November 12, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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November 12, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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11/12/2021 | 56m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
November 12, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: the tipping point.
Negotiations go down to the wire at the global climate summit, but meaningful agreements remain elusive.
Then: Ethiopia in crisis.
The regional war in Tigray spills over into the rest of the country and ensnares innocent civilians.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N.
Undersecretary For Humanitarian Affairs: I think Ethiopia is the most alarming place in the world at the moment, and Tigray is probably the worst place in the world to live in right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's Friday.
Jonathan Capehart and Gary Abernathy discuss the new, even sharper divides in Congress and the political implications of ongoing inflation.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Diplomats and negotiators from nearly 200 countries struggled to reach a global accord on reducing emissions to ease the impact of climate change.
Today was scheduled to be the last day of the so-called COP 26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, but word came this afternoon that deep disputes over financial aid, fossil fuels, and future commitments, meant the talks would spill over into Saturday.
Top officials said it was important to keep negotiations going.
Frans Timmermans represents the European Union.
FRANS TIMMERMANS, Lead Negotiator, European Commission: The whole of humanity is in danger.
And the ones who are in immediate danger are the ones living on small island states in the Pacific and the ones in the Caribbean who are suffering every year, with the weather becoming more and more erratic.
So, I think there's a lot of people who are already suffering now.
But the whole of humanity will be suffering dearly if we don't change our behavior.
JUDY WOODRUFF: William Brangham is covering the latest on these talks and files this report from Glasgow on how this day has gone and the issues that divide countries.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As the scheduled last day of this summit began, Glasgow's weather matched the mood outside.
As attendees filed in, a few lone protesters stood watch.
Tom Deacon came to encourage greater action, but he isn't hopeful.
TOM DEACON, Climate Protester: I'm 40 years old, and this has been going on since I was 8 years old, this process that is behind us.
We're here at COP 26.
This is why I have got a banner that says, "How many COPs to arrest climate change?"
One should be the answer.
Like, we should not be here at COP 26.
And still it's failing.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Inside the cavernous halls, negotiators worked all morning, wrangling over the precise wording for the conference's final joint statement.
A draft version of that document, released early today, includes language urging countries to phase out the use of coal and questions the need for billions of dollars in subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
It was less clear about how much aid would be provided to the developing nations that are suffering the present-day impacts of climate change.
Saleemul Huq is a Bangladeshi scientist and researcher who's been to every one of these conferences.
SALEEMUL HUQ, Director, International Center For Climate Change and Development: In the last hours of the COP is where the final political horse-trading takes place amongst the ministers who are here in Glasgow.
And some issues will go to heads of government.
You know, Mr. Kerry will call Mr. Biden, and Mr. Biden will call President Xi, and they will sort a few things out that have to go up to that level.
Always happens that way.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Many of the activists crowded inside today wanted negotiators thinking about the future, but acknowledging the present.
Miriam Talwisa is an activist from Uganda.
MIRIAM TALWISA, Climate Activist: The solutions coming through out of here should be reflective of two realities, the that effects and damages and the losses from the change in climate are here today, and the future is unknown.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Benjamin Ryan Yawakie is an indigenous activist from Minnesota.
BENJAMIN RYAN YAWAKIE, Climate Activist: There's so much at stake with respect to the situations that are happening in Minnesota with the drought that we had this summer.
It was a historic drought.
We had the heat dome, the closing of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
And so all these things are coming to a head, and it's coming to our communities.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At noon, a planned walkout began.
Hundreds of civil society groups, NGOs, and activists from all over the world marched out of the conference hall en masse, all holding onto a long red ribbon.
Outside, they joined a large demonstration that had formed on the perimeter of the conference.
The speakers, protesters, and signs all demanded action.
At one point, the protest was joined by the so-called Red Brigade, a group of climate-minded street-performers.
As the day wore on inside, some ministers and negotiators acknowledged their work was far from finished.
SIMON STIELL, Grenada Minister For climate Resilience and the Environment: The text is the bare minimum we need to walk away with.
And we need to hold the line.
We owe our children, our grandchildren.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said the world was watching.
NICOLA STURGEON, Scottish First Minister: If it doesn't get across the line, it's only going to be because of a lack of political will, political determination, and political leadership.
And future generation -- well, this generation of young people are watching.
Let's not let them down.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The day ended as it began, a small crowd of protesters outside, negotiators continuing their work inside.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And William joins me now.
So, hello again, William.
And it looks as if these negotiations are going past the deadline.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That's right, Judy.
On some level, this is to be expected.
This happens at a lot of these U.N. conferences.
There are just so many details to get through.
You mentioned some of them.
The first and foremost is this what's called the emissions gap.
And that is the chasm -- and it is a chasm -- between what nations pledged to cut with their emissions and what is needed to cut with emissions to get down to stopping the planet from warming an additional 1.5 degrees.
That has been the whole goal.
One minister today said that the target of 1.5 degrees is hanging on by its fingernails.
Another issue, of course, is the issue of subsidies.
And this is somewhere around half-a-billion dollars that governments all around the world give every year to oil and gas companies to subsidize their work and to keep gas prices low.
John Kerry today referred to those subsidies as the definition of insanity.
But the language in the draft report that was issued this morning is a little fuzzy on what we ought to be doing about those subsidies.
And then, of course, as we have been talking all week long, there is this issue of aid to the developing world.
Wealthier nations promised $100 billion, but they have failed to deliver on that.
According to their own recording -- reporting, they have failed by, say, $20 billion.
Oxfam estimates that that's almost $80 billion that they're short.
So, lots of issues to work out.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, William, we're seeing that a consensus position on fossil fuels now seems to be softening.
And we understand there's been difficulty in even getting this language in these agreements in the past.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: No, you're exactly right, Judy.
It is striking that we are at the 26th climate conference, and there still is this intense debate about minuscule language changes with regards to fossil fuels.
We know they are the principal driver of climate change.
One of the factors -- and there are many -- is that the oil and gas industry is very influential.
I mean, one group known as Global Witness did an analysis, and they showed that the oil and gas industry has more representatives here than in any -- than compared to any other country.
So their interests are being looked after and lobbied on behalf of.
It's also important to remember that this process all goes under consensus.
There are 200 nations here.
And they each have to agree to this.
And so some nations that don't want to see progress made, they can hold the process up.
And they have been.
We will see what happens.
The next draft data - - the next draft document comes out tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. JUDY WOODRUFF: Into the weekend.
William Brangham, reporting for us from Glasgow, thank you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You're welcome, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress, after he defied a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.
Meanwhile, former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows failed to appear for his deposition before the panel today, prompting calls to hold him in contempt as well.
President Biden has nominated Dr. Robert Califf to head the Food and Drug Administration.
The agency has been without a permanent leader since the president took office in January, amid the strain of fighting COVID-19 and rolling out vaccines.
If confirmed, it will be Califf's second time leading the agency.
White House officials today estimate that more than 27 million Americans have now received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.
That comes hours after Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order making every adult in his state eligible for a booster.
That goes beyond current federal guidelines and was triggered by the state's recent spike in COVID cases.
Tensions are high on the border between Belarus and Poland, as thousands of migrants remain stranded trying to cross into the European Union.
Russia sent paratroopers to join in military drills with Belarus today, while Poland and neighboring countries ramped up their security forces.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Belarus' actions, including those of its president, Alexander Lukashenko, were concerning.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. Secretary of State: I am not going to preview or get ahead of any possible sanctions, but we are looking at various tools that we have.
And, of course, this is broader then the effort to use migration as a political weapon.
It goes to the conduct of the Lukashenko regime in Belarus and denying the citizens of Belarus the democracy to which they are entitled.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The E.U.
and the U.S. are preparing to widen sanctions against Belarus, accusing President Lukashenko of using illegal border crossings to retaliate against E.U.
sanctions on his regime over human rights abuses.
The government of Qatar agreed today to represent U.S. interests in Afghanistan.
The Gulf nation will provide consular services for American citizens who remain there and others who want to flee Taliban control.
The U.S. closed the American Embassy in Kabul in August.
The Biden administration estimates that several hundred Americans are still in the country.
A Myanmar court today sentenced American journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison with hard labor.
The charges against him include incitement for spreading false and inflammatory information.
He faces additional counts of terrorism and treason.
Human Rights Watch officials denounced the move and warned that the country's military rulers have not been deterred by foreign sanctions.
MANNY MAUNG, Human Rights Watch: It's clear that Danny is being made an example of, and what it shows is that the military junta do not care what the international community thinks.
What it also means is that these targeted sanctions against senior officials in the military and the junta are not enough, and the international community needs to do more and act, instead of just making these concerned statements.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Myanmar's ruling military has arrested about 100 journalists since taking power in February.
Fenster's sentence is the harshest so far, out of seven convicted journalists.
Back in this country, a Los Angeles judge ended singer Britney Spears' conservatorship, which had been controlled by her father.
Spears now has control over her own medical, personal, and financial decisions for the first time in 14 years.
Hundreds of her fans celebrated the decision outside the courthouse, cheering and dancing to her music.
Johnson & Johnson announced today that it is splitting into two publicly-traded companies.
The division that sells Band-Aids, Listerine, and over-the-counter medication will separate from its pharmaceutical and medical device business.
The company says it hopes that the shift will help them better serve consumers and drive profitable growth.
For the record, Johnson & Johnson is a "NewsHour" funder.
There are new signs of turmoil in the U.S. job market.
The Labor Department reported a record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September.
That is roughly 3 percent of the U.S. work force.
And stocks edged higher on Wall Street today.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 179 points to close at 36100.
The Nasdaq rose 156 points, and the S&P 500 added 33.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": several high-profile athletes' resistance to vaccines highlights the nationwide divide; a new book details the approach to the Middle East of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; a small remote town in Alaska connects to the Internet for the first time; and much more.
The conflict in Ethiopia has become one of the most brutal on Earth, threatening the very existence of the state and the lives of millions -- a major weapon in that war, hunger.
But, tonight, the United Nations tells the "PBS NewsHour" that the Ethiopian government promises to ease its de facto blockade on the northern territory of Tigray, where hundreds of 1000s are facing famine.
Nick Schifrin has the story.
NICK SCHIFRIN: On Tigray TV, Tigrayan forces and their allies advance south.
And as they get closer to Addis Ababa, the capital and the country are increasingly at risk.
But while the Ethiopian government says Addis and its bustling markets are safe and rallies residents to decry what it calls fake news, the international community fears for the future, as Secretary of State Tony Blinken said today.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. Secretary of State: I am very concerned about the potential for Ethiopia to implode.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The crisis began last November, when Tigrayan forces who used to run the country attacked a federal outpost.
Federal forces and their allies from neighboring Eritrea and the Amhara region waged a scorched-earth campaign and occupied parts of Tigray.
But in late June, Tigrayan forces pushed federal Ethiopian soldiers out and kept going from Tigray into neighboring Amhara and Afar, and now toward the capital.
They allied with the small Oromo Liberation Army, seized two key towns, and are within 200 miles of Addis Ababa.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N.
Undersecretary For Humanitarian Affairs: The threat to Addis is an existential threat to the country.
An attack on Addis is not that unlikely.
And it's a very, very, very dire prospect.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Martin Griffiths is the U.N.'s top humanitarian official, who just returned from a trip to Ethiopia.
He visited during furious diplomatic efforts between the two sides, led by U.S. Special Envoy Jeff Feltman and African Union envoy and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who this week addressed the U.N. Security Council.
OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, Former Nigerian President: The window of opportunity we have is very little, and that the time is short.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS: He's trying to get an agreement of the simplest and most immediate kind.
That's why he talks about a halt to the fighting.
He's not talking about a cease-fire.
He's talking about a halt, to stop, knock it off now, a pause, so that humanitarian assistance can be delivered.
NICK SCHIFRIN: That humanitarian assistance is needed desperately.
The U.S. says as many as 900,000 Tigrayans face famine, hospitals are running out of medicine, and there are hundreds of victims of rape.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS: The women are still, after these many, many months, so traumatized that it's difficult for them to speak.
We said to the women, what do you want for your children?
The answer that they gave us was, we want food.
They have no horizon beyond survival, beyond tomorrow.
They weren't even thinking about a future.
They were thinking about today.
And I think that was perhaps the most shocking example of the depth of need in Tigray.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Griffiths has been a humanitarian for decades, and visited many of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
but he says, Tigray is among the worst, because of the war's expansion, and what the U.N. calls a de facto blockade by the Ethiopian government.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS: The distress of those women is a distress you see across the province.
That's why the desperation for humanitarian agencies is to try to get food and medicine and supplies and therapy and counseling and safety to those people who've suffered far too much and who are, of course, utterly innocent.
I think Ethiopia is the most alarming place in the world at the moment.
And Tigray is probably the worst place in the world to live in right now.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And yet, earlier this month, the Ethiopian government detained 70 truck drivers under U.N. contract who would have been delivering aid, and 22 U.N. staff and their families, before releasing 12 of them.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry accused the U.N. workers of participating in terror and disrespecting the country's laws.
DINA MUFTI, Spokesperson, Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs (through translator): They are not in space.
They are in Ethiopia.
They have to respect Ethiopia's law, one by one.
If they don't respect the law of the land, they will be legally held accountable.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The Ethiopian government has said that they are detained because of -- quote - - "participation in terror."
Has the government provided any evidence of that?
MARTIN GRIFFITHS: No.
They were doing their jobs and carrying out their responsibilities to the United Nations.
NICK SCHIFRIN: This week, Amnesty International accused Tigrayan forces of gang rape, looting, and physical assaults.
The U.N. says all sides have committed unprecedented brutality.
But, finally, a possible positive step: The Ethiopian government told Griffiths that aid will be allowed into Tigray.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS: The deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Ethiopia gave us, me included, his decision to allow the trucks to move.
Well, let's see.
Let's let's hope it happens.
But the problem is this.
The war is going on, and the war is threatening Addis.
Stopping the fighting is the imperative right now.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But, tonight, there's no official agreement to stop the fighting or allow the aid in that millions of people so desperately need.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Throughout the pandemic, many celebrities have encouraged people to get a COVID vaccine, often showing themselves getting a shot.
But there are others, such as singer Nicki Minaj, who have spoken out against vaccinations, and even spread misinformation.
That is happening as well with some high-profile athletes who have a prominent public platform.
John Yang has the story.
JOHN YANG: Speaking with reporters in August, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers implied he was inoculated against COVID-19.
QUESTION: Are you vaccinated?
And what's your stance on vaccinations?
AARON RODGERS, Green Bay Packers: Yes, I have been immunized.
There's guys on the team that haven't been vaccinated.
I think it's a personal decision.
I'm not going to judge those guys.
JOHN YANG: But after testing positive, the reigning league MVP was in required isolation for last Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Pat McAfee's satellite radio show last week, Rodgers acknowledged he is not vaccinated.
AARON RODGERS: I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body.
JOHN YANG: Rodgers said he has concerns about all three federally approved vaccines, and was denied league approval for an alternative treatment, which he said he underwent in consultation with Joe Rogan, the talk show host and prominent vaccine skeptic.
This week, Rodgers was back on McAfee's show with a different play.
AARON RODGERS: I made some comments that people may have felt were misleading.
And to anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility.
JOHN YANG: Rodgers is one of a handful of high-profile professional athletes who have either declined to get vaccinated or be fully forthcoming about their status, in spite of league rules and local vaccine mandates.
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has yet to play a game this season because New York City requires anyone entering an indoor arena to show proof of vaccination, and the team won't use him only in games out of the city.
Nets head coach Steve Nash: STEVE NASH, Brooklyn Nets Head Coach: I support the decision.
And if things change, we'd love to have Kyrie back.
JOHN YANG: Rodgers is paying a price.
A Green Bay-based health care provider, Prevea Health, ended its nine-year partnership him, saying it "remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers, and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against COVID-19."
And this week, the NFL fined Rodgers $14, 650 for breaking league rules by not wearing a mask when talking with reporters and attending an event with other players outside team facilities.
The Packers were fined $300,000 for not policing his behavior.
Rodgers could be cleared to play in this Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Will Leitch is a contributing editor for "New York Magazine" and has been writing about the issue.
Will, thanks for joining us.
So many people are talking about the Rodgers case, not just football fans, but sort of casual football fans.
Why do you think Aaron Rodgers' case is resonating so much?
WILL LEITCH, "New York Magazine": Well, Aaron Rodgers, in a lot of ways, was a quarterback that I think a lot of people thought they knew.
And I think -- remember, he was -- had offered to take off a year of in play in the NFL to host "Jeopardy," not something you generally would assume someone who would be a vaccine skeptic.
He was like -- he's very outgoing.
He's very open on social media.
He's actually been actually quite seeming progressive on some topics.
He was very eloquent during the racial protests last summer of, like, really talking about kind of supporting social justice.
And for a lot of people, I think there was a notion that Rodgers was the smart quarterback and was the one that was somewhat -- was very ahead of the game and very kind of the quarterback that was maybe different from what people fairly or unfairly will consider like a dumb jock stereotype.
And I think he's on the State Farm ads.
He's funny in those ads.
He was a good "Jeopardy" host.
JOHN YANG: You know, we mentioned the fine, $14,000.
We should also note that he is in the second year of a four-year $134 million contract.
The same week, the NFL fined a cowboys player, CeeDee Lamb, for wearing an untucked uniform.
That fine was $20,000.
What do you make of that?
WILL LEITCH: Well, on one hand, I think what - - the Packers were also, of course, fined for not having some of the protocols in place.
I think it's not actually -- you don't have to be vaccinated to play in the NFL.
I think that's been a little lost a little bit.
And I also think the idea that there are more - - I think people think there are more unvaccinated players in the NFL than they are.
Rodgers didn't break any rules by not being vaccinated.
But by not wearing the mask, it was a minor thing in generally the way the Packers kind of run the program.
But I think what was really the issue, and I think why they didn't fine him too much is, basically, what he did was he deceived people, which - - and, frankly, deceive people in a press conference, which I will say, if the NFL started fining people for that, there would be a lot of fines, I would say.
I think that the protocols he generally -- the team is the one that is seen to have not adhered by the protocols.
Remember, the team surely knew that he was not vaccinated.
The NFL surely knew that he was not vaccinated.
JOHN YANG: And talking about the other -- the instance with Kyrie Irving, the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, has said he would prefer to have a vaccine mandate, but the players union objected.
What does that say about the -- sort of the balance of power in professional sports these days?
WILL LEITCH: I think that player unions are wary of any sort of management having any extra power over labor than they already do.
And so I certainly understand that in a macro sense.
A lot of players will argue -- and, frankly, leagues will argue this as well -- in a lot of ways, the NFL and the NBA don't have vaccination problems.
The NBA has 96 percent of its players vaccinated.
The NFL has 95 percent of its players vaccinated.
I have to tell you, you or I should feel so fortunate to walk around, to be around 95 or 96 percent of people vaccinated.
It's these high-profile cases like Rodgers, like Irving that make people think that there is some sort of larger issue.
They're -- I think the leaks would argue, and I think fairly, that they have not actually had mandates, but have still had buy-in to a degree that's much higher than the general population.
And I think, when people like Rodgers -- people think that, like, oh, here's this NFL player or Irving, this NBA player, what's -- why is there a vaccine resistance in sports?
There really kind of isn't.
It's just when - - these high-profile things, it makes it look like there is.
JOHN YANG: And in his high-profile response, Aaron Rodgers hit sort of hit all the hot buttons.
He talked about cancel culture.
He talked about woke mobs.
He talked about a media witch-hunt.
And you also talked about how he had been on sort of racial justice and Black Lives Matter, and how Kyrie Irving had been on Black Lives Matter.
Is this -- in some sense, could this be seen as a logical extension of players speaking out on social issues?
WILL LEITCH: Certainly, I do think that this is the age of player empowerment in a lot of ways.
And there are a lot of positives to that.
I think that we have really spent a lot of the last year-and-a-half saying, listen to athletes.
They have stories to tell.
They're from communities that have been overlooked for a long time.
This is certainly a downside to that, in that there is influence that these athletes have.
To be fair, they have always had this sort of influence.
I would love -- like, Charles Barkley famously, years ago said, "I'm not a role model."
But we have kind of encouraged athletes to speak their mind on things.
And, unfortunately, sometimes, they're going to be eloquent, and, sometimes, they're going to talk very wisely about issues that affect them, and, sometimes, they're going to quote Joe Rogan talking points.
So, I think that there is a downside to that.
I think the thing with Rodgers, and I think the reason his has resonated so much, it really feels like a surprise.
It really feels like we have learned something about an athlete that we thought we knew, and it's very different than the perception we had of that athlete.
JOHN YANG: Will Leitch of "New York Magazine," thank you very much.
WILL LEITCH: My pleasure.
Thanks for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As President Biden prepares to sign the infrastructure bill into law on Monday, and the first electoral redistricting maps are being passed in states across the country, many Americans have turned their focus to the rising cost of goods, from food to gasoline.
Here to discuss all this and more, we are joined by Capehart and Abernathy.
That is Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post, and Gary Abernathy, an Ohio-based writer and contributing columnist also for The Washington Post.
David Brooks is away.
It's very good to see both you on this Friday.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: You, too, Judy.
GARY ABERNATHY: You too.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, at a time when we don't see, Jonathan, a lot of bipartisanship in this city, there was a bipartisan vote after we finished our conversation last Friday night, passing, and it is headed to the president.
But we have to point out most Republicans ended up in the House voting against it.
And then you had President Trump saying he was ashamed of -- that the 13 Republicans who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves.
So how bipartisan was it?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, it was bipartisan, in that you did have 13 Republicans vote for it.
And at a time when we don't see this sort of thing anymore, that should be applauded, especially now that those 13 are getting threats.
They're getting threatened.
Their committee assignments are being threatened.
Some are getting death threats.
One of their colleagues called them traitors for voting for something that generations of Republicans have supported, even the former president, even Donald Trump.
What was the big joke?
Infrastructure week was every week during the Trump administration.
He talked about it all the time.
And yet, now that it's happening in the Biden administration, it's something that's bad.
This is a great thing for the country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How -- and how bipartisan?
Is it a great thing and how bipartisan was it truly?
GARY ABERNATHY: It should have been much more bipartisan.
Should have had many more Republican votes.
It was a great thing, long overdue.
I don't like the price tag.
A trillion dollars is an awful lot of money.
But we have to understand it's been years and years where we have neglected this.
And so this is money we should have been spending all along.
I think a lot of Republicans were conditioned against it because, for so long, it was yoked to the other bill.
It was yoked to the Build Back Better bill.
And so they felt like a victory for one was going to lead to a victory for the other.
And the Build Back Better bill is an entirely different animal.
But when they uncoupled that, when Nancy Pelosi uncoupled that from the other bill, Republicans should have really voted for this a lot more than they did.
So I think it's very disappointing.
And Jonathan's exactly right.
President Trump was an advocate for the infrastructure spending when he was in office.
And it's a bit hypocritical to be against it now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of lack of partisanship or lack of bipartisanship, this was a week for some pretty ugly rhetoric, Jonathan.
We had congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona posting this video, a cartoon of him killing another member of Congress, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
And then you had -- and he said it was all about her position immigration.
And then, separately, we have this new audio recording of President Trump defending the crowd back in January in the attack on the Capitol saying "Hang Mike Pence," his own vice president.
And his argument is, well, this is just common sense.
They were angry.
They were worked up.
Where are with all this?
Is there any turning back?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: I don't know if there's any turning back.
Excuse me, Judy.
And I say I don't know if there's any turning back because there is an incredible silence among Republican leaders.
Leave aside Donald Trump.
And no one's surprised to hear him say what he said about "Hang Mike Pence."
The problem is in the question is, where is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy?
Leader is in his title.
He should have said something immediately about Congressman Gosar.
He should have said something immediately about Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene calling the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill -- quote - - "traitors."
He should have been out there and should be continuously out there saying: This is not who we are as Republicans.
This is not who we are as a party.
This is not who we are as a caucus.
Because, if the leader of the caucus doesn't set an example, rhetorically or even by his actions, then the Paul Gosar and the Marjorie Taylor Greenes are given, no pun intended, green lights to keep doing the things that they're doing, which is providing -- creating an atmosphere of menace around the Capitol that has been there since January 6.
Congresswoman Cori Bush moved her office from next door to Marjorie Taylor Greene because of the menace.
Marjorie Taylor Greene has gotten into fights with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Congressman Jamie Raskin.
And she's able to do that because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hasn't said anything.
And the idea that he has not said anything about this Paul Gosar video that Twitter had the good sense to finally take down tells me all I need to know about how fearful and concerned we should be about a Speaker McCarthy if the Republicans take control of the House in next term -- in next year's midterms.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Gary, who is responsible for this?
And is -- do you see a turning back from this kind of language?
GARY ABERNATHY: I think -- I hope they're a turning back.
And I think that it needs to come from everybody in Congress saying, wait a minute.
I'm in the United States Congress.
I'm not a 12-year-old playing some kind of video game here.
But I don't want to be accused of both-sider-ism here.
And I will be anyway.
But I do think it -- I think back to a lot of the memes and so on that members of the Democratic Party were retweeting about Donald Trump when he was in office that are pretty disgusting.
I think of Nancy Pelosi after Trump finishes a State of the Union address dramatically ripping up the pages of his address.
These are all things that we should be a little bit better than that in Congress.
These are members of the United States Congress who should not be engaging in these kinds of 12-year-old antics.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Gary, there's a big difference between... GARY ABERNATHY: There is a big difference.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: ... standing up at the end of the president's speech and ripping it because a lot -- I remember that speech.
There was a lot in it to be angry about in terms of who we are as an American people.
There's big difference between that and a member of Congress putting out an anime video, superimposing the face of someone from the opposing party, where that person is killed.
GARY ABERNATHY: Yes.
And I... JONATHAN CAPEHART: Also, we didn't mention how -- that there was also the figure with the president's face who was also attacked in that video.
That's not the same thing.
GARY ABERNATHY: I'm condemning all of it, Jonathan.
I agree with you on that.
But I'm saying that, if you think that it's just all one way, that's what I will disagree with.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And turning back, you're saying you hope, you hope.
GARY ABERNATHY: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Totally changing the subject, inflation.
(LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: We got some bad numbers this week about how fast it's rising in the country.
Jonathan, it's bad news for all Americans.
And, politically, it's not good news for the president.
What are his options when it comes to this?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Gosh, when it comes to inflation, I am not sure.
I mean, one thing we -- all of us around this table know, and that most Americans don't or understandably don't care, the president doesn't have any control over the economy.
Presidents can crow about great unemployment numbers, and folks will give them credit.
Folks will complain about bad unemployment numbers and folks will give -- will be angry with them.
People will be angry with the president because inflation is high.
They're seeing it at the gas pump.
They're seeing it in the grocery aisle.
They're seeing it at -- with furniture stores and new and used cars.
I don't know what the president can do that is going to squash this.
This is the highest it's been year to year in 30 years.
And what actually makes this even more concerning is that, while the president is saying, oh, this is temporary, meaning maybe six months or so, but this is not in isolation only in the United States.
Twenty-four hours after the U.S. announced its inflation number, so did Japan and China.
They also had spikes, Japan the highest in 40 years.
So this is a problem for the president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What are... (CROSSTALK) GARY ABERNATHY: It is a problem.
And I'm going to disagree that there's nothing the president can do.
I think one thing you can do immediately is not spend another $2 trillion that we don't have.
It's kind of economics 101 that one thing that leads to inflation is devaluing the dollar.
And when you're spending trillions of dollars - - let me be fair, though.
It wasn't just a Democratic thing.
The Republicans did this last year too, I mean, in the response to COVID, which a lot of us feel like was an over-response and a lot of spending that didn't need to be done because there were a lot of shutdowns that should have been more targeted than just shutting everything down and then spending trillions we didn't have to make up for it.
But the Republicans were all in on this too last year, OK?
So I'm not giving them a pass.
But when you spend money that we don't have, when you say I want to spend another $2 trillion, that pushes inflation.
That raises prices.
That's going to make inflation even worse.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: But let's not -- let's also not forget that there are supply chain issues involved, which have nothing to do... JUDY WOODRUFF: Ships backed up in port.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right, ships backed up in port, but, also, because of the pandemic, shortages in labor, in having people who can take things off those ships.
So that's part of it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we reported today a record number of people quitting their jobs again last month... GARY ABERNATHY: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... which may have something to do with it.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes.
GARY ABERNATHY: Well, people are quitting because their -- because jobs are so plentiful.
So they have choices.
So I read a -- I think a Post story today about this, how people are quitting in part because they can go get a better job somewhere else.
And so they're doing it.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: I mean, yes and no.
I mean, lots of people are quitting their jobs, but there's a labor shortage.
I mean, where the jobs are, are where most people don't want to go, it seems.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Last thing I want to bring up, we're not going to be able to cover it in two minutes, but it is redistricting.
Infamously, after there's a census, we -- every state has to redraw the lines for congressional and legislative districts.
Jonathan, just quickly, it's been -- there's been a lot of partisan gerrymandering, districts that don't really reflect where people live.
Is it going to get any better this year, or what are we headed for?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: No, it's not going to get any better this year, because this happens every 10 years.
Gerrymandering is a bipartisan effort.
Republicans, if they're in control, they draw lines that favor their candidates.
If Democrats are in the majority, they draw lines that favor their candidates.
What would help this is if Congress would pass -- would have passed the original Freedom to Vote Act, which would have set up nonpartisan district commissions.
But that went down in a ball of flames.
GARY ABERNATHY: Yes, I'm someone that always says there's no really such thing as a nonpartisan committee, commission, anything like that.
This does happen every 10 years.
I will say this.
Every 10 years -- now, if you look at every two years, yes, there's about a 90 percent reelection rate in Congress, but, every 10 years, there's a huge turnaround.
We have the most diverse Congress we have ever had now.
We have more women in Congress than we have ever had before.
So it does change, despite everyone's best efforts to keep things the same.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Your state of Ohio, today, somebody sent me some numbers this afternoon; 54 percent of the vote Republicans won over the last decade, and yet they occupy 75 percent of the congressional seats.
GARY ABERNATHY: And that's because they win the key seats to get to draw the districts.
(LAUGHTER) GARY ABERNATHY: So every -- I remember back in the '80s being an Ohioan when the Democrats controlled all those key seats, and they drew the districts to gerrymander for Democrats.
So, to the winner goes the spoils.
And that's the ability to draw districts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We're watching it.
Gary Abernathy, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both.
GARY ABERNATHY: Thank you, Judy.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was a central character in Israel era peace negotiations during the Nixon and Ford administrations.
A new book, "Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy," chronicles the challenges and strategy behind the scenes.
I spoke earlier with author and former U.S.
Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk.
Martin Indyk, welcome to the "NewsHour."
It's very good to have you with us.
Congratulations on the book.
Let me ask you about what you have written here.
We know Henry Kissinger, enormously influential figure in American foreign policy, and yet he's been out of office for, what, over 45 years.
And people think of him, many do, in connection with China, Vietnam.
But you have chosen to focus on the Middle East.
MARTIN INDYK, Author, "Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy": Well, two reasons, Judy.
And thank you very much for having me.
The first is that Kissinger's time as secretary of state, his four years as secretary of state, was essentially consumed with Middle East peacemaking.
And that's not commonly understood.
But the second reason was a personal one.
You know I have been involved in peacemaking, both in the Clinton administration and then in the Obama administration.
And in the Clinton administration, it all blew up in our face.
And in the Obama administration, when I was a special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, it failed again.
In fact, the parties were further apart at the end of the negotiations than at the beginning.
And that was the last negotiations that's been held.
So, I wanted to go back and try to learn from the master of the game, which is the title of the book, how to make peace and how not to make peace, because he was so successful at laying the foundations of the Arab-Israeli peace process back in the 1970s.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You say he was successful at laying the foundation, and yet peace still eludes the Middle East.
There have been a movement here, a movement there, but it still isn't a reality.
And you write about the art of diplomacy, as much as the strategy that he pursued.
Why does that matter?
MARTIN INDYK: Well, first of all, significant progress has been made.
It depends on how you look at the glass.
But is -- the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and the two agreements that he negotiated between Israel and Egypt laid the foundations for the peace treaty, took Egypt out of the conflict with Israel.
And then, he also -- Kissinger also negotiated a disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria, which has lasted to this day, despite the collapse of order in Syria itself.
And those agreements enabled the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, eventually the Israel-Jordan peace treaty.
The sticking point is with the Israelis and Palestinians.
And Kissinger's approach was I think what we can learn from that period.
He was very cautious, incremental.
He invented the concept of step-by-step diplomacy, because he was skeptical that both sides were actually ready to make the sacrifices that could produce agreement.
And, therefore, he thought it required time and getting the parties used to making concessions to each other.
And Yitzhak Rabin, ironically, because he had stood up to Kissinger in the days when he was secretary of state, when he became prime minister, adopted a Kissingerian approach.
And after Rabin was assassinated, we -- and I was part of that effort -- we jumped to try to end the conflict.
And every president since has been trying to end the conflict.
And that was something that Kissinger would have never done, because he didn't believe the parties were ready.
In fact, he was very wary of presidents who - - American presidents who sought immortality by seeking to grasp the Holy Grail of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
So that's why I think the major lesson from his approach was, we need to take it more gradually, step by step, incrementally, and rebuild the confidence and trust.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that still what Henry Kissinger believes should be done today?
I know you, Martin Indyk, have written recently that you think the Biden administration needs to take an approach like Henry Kissinger's.
MARTIN INDYK: Well, they essentially are, having exhausted the other possibilities.
You know, Joe Biden was vice president when I was the envoy working with the Secretary of State John Kerry.
So, he saw up close how far the parties were apart.
So, he's not enthusiastic to try to grasp that Holy Grail.
In fact, he's got other priorities in other parts of the world, with the rise of China and climate change and so on.
But the Israeli government isn't prepared to move forward, because it's a left-right coalition, and they can't agree on what the outcome should be.
And the Palestinian Authority is divided from Gaza with Fatah and Hamas fighting.
So, this is a moment in which Kissinger's incremental approach really makes sense.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One other element of Kissinger's approach was the essential nature of having the United States involved, of having an American role in the peace process.
Can there be peace in the Middle East, in his view, without a heavy American hand?
MARTIN INDYK: The United States was a critical player because only the United States could persuade Israel to give up territory, which lubricated the peace process.
And that remains the case today in the central Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel controls all of the territory.
And there is no other country other than the United States that can persuade Israel to do it.
And the book shows the way in which Kissinger used his arguments, not an imposed solution, but argued with the Israelis, with Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin, often using his arguments like a battering ram, until he finally wore them down and convinced them that it was in their interests not to trade territory for peace, but to trade territory for time, time to exhaust the Arabs and get them used to Israel, living with Israel, time for Israel to strengthen itself, so that it could make the concessions for peace.
And he was immensely successful in that regard.
But the basic reality is still the case that the United States is the only country that can influence Israel to make those kinds of concessions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It is quite a book, Martin Indyk's "Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy."
Thank you very much.
We appreciate it.
MARTIN INDYK: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: While many areas across the U.S. have been upgraded to high-speed Internet, there are still pockets that are in a broadband desert.
And that includes many rural Alaska communities.
Greg Kim of Alaska Public Media reports on one town that is finally getting connected.
GREG KIM: Shawna Williams is a parent with a full-time job in Akiak.
She's also in school to get her bachelor's degree in early childhood education.
and there's an added challenge.
She attends her classes by phone.
SHAWNA WILLIAMS, Akiak Resident: Because this is the most reliable way to join class.
GREG KIM: She is trying to use video so she could see what her teachers were writing on the board.
But she says her connection just kept freezing.
SHAWNA WILLIAMS: Because the Internet is too slow.
It'll -- every so often, it'll load and say your Internet isn't stable.
GREG KIM: In-home broadband Internet is not available in Akiak or anywhere in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
That has made it increasingly difficult for people there to participate in all aspects of modern life.
Williams is one of the few people in Akiak who has home Internet.
It's far below broadband speeds and comes with data limits.
For that, she pays over $300 a month.
SHAWNA WILLIAMS: On top of fuel costs, food costs, electricity, it's -- we just barely make it month to month.
GREG KIM: Later this month, broadband Internet will reach every home in Akiak, and her bill will be a quarter of what she pays now.
Internet speeds and data limits will double.
A combination of factors have made broadband in rural Alaska possible.
A company called OneWeb that operates low-Earth orbit satellites to deliver broadband launches its service this year, and Akiak is one of its first customers.
Akiak is also using coronavirus relief funding to pay for its broadband project.
Akiak Chief Mike Williams Sr., Shawna's dad, says the effects of the pandemic motivated the tribe to act quickly.
MIKE WILLIAMS SR., Akiak Chief: We may be forced to do a lockdown again.
But we're going to be prepared this time.
GREG KIM: Akiak has also created a nonprofit organization to show other tribes in Western Alaska how to follow their blueprint to bring broadband to their communities; 17 tribes have joined.
In the month leading up to broadband going live in Akiak, technicians installed antennae receivers on all the homes in the village to prepare them for broadband access.
For Lena Foss, having Internet access at home will mean opening up a world of knowledge.
Foss says, once she has broadband, she will finish fixing her dryer and anything else in Akiak that's broken.
LENA FOSS, Akiak Resident: All this broken stuff would probably be fixed by YouTube.
I would probably start a small business, calling it YouTube Fix-It-all.
GREG KIM: Foss wants to be able to bank and file her taxes online, like everyone else.
She also has Native allotment lands that she wants to research online.
LENA FOSS: I want to teach my younger children, because, when I pass, it'll be their land and they need to know.
Internet will open my eyes.
I know it will.
GREG KIM: For decades, much of rural Alaska has been left behind, as the rest of the world has become increasingly digital.
People in Akiak are excited to catch up.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Greg Kim in Akiak, Alaska.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Such an uplifting story.
And don't forget to watch "Washington Week" tonight.
Moderator Yamiche Alcindor and her panel will analyze President Biden's push to advance his Build Back Better plan and other topics.
That's tonight on PBS.
And, tonight, we are remembering our beloved colleague Gwen Ifill, whom we lost five years ago this Sunday to complications from cancer.
She was 61.
We miss her curiosity, her humor, her fairness and integrity her guidance and her tough questions.
We try to carry those things forward every day on air and online.
And, in that way, her spirit is very much still a part of this program, as it is for the many, many journalists across the country she mentored or inspired over the years.
We miss you, Gwen, and we hope we're making you proud.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
Join us online and again here on Monday evening.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we will see you soon.