor and i have not been close, physically or otherwise, in terms of much time. i'm going to stand right here. at the end of my term, whenever it ends, no one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment. >> brangham: hochul will be the first woman to serve as governor
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of new york. consumer prices rose again in july. the pace was slower, but prices are still up nearly 5.5% from a year ago. president biden today urged opec to pump more oil and bring down prices. he also asked regulators to investigate gasoline pricing. and, on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained 220 points to close near 35,485, a new record. the nasdaq fell 23 points. but, the s&p 500 added 11, also hitting a record close. and, the venerable game show "jeopardy" has two new hosts after a highly publicized search. executive producer mike richards was named today as the regular host. actor mayim biyalik will headline primetime specials and spinoffs. longtime host alex trebek died of cancer last year. still to come on the newshour: how the taliban staged this push to take control of afghanistan. the challenges of returning to
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in-person classes in a state spiking with covid. why russia struggles against the delta variant and low vaccination rates. plus, much more. >> brangham: it is a massive investment, $3.5 trillion, to be spent on american families and to combat the climate crisis. but it faces a rocky political road. democrats are pushing a particular budget process to make it happen. thankfully, lisa desjardins is here to help us understand what's next. lisa, so good to see you. this is the time for the democrats to go full force on this. they want to use this process known as reconciliation. my definition in the dictionary is reconciliation conjures
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people trying to get over their acrimony and work out their differences, maybe not so on capitol hill, right? >> that's how normal people would define that term. no, on capitol hill, the term reconciliation is a very specific budget process, you're reconciling figures and dollars together and, when you do that, you can use a loophole in the process that allows you to get past something with just 50 votes and not 60. so think of reconciliation in the senate as fast track and a way around the filibuster. that's why democrats want to use it. it has to have budgetary effects, though, so the numbers are going to be important and the next month will be critical because chuck schumer says he wants his democrats to come up with an outline for this mega bill by september 15th. they're not here until septembe. so zoom meetings the next month, committee chairs will be consulting each other, progressives, moderates, all
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will be handwash outhile senators are away and a very high stakes game to see if make the deadline. >> reporter: we know senator joe matchen and others have been racing questions about the massive amount of debt and what it might do. explain the consequences. >> marchen, kyrsten sinema and other moderate democrats have a problem with the spending. if you look at the national debt now, $22.3 trillion -- i looked it up, that's the amount today, they calculate it each day -- and the infrastructure bill alone if it were to pass as is now would add somewhere between $250 billion and $400 billion, depending on how you calculate it. add to that the reconciliation bill, $1.75 trillion in debt is allowed under the resolution that was passed last night. now, democrats say they plan to pay for most of that, but we don't know. the devil's in the details. president biden and other
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democrats say republicans spent money, they ran up the red ink themselves, too. but this is a long-term question about what the democrats want to do program-wise and the debt they could incur while doing it. >> reporter: separately last night the democrats also moved s-1, i believe it's the or the people act" all about voting rights. explain what's happening there. >> this is a very significant move. this morning when the senate was finishing its business before recess, senator chuck schumer brought up s-1, teed it up procedurally so when they come back in september the first thing the senate will deal with is this bill which is a massive pill that would deal with voting rights quesons, would limit what states can do -- some of the bills passing in conservatives states would have prlems -- and would deal with federal election laws. it's unlikely he can get 60 votes, he tries for 50, then we have a question about the filibuster. the house is in play, a more
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narrow bill, the john lewis bill which may also be in play. september will be incredibly important on all of the questions. voting rights will be right at the beginning. >> brangham: as always, lisa desjardins, thanks for helping us get through all of this. >> you're welcome. >> brangham: across the country, school mask mandates are dividing communities. this was the scene following a school board meeting in williamson county, tennessee last night when medical professionals were threatened and heckled for recommending masks in schools. in mississippi, a state also hard hit by this coronavirus sue, the oxford school district originally ruled masks were optional for students and staff. but the school superintendent overruled them, mandating ce coverings, regardless of
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vaccination status. this move has drawn criticism from many parents and the board. that superintendent, bradley roberson, joins me now. superintendent, great to have you on the "newshour". help me understand what happened here. the school board said we're going to leave it up to the parents and teachers and sta to decide whether they wear masks inside schools. but you overruled them. why? >> well, we were gathering data from across the state. there are a couple of school districts that start in the state of. mississippi earlier dueto a mod. i received confirmation from a school district in south mississippi, the lamar county school district, that they already had five outbreaks in one high school, four outbreaks in another high school, had to transfer or move both those districts to virtual learning and they had not even been in school ten days as of yet. we were hit really hard last year. our student academic progress was hit hard due to the high number of quarantines we had in our schools.
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it may be surprising for you to know oxford school district students last yer missed 189,558 days of school due to quarantine alone. it affected 2,259 students in the oxford school district. based on that, it's very important for us to do whatever we can to keep kids in school because i think it's clear virtual learning does have benefits but we do a better job across the country of teaching kids when they're in the presence of our great teachers. >> bngham: so you make the decision that, no, in fact, you think it's the smartest move to have everyone wear masks in school. and what was the reaction to that (the emotions were mixed, obviously. we do have a lot population of the oxford community that were upset that masks were going to be mandated, but there's also a population of people in our community that were glad i took the extra step. to me it's about keinkids in school to provide them the best
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education that we can. >> brangham: can you help me understand this? i mean, this is an airborne respiratory virus and we know a little piece of fabric over our faces can in part help protect us. do you have a sense as to why this has sparked such fury among some people? >> from what i hear, they feel like it's a violation of their freedoms to require individuals, and they would like to be able to make that decision for themselves. you know, the difficult position we're put in as educational leaders is we're not health professionals by any means. we're educators, right? we're professional educators. we know how to educate kids. so being in this very difficult situation has become very politicized is hard for leaders all across our community, our state and country. and it's not just educational leaders, it's leaders in any capacity. so, you know, again, it's just a difficult time for us all. >> brangham: and, so far, have people been following the man date? >> yes, sir, they have. you know, we've had a few
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hiccups here and there but for the most part all our stakeholders h have fall load te man date. i'm thankful to that. it means something to a leader when you see constituents even though they're upset that they're following the lead, and i really really appreciate that. >> brangham: your man date to wear masks in schools expires in a couple of days. according to all the public health data i've seen out of mississippi, this surge doesn't seem to be anywhere near over. do you think you may have to extend this man date going forward? >> sure, that's where we are now is trying to determine the next steps, but you're right, the cases continue to rise, they continue to rise in the state o mississippi, and, unfortunately, they continue to rise in lafayette county. so, yes, i do think th a distinct possibility that we will need to extend the mask man date moving forward for another period of time, but with eare
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continuing to an ides all of the data right now. and that's not just data from myself, that's data from haing conversations with other supentendents across the state of mississippi because, again, we're all in this together and we're all trying to make decisions what best for our children. >> brangham: bradley roberson, school superintendent in oxford, mississippi. thank you so much and best of luck to you. >> thank you. # >> brangham: authorities in parts of russia are now mandating vaccination, in the face of high covid-19 infections and record deaths. just 25% of adults are fully inoculated in the country. with four domestic vaccines available offered, russians are not facing any shortages, but the government is struggling with widespread skepticism and reluctance to take the available vaccines. special correspondent julia chapman reports from western siberia.
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>> reporter: more russians fear the vaccine than they do the virus. but irina emelyanova is not one of them. a teacher in the siberian city of tomsk, she is allergic to lactose, and is careful about whatshe puts in her body. so when it came to getting vaccinated against covid-19, irina did her research. she chose one of the country's ur shots, epivaccorona, reported to cause milder side effects than the alternatives. but two weeks after her second dose, irina caught coronavirus. a week later, she was in a makeshift hospital, which filled up rapidly. >> the main problem is there are too many people. especially nowadays, it's about 200. when we arrived, there were just 30 of us and everything was okay. it was very difficult. i stopped sleeping. i could sleep only from midnight to 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. >> reporter: the government says
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only 2.5% of covid-19 infections are among those already vaccinated. but stories like irina's are fuelling already widespread skepticism. russia was the first country to approve a covid-19 shot for mass use. it's only using domestically- produced vaccines. health officials say they are all safe and effective. but that judgement came before any had full trial data. peer-reviewed results have since validated the sputnik vaccine, which is being used most widely. but experts have cast doubt on the one irina received. epivaccorona is a peptide vaccine, produced by state-run lab vector. it uses synthetic viral proteins, which are meant to teach the immune system to identify and neutralise the virus. >> the vaccine was approved to market for people to use before second or third phases were completed.
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that practically means that if you have leverage, if you have connection with government and with approval organization, you can get anything to the market. and that's huge room for corruption. >> reporter: the vector lab says antibodies can't be detected using normal tests, but only with its own technology. some clinical trial volunteers attempted to verify their immunity. independent labs could find no neutralising antibodies. >> the story of epivac is unfortunate. and again, i was openly criticizing epivac. still, at the end of the day, if you don't want to take epivac, you can get sputnik, i guarantee you. even if you live in remote siberian towns where the dominant vaccination was running by epivac, i know it by the fact, that if you see it, the epivac vaccination and you don't want epivac, you go across the street, and you get sputnik. >> reporter: but surveys suggest that 55% of russians don't want
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a vaccine at all. most cite fear of side effects and the speed at which they were produced. polls suggest that critics of the putin government are also less likely to get a shot. the low vaccination rate has left russia exposed to a third wave of infections. outside of moscow, pop-up hospitals and converted covid wards are re-opening. in tomsk, hospital beds are filling up, even as authorities open more dedicated facilities like this one. the delta variant is simply sreading faster than the population can be convinced to get vaccinated. so authorities have started making vaccination mandatory. in a quarter of russian regions, certain groups are now obligated to get immunized. the rules vary, but mostly apply to those working in the state or service sectors. president vladimir putin has at once distanced himself from the policy, and insisted that it's legal.
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>> ( translated ): i once said that i do not support mandatory vaccination, and i continue to adhere to this point of view. however, the law says that in the event of an increase in the number of cases and in the event of an epidemic, regional heads can introduce mandatory vaccination for certain groups of people, especiay risk groups. >> reporter: covid vaccine skeptics don't live in the shadows in russia. but marina, an accountant, who asked us not to use her real name, fears her job is at risk. she is one of millions of russians whose employer has ordered her to be vaccinated. >> ( translated ): we don't know this vaccine, we don't know what it is. i don't want to inject myself with something unknown. and we don't trust our government. but if we don't have a medical exemption to vaccination, we'll be sent home without pay. >> reporter: some of marina's colleagues have turned to the black market for their vaccine certificate. she says she may do the same.
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authorities are cracking down on the practice, arresting those suspected of selling them. but demand for fake certificates sits in stark contrast to many countries, where people are lining up to get vaccinated. while vaccine mandates are controversial, they've doubled russia's rate of inoculation. >> ( translated ): in moscow, people can get vaccinated at pop-up clinics in parks, at their doctor's office, so the mass vaccination will certainly lead to the development of collective immunity. >> reporter: that target is still a long way off. and in the meantime, people are dying. in other countries, rising immunization rates have led to falling fatalities. that hasn't been the case in russia. although the official infection figures are still lower than in winter, daily deaths from the virus are higher than ever. statistics show more than 400,000 excess deaths since the start of the pandemic, one of the worst per capita rates in
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the world. the kremlin has ruled out another unpopular lockdown. ahead of parliamentary elections in september, it's relying on vaccines to carry russians to the polls. irina also wants her fellow citizens to get a shot. >> some people don't want to get the vaccine, some people think it's a kind of politics. they don't understand that our government, our scientists are trying to he people to protect themselves. >> reporter: she's confident that vaccines are the only chance to keep future waves of the virus at bay. for the pbs newshour, i'm julia chapman, in tomsk. >> brangham: as we've reported, the taliban continue to make gains in afghanistan, seizing more and more territory,
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especially in the north. stephanie sy has more. >> sy: the taliban's seizure of nine provincial capitals and vast, surrounding lands now means that the insurgents hold loose control of two-thirds of afghanistan. all this as the u.s. and nato finalize their withdrawal by the end of this month, after two decades of war. so what has been the taliban's strategy? how have they conquered this territory so quickly? for that we turn to bill riggio. he is a senior fellow at the foundation for defense of democracies and the editor of their "long war journal." bill riggio, thank you for joining the "newshour". you have been watching this rapid succession of taliban victories. we have a map that shows the regional capitals they now control, those nine black squares you see in the north and the west. the pink areas are taliban-controlled. the lighter yellow is government-controlled, and you can see, bill, the darker yellow is a huge chunk of the country.
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those lands are currently under taliban threat. what do you see as the insurgent strategy and objective? >> yeah, the insurgents -- the taliban's objectives is to seize control of afghanistan, to reestablish islamic emirate of afghanistan, that's the name to have the government prior to the u.s. invasion, they will do it by force or diplocy, and via diplomacy means the taliban will accept the afghan government surrender. the afghan government has not surrenders so the taliban is taking it by force. they have taken areas in the west and north, these are strategic areas for the afghan government. many afghan power is based in the north. the taliban could easily take much to have the south and east if it focused its forces there, but, instead, what the taliban decided to do is to go straight after the government strength, and that's why seven of the nine
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provincial capitals in northern afghanistan are in taliban control, and the two provinces in western afghanistan, they also are under taliban control. the taliban ultimately seeking to surround kabul, strangle it and either force the surrender or militarily take the capital of kabul. >> reporter: l let's parse everything out. the north is not where the taliban is the strongest, yet, they have been able to take all the capitals. tactically, what has the taliban done to lay the groundwork and set conditions to accomplish this? >> the taliban leveraged it's alliance with al quaida in order to gain control of areas. it used al quaida-associated groups to gain influence in the northern areas. so this was very effective. it allowed them to reach out to
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tajy and turkman to increase the ranks. the taliban at least in the 1990s which was primarily based in the suth and the east, and by expanding its influence and reach in the north to these groups, it's increased its combat power. this is the untold story of what has happened in the north. we have to remember that the north was the last bastion of resistance to the taliban pre-9/11. a province currently under track control was the headquarters of the northern alliance and the taliban with the help of quaida leveraged those assets and this is how we're seeing this remarkable success in the north. >> reporter: okay, that's the strategy, and i want to go back to al quaida in a bit, but i want to ask you about tactics. did we also see there was pre-positioning of, for examp, weapons and fighters in tho northern cities? >> absolutely. what the taliban did since the u.s. handed over security to the
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afghan forces in 2014, they focused on taking control of rural areas. u.s. generals, the commanders, they dismissed this and said we're going to focus on the population centers. the taliban said that's fine, we'll work on the rural areas, we'll stage from there and expand our control outward. this taliban strategy is over a decade in the making. they explained it in e english,y the way, so it was all outhere to see, but, unfortunately, bad u.s. and afghan and n.a.t.o. strategy combined with solid taliban strategy and, yes, they were stockpiling weapons, and every area they took control they gained war material. and this is how we've seen this spread. it's gone from the rural areas and now it is inside the afghan cities. several provincial capitals are under threat right now. we may see two or three more capitals fall in the next 24 to 48 hrs. >> reporter: you did say there was an approach toward kabul.
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my question is do you think the u.s. foresaw the level of coordination and efficiency on the battlefield that the taliban has shown in the last week? >> i think this is one of the greatest intelligence failures in decades. certainly, in u.s. military history. the taliban organized this offensive, it planned it, it prepared, it organized, it recruited, it deployed fighters, it pre-positioned war material all under the nose of the u.s. military, n.a.t.o. and afghan intelligence. this story has to be told. it's what the taliban did in the north, particularly, is significant. everyone was caught offguard. remember that president biden and his administration, basically it's their estimate that the afghan government was able to hold out. now they're talking the latest u.s. estimate is kabul could fall within 90 days.
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>> reporter: there are mounting critiques now to have the u.s. withdrawal, but the u.s. mission, as you know, in afghanistan, was explicitly to deny al quaida a safe haven after 9/11. so if the taliban do return to power, do you think al quaida again will be able to plot attacks against the united states from afghanistan? >> absolutely. the taliban-al quaida alliance is as strong as it ever has been. the taliban claims with that doha deal, which really was a deal to get the u.s. to withdraw from afghanistan, the taliban claims they won't let afghanistan be used as a base of operations for foign terrorist groups. the taliban couldn't be trusted then or today and you can be certain al quaida will be seeking to leverage relationship with the taliban to plot attacks against the u.s. >> reporter: so are the notions taking place in doha
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between the taliban and the envoy that arrived there yesterday, are they relevant at all or is the military taking orders from the folks in doha or vice versa? >> the negotiations in doha are a smoke screen. it's designed to give false hope to the united states, to n.a.t.o. and particularly the afghan government that there will be a negotiated solution. the talib's position has been the same for -- for two decades now. it has stated in english on joyce of jihad, its webite, numerous to times, even seven ds after signing the doha agreement, that the only acceptable outcome of this war would be the reestablishmentf the islamic emirate with its i mir as the leader to have the islamic emirate of afghanistan. the taliban and and the taliban's doha group is merely providing that screen. again, it's giving halls hope to everyone, tying up diplomatic
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efforts while the taliban tries to take -- the taliban would accept a surrender of the afghan government. remember that. but they'll take it militarily. >> reporter: that is not a political settlement surrender. bill riggio, thank you for coming on the "newshour" and sharing your point of view. >> thank you very much. >> brangham: tonight, we look at the forefront of research to improve the lives of people living with paralysis. finding a way to bridge the severed connections beeen their brains and their limbs remains an urgent, but often elusive goal for researchers. as miles o'brien reports, they are making steady progress, and they have a good feeling, about restoring some people's sense of touch. it's the latest in our "breakthroughs" series on invention and innovation. >> reporter: austin beggin was
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22 when his life changed in an instant. a dive into some shallow water left him with a broken neck between the c3 and c4 vertebrae. >> at that level, you're talking about breathing, you're talking about swallowing, you're talking about pretty much everything as far as how severe of an injury it is. >> reporter: when he first started living with quadriplegia, he imagined himself getting better. >> you're always thinkg you're going to wake up the next day and it's jusgoing to come back. three months with really no motor gains kind of set in like this might be more of a long haul. >> reporter: now six years since his injury, he is a volunteer participant in a groundbreaking project aimed at changing the long haul for people with paralysis. the big goal is to find way for them to move their hands,
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and rega sensations of touch. austin beggin is just getting started moving his hand for the first time since his injury. >> really is remarkable that these little wires coming out my arms to me are allowing something like this to happen. >> reporter: what does that feel like? >> just the fact that feeling the arm move is the remarkable part of it. i mean, i could do this all day because i have to go up and down, up and down. >> reporter: it's a project run by cleveland's pioneering functional electrical stimulation center, part of the louis stokes v.a. medical center. for 30 years, they have been innovating technology that restores function for people with paralysis. >> we are presently trying to understand the underlying mechanisms of the brain that relate to movement and also sensation. >> reporter: biomedical engineer bolu ajiboye is the principal investigator.
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>> we would like to be able to design technology that records from the brain, bypasses the spinal cord injury and allows the person to control meaningful movements of their hands, such as positioning their arm in space, moving individual fingers, being able to grasp different objects so that they can perform many activities of daily living that people take for granted every day. >> reporter: it begins with brain surgery. austin beggin's operation was done by neurosurgeon jonathan miller with university hospitals cleveland. >> so this is the electrode we implant into the brain. as you can see, this is the part that goes in. it's very small. it actually has a total of six of these that we implant for this particular project going into six different areas of the brain. >> reporter: but where in the brain? simply targeting the area that controls the nerves that fire muscles is not enough. >> we're interested in the areas of the brain that are responsible for motor planning, for not just the actual individual nerves that control the muscles, but also the
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neurons that are upstream of those that control what it is that the person wants to d >> reporter: in another operation, surgeons implanted electrodes to stimulate beggin's hand and arm muscles. the surgeries were just the start of a long journey. the team is now busy trying to decipher the myriad of signals from beggin's brain measured in microvolts. >> what we're interested in the fact that we're not just looking at one cell, we're looking at hundreds of cells. and there's this. >> reporter: is this is where you get the pattern? >> this is where you get the pattern. >> reporter: if he tried right now to move his finger, we would see some of these panels wou light up more than others. the firing would change. right. and that change can to the naked eye, maybe be a little bit challenging to detect. so but our algorithms can detect the change not just again in one neuron, but across the population of neurons. >> reporter: the algorithms are programs that can identify the subtle patterns of bin activity across many neurons linked to specific movements.
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to improve their accuracy, the team has beggin play games. he imagines moving his paralyzed arm to match what the animated hand is doing on the screen. >> there is learning on both sides, actually. so our algorithms get better and better with more information that we have the participant at the same time. there is an opportunity for learning on his end as well. >> reporter: what they are doing here is unique, but there are several other projects underway aiming to understand the activity of the brain during various functions. some use brain signals to control robotic arms or enable communication. austin beggin's predecessor in this project was bill kochevar, in 2014, he became the first person in the world to be able to use this brain system to control his own limb. he was able to open and close his hand, move his wrist, elbow and shoulder. but he had no sensory feedback. giving paralyzed people a sense of touch is biomedical engineer
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emily graczyk's priority. >> very little is known about the neural language of touch in the human brain. and that's something that we hope to study here in this project. >> reporter: eventually, they will give austin beggin a glove with sensors in the fingertips. the hope is they will send sensory information to his brain implants, allowing him to feel things. >> without sensory feedback, you really don't know how to control the motions that you're producing. you don't know how to control the forces you're exerting on an object or the positioning of your body. >> reporter: but there is more to touch and motion than that. something harder to quantify... something austin beggin understands profoundly. >> people say, like, what would you love to do? just i mean, ii could actively shake someone's hand, i mean, what would be what? i mean, what. you couldn't put a price on that to me. >> reporter: a lot of the technology this team is refining to help paralyzed people came out of a lab nearby, one focused on a disability that is part of my reality. in our next story, i'll show you
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how amputees like me are learning how to feel things through their prosthetic limbs. for the pbs newshour, i'm miles o'brien in cleveland. >> brangham: we will have that follow up report from miles next wednesday. >> brangham: drinking water and restrooms are readily available to most school children in america. that is not the case across the developing world. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro reports on schools coming together around water. part of this story was shot in uganda, just before the pandemic. it's part of his series: agents for change. >> reporter: across the developing world, many schools lack not only books or desks but something even more basic: water-- to drink, for sanitation >> irew up in a village in
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uganda. houses didn't have water, kitchens didn't have water. schools never had water. >> reporr: there's a lot less education going on fundamentally, is what you're saying. >> that's what i'm saying. >> reporter: twesigye jackson kaguri founded nyaka, a school tucked high in southern uganda's mountainous region. it provides free education to children who have lost a parent to h.i.v./aids. kaguri, who now lives in michigan, vividly remembers those early years, still the reality for millions of children around the world >> going to school at 7:00 a.m. in the morning, and finish school at 5:00 p.m. without drinking a sip of water. when i set out to build schools, one of the things i was determined to have is clean water. >> reporter: the nyaka school's clean water comes from a rain collection system. the local community raised some funds to install these large tanks, and provided material and labor.
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but a significant chunk of funding came from an unlikely source: school fundraisers in suburban white bear lake minnesota. there's plenty of water here but students haven't come to his event just to soak their teachers. it's an exercise in building empathy for children elsewhere, who work, literally, laboriously, to fetch water for their daily use. the minnesota students get a tiny idea of what that's like: carrying two liter bottles for a mile along the lakhore. or carrying buckets of lake water a few hundred feet for a chance to dunk teacher ben butters, who helped connect his students to the ugdan school >> oh, you missed. who's your gym teacher? >> reporter: butte teaches physical education at matoska international school, part of the local district. >> we just work together all year long coming up with ideas on how we can conserve water, at
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our school and in our town and at homes and how we could teach that to thyounger kids. and then we connect that to the global issue where some kids their age have to walk miles for water. >> reporter: his water curriculum, and the uganda connection was made possible by h20 for life, a group that partners schools across the u.s. and canada with those in developing countries and recently the navajo indian nation. >> i had a friend in kenya that asked me if i knew anybody who could help him because his community was desperate for water, their kids were dying. >> reporter: retired minnesota school teacher patty hall founded h20 for life in 2007. >> so i wrote a letter back and said, how much would it cost, and he said, 700,000, kenya shillings. and i kind of choked until i realized that meant $7,000. >> reporter: by the end of the school year, hall and her students raised nearly double that. inspired, she founded h2o for life and has so far helped about
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1800 north american schools create nearly 1000 water and sanitation projects in low resource settings. these projects are only half- funded, on purpose >> i got good advice from a really smart man in the water sector who said don't fund an entire project and make it a gift. because then it's not owned by the community. you want to do a shared project so that the community has buy in, and it's going to be sustainable for the future. >> welcome to minnesota! >> reporter: in june, a visit made that connection to the world even more personal. kaguri visited hall, butters and a group of h20 for life students in white bear lake >> because of your help and hard work and generosity, girls like you now have clean water and school. >> reporter: seventh grader ava barth is one of the program's so-called water warriors >> i realized how much i was taking water for granted. and like i really wanted to help people that didn't have water, like available to them every day. >> reporter: just before the
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pandemic, hall led a tour group to some h2o for life schools, including nyaka, where 17-year- old primah nayebare played host >> before we had water in our school we suffered so much. we could fetch water from very far carrying jerrycans from very far places. >> reporter: so now you're able to use the time to do something else. what are you using the time to do? >> we use the time to revise our books, do our personal administration like washing, bathing, preparing books for the next day. >> if we build a culture of kids, generation of students that take actions and see others as equals and treat people kindly and give them the same dignity that everyone deserves. that's my hope for the whole world, right there. >> reporter: for its part, h2o for life hopes to see a sharp increase in school partnerships in the next year.
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even with the pandemic disruptions, the group says it raised some $210,000 in the most recent school year, enough to fund 75 water and sanitation projects in places where it will make a big difference. for the pbs newshour, i'm fred de sam lazaro. >> brangham: fred's reporting is a partnership with the under- told stories project at the university of st. thomas in minnesota. >> brangham: despite the successful passage of the senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill, washington is still a city known for polarization. but, as author george packer recently explained in an interview with judy woodruff, the divisions in our country are greater and deeper than we realize. the pandemic exposed rifts in america that exist among regions, races and classes.
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that's the focus of his new book, "last best hope: america in crisis and renewal." >> woodruff: george packer, welcome back to the newshour. the book, as we said, "last best hope", you start with the premise that america's government failed all of us last year on so many levels, but especially by not protecting americans from the from the pandemic. who is to blame for that? >> it starts with president trump, who from the beginning seemed more interested in using the pandemic to adnce his own political interests, to divide americans, to turn us against each other over things that shouldn't have been debatable, like mask wearing. simple things. i think the bureaucracy failed. the centers for disease control famously failed at wt it's supposed to be able to do, which is coming up with a test that could allow us to trace and
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control the pandemic. but really, the failure goes all the way through our society. because the pandemic showed such deep divisions, both between red and blue americans, between regions, between classes and races. we found that we are now divided into two categories; essential and nonessential workers, which means those who have to go to work in the middle of a plague and may get sick and those who can sit at home in front of a laptop. and so it became a sort of soldiers and civilians in wartime. >> woodruff: and you go on george packer to argue that every country needs a narrative, to explain who it is, to understand what it's as you, i think, say is its moral identity. and you talk about how the political identities that used to be there for decades that broke roughly into republicans, democrats is now split into four
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different disparate groups. just in brief, i know i'm asking you to condense the whole book, but what are those four groups? >> right, so we all know that we are divided at red and blue, every election shows us how deep that that division is it really into two countries. but i think red and blue are themselves fractured and have been more and more over the last, say, 30 or 40 years. i call them free america and smart america, which are sort of the elite narratives that shaped the republican and democratic parties. the free america is reaganism. it's the free market. it's low taxes. and that became republican orthodoxy for decades still is, in a way, at the top of the party. smart america is more bill clinton's america, barack obama's america, the america, the professional class of the educated who believe that if you go to the right schools and get the right degree and work hard, the modern world is yours, that globalization will work for you.
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you'll be among the winners. real america, i think, is a rebellion against free and smart america. that's a phrase sarah palin used in 2008. and to me, it means the america of the white christian heartland, the people who work with their hands in small towns and rural areas. that's who palin was talking about. and that became trump's base. and in a way, real america has displaced free america as the motor of the republican party. the at the top of the party, you still hear free market ideas. but the real energy of the party is with nativism, i think, and with anti-immigration, anti free trade feeling, which i associate with free america. and finally, just america. on the left is also a rebellion from below, a generational rebellion by younger pple against what they see as the hollow promises of progress that the meritocracy of their parents gave them. and instead, it's a dark view of the country as trapped in a
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caste system for centuries. that hasn't really changed all that much. and progress is something of an illusion. >> woodruff: and you do say you write about how each one of these groups in a way fulfills a different aspect of our needs as a country, but how they also are very much pitted against each other. how do you see this playing itself out? and what do we as a country do about it? >> yeah, i think all four of them in some ways are dead ends, they create winners and losers and they are as exclusive as they are inclusive. my narrative is what i would call equal america. it goes back to tocqueville's idea that the defining quality of americanss what he called the passion for equality, the desire to be as good as everyone else. and today, inequality has become so pronounced that i think it's at the heart of a lot of the social conflict we see. when equality is denied, it produces endless conflict in this country. so i think the fracturing into
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those four narratives is largely the result of decades of growing inequality. so i think there are two ways in which we can begin to at least govern ourselves in a way that we failed last year. one is by creating conditions of equality for more americans, and that's largely about economics and policy. the other is by reacquiring the art of self-government, which is a skill that you can lose and that we have lost. and that is more about our role as citizens with a shared sense of responsibility. >> woodruff: and in fact, the book ends, in fact, on a note of urging americans to find ways to see each other to connect, to engage with each other in ways that we don't see very much of right now, except maybe at the local level. >> i think in a way, it has to start at the local level. national politics is so poisoned. but if americans are almost
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required to face one another as fellow citizens on some level, like through national service or through civics education, they may discover that even though they still deeply disagree, they can imagine a country in which the other still has a role. right now, it's as if each group sees the others as an existential threat that has to be eliminated. and that's a terrible formula for a country that is going to continue toward a breakdown of our democratic way of life. >> woodruff: and george packer, having watched american politics or american life as long as you have, do you think that's a message that can get through? >> i have been a little more hopeful this year than in quite a long time. we have begun to emerge from the pandemic through the miracle of the vaccine, and we've also avoided four more years of an authoritarian presidency, and instead, joe biden, with all o
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his weaknesses and his the strangeness of this accident of history that ps him in the white house seems to understand that equal america, treating americans as all deserving the same chance through policy and through his rhetoric, he seems to be able he seems to know how to do it, how to speak to us in a way that doesn't divide us. there will be people who don't like him. there will be people who think he's not going fast enough or far enough. but at the moment, i think biden turns out to be what the country needs, and i wish him all the best. >> woodruff: george packer, his latest book is "a last best hope: america in crisis and renewal." george packer, thank you very much. >> my pleasure. >> brangham: on the newshour online right now, real estate brokers have used so-called“ pocket-listings” to keep home sales within their networks. despite a rule aimed at cracking down, some say that loopholes have allowed the practice to persist, or even worsen. you can read more on our
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website, and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm william brangham. 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: >> our u.s.-based customer service reps can help you choose a plan based on how much you use your phone, nothing more, nothing less. to learn more, go to >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide.
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>> 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. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh
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hello, everyone. and welcome to "amanpour and company." here's what's coming up. the best way i can help now is if i step aside and let government get back to governing. >> under withering pressure over sexual harassment allegations, governor cuomo finally resigns. i talked to a top nork state official about what's next. >> then -- >> biden's biggest foreign policy test yet, pulling out of afghanistan as the taliban seized more land, the former nato chief and former pakistan ambassador to the united states joined me. plus -- >> if you asked me when i was 12 or 15,hat is the most important