PBS NewsHour full episode, July 19, 2021

PBS NewsHour full episode, July 19, 2021

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: a resurgent virus. As COVID outbreaks continue to spike amid widespread misinformation, we get the latest from Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Then: cyber threats. The global battlefront is ever more clear, as China is blamed for a massive Microsoft hack and surveillance software is used against dissidents and journalists worldwide. And the pandemic in England. A war correspondent reports on his hometown, witnessing how his

fellow villagers see the push to drop restrictions. DR. ANGELA NALL, Hospice DR. ANGELA NALL, Hospice Owner: People have worked very bravely through this last 18 months. And I feel like it's a massive slap in the face for everybody that we're now saying, oh, it's OK, you can open up. We can't open up. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Fears are growing again today over a surge of COVID cases. Wall Street had its worst day since May, as investors worried about rising infections and whether they could lead to new restrictions on daily life. COVID cases have shot up almost 70 percent in a week in the U.S. It's been significantly

higher in some Southern states. But Los Angeles County recorded 10,000 new cases in one week, the highest since March. Unvaccinated Americans are the hardest hit, accounting for more than 95 percent of hospitalizations. On Friday, the CDC director warned of a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We turn to Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's the director of the National Institute for Allergy and

Infectious Diseases and President Biden's chief medical adviser. Dr. Fauci, welcome back to the "NewsHour." So, a direct question. How much of a threat is the Delta variant right now? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden: Judy, it's a significant threat.

It clearly has the capability and the efficiency of transmitting very readily from person to person, which makes it a considerable threat. And if you look at how it's becoming dominant in this country, it went from a couple of percentages -- points of the variants that were in circulation, to now it's close to 80 plus percent. And in some regions of the country, up to 90 percent of the variants are the Delta variant. So it has already shown its incredible ability to be able to efficiently transmit from person to person, which makes it very dangerous. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, for those Americans not vaccinated -- and they -- and we now know only about half of the country is vaccinated, and not including many young children -- how vulnerable are they, people who have not had the shot yet? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Considerably vulnerable, Judy. And that's the reason why, if you look at the CDC recommendations, they really emphasize things that we have known for some time. If you are unvaccinated, you really should be

wearing a mask, indoors, for sure, and even under certain circumstances outdoors, but definitely indoors. Unvaccinated people are vulnerable. And those are the ones, if you lack at the statistics, as you showed there just on one of your charts, 95 -- 99.5 percent of the deaths in this country are due to unvaccinated people; 99.5 percent of the COVID deaths are among unvaccinated people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in addition, the risk, the danger that they are spreading it to others? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, there is no doubt about that. In fact, we're seeing that right now, when you see the clusters of cases of individuals who get infected. And since you're dealing with such a highly efficient virus in its ability to spread from person to person, that is the reason why we are seeing, unfortunately, an uptick in cases in several regions in cases. And the uptick in cases, Judy, correlate with the level of vaccination. So, if you have

a very low level of vaccination, like 30 percent or so, in a particular state or a city or a county, that is where the uptick in infections are occurring. They are not occurring in those areas that have a high percentage of the population vaccinated. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, to be clear, even among those who are vaccinated, we are hearing, we are reading more about so-called breakthrough infections, where people are coming down with the virus even though they have been vaccinated. How much at risk are they? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, first of all, vaccines protect very well against infection and very,

very well against serious disease, but not completely protective against infection. In fact, if you look at the data, Judy, from the clinical trials that showed the 93, 94 percent efficacy, that was against clinically recognizable disease. It was not against pure infection, even if the infection was without symptoms. So, it is not surprising that you are seeing breakthrough infections. This becomes particularly prominent when you are dealing with a virus that is very efficient in going from person to person.

The good news is that the people without do get infected, namely, breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals, generally have either no symptoms or very mild symptoms, as opposed to going on and developing significant disease. That is the good news about it in the sobering news, where a lot of people are getting infected. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, at the same time, we know, even for those who are vaccinated, they are getting the message. For example, if you live in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the country, they have imposed new masking guidelines indoors and outdoors. People are beginning to wonder, wait a minute, even if I have been vaccinated, should I now continue to wear a mask if I'm indoors? Should people -- are there guidelines that work now across the country, or should people continue just to listen to their local authorities? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, the local authorities very often get it correctly.

If you look at the overall recommendations, Judy, from the CDC, they say, overall, if you are vaccinated, you don't need to wear a mask outdoors or indoors. But there is a big however with that. And the however is, you should also pay attention to what is going on in the area where you are living. So, if you live in an area where you have a high dynamic of infection -- and that's usually in an area where there is a low level of vaccination -- if you happen to live in that area, you may want to go the extra mile and get the extra degree of protection of wearing a mask, even though you are vaccinated, for a number of reasons, to protect yourself. But particularly, for example, if you have at home in your own home vulnerable people, like the elderly or people who have underlying conditions, you might want to make sure you take that extra step of protection. That is what is going on in Los Angeles. They want

to go the extra mile to show that you can protect yourself more, even if are you vaccinated. JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, you mentioned underlying conditions. And that -- you are saying that applies even if those individuals have been vaccinated. They still need to be concerned? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes, I think people who are vaccinated and go into an area where there is infection, if they have unvaccinated people who are vulnerable at home or even people who might be vaccinated, but are immunosuppressed, where they may not have a very good response against the vaccine or with the vaccine, you have to be careful.

That's the reason for the extra mile of care. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know that -- and we're beginning to hear more and more about the need for booster shots for those individuals who may be, as you say, immunosuppressed. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: That is correct, Judy. And those data are being collected right now. We're doing studies to look at the effective boosters, how high you can get the response up, particularly in those people, like transplant patients, who are on immunosuppressive regimens, people with underlying disease that require medication that might suppress their immune system. JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Fauci, we have been talking about this virus, as you know very well, since early 2020. We are now a year-and-a-half into it.

We -- many Americans thought it was getting better, now the Delta variant. A lot of worry right now. Do you -- are you beginning to think that we will not get this virus under control, when you have got half the American people who have been told repeatedly about the dangers, but they still are not vaccinated? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: That is the big problem, Judy. We will not get complete control over this and not be able to fully get back to where we want to be, what we are calling normality, until we get many, many more people vaccinated.

We have done very well. We have a substantial proportion of the population, particularly among the elderly. The elderly in general have done very well. People over 65, at least 85, 87 percent have received at least one shot. We're doing well there. But, as you mentioned correctly, we still have a substantial proportion of the population who is not vaccinated. And as long as you have that, the virus has places to go, people to infect, and the capability to continue to propagate itself.

The only way you're going to crush this virus is by getting the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated. And we are not there yet. But we have got to get there if we want to get this under control. JUDY WOODRUFF: But just quickly, Dr. Fauci, many of them are saying, I am not going to get that shot, no matter what.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: That is true. And that is the reason why we will try anything and everything we can, particularly getting trusted messengers, people, not government officials, but people in the community who they trust, their physician, their health care provider, clergymen, community representatives, people they trust, to convince them why it is so important for themselves, for their family and for the community for them to get vaccinated. JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Anthony Fauci, we always appreciate your join joining us. Thank you. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Thank you for having me, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: As we mentioned, stocks tumbled over worries that renewed COVID infections -- restrictions, rather, will slow the recovery. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 725 points, 2 percent, to close at 33, 962. The Nasdaq fell 152 points. The S&P 500 dropped 68. President Biden has toned down his claim that Facebook is killing people by letting lies about COVID-19 stay up. He made the accusation on Friday, and the company quickly rejected

it. Today, the president said it's the users who are posting the false claims who are doing the damage. JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. It's bad information. My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking

it personally that somehow I'm saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation. JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, the White House said it is not in a war with Facebook, but with the virus. All remaining pandemic restrictions ended in England today, for the first time in 18 months. Partygoers in London ditched their face masks and flooded dance floors at midnight. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the move, even though infections in his country are growing by 50,000 a day. BORIS JOHNSON, British Prime Minister: And so we have to ask ourselves the question, if not now, when? And though both deaths and hospitalizations, as I say, are, sadly, rising, these numbers are well within the margins of what our scientists predicted at the outset of the road map.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Johnson himself has been forced to quarantine after being exposed to COVID again. Meanwhile, in Japan, with four days before the Tokyo Olympics open, infections increased for the 30th day in a row. The U.S. and its allies formally accused China today of a sweeping hack of Microsoft e-mail software. It affected thousands of computers worldwide. And a media consortium reported a number of governments have used spyware to hack the phones of journalists, activists and officials around the world. We will discuss all of this after the news summary.

Fire crews in Southern Oregon faced dangerous winds today battling a wildfire the size of Los Angeles. The Bootleg Fire is the largest of at least 70 burning in the Western U.S. Thousands of people are under evacuation orders. More than 200 fires are burning across Siberia in Russia amid extreme heat. Heavy smoke has blanketed the city of Yakutsk and dozens of smaller places. More than 2,000 firefighters are deployed, including with one fire that's burned 100,000 acres and threatens a power plant. The floods that ravaged Western Europe last week have killed at least 196 people. The

cleanup and search for victims continued today in Western Germany. Officials or authorities said that the number of dead is likely to climb even higher. HORST SEEHOFER, German Interior Minister (through translator): We are experiencing an inconceivable tragedy these days. This is an exceptional situation, which, even with all our efforts on the ground, can only be overcome with a great national show of strength.

JUDY WOODRUFF: German officials promised an investigation, but denied that they were slow to issue warnings about the flooding. In Haiti, officials say that interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph will step down, apparently in a bid to avert a power struggle. He has led the government since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7. His successor, Ariel Henry, has international support.

Fifteen nations and NATO have renewed calls for a cease-fire in Afghanistan. Taliban fighters have seized much of the country as the U.S. withdraws. Weekend talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government failed to produce any agreement. Back in this country, a Florida man was sentenced to eight months in federal prison in January's attack on the U.S. Capitol. Paul Hodgkins is the first of the rioters sentenced in a

felony case. His penalty could set a guideline for others. And the U.S. Justice Department has formally barred federal prosecutors from seizing reporters' phone and e-mail records to investigate leaks. This follows disclosures that the Trump administration secretly obtained records on journalists and members of Congress. Still to come on the "NewsHour": the Biden administration moves its first detainee away from Guantanamo Bay; a war correspondent reports on lockdown life in his hometown in the British countryside; Tamara Keith and Amy Walter break down the latest political news; plus much more. There are two stories today that show the threat of governments using cyber tools to target their adversaries, both internationally and within their own borders.

And to discuss that, I'm joined by Nick Schifrin with a lot of reporting to do. So, Nick, first on China, what is -- tell us what it is that the U.S. and its allies are saying. NICK SCHIFRIN: This is an unprecedented international naming and shaming of Chinese hacking and Chinese espionage. For the first time, NATO, along with the E.U., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, joined the U.S. and accused China of working with cyber criminals in order to conduct hacking. And

they also formally accused China of that big Microsoft Exchange server hack from earlier this year infected more than 100,000 servers worldwide. So I talked to James Lewis from the think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies earlier today about the scope of the challenge posed by China and also today's announcement. JAMES LEWIS, Center for Strategic and International Studies: They are the most aggressive espionage component we have in the world, more aggressive than Russia. This is a huge step forward, because we have got many countries now joining the U.S. in

condemning China for its really rampant cyber-espionage. And the fact that you have NATO, E.U. countries, Australia, it is a significant effort that the Chinese are probably shocked to find there is such consensus about what they are doing. NICK SCHIFRIN: But what today's announcement did not include is any punishment on China. And I talked to a senior congressional aide about that, a frequent critic of China. This aide praised the administration for getting allies on board, but said that the response was weak because it didn't include punishment, because China only listens to actions, and not words, in this aide's words, and that China will continue its hacking without paying a higher price.

Now as for administration officials, they say, look, this is a first stage, and -- quote -- "No one action can change Chinese behavior." JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Nick, separately from this, you have today the Department of Justice issuing a new indictment against Chinese hackers. NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, so this is a grand jury, indicted Chinese intelligence agents for a worldwide hacking, a worldwide cyber espionage, economic espionage campaign. The Department of Justice says it was designed to aid Chinese-sponsored and Chinese-owned companies inside China, to give them stolen technology, so the companies themselves wouldn't have to create it themselves, a kind of shortcut to good technology.

And this is the FBI notice for the four hackers. They say these hackers targeted trade secrets, intellectual property, other high-value information from companies, universities, and governments across multiple sectors from the NIH to Navy submarines to Ebola research. And this was all over the world, Judy, from the U.S., to the U.K., to Cambodia, to South Africa, exactly the kind of action that the U.S. and its allies are calling out today. Now, when it comes to China, we took a look at the Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times' response. They accused the U.S. of stirring up a new geopolitical dispute by turning cyber frictions into major conflicts.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as we mentioned, there is another hacking story today. So, the question is what is Pegasus, and what has a consortium of media companies uncovered here NICK SCHIFRIN: This is a winnow into technology that can turn your phone into a spying tool and the governments willing to use it. So, what is Pegasus? It is a software created by an Israeli company called NSO Group. And

the company says it is designed to attack terrorists and other serious criminals. But the investigation reveals governments all over the world used this software to target opponents, whether journalists, opposition politicians, business executives, even activists. And it is all over the world. Take a look at this map from Mexico to Morocco to Rwanda

to the UAE to India. This map was produced by the nonprofit Forbidden Stories. They are the ones who spearheaded this, alongside 17 media organizations. The technical capacity was provided by Amnesty International, whose secretary-general, Agnes Callamard, spoke to me earlier today. AGNES CALLAMARD, Secretary-General, Amnesty International: That technology is a weapon.

And we -- what the investigation is showing is that the spyware is misused to such an extent that we have here a weapon that is -- the could blow up at any moment. It is undermining democracy. It is undermining human rights. It is undermining judicial system. It is undermining fair trials. It could be a threat to peace and security. It must be regulated to a complete moratorium. NICK SCHIFRIN: In a statement, NSO Group called The Washington Post's version of this story flimsy and said -- quote -- "NSO Group's technologies have helped prevent terror attacks, gun violence, car explosions and suicide bombings. NSO Group is on a lifesaving mission and the company will faithfully execute this mission undeterred, despite any and all continued attempts to discredit it on false grounds."

JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting. And, Nick, we note that most of those targeted are in Mexico? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, this was interesting. So, up to 15,000 phones in Mexico were targeted by a Mexican client who employed Pegasus to target as many as 15,000 phones. And one in particular belonged to a journalist named

Cecilio Pineda Birto. That is him right there. We wanted to bring him up because, back in 2017, he was investigating local police, local politicians colluding with a drug cartel. That is when his phone ended up on the target list for Pegasus twice, again, by a Mexican client, using Pegasus. Shortly after, he was

shot and killed. Now, Mexico is the most deadly country in the world for journalists. There is no confirmed connection between Pegasus and his murder. But the people who are calling on the NSO Group to stop exporting this software, people are calling on Israel to not allow it to be exported and for governments not to employ it, say this is a matter of life and death. JUDY WOODRUFF: This is so disturbing. Even without the proven links, the picture is so disturbing.

Nick Schifrin, thank you. NICK SCHIFRIN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, the Biden administration released its first detainee from the U.S.

detention camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. As Amna Nawaz reports, it's an effort to decrease the population and eventually shut down the prison complex nearly two decades after its opening. AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, the Biden administration says its goal is to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay. Today, they began that process by releasing Abdul Latif Nasser. He was never charged with a crime, but remained detained for nineteen years. Today, he was repatriated to Morocco,

where he will remain under tight security measures. Nearly 800 prisoners have passed through Guantanamo since detainees first arrived there in early 2002. Now 39 remain. To discuss this move, I'm joined by Tom Durkin. He's the lawyer for Abdul Latif Nasser. Tom Durkin, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thanks for making the time. Tell me, what was your reaction and his when you learned he was going to leave Guantanamo today, after nearly two decades? THOMAS DURKIN, Attorney For Abdul Latif Nasser: Well, I can't speak for him because I haven't spoken to him yet. I did speak to his brother, who was absolutely ecstatic. I am told he has been released in Morocco, but I haven't heard from him yet. He probably

has more important people to see than me at this moment. I was just tremendously relieved. It is like getting a boulder off your shoulder, is the best I can say. It is just awful, what happened to him. AMNA NAWAZ: Now, he was cleared for release, we should say, back in 2016. Do you know why this happened today? THOMAS DURKIN: I don't know why it happened today. I do know why -- I have a theory on why it happened in the last few weeks, because we have a pleading that was due in the federal court. And we had filed, along with Bernard

Harcourt at Columbia Law School, with the help of some law students there, an amendment to a mass petition for 11 people who were labeled forever prisoners. And I believe he was released because the Biden administration had the integrity not to file a pleading opposing his release that they didn't believe him, unlike the Trump administration. AMNA NAWAZ: So, what can you tell us about his situation in Morocco, because you just mentioned his family said to you he has been released.

But Moroccan authorities did say they took him into custody and they were going to investigate him on suspicion of committing terrorist acts. So what is his current status there? THOMAS DURKIN: I don't know exactly. I do know that the family was told that there was not going to be a lengthy investigation, which is not uncommon. I had two other detainee released in the past, one to the Sudan and one to Algeria, and those investigations aren't usually very lengthy. They're generally to get agreements from him that he will abide by certain conditions, what have you.

AMNA NAWAZ: So, Tom Durkin, we should remind folks your client was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He had trained at an al-Qaida camp. And just in May of this year, a number of Republican senators sent a letter to President Biden urging him not to release any more prisoners from Guantanamo, saying that the men who remained there, including your client then -- quote -- "are all high-risk."

Do you believe that your clients still poses a security risk? THOMAS DURKIN: No, that's an absurd, hyperbolic statement that they have been using to justify Guantanamo for years. It's simply false. It started with Bush's statement that they had the worst of the worst there. A periodic review board found him not to be a risk. Those are Department of Defense people. They're

not bleeding heart liberals. He was found not to be a risk, as are the 11 others who are dubbed the forever detainees. They should be released immediately. None of the low-value detainees should still be there. Military commissions are a different

discussion. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, that prison remains open, despite the efforts and the stated intention of a number of presidents. I have to ask, do you think that President Biden will be the one who actually succeeds in transferring out the remaining detainees and closing Guantanamo Bay? THOMAS DURKIN: Only if the Democrats maintain control of the House and the Senate. It's become a political football. It's an absurd political football. I blame the judiciary for keeping it open. The judiciary has no spine when it comes to Guantanamo. And it's

sad. I never thought I would say that about the federal judiciary. But when it comes to an issue like Guantanamo, they are spineless. They have bent over backwards to give executive authority, unfettered, limit -- and no limitation whatsoever.

And Guantanamo is a classic example of that. And it's difficult to say you can still believe in the rule of law and to have participated in Guantanamo. It's a mockery of the rule of law.

AMNA NAWAZ: That is Tom Durkin, lawyer for the now former Guantanamo Bay detainee Abdul Latif Nasser. Mr. Durkin, thanks for being with us. THOMAS DURKIN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: With all COVID-19 restrictions lifted today in the United Kingdom, despite being in the midst of a major surge of infections, we examine how life has been lived in one small English town. For the last 16 months, conflict journalist Will Wintercross has been quarantined there, like so many of us unable to travel. In partnership with the Global Health Reporting Center, he sent us this look at the pandemic's effect from the town of Holmfirth, nestled in the hills and valleys of Northwest England.

WILL WINTERCROSS: As a foreign correspondent, I have spent my career covering everything from wars in the Middle East to Ebola outbreaks in Africa. But in March 2020, as COVID-19 took hold in Britain, I went back to my home county of West Yorkshire as the country went into its first lockdown. Little did I know that I'd be covering this story for the next year-and-a-half. Found approximately 30 miles east of Manchester, the area is dominated by Victorian mills, row houses, sheep farms and beautifully bleak moorland. In the beginning, residents of my village and indeed up and down the valley sprung into action, forming support groups to help the most vulnerable, as young and old adapted to a new normal of life under lockdown. Dr. Angela Nall operates a local care facility. We spoke last March.

DR. ANGELA NALL, Hospice Owner: I run a 75-bed hospice. We don't have any face shields. And the masks that we have been given so far are just the moisture masks. Luckily, my husband has got some fantastic skills, making skills with 3-D printers. RICHARD NALL, Husband of Dr. Angela Nall: Angela's staff, of course, needed the masks. And here I am with all these machines, and there I could. I could make them.

WILL WINTERCROSS: Emergency physician Jayanth Savanth was like so many in medicine, bewildered, worried, and quickly exhausted. DR. JAYANTH SAVANTH, Senior Emergency Physician: Everything is new for us. We have come up to 30 to 40 cases per day, including about three to four deaths. Yes, it is quite a risky time at the moment. But as we are medical people, patients come first, so we are dealing with it. WILL WINTERCROSS: Just as Dr. Savanth said this was a new situation for him, it was for

me as well. Ordinarily, I report the stories of people in far-flung places. But, here, I wasn't just reporting from my home country, but my hometown, where there are no front lines, yet front lines are everywhere, and the enemy is invisible. In my work, there is a real risk of death or injury. However, being at home, I could

have been the agent transmitting the virus to my own parents, with whom I was staying for seven weeks. This in some ways forced me to be more careful than I have been in Syria or the Congo. I was also acutely aware that, unlike every other story, I couldn't simply get on a plane and leave it all behind. And it allowed me to empathize with those I had interviewed elsewhere in the world like never before. Keely Edge, a schoolteacher in my village, talked of her worries for herself and her two young daughters. KEELY EDGE, Teacher: We don't know whether we're safe or whether we're not safe. We don't

know if we have had it or we haven't had it. Student: I won't be able to see people that I usually see on a regular basis. WILL WINTERCROSS: Doris Earnshaw was a working shepherdess until last year, but, at 87 years old, has finally decided to retire. She has lived in the Holme Valley her whole life. She remembers World War II here. DORIS EARNSHAW, Retired Farmer: Well, this, this, I feel, is more scary, because we don't know where it is, when it's going to happen, whereas, the war, we just carried on. WILL WINTERCROSS: Not unlike her neighbor, Doris Earnshaw, Dora Green is also a retired shepherdess, as well as being a pub landlady. She still lives on the farm with her son.

DORA GREEN, Retired Farmer: We're fighting bugs now. We were fighting bombs then. You know, we're all in this together. WILL WINTERCROSS: Over a year on, we went into our third lockdown, meaning I was not able to cover the pandemic beyond this town or stories like the global fallout from George Floyd's murder or the recent war in Gaza, as I was still in West Yorkshire, covering the pandemic at home. The pandemic has already claimed the lives of 129,000 people in the U.K., and the National Health Service has been stretched to breaking point. DR. JAYANTH SAVANTH: My biggest worry was, when is it going to end? A few of the nurses

were even crying during their shifts. Actually, even I was breaking apart. But I think the vaccine came like a big weapon and stopped all this. WILL WINTERCROSS: And survivors like Georgina Parkinson, like many Britons, gives much credit to the National Health Service. GEORGINA PARKINSON, COVID-19 Survivor: And they put me on full oxygen. I honestly didn't

think that I'd come home because of how I felt. DORIS EARNSHAW: Well, it's been very quiet. I miss my friends, but I'm waiting for my second injection. DORA GREEN: I have sort of learned how to do Zoom. It's a bit of a strange way of doing it, though, because I'm never sure when I can speak and when I can't. (LAUGHTER) WILL WINTERCROSS: Local artists residents were keen to show their appreciation for the National Health Service.

DR. JAYANTH SAVANTH: Since we have managed this pandemic, I think we can go through any kind of situation next time. I have that confidence now. WILL WINTERCROSS: As of today, July 19, or Freedom Day, as some are calling it, all lockdown restrictions have been lifted here in England. However, cases of the Delta variant, which has also been dubbed the Johnson variant after the British prime minister, are rising exponentially, making up 95 percent of infections. The government

here has been accused of sending mixed messages about dangers still posed by coronavirus. And the SAGE committee, which is similar to the CDC, has said COVID deaths will likely rise to 200 a day, as hospitalizations will reach at least 1,000 per day following the easing of restrictions. Like the rest of the country, here in the valley people are divided on this decision of opening up. DR. ANGELA NALL: It makes me feel really quite anxious, because the different variants are

spreading, particularly the Delta variant, spreading very, very quickly. WILL WINTERCROSS: As a medical professional, what would your advice be to Boris Johnson? DR. ANGELA NALL: If I dared to... (LAUGHTER) DR. ANGELA NALL: ... advice a prime minister, I'd say slow it right back down. He's being premature. I understand the pressure he's under politically and economically. I really do.

As a hospice, we are -- we have very vulnerable people. There are many in the staff group that are really quite vulnerable as well. People have worked very bravely through this last 18 months. They have worked tirelessly. They have been incredibly selfless, incredibly brave. And I feel like it's a massive slap in the face for everybody that we're now saying, oh, it's OK. You can open up. We can't open up.

DORA GREEN: My son and daughter-in-law came over today, brought lunch over for me. And it was the first time I had actually seen them for such a long time. I have really, really enjoyed it. And what a good day to do it in. It's given me a real lift today. And I'm looking forward and hoping that the world is going to change, I know it is. It's bound to change. Lovely view. What could be better? I'm very lucky. Might even go to the football match.

You never know. WILL WINTERCROSS: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Will Wintercross in West Yorkshire, England. JUDY WOODRUFF: As we begin another busy week in Washington, Lisa Desjardins checks in with our Politics Monday team about the political calculations around immigration, vaccine misinformation and even polling accuracy. LISA DESJARDINS: Judy, for all of that, we turn, as always, to Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR. Ladies, our first in person reunion. AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes.

LISA DESJARDINS: Very happy to do this. Complicated times though. High stakes. And I want to turn to an issue that might get lost, but is part of this large budget reconciliation package Democrats are talking about, immigration. Democrats are talking about attaching immigration reform to that. They don't know the details yet. They are working it out.

But, Tam, I want to go to you. How does the Biden administration handle this idea of perhaps adding some legal status, pushing for that for some undocumented illegal residents, at the same time as we see on the border, more and more undocumented immigrants entering and Republicans criticizing him? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Right. In June, 188,000 people were apprehended on the Southwest border. That is a 21-year record. So the numbers are very problematic for the Biden administration. And polling reflects that.

But in terms of the reconciliation bill, the budget bill, what happened is, a federal judge in Texas said that DACA, the dreamer program that was put in place during the Biden administration, that... LISA DESJARDINS: The Obama administration. TAMARA KEITH: Oh, yes, sorry, the Obama/Biden administration. (LAUGHTER) TAMARA KEITH: That program needs to pause and may get thrown out.

And so President Biden in his statement saying that they would appeal. Also, they don't have a lot of options left. And so he said, yes, Congress should do something. Well, Congress has been trying to do something for 20 years. So, then he adds they should put it in the reconciliation bill.

Well, today, he was asked about it, and he essentially said -- and it's true -- well, whether it can actually be put into that bill or not depends on whether the Senate parliamentarian deems that this is related enough to the budget. And the same thing happened with the minimum wage. In a way, President Biden is essentially saying, Congress, please do something. But he isn't putting a lot of his personal political capital into it. LISA DESJARDINS: Amy, the politics here? AMY WALTER: Yes, the politics are very interesting. And you are right. The administration is in a very tough place. They are not only trying

to move beyond Donald Trump, the President Trump administration, their policies and their positioning on immigration, right, which they argue was too harsh. At the same time, their advocates, especially on the left, are pushing the administration to go farther than Barack Obama did, right? They want to see a very different kind of Democratic administration handling immigration. Remember, there was a lot of criticism of the Obama administration and what they thought were too -- was too punitive on immigration. So, as Tam pointed out, you have this big reconciliation bill. You have a lot of pent-up

demand. It has been since 2009 since Democrats have had full control of Congress. There is a lot of stuff they are going to try to put on the train. The train is leaving the station. (CROSSTALK) AMY WALTER: This is their shot to put it on.

LISA DESJARDINS: Right. AMY WALTER: But, as you know better than anybody, the person who decides what baggage can get on is somebody who is not elected... LISA DESJARDINS: Right. AMY WALTER: ... who is the parliamentarian. And that is going to be a little more complicated. LISA DESJARDINS: Elizabeth MacDonough. I know they are having talks about it now.

AMY WALTER: Right. LISA DESJARDINS: I think this is not the last time you will be talking about that issue. AMY WALTER: Yes. Yes. LISA DESJARDINS: Another quandary for the Biden administration, of course, is vaccine and vaccine hesitancy. It's a real issue right now in this country. President Biden had to walk back something he said about misinformation. He said Facebook

is killing us. He walked that back today. He said he meant people on Facebook spreading misinformation is a problem. Tam, what is the Biden administration doing here? And is it working? TAMARA KEITH: So, they have keyed in on a message in the last few days that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Now, part of that is to try to convince people to get vaccinated. But part of it also seems to be a distancing, as if they have tried all of the things, and they are will keep trying all of the things that they can to get people vaccinated, but there is this large well of hesitancy or resistance or whatever you want to call it. And they are quite frustrated with the misinformation that is at cross-purposes with this effort that they are trying to do.

Just one little thing. July 4, the president had a goal, 70 percent of American adults would have their first vaccine shot. They are at 68 percent. It's been two weeks since July 4. It is -- vaccination rates are stagnating. And you talk to people trying to get folks vaccinated, hospital directors and others, and they constantly reference things that people tell them that they learned on Facebook.

LISA DESJARDINS: How is Biden using the bully pulpit? AMY WALTER: Well, that's the thing. He is trying to use it to sort of shame, not necessarily the unvaccinated, although there is a little piece of that, but also to shame the -- Facebook and other social media companies to basically take people off more quickly who are spreading misinformation, to basically say, you all should be doing more to police misinformation. But I think the reality is, we have hit a plateau, and a big piece of it is, there are very complicated reasons why people may not want to take a vaccine. It is not simply about politics. It is not simply about conspiracy theories or misinformation. There are a lot of folks who do honestly feel like, I don't really know what's in this, and I don't want to try it.

LISA DESJARDINS: In about a minute or so that we have left, there was a new report out in the last day about polling in the last election. Guess what? It didn't go so well. AMY WALTER: Yes. Yes. LISA DESJARDINS: The report found really this was some of the worst results in terms of what the actual election told us in decades. And, in fact, overall, nationally, polls were off by four points in terms of underestimating former President Trump. AMY WALTER: Right.

LISA DESJARDINS: Amy, what do we know about what happened, and what can pollsters do to fix it, if anything? AMY WALTER: Well, the short answer from pollsters was, we don't really know how to fix this. But the one thing we know that happened in 2020 was, we had a record turnout. And when you have record turnout, it means a whole bunch of people are coming in to the system who may never have voted before, or maybe voted 20 years ago, this is the first time they voted in a long, long time. That adds a lot of uncertainty. And so, even though the samples that the pollsters were getting on paper looked great, they looked accurate, the kinds of people who fit into those demographic categories were actually different, because many of them were very new to the process. So, we were making assumptions about voters based on how past voters had voted, but these were new voters. The other thing, very quickly, is, the two toughest times for polling also happened to coincide with the two times that President Trump was on the ballot. So, the question

we're all watching for is, what happens when he's not on the ballot? And, in 2018, the polls were really good. 2017, the polls were good. LISA DESJARDINS: OK. AMY WALTER: Let's see about 2022. LISA DESJARDINS: Quick reminder. How long until the congressional midterms?

(CROSSTALK) LISA DESJARDINS: Either 16 months or we're already there. I don't know. (LAUGHTER) AMY WALTER: We're always already there. LISA DESJARDINS: You all make it engaging every time. Thank you so much, Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, Cook Political Report. AMY WALTER: You're welcome.

TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: The Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics are just four days away, and competitions in soccer and softball actually begin tomorrow night. But the Specter of COVID hangs over these Games. More than 50 people in Tokyo connected with the Games have tested positive. That includes contractors and staff. It also includes some athletes, among them, an alternate on the U.S. gymnastics team who tested positive

while training outside Tokyo. Olympics officials say they hope to put on a compelling series of Games, despite it all. With that in mind, we have a preview of some of the Americans to watch. I spoke with Christine Brennan of USA Today shortly before she left for Tokyo for her 19th Olympics Games. Christine Brennan, good to have you with us again.

Let's start, Christine, with an athlete who brings probably the highest hopes around her, and that would be Simone Biles, the gymnast already won so many gold medals. Tell us, what are the expectations for her this time? CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA Today: Judy, I don't think I have ever seen an athlete more discussed, hyped on more covers, on the tip of everyone's tongue, social media, than someone Simone Biles that into an Olympic Games. I mean, we have had great, great stars going into the Olympics before from the United States and from around the world. Nothing like this. And that's well-deserved, absolutely well-deserved,

the greatest gymnast ever coming back for another Olympic Games, trying to recreate what she did in Rio five years ago, which was four gold medals and one bronze, and maybe even went all five gold medals. She is the strong favorite to win the all-around competition, to lead the U.S. to the team competition, and then to win a couple of gold medals on various apparatuses in those competitions.

She's a survivor of the worst sexual abuse scandal in the history of sports, a survivor of Larry Nassar, the absolutely tragic and horrible sexual assault and sexual abuse of hundreds and hundreds of young gymnasts by the former USA Gymnastics team doctor. The Simone Biles is the one who was calling out the organization, the national governing body, time and again saying -- being that voice for the survivors. She's also the greatest in her sport ever. Truly remarkable.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Truly remarkable. A lot of anticipation, Christine, also around swimming. Tell us who to look for there. CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Katie Ledecky is the other huge name to watch going into these Olympic Games Katie Ledecky was the star of the Rio Olympics, and is coming back, trying to defend those titles, freestyle 200, 400, 800, and the 1, 500, first time ever that women will be able to swim the mile, the 1, 500, at an Olympics. It's well past overdue, Judy. Men started swimming it in 1904, only 117 years later. It is ridiculous it took that long for the International Olympic Committee to add women's -- the women's mile in swimming. But Katie Ledecky is favored to win that. She's favored to win the 800. It's going to

be a little tough for her in the 200 and maybe the 400, her signature events as well, because Australia has got a couple of very strong competitors. And then, on the men's side, Caeleb Dressel. He's not Michael Phelps. He's not going to win seven or eight Olympic gold medals, but he will probably win -- I think he's favored to win three individual golds. And he will be on several relays. And Dressel also is a name to watch for the Americans. JUDY WOODRUFF: Such high interest in swimming. And then there's track and field. And, Christine, there's probably more being said now about

who isn't it going to be running. And, of course, that's Sha'Carri Richardson, who was taken off the U.S. team. But it does appear to be, what, starting a conversation that wasn't had before about the role of marijuana in these Games. CHRISTINE BRENNAN: That's right, Judy. And it's an important conversation to have. Richardson of course, was destined for greatness, was going to be the gold medal favorite in the women's 100-meter dash, the marquee event of track and field, and would also have been on the relay team for the U.S.. And because she said she ingested marijuana not long after finding out that her biological mother had died -- she went into an emotional tailspin, and that's how she reacted.

Because she tested positive for marijuana, which is a banned substance -- even though a lot of us think that's ridiculous, the world anti-doping code says it is. And she knew it. And to her great credit, despite the controversy and despite the questions about whether it should or should not be banned, she accepted it. She didn't try to lie or get out of it. She -- with dignity, with grace, with class, Sha'Carri Richardson, think, really, well, is holding herself in good stead, Judy, for the future. But perhaps this will lead that conversation and move the World Anti-Doping Agency to take marijuana off its banned list, as this is obviously that kind of high-profile case that would lead to that conversation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sha'Carri Richardson will be missed. And then, Christine, the other part of the women running story is how many mothers there are who are going to be running this year. CHRISTINE BRENNAN: That's right. And this is, Judy, just -- as is the fact that 54 percent of the U.S. Olympic team is

women, for the third straight time, more women than men on the U.S. Olympic team. This is all about Title IX. This is about the law signed by Richard Nixon in June of 1972, almost 50 years ago now, that opened the floodgates for women and girls to play sports. And so someone like Allyson Felix, the great star in her fifth now Olympic Games, track and field star for the U.S., as a mom, she has been leading the way in this conversation

about pay from Nike for -- if you're pregnant, you should still get your money and your contract, and also for grants for women athletes who are also mothers. Then you throw in the pandemic. And what happened was, over the last few months, thankfully, the Japanese Olympic organizers have relented, but they weren't going to allow women who were breast-feeding to bring their babies with them, so competitors, athletes, and wouldn't let them actually have their babies. Thankfully, they changed their mind. The kids can come. The moms can do what they're doing on the field, and they can be moms off the field. JUDY WOODRUFF: A reminder of how many of these women's teams are being so closely watched.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Oh, that's right. I mean, we tend to talk about basketball, we think about the men, right, the dream team and all of that. Well, we really -- the dream team is women's basketball. And going back, the U.S. women's Olympic basketball team has not lost, Judy, since 1992, Barcelona 1992. This is the most dominant team in the history of sports. They just simply do not lose. And the odds are that they will win again. They have got some great stars. Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, longtime Olympians, are back. This is a professional team, mostly WNBA stars,

and they will be favored to win the gold medal again. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we also will see some history made, in that there will be for the first time some openly transgender athletes competing. CHRISTINE BRENNAN: This is something that its time has come. And it's a conversation that I think many people are having, whether it be at the high school level, college, pro, and also at the Olympics. And back in 2015, Judy, the International Olympic Committee mandated that transgender athletes could compete, transgender women in particular could compete, as long as they met the testosterone levels in the body, and that they would have to be lowered than what they would be for men.

So, in the case of the New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, she has been taking testosterone suppressants or whatever she has done to be able to be in the competition. And, as a man, she competed in weight lifting, and will be competing as a woman. Obviously, transgender rights are such an important topic. This is the obvious fruition of that, that the greatest competition on Earth, the Olympic Games, would allow a transgender athlete to compete.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there's always so much excitement around these Olympic Games. We are so glad to be able to look ahead with you, Christine Brennan, at Games that are going to be historic one way or another, taking place in the middle of this pandemic. Christine Brennan, thank you so much. CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Judy, my pleasure. Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we look forward to hearing from her during the Games, when they get under way in the next few days. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. 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.

2021-07-20 22:23

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