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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  March 13, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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siblings and neighbors. captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, march 13: more relief funds to arrive, as the u.s. marks a year of covid-19 shutdowns. tributes and a call for justice on the anniversary of breonna taylor's death. and, in our signature segment: exploring hate-- extremism in the ranks. next, on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the anderson family fund. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. .
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barbara hope zuckerberg. the leonard and norma klorfine foundation. the peter g. peterson and joan ganz cooney fund. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular's goal has been to provide wireless service that helps people communicate and connect. we offer a variety of no-contract plans, and our u.s.-based customer service team can help find one that fits you. to learn more, visit additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public badcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thank you for joining us.
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the first direct deposits to individual american's bank accounts are expected to arrive this weekend from the federal government's third round of covid-19 pandemic relief funding. president biden signed the $1.9 trillion “american rescue plan” into law on thursday. officials at the treasury department and i.r.s. said processing of the checks began yesterday. the financial aid comes as covid infections continue to decline in the united states and vaccination efforts increase. the "new york times" reports that as of yesterday, 101 million vaccine doses have been administered in the u.s., a pace of just over two million injections a day, with nearly 20% of the population having now received at least one dose. as of this morning, there have been more than 29 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the united states and nearly 530,000 deaths. one year ago, the country was starting the lockdowns that followed the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and the deaths from covid-19 that have now reached more than half a
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million. we often turned to propublica reporter caroline chen throughout this crisis, and, on this weekend last year, she and i were talking about testing. >> i think, even as of this week, we have continued to hear americans say, "we want to be tested, we can't get tested," and to hear doctors saying, "we want to get these patients tested, and we can't." and that's tremendously frustrating and anxiety provoking. >> sreenivasan: caroline, a year ago, we were in a fancy studio, i used to wear ties, and we were talking about how this new coronavirus was going to impact us, and, at the time, you were saying it's changing by the hour. >> yeah. and truly, in the past year, we have learned so much as scientists, as a nation. you know, when we have a new virus, you know, we have to learn and adapt with the science. and i think that there have been ways in which we have done that
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well as a nati, and there have been ways at which we have not, you know, communicated the changing science well to the public and realized that we were really just not as prepared as we hoped we could be. >> sreenivasan: you know, no disputing that it was a scientic-- an amazing feat of science and logistics to create a vaccine around the entir planet at the same time, so fast: given. now, that last mile, detail a couple of the things that we didn't really think through about just getting someone access to the vaccine. >> yeah. so, i think there's some good news here first, so that i think that in many places the vaccine rollout is starting to, you know, pick up speed and that we now have in many places more supply than even administrative capacity. so, you know, in the u.s., i think there are many reasons to be happy. however, i think that there are,
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you know, as you said, people who aren't finding it that easy to get the vaccine even though it is-- they are eligible. and so, a piece that mariam jameel and i are working on together are looking at structural barriers to access that are, you know, whether intentionally or not-- most likely unintentionally-- have been built into vaccination sites. so, there are things, whether it's languge-- people with disabilities often struggle, people who struggle to use the internet. and we've talked before, i think, hari, about vaccine hesitancy, and increasingly, as i talk to experts and to doctors, a lot of them point out that, you know, people who are vaccine hesitant, you know, that very broad phrase, are not necessarily anti-vax. they might just have questions and maybe want to know more about the data. so, having access to a doctor-- particularly maybe one who speaks their language, you know, who they don't have to pay to ask those questions to-- may be a big way to reduce the hurdles to get more people vaccinatedu know, where,
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maybe they're like, "i just want to know more about how safe it is to get to the vaccine." >> sreenivasan: so, where are we in terms of vaccines now? >> so, when i looked yesterday, nearly 10% of the population has gone into full regimens of fully vaccinated. so, we are starting to get to sort of what i would consider, you know, like, significant numbers, which is great. in terms of supply, this is sort of a constantly moving target as the u.s. government continues to work out contracts with the manufacturers and sort of, kind of pushes on them. so, what i think we can confidently say is, you know, based on the contracts that have already been put out there, that we should have enough supply for all americans by at least june. and i think that the biden administration has been pushing on them, for example, by getting merck to help make the johnson & johnson vaccine. but again, as you talked about, you know, vaccines produced does not mean vaccines in arms. there's so many complicated components here. so, having supply is, of course, the first thing, but then we
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have to be able to have administrative capacity, so the logistics of administering these barriers we just talked about. and then, there's still significant cohorts people, particularly a static part has actually been republicans that continue to be very hesitant and not wanting to get the vaccine. so, there are advocacy groups that are working obreaking down that sort of hesitancy and working to make it so that once the supply is there, that everybody will actually feel comfortable getting it. and then, eventually, we'll have to finish the trials in teens and younger children for it to even be available for them. so, there are still groups of people, i think, that we have to work on to eventually catch up to the supply. >> sreenivasan: caroline chen of propublica, thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. >> sreenivasan: today marks one year since the death of breonna taylor, the 26-year-old black woman who was killed in her own me in louisville, kentucky, by
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police officers serving a no- knock warrant. hundreds gathered for a rally this afternoon in louisville as well as in other cities, including taylor's hometown of grand rapids, michigan. taylor's death was a catalyst for black lives matter protests across the country last summer and drew attention to the role of black women in the fight for racial justice. last september, a grand jury decided not to bring charges against the police officers who fired at taylor and her boyfriend, instead charging one officer with wanton endangerment for firing into a neighboring home. the death of breonna taylor has drawn increased attention to the use of no-knock warrants, allowing law enforcement to enter certain premises without announcing themselves. since then, three states have adopted "breonna's law" banning the practice, and major police departments and cities, including louisville, have also prohibited its use. but statewide, kentucky has not yet banned no-knock warrants. i spoke with state representative attica scott,
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who's introduced a "breonna's law" bill. i asked her why gaining statewide approval is important and who it will help. breonna's law for kentucky, house bill 21, was the people's breonna's law, and it would have ended no-knock search warrants across theommonwealth of kentucky. it mandated alcohol and drug testing for officers who have been involved in deadly incidences like the murder of breonna taylor. the bill would also require the use of body-worn cameras when issuing a search warrant so that the process can be documented. >> sreenivasan: but what's the primary opposition? who are the forces that are aligned against it? >>ell, the president of the senate filed a bill in the senate the day before the filing deadline a few weeks ago. and so, that's the bill that the body ended up pushing through. we're now working to try to amend it to include some of what we had in the people's breonna's law, house bill 21, including maki sure that officers have clear insignia when they are coming to someone's door and
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also making sure that we restrict the use of no-knock search warrants because the bill that did pass committee senate bill 4 expands the use of no- knock search warrants, so we don't want that. >> sreenivasan: what to you is that threshold where you would say there has been justice served for the taylor family? >> for many of us who are on the front lines of seeking justice for breonna taylor, we continue to demand that every single officer who was involved with her murdeon friday, march 13, 2020, is fired, arrested, and charged for her murder. that hasn't happened yet at all. and so, we-- we continue with those demands but also with policy demands, because we're very clear that what happened to breonna taylor and what happened that night includes the use of no-knock warrants. it also includes some other police accountability measures that must be addressed, the fact that no aid was rendered to her
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as she gasped for-- gasped for life. that's one of the amendments that we put into senate bill 4, is to make sure that there's an e.m.t. nearby to render aid if someone is injured. >> sreenivasan: you're even asking for attorney general merrick garland to look into this. why? >> because it's important to us to make sure that someone, somewhere is ful investigating the murder of breonna taylor. it didn't happen from our attorney general here in kentucky, didn't happen from the commonwealth's attorney in louisville. it has to happen from someone somewhere. and it makes sense to me that our new attorney general, merrick garland, be the person to lead a full and thorough investigation of breonna taylor's murder. >> sreenivasan: what happens when you go back to your constituents, and you say, "our vote didn't even have a chance"? >> many people from louisville came to the state capital. some people who had never been to their state capitol in their lives came here that day. and then, to have to go outside and say to folks we didn't get what we wanted, didn't win our
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bill passing, but it wasn't a lossthat we have to make sure that we see the opportunity to add amendments to senate bill 4 as moving forward with policy justice. but it's not easy. it's been hard for people, and they've been wearing their hearts on their sleeves and opening themselves up to being vulnerable for people who just don't understand what it means to seek justice for someone who's no longer with us. >> sreenivasan: state representative from kentucky attica scott, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: visit for more national and international news. >> sreenivasan: last month, the newly appointed secretary of defense, lloyd austin, addressed extremism in the military in the wake of the january 6 assault on the capitol. the acknowledgement that right wing extremists exist in the ranks of the military and law enforcement came as little surprise to watchdog groups and counterterrorism experts who
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have been warning of their existence for years. special correspondent simon ostrovsky has our report. this segment is part of our ongoing initiative, "exploring hate: anti-semitism, racism, and extremism." >> you know, new jersey will recover from the coronavirus, but it will not recover from the hasidic jewish invasion. >> reporter: meet timothy hale-cusanel of colts neck, new jersey. >> the normal people of new jersey, if things aren't corrected soon, will have no choice but to keep jumping ship to other states or, sadly, open revolt against overlords with no connection to our state or o people. >> reporter: according to filings with the d.c. district court, an n.c.i.s. agent's source said he's an avowed white supremacist and nazi sympathizer. this video and others like it were taken down when hale- cusanelli was arrested for participating in the january 6
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attack on the capitol. at the time of arrest, he was a member of the u.s. army reserve and a contractor at a naval depot, where an affidavit says he had access to a variety of munitions and a security clearance at level "secret." but accordg to democratic congresswoman jackie speier, he was far from the only alleged attacker to have a background in the uniformed services. >> what we found in the january 6 insurrection was that we had active uty service members who were part of that mob, we had persons that had top secret clearances that were part of that mob, we had police officers who were active duty who were part of that mob, and we had veterans who were part of that mob. >> reporter: this reality has forced the government to acknowledge that the ranks of the military and law enforcement have been infiltrated by right
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wing extremists, as counter- terrorism experts and watchdogs have been warning for years. here's president joe biden's new defense secretary admitting to the problem last month. >> you know, when i think about, you know, the issue of extre-- extremism in the ranks, and i-- i expect for the numbers to be small. but, quite frankly, they're prob-- probably a little bit larger than most of us would guess. but i would just say tt, you know, small numbers in this case can have an outsized impact. >> reporter: these comments to journalists were made shortly after lloyd austin ordered a department-wide stand-down to discuss ways to expose and expel extremists. hale-cusanelli has a history of alleged criminal activity that's easily searchable online and regularly posted his anti-semitic youtube videos. yet, somehow, he managed to keep his security clearance which allowed him to retain both a job at a naval weapons depot and a
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job with the u.s. army reserve. federal investigators allege hale-cusanelli encouraged the mob at the capitol to advance past police lines. when questioned, he told an n.c.i.s. agent he was able to continue moving forward even after having been exposed to pepper spray because of his military training in overcoming various chemical irritants. he worked here as a security guard through a private military contractor called hbc management. a representative of the company said he was "terminat immediately" upon his arrest but wouldn't answer questions about why he had been employed in the first place given his history of anti-semitic posts on the open internet and alleged criminal activity that's been reported in the local media. both the navy and the army turned down interview requests from newshour weekend, but the army said in an email that "hale-cusanelli's leadership wasn't aware" of his youtube videos or run-ins with law
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enforcement prior to the current federal charges. >> he's an army reservist, active army reservist. he's a government contractor at a naval weapons depot, and he's got a top seret security clearance. so, it's something ve been concerned about as a member of the house intelligence committee for years, that social media is not a component of the in-depth investigation that goes on before someone gets a top secret clearance. >> reporter: yes, you heard that right. despite asking highly intrusive questions about personal financesbehavioral health and even neighbors, the military does not routinely check the social media accounts of people it puts in sensitive security positions. >> well, what we're asking the president to do is use his authority under his executive order privileges to require all top secret clearance reviews to
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include a review of the social media presence of individuals who are seeking these clearances, and for the military under secretary austin to begin immediately under the authority they have to review social media of potential recruits. >> reporter: the local authorities in new jersey also seem to have ignored several red flags in dealing with hale- cusanelli, against whom jewish residents had made numerous complaints in the year leading up to the attack on the capitol. >> his comments were reported to different law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor's office. he was reported to the attorney general's office. i think-- i think that they-- they dropped the ball on it. >> reporter: avi schnall is an advocate for the orthodox jewish community of new jersey, members of which hale-cusanelli targeted in his youtube videos and on a now-defunct facebook group in which he posted thinly veiled threats against jewish members. >> here's a person that has a social media account that is
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posting things for the world to see. his boss sees it, his supervisors see it, or they could see it. now, of course, everyone's entitled to their own view and there's freedom of expression, there's freedom of religion, there's freedom of speech. however, if you're-- if you're espousing a certain viewpoint and you make certain threats, you're allowed to do it. you just can't work and be someone protecting our community. >> reporter: security expert elizabeth nuemann served in the trump administration as assistant secretary of counterterrorism and threat prevention at the department of homeland security. >> i think there's a-- a conversation to be had around when you choose to get a clearance to be a contractor to the federal government, whether you give up certain rights. when you join the federal government, you have to abide by the hatch act, which inhibits
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the types of politic activity you can do. one can make the case that if you are participating in racist rhetoric online, that's unbecoming of somebody that's being given access to federal government resources and-- and secrets, particularly since there is a strong connection between anti-semitic rhetoric and violence. >> reporter: jonathan greenblatt is the c.e.o. of the anti- defamation league. >> in the '80s, in the '90s and in the late aughts, as we saw surges in white supremacist, you know, recruiting and activity, so we saw surges in their efforts to penetrate in the military and law enforcement. it's been a long-standing tactic. they've believed for years that there was a value to joining, again, the ranks of law enforcement in order to get training because many of them have held out this idea for some
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time that there was a civil war coming. some would call it a racial holy war, a "rahowa." the alarm bells should have been ringing a long time ago. i mean, timothy mcveigh, you know, in the-- in the mid '90s, exemplified what a military veteran could do with-- with tremendous-- you know, tremendous lethality. so, i think, as we look ahead to today, yeah, the alarm bells should be ringing right now. but i think you've heard this. i think defense secretary austin has publicly committed to tackle this issue. >> reporter: while austin has indeed called attention to the issue of extremists in the ranks, the military has yet to signal if it plans to change its vetting procedures for recruits and the federal contractors it increasingly relies on. >> sreenivasan: finally tonight, one more reminder that daylight
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saving time begins again for most of the country at 2:00 a.m. many of your devices will automatically spring forward one hour, but don't forget those clocks and appliances that need a manual reset. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. for the latest news updates, visit i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. stay healthy and have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the anderson family fund.
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bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. barbara hope zuckerberg. barbara hope zuckerberg. the leonard and norma klorfine foundation. the peter g. peterson and joan ganz cooney fund. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. additional support has been provided by: consumer cellular. anby: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corpation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your
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pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
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