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tv   Craig Melvin Reports  MSNBC  August 17, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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and survival, and you have so many people in this country thinking of you and your family today. thank you for sharing your story. thanks to awful you for watching this hour of hallie reports. we have a whole lot of coverage throughout the day on this story and throughout the day. chris jansing picks it up right now. good morning. i am chris jansing in for craig melvin. as we come on the air the pressure is building in afghanistan. just a short time ago pentagon officials updating on the disparate mission to rescue americans as well as tens of thousands of u.s. allies from the tightening grip of the taliban rule. >> as part of this force includes, the speed of evacuation will pick up. >> the new goal to get a plane
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of people out every hour in the next 24 hours, and a maximum of 5,000 to 9,000 people each day, and the other goal clearly is to find order in what has been turmoil. this shocking photo taken on sunday has gone viral and it shows a military plane jam-packed with 640 afghans fleeing their country. according to defense 1, some of those folks pulled themselves up on the cargo's plane open ramp as it was preparing to take off. new photos from the airport showing more order, but no less urgency, and the taliban is holding a news conference. we will keep you posted on that. and an answer to a question people have asked for months, do
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i need a booster shot and when? the white house is now onboard with booster shots, so when will you need one? we start in afghanistan with the crisis and evacuation efforts. brittany cuby, and mike memoli, and we are joined by the president of the council on foreign relations and the author of "the world: a brief introduction." courtney, you just got out of the pentagon briefing and you asked a key question, what about the people who are not at the airport and who are elsewhere, either in kabul or other regions of afghanistan? what about the other question, the ongoing talks f. we can call them that, correct me if i am wrong, the taliban? give us the highlights of what we learned at the pentagon
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briefing. >> that's right. from an operational perspective we learned military flights are going again after there was an extended pause yesterday, on monday, because of the civilians crowding the runway, it was not safe for the planes. the u.s. troops are moving in now again and people are getting out. somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 to 800 have left. that's one positive development for the situation on the ground. the larger issue we were trying to get to in the briefing, chris, is what about all the people still trying to get to the airport? there are reports of taliban checkpoints set up around the airport. people can simply not get there, and we are talking about afghan civilians and americans that need to get to the airport to get out. my question is what is the u.s. doing about that? is there any effort? is there a potential to expand the parameter around the airport, a security parameter around the airport to make it
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safer for people to travel there. we did not get an answer from that. we did hear from the press secretary john kirby that the commanders are in tufrp with the taliban commanders, and is there an an agreement, and what is unclear are the taliban allowing safe passage of people to the airport so people can get out. this is a really remarkable development. we know over the weekend the central commander, frank mackenzie, he spoke to taliban commanders in doha, and to have commanders on the ground in kabul talking to taliban now, it's amazing how this has evolved over the last week or ten days, chris. >> let me go to richard haass and pick up from there, and for
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those that don't understand the intricacies with the taliban and the commanders, what is your assessment on the ground right now? >> the situation on the ground right now is what you are seeing and what you are describing. it's still relatively chaotic, and you have got an immediate situation around the airport and at the borders where people want to escape, and then you have the large you are question of what will be the character and nature of taliban control? how will it be asserted over time? the idea that there are talks between the taliban and u.s. does not shock me, and there's talks about the conditions near the airport, and something different would be the talks about the relationship between the united states and taliban, and i think the taliban are going to have to decide what is
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going to be the character of this behavior this time around towards their own people and towards the region. the last time we had serious talks with the taliban over the last year and a half, the withdrawal talks, which, i think, were quite misguided, was 20 odd years ago during the presidency of george w. bush, and we said if you want to stay in power, you have to kick out al qaeda and hand them over to us and they refused and that's when the united states joined with the afghan tribes to drive the taliban out of power. >> so we have a big picture of what is going to be the communication between the u.s. and taliban, but in terms of the immediate problem, which is the folks on the ground, both americans and the people who we promised we would have their back, and who are waiting to get out, for example, richard, is one plane per hour fast enough
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to do those rescues? does it sound to you like the movement on the ground is the direction it needs to be going or are we behind the 8 ball here? >> it's better today than it was yesterday. the real question is who do you want to get out? if you are talking about the afghans that worked with the united states, that's one group. if you are talking about afghans likely to be targeted because of who they are and the kinds of lives they live, and they want to get out, that's a much larger number. so the real question is the ambitions of what it is we want to do, and there's also the question of what the taliban will tolerate. at some point today basically say enough, they are already putting restrictions on people reaching the airport. that's what these checkpoints are all about. so i think this question of the scale and who is going to be included is very much an open question. >> again, we have richard engel who has been there reporting,
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and he gave us some of the best look of what was happening on the ground. let's go to him, our chief correspondent, for the latest on the ground in afghanistan. take a listen. >> kabul airport this morning is back up and running and evacuation flights for u.s. personnel and contractors in full swing. flights were stopped yesterday when tens of thousands of afghans stormed on to the runways desperate to leave, clinging on to aircraft, trying not to be left behind as the americans pull out. u.s. troops found themselves overwhelmed, as they tried to clear the airport, firing warning shots. the pentagon said american troops killed two armed afghans, and some afghans were able to get out on one flight so full it may have set a record for the number of people who can fit on to an american c-17. afghans are running from the taliban now in full control, setting up checkpoints with the very weapons american taxpayers
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bought for the afghan army which collapsed after the u.s. pulled out of the bases and left them without air support. the group called on civil servants to return to work and offered a nonpacific general amnesty, and called on women to join their new government, and the taliban said they will always be guided by strict sharia law, as advertisements showing women are now being painted over. >> somebody should help me -- >> a translator for the u.s. military is one of thousands in hiding this morning, and translators have been marked for death by the taliban. he has no visa to the u.s. and no way of getting to the airport if he had one. we are not showing his face for his safety. >> right now i am in kabul and probably surrounded by the
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taliban. i am not safe here. these are the documents to show that i am an interpreter. >> the taliban trying to show they are an open and legit government ready to communicate with the world. >> we know strict sharia law, which is something they say is going to continue, does not allow women to have any rights, and does not allow women in government and does not allow women to be educated. how much trust do you place in the idea that the taliban somehow is going to be different than they have been in the past? >> well, if the question is trust, the answer is zero. as mr. reagan once said in a different context, you don't trust but you verify. i think history forces you to be skeptical. one of the things i would hope
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we and other countries would do is set forth the standards. the one thing obviously is that we want the taliban not to traffic in terrorism. what is going to become of those people they let out in prison, and you mentioned the human rights of women and you mentioned how are they going to deal with the people that used to work with the u.s. and afghan government, and i think we should not trust them with any of these things but keep our eyes open, and we have given up a lot of our leverage, and that's the problem with the policy is the taliban is literally and figuratively calling the shots inside afghanistan. >> as you well know the president is getting it from all sides, democrats and republicans, and he made it clear yesterday he stands firmly behind his decision to withdrawal, but the separate issue of how the withdrawal was
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carried out, he admitted was messy. any word from the white house this morning on how it plans to clean up this mess and get our allies out of there as soon as possible or how they feel, in fact, how the situation is on the ground? >> as courtney laid out well, the military that over saw very quickly and deliberately and very safely the drawdown of the u.s. troop presence in afghanistan is now operationally in charge of doing the same for the civilian population, not just americans but all of those interpreters, translators and others who have worked with americans over the course the last 20 years safely as well. that's on the part of the military. bureaucratly there's a number of tough questions for the white house when we here from white house press secretary, jen psaki, later today. the president returned to the white house yesterday because
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there has been a bit of a scramble at the white house to contain the political messaging around this crisis. we have seen this movie before in washington in august, a crisis that is testing an administration that is trying to get a little bit of a break. i want to get to the question of trust because i think that also speaks to the steps ahead for this white house now. you talked about whether there's trust in the taliban. the president was asked about this a month ago, and he scoffed at it and said of course you don't trust the taliban, and he talked yesterday about the diplomacy, and we know our eu partners were meeting to have a series of discussions, and we know the administration has been having calls with the foreign counterparts, and the thing to look forward to now is is the president going to be edge gauging in leader to leader calls. what have we heard in the last
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48 hours from the russians? they say they intend to have a full presence in kabul. remember when the president spoke after his meeting with russian president vladimir putin, it was a comment out of the press conference and he said during those discussions president putin said he could be helpful as it relates to afghanistan, and that's something i will watch for closely at this moment. is there a role for russia to play as the u.s. tries to forge a path ahead especially as it relates to potential conversations with the taliban. >> many of the president's critics are framing this as a matter of trust, for example, the way that we have decided to get people out of the country, afghan allies out of the country. are others going to be looking at this? are other countries going to be looking at this to say can the united states be trusted to keep its word if you are on our side, we will be on your side.
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i want to play what the co founder of "no one left behind," matt seller, had to say on "the rachel maddow show" last night, and he told an extremely emotional story about a conversation he had with a u.s. ally stuck in afghanistan. listen. >> he said he still loved us, he was still proud of the service he did with us and he wouldn't change it and thanked us for a good life. that guy is worth fighting for. those are our people. we can go in and get them. he's still alive. they have not killed these people yet. richard, what do you think when you hear that and how do you put that in the broader context of trust? >> look, it's hard to listen to these personal accounts, and these people did work with us and they are clearly in jeopardy. one question is will we do everything we can to make sure that these people eventually
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live and can get out of the country? i think there's also trust on another level, less of a personal level and more of a political, which is the question of how will allies around the world and how will our enemies around the world look at the united states? what lessons will they draw from this? what concerns me is the potential of what is going on here to slightly feed a narrative that the united states doesn't have the -- is not as reliable and is not as predictable and steadfast as we once were. that will have implications for those who depend on us. that will have implications on those we try to detour, so i think one task of this administration, whether you agree with what they have done and how they have done it or not, is to persuade others around the world is they should not read too much into this, and this is not somehow a test that can be applied to every other situation. so what we are going to have to
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do in the middle east, in asia, in europe, is do a little reassurance of our friends and a little bit of a reminder to our foes that they should not think less of the united states because of what we have done and how we have done it in afghanistan, and easier said than done, but that's the task. >> always a pleasure to have you all. courtney kobe is back at her office working her sources, and we will have more on the chaos in afghanistan this hour, including reaction from one of the largest communities of afghans in the u.s., and their desperate worries from back home. and then a look at booster shots. what it means for our fight to get everyone vaccinated. ♪ ♪ life can be a lot to handle.
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and mr. booster is at the convention center where vulnerable residents are getting booster shots, and also wanted to bring in the doctor from a medical center. take us through the recommendation, what it means for americans? >> yeah, federal health officials and medical experts are expected to recommend, as you noted, most people eligible for covid vaccinations should get those booster shots after their second dose, and that would apply to those that got the pfizer and moderna regimens and could go into effect as early as the middle of september. the first in line would be the nursing home residents and health care workers, obviously, they were the ones that were the first to get the vaccinations last winter when this all began, and it comes against the delta variant surging across large
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parts of the united states and all of the associated concerns with that. just last week the fda changed it's emergency use authorizations for the moderna and pfizer vaccines to let those who are immuno compromised get their doses, and assist the patients whose immune systems have not gotten the same response with the virus, and it appears increasingly clear that americans as soon as next month will have an opportunity to get the third booster shots -- the first booster shot, the third shot overall to help combat the virus. >> i'm looking at my e-mail, because we just confirmed the number of confirmed cases is over 37 million, so you have this huge number on one hand and a lot of folks in the wake of the delta variant who frankly have been saying, when can i get my shot? people who really fought to get the first two shots now waiting
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for the booster. what do you make of this decision? >> well, chris, you know, it's looking like as we said, anybody who received an mra vaccine this year may be advised to get a third vaccine this fall, as soon as next month. this first group will be people like me, health care workers and nursing home residents, and it appears based on early data that a third vaccine dose does elicit the higher antibody response against the beta and delta variants, and we are looking at data from the j&j one-shot vaccine, and with the highly transmissible delta variant, the primary concern is, in fact, waning immune protection, and we have to review the data and evaluate the evidence to make recommendations. that said, it's still early so i suspect we will have more to come on this soon.
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>> yeah, but in detroit, this is day one, and they are starting to give that booster shot to people who are high risk? >> that's right. the people who are coming, i mean, they see this as a priority. it's a drive-up vaccination clinic, people coming to get a third dose of the vaccine. you have to be a detroit resident and have been fully vaccinated with the pfizer or moderna at six months here, and not the eight months the fda is concerning for general approval, and you need to say that you are immuno compromised, you have a compromised immune system. we have been seeing dozens of people come and get their vaccine. there's a lot of excitement for these people, especially as they watch the surge of the virus and other places. listen how they put it and their explanations of why they chose to come on day one of getting that third shot. >> it's important to me to be
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protected. so whenever they was going to offer it, i was going to be here. >> this virus, and the pandemic is so deadly and it's extra protection we need. >> i feel like it's better to be with the vaccine than to be without. common sense. >> as i was in there talking to folks it was not lost on me the idea that here in detroit the percentage of those that have one shot, partially vaccinated is only 40%, and that lags the state which is about 60%, and you have people rushing to get the third dose of the vaccine where you have 60% of the population here in the city still unwilling to get that first shot. you get the concern, and you get the affect of the surge of delta variant is impacting just a small part of the population, and those people who are most at risk. >> speaking of a small part of the population, and the cdc says we are just at 60% unvaccinated,
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and that means there's a huge swath of americans that have not gotten their first dose, and are we reaching the point where the best we can do to get the folks that already have it a booster, or get approval for the younger people. where do you see this at? >> well, chris, the delta variant fundamentally changed the game. we can still get first shots in peoples arms. i don't think any of us thought we would be back to this place this summer, and we're seeing the strain on hospital systems across the entire country. 50% of this country is fully vaccinated. that's it. we have an abundance of first and second vaccine doses accessible at every pharmacy in america. we have a long way to go in our initial vaccination efforts. we need to keep pushing forward. don't forget, much of the world doesn't have access to a single
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covid vaccine at all. >> there's lot of folks out there -- i still have the conversations, and it seems like if i see somebody i have not seen for long time, they want to know which shot did you get, the pfizer or moderna. for the johnson & johnson folks, they said at the time they were thrilled to get whatever they could get, and now they are nervous that maybe they have a vaccine with less efficacy. what about boosters for them? >> the data from the j&j vaccine participants are still being evaluated right now. i do suspect that in the coming weeks we'll learn more about that, and just as the mnra vaccine recipients, moderna and pfizer, are likely going to be recommended to have a booster dose and i suspect we will see the same with the j&j, and we are seeing places around the country make their own decisions in advance of the
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recommendations from the fda or cdc. >> and learning to live with covid, and one of the questions a lot of the people have, and "the new york times" in fact reports this, so let me read from that. it says americans entered a new disheartening phase from the pandemic, and they realize covid is not disappearing anytime soon, and it has been forced to recalibrate. is that where we are and is that where we are going to be not just for the coming months but for the coming years? >> well, chris, based on how this delta variant behaves, we know this virus could be part of our history, and at summertime people are gathering in large
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groups and i fear the vaccine has given us a false sense of security, and we still need to be paying attention and what we are seeing is with the delta variant, vaccines alone even in the regions that have high rights of vaccine updates are not enough, and even if you are fully vaccinated or had covid previously, that approach of wearing well-fitted masks and social distancing, the best way to stop this is to get anybody not vaccinated, get vaccinated right away. the falcons are the first franchise to be entirely vaccinated against covid-19, and that means players can skip the daily testing and skip quarantining requirements as well. according to nfl sports all 32 teams have vaccination rates
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above 75%. coming up, lawmakers are vowing to hold hearings about what went wrong in the withdrawal from afghanistan, but for americans with families in afghanistan, still the plea is more urgent. help the people there now. here's the first female fixed wing pilot to serve in the afghan air force, and she was granted asylum in the u.s. in 2018. >> as an afghan woman i would like for president biden to hear me, the government, please, save the families. they need you, the women, the little girls, they are always looking up to the united states, the great army that united states brought to afghanistan, and also please save my family, and the world right now watching, please, how would you feel, how would you sleep if you see on the tv that the talibans are taking 8, 9, 10-year-old
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the fallout on the ground in afghanistan from the u.s. withdrawal has been swift and right now it's picking up speed in congress. senate armed services chair,
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senator reed, he said in the appropriate time the senate armed services will have hearings on what happened. he joins 47 senators in a letter urging the biden administration to protect women leaders in the taliban's takeover of afghanistan. hammering home how important this issue is, one of afghan's first female mayors says she's waiting for, quote, them to come and kill me. nbc's jacob ward is in fremont california's little kabul neighborhood. good to see both of you. what else did she tell you? so many people her age, frankly, they didn't live, you know, in a time when they couldn't go to a hair salon or play an instrument
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or get an education. now the taliban is saying, in fact just said minutes ago at its press conference that it wants women to serve in government. are they buying it? >> yeah, it's an interesting question, chris, because you and i might remember the taliban more than a lot of the young people do. i have been speaking with young afghans in kabul in their 20s almost all day long. one said, and he didn't mean to say it this way, and he said this is my first taliban, so for him this is new. he's in his 20s. he doesn't necessarily know -- he has not experienced firsthand but he has heard all of the stories, but a lot of the young people are open to the taliban might not exact the vengeance their older family members would, and we saw many desperate to get out but they are willing
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to hear the taliban out, and this young woman i spoke with, she's facing a double threat. not only is she a young and well-educated woman, she's also a musician. as you know, the taliban have very strict rules against music, and they persecuted and killed musicians in the past more than 20 years ago, so she's very worried. we're not going to give her name and she's 20 years old, and we are not going to show her face and she's still in kabul and we are worried about her security and we are, too. here's what she had to say. >> the withdrawal from afghanistan could have been planned better. this would not have happened in the first place. i don't know if they will search civilian houses, and that way i will have to hide pretty much everything i have, because considering the people they were
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back 20 years ago, i think i will be in trouble if they find my documents and musical instruments and stuff like that. >> so you know, chris, she's very worried. she was reacting, of course, to biden's speech last night. she said she was really disappointed but didn't have that visceral anger you might expect. she said a lot of people were very offended by biden saying that it was kind of the afghan and afghan political classes' fault, but at the same time, chris, she said a lot of her friends and lot of people she knows agreed with biden, they are ready to blame their own politicians. they have seen the corruption and political disruption of the last two decades, and they understand where the americans are coming from and where the american leadership is coming from, and they just wish this whole thing had been planned just a little better in the coming weeks. >> each individual story so heartbreaking. meantime, jake, for all of those folks, there are people in the united states, many of them who
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have connections here, i think there are, what, 25,000 afghans living in fremont, california. what are they hearing from people back home? >> yeah, that's right, chris, little kabul is the largest concentration of afghans in the west. it's an extraordinary group of people at least for its diversity. there are people who survived the soviets and the warlord era, and the first coming of the taliban and are looking now at a second coming. when you talk to people across that incredible diversity of experience, they all say their nightmares have come back, looking at this. we spoke to a couple voices, and i want to play them for you. the first is somebody who escaped from the soviet era with her family and became the first elected woman who is an afghan
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woman, and she's in the u.s., and the interpreter also worked with u.s. forces and is crushed by what he's saying. >> i have friends that have been kraoeug nonstop, and even those that have never been to afghanistan. it's triggering. you have seen this country fail for 40 years. >> it's really sad, you know, that after 20 years that we spent time to establish a beautiful government and a country and this is what happened. >> reporter: it's extraordinary, chris, to speak to people who work today as auto mechanics and bakers and school teachers and yet all of them have an individual experience of the repeated catastrophes the military and just psychological catastrophes of the last few decades in afghanistan, to see them and speak to their
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experience, even as they go about their business in a community like this, buying bread and walking with their children, they are feeling the events on the ground as they are speaking with friends and family there directly impacted. >> thank you both so much. meantime hospitals in haiti are struggling to treat people hurt in the massive earth quake, and now a tropical depression is making the situation even worse. we will get an update on the recovery efforts. where you can pay a little less and enjoy the ride a little more. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ now, get new lower auto rates with allstate. because better protection costs a whole lot less. you're in good hands with allstate. click or call for a lower auto rate today. people with moderate to severe psoriasis,
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i do motivational speaking in addition to the substitute teaching. i honestly feel that that's my calling-- to give back to younger people. i think most adults will start realizing that they don't recall things as quickly as they used to or they don't remember things as vividly as they once did. i've been taking prevagen for about three years now. people say to me periodically, "man, you've got a memory like an elephant." it's really, really helped me tremendously. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. in support of the u.s. agency for national development, their bureau of humanitarian assistance, u.s. southern command is working to assess damage develop common operational pictures. >> that was general kirby on the operations in haiti.
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tropical storm grace poured heavy rain and blew strong winds across the area after the earthquake. that's complicated search and relief efforts. it's also left many people homeless and living in makeshift camps. nbc's gabe gutierrez has the latest from the ground in port-au-prince. >> overnight tropical storm grace drenched haiti raising more fears of flash flooding and mudslides, and slowing urgent rescue efforts after this weekend's powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and 6,000 injured and many desperate for medical treatment. we traveled near the quake's epicenter. this hospital is overwhelmed and they set up beds outside with
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men, women and children hooked up to ivs under the hot sun, and some of them are still searching for family members days after the quake. >> this man with the broken arm told us he was fortunate to have survived and a woman choked back tears wondering where she would live now. we are told this was a massive hotel. five stories where an untold number of people died and local authorities are trying to assess the damage, and some of the critically wounded are being evacuated miles away to a u.s. airstrip where a coast guard is being airlifted to safety in port-au-prince. from the 2010 other quake that killed hundreds of thousands to hurricane matthew in 2016, to the assassination of its president just weeks ago. >> help has to come within to
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start with, and we need to organize ourself and to stand up together as a nation and address the needs of our country. >> that was nbc's gabe gutierrez. on the west coast, the state's largest utility, pg&e is warning 39,000 customers over 16 counties that they could have their power cut off starting tonight to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines. the fire has burned nearly 541,000 acres, close to six times the size of philadelphia. coming up, lots of parents expected mask mandates when their kids went back to school, but in texas those rules might get blocked in court. what should families do? we'll go live to an elementary school in austin, next.
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♪♪ ♪♪ for parents and students in texas, whiplash over masking in schools. first, the governor banned mask mandates and then some of the state's largest cities and school districts implemented them anyway. now the texas supreme court is blocking the mandate in two counties just as school is starting. priscilla thompson is in off thein, texas. take us through this legal battle over masking and how the parents are dealing with this
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back and forth confusion. >> chris, just in last night one of the mask mandates that the texas supreme court halted has now been reinstated thanks to an injunction by a judge in bear county in san antonio after the judge heard the case. that is the legal play-by-play that is happening here on the ground with things changing by the day as parents are trying to make decisions about what is going to be best for their students this school year. here in austin, this is the first day of school and austin has implemented the mask mandate so students are showing up today with their masks and that mandate hangs in limbo as the school district waits to see what the supreme court and what judges are going to say about the orders here and we've had an opportunity to speak with some of those parents this morning about all of this, and i want to play some of those conversations. take a listen. >> we need to keep the masks on.
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i'm surprised we're even starting school. i thought we weren't going to start school where we're at. >> if the mask order goes away does that make you think about sending your kids in person? >> not at all. not at all. i have big faith in my lord, and we have been generally okay. >> and most of the parents we spoke to said they would still send their student if there was not a mask mandate and worth noting when austin isd announced that they would require masks more than 700 parents actually changed their students' enrollment from online classes to in-person classes as a result of that announcement, and i also did ask the superintendent what happens if the mandate does go away if a court rules it is not going to be allowed and she said she didn't have an answer for that. right now they're taking things day by day and working to follow the advice of health officials and also following the data
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here. chris? >> if running a school isn't complicated enough, now this. they find themselves in the middle of these terrible situations. priscilla thompson, thank you for that report. on friday we will take you questions about how to stay safe when you are heading back to the office. send them to us on twitter with the #msnbcanswers or email them to us at we will have our experts answer them live on friday, 11:00 a.m. eastern right here on msnbc. thanks for joining us. "andrea mitchell reports" starts next. this one is too cool! [ grunts ]
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♪♪ ♪♪ good day, everyone. this is "andrea mitchell reports" in washington, as president biden is back at camp david leading his national security team to defend the chaotic withdrawal from afghanistan and the political fallout. right now thousands of american troops in kabul are focused on keeping the airport open. the only way out for support staff, families and commercial passengers. >> it remains secure. it is currently open for military flight operations as well as limited commercial flight operations. the speed of evacuation will pick up. right now we are looking at


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