September 15, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
September 15, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
JUDY WOODRUFF: I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: a Middle East deal. Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates
sit down at the White House. I talk with the president's son-in-law and senior adviser
Then: Hurricane Sally. The Gulf Coast faces a slow-moving, but potentially torrential
Plus: back to school. We trek across the globe to discover how other countries are handling
CHARLOTTE WESLEY, Student: I'm excited to come back because I have missed being here,
and I will be able to catch up on extra work, and I will be able to see my friends and teachers.
But, obviously, it's nervous coming back, because, obviously, there's rules and everything.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: On this day with more than its share of climate news, we turn first to
the White House South Lawn and the signing of the first Arab-Israeli agreement in a quarter-century,
as Israel normalized relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
In a moment, we will get the views of top presidential adviser Jared Kushner.
But, first, foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin lays out the stakes of the deal
and today's moment.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have never fought a war, but
they all hoped today sparks peace.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: After decades of division and conflict, we
mark the dawn of a new Middle East.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister: This peace will eventually expand to include
other Arab states, and, ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for
ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED, UAE Foreign Minister (through translator): We are already witnessing a change
in the heart of the Middle East, a change that will send hope around the world.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The normalization agreements pledged to settle disputes without force,
establish embassies, create direct flights, and expand investment, tourism and trade.
The countries share economic interests that extend from Tel Aviv to the Emirati business
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: The great economic benefits of our partnership will be felt throughout
NICK SCHIFRIN: The countries also share fears of political Islam and Iran. Shia Iran threatens
Israel and Sunni countries with the region's largest missile inventory and proxies that
have expanded their influence.
Analysts also say today is about shared doubts, about the U.S. commitment. Israel is now seen
as the most reliable regional partner. The UAE is hoping to buy American weapons, including
the F-35, and buy goodwill in Washington among those who criticize the country for helping
lead the war in Yemen that's killed tens of thousands.
Before today, the U.S. had hosted the first two Arab-Israeli agreements with Jordan and
Egypt that swapped land for peace, but left unsolved today, Israel's core conflict with
the Palestinians. The Emirates say normalization halted Israeli annexation of settlements in
the West Bank.
But, during the ceremony, militants in Gaza fired missiles into Israeli cities. And, this
morning, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank protested normalization before peace.
Palestinians and many regional analysts warn, regional peace is impossible without Israeli-Palestinian
SAEB EREKAT, Chief Palestinian Negotiator: The real conflict is a Palestinian-Israeli
conflict. And that's what needs to be solved. This is the only way to peace and security
and stability in this region.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. hopes today creates irreversible momentum that isolates the Palestinians.
In the meantime, today makes overt what had once been covert: a partial Israeli-Gulf realignment
of the Middle East.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to Jared Kushner. He's a senior adviser to President Trump. He played
a key role in negotiating this deal. And he joins us now from the White House.
Jared Kushner, welcome to the "NewsHour." Thank you for joining us.
Let me ask you about the deal. It's always good to sign a peace agreement, but this is
a case of countries that were -- already had unofficial relations. They had trade relations,
diplomatic relations with one another. What exactly is going to change, be different?
JARED KUSHNER, Senior Presidential Adviser: Well, first of all, Judy, it's great to be
But they did not have trade relations or diplomat relations. Actually, just two weeks ago, the
United Arab Emirates waived a boycott provision that they had that was ongoing for 48 years
of Israel. And Saudi Arabia just opened their airspace to allow the first commercial ever
to fly from Israel to United Arab Emirates. I was on that flight.
People who understand the region and know the history know the significance of the Arab-Israeli
conflict and the boundary that was just broken with these two peace deals.
Israel, in its 72 years, has had two peace deals. And then, just in the last 29 days,
it's had two more peace deals, thanks to President Trump's untraditional style and brokerage
to try to create different prospects for the Middle East.
So, what we celebrated was truly a historic breakthrough. And I think what it does is,
it shows the positive momentum that people in the region have towards wanting to articulate
a new future and not be held back by conflicts of the past, so that people of all faiths,
the younger generation, wants to be able to have a life where they could have economic
opportunity, and really just not be bogged down by the wars that have held back the Middle
East for the last 20-plus years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I was referring to unofficial relations between these countries. They had
never fought a war with one another.
But speaking of economic opportunity, left out of this deal are the Palestinians, more
than five million people living in the crowded territories, with very little economic opportunity
for them, a chance to advance hopes for their children.
Is the plan here to try to isolate the Palestinians, so then they have to come on board?
JARED KUSHNER: No, the Palestinians have isolated themselves.
Our plan has been to do practical things to slaughter the sacred cows that have held back
progress for a long time and just to take a very pragmatic approach to bring things
President Trump, on his first foreign trip - - I don't know if your viewers know -- he
laid out his strategy when he went to Riyadh and he spoke to the 54 Muslim and Arab countries,
the leaders of them, and basically said, if we want to move forward, we need to bring
the region together around common interests. I need you all to take more responsibility.
At the time, ISIS was running rampant. They had a caliphate the size of Ohio. Iran was
destabilizing by funding proxies all over the region. And there was a lot of bad things
happening the Middle East in terms of funding of terror and radicalizing the next generation.
We reversed a lot of that. We have destroyed the territorial caliphate of ISIS. We got
out of the horrible Iran deal, which probably was one of the worst deals ever made. And
we have stopped a lot of the funding that's gone to the terror groups that were threatening
America and destabilizing the region.
With regards to the Palestinians, we got Israel to put on the table the most detailed proposal
that's ever been put forward in history. We put out 180 pages. It had an economic plan
that took $50 billion that would have created a million new Palestinian jobs, double their
GDP, and reduce their poverty rate by 50 percent.
And that would have made a big difference. We also got Israel to agree to a Palestinian
state and to put forward a map. So, there's been a lot of progress that's been made for
But, at the end of the day, we can't want peace more than they want peace. And, again,
their leadership has a perfect track record of not making a deal. So, when they're ready
to come forward, President Trump has shown that he can make deals in the Middle East,
that he's built strong relations with people who felt isolated from America before he came
And I think that there's a tremendous amount of potential for the Palestinians if we all
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as we know, at this point, they oppose this deal. They have said they
- - that it feels like, to them, a betrayal.
Jared Kushner, there's so much to ask you about.
I do want to ask you about the coronavirus, the pandemic.
You and the president have, in essence, suggested the president's done a masterful job. But,
as all of us know, 195,000 Americans have died. As of last Friday, there were 1,000
people a day dying in this country.
How is that a masterful job?
JARED KUSHNER: So, first of all, to go back to the last thing you said before we got to
the virus, in negotiations, everyone's at no until they're at yes.
And I think that what you're seeing is a lot of posturing in the region. And, again, President
Trump has taken on a challenge in the Middle East that very few people were willing to
take on. And that's resulted in us having the ability to pull troops home, have less
threat of terror in our country, and spend less money in the Middle East and more money
here at home rebuilding our country.
And so that's what the significance of today's event at the White House was.
With regards to the coronavirus, obviously, this is an unprecedented pandemic. It's impacted,
I guess, 180 countries around the world. President Trump jumped into action very early on. We
got all the governors the supplies they needed.
You heard a lot of hysteria up front that states would need 40,000 ventilators, that
we were going to be short of supplies on the front lines of the hospitals. And we worked
very hard to make sure that we secured all the resources we need. We allocate them smartly.
We worked with all the governors, and we got everyone what they needed to deal with this
We have learned a lot. And we have also been able to save the economy. People thought that
our economy would be over 20 percent unemployment at this point. We have gotten down to 8.4
percent, which, again, nobody thought would be possible until maybe the middle, the end
of next year.
So, the economy is coming back well. We have developed a vaccine and therapeutics. A vaccine
- - we have three vaccines right now in phase four trials. The fastest vaccine ever through
a phase three trial was 13 months. We have done two of them in four months and one in
five months. And those hopefully will prove efficacy, and we can go.
With regards to testing, we lead the world in testing. We have over 100 million tests
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, again -- but I was just going to say, if you could let me interrupt,
because I do want to ask you about other things.
Just quickly, the death rate in this country is one of the worst in the world, something
like 10th out of 172 countries.
My question is, is that a record the president is proud of?
JARED KUSHNER: Look, the president stepped up to the challenge.
Obviously, one death is too many. And we would have loved to have not had the pandemic come.
But this is a global pandemic. And it's hit every -- every -- every country differently.
If you look at Europe, and you look at our excess mortality, they have had a higher excess
mortality because of the pandemic than what we have had, because, here in America -- but,
again, we have some states that have done better than others.
We have worked with the governors, and we have done our best to try to make sure that
we get everyone the resources they need, which is the job of the federal government.
So, again, I think that we have -- we have - - we have taken -- you talked about the death
rate. I think, right now, we're down to about...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well...
JARED KUSHNER: ... 740 people a day. That was at 2,200 at the peak a couple months ago.
Again, one death is too many, but we're doing our best to make sure that we can identify
cases. We have done a lot to get -- to get tests and supplies to the nursing homes, because
that's how we have driven the death rate down by really trying to secure the nursing homes,
which is something that was not done by governors in the early states.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I would just say that the record for most European countries is
far better than that of the United States, certainly in Germany and other countries.
But I do want to ask you about the election. The president has said...
JARED KUSHNER: But, again, we have some states that are doing better than other states.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In some...
JARED KUSHNER: And, again, like, you could compare Florida to New York. And, again, you
have to look at us comparatively in terms of how that all works.
So, again, it's -- it's -- it's not constructive at this point, I believe, in a global pandemic
to be cherry-picking data to try to fight back. I think we have to look at the efforts
that have been made. We have responded to a lot of challenges.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I'm...
JARED KUSHNER: Go ahead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I'm looking at the data that everyone looks at. I'm not cherry-picking.
But, very quickly, the president has said on occasion in the past that he'd have to
see if he accepted the results of the election.
As we know there's an official the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Caputo,
who in the last few days -- he's very close to the president -- said that the American
people should be prepared to take up arms if President Trump loses.
Do you and the president share the view that - - this gray view that, if the president loses,
people should take up arms?
JARED KUSHNER: Right. So, I believe he's apologized for those comments. I just saw that on the
news coming in.
But, look, in the last election, the president was asked if he would accept the results.
And the other side ridiculed him for saying that he'd have to see. And then he accepted
the results when it was done, and the other side didn't, then spent years creating this
false Russian hoax that they basically were saying that we colluded with Russian in the
And that was investigated for two years and was totally disproven.
At the end of the day, the American people are going to look at the track record of the
president. And, at the end -- and he delivers results. Again, today, we're on here talking
about a historic Middle East peace deal.
For three-and-a-half years, I have been ridiculed by the media and by all the experts in Washington,
who said we are doing it the wrong way, we weren't the right people to be doing it. But
we then achieved today what those experts didn't do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And...
JARED KUSHNER: And so President Trump has taken unconventional approaches to a lot of
things, but he achieves results. And the people who voted for him know exactly what they were
getting. And they couldn't be more thrilled.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And...
JARED KUSHNER: And what I would say to the people who didn't vote for him, a lot of the
people who -- who were -- who are saying the same things now are the people who were basically
saying that, if President Trump was elected, we'd have World War III.
And, again, today, we signed two peace deals in the Middle East.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and we are -- and we are reporting on that.
Just one last question about science, Mr. Kushner.
The president was urged in his visit to California yesterday by a group of scientists to pay
close attention to climate change. His reaction was, it's getting colder and science doesn't
know, in effect, rebuking the scientists.
My question to you is, is this what you -- the kind of thing you want your own children to
learn in school, that the president knows more than the scientists?
JARED KUSHNER: Look, I think that you often have scientists that contradict each other.
And you look at what that is.
The president is open-minded to different things.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But not anymore on climate change. There's an overwhelming view about
JARED KUSHNER: Yes, but what I would say is that we all agree that there's -- that we
want to have clean air and clean water.
The president said that. But then you have different things to do. We brought the president
an idea earlier this year to join the Trillion Trees challenge. And he said, absolutely,
he thought that could sequester carbon and thought that would be a very productive way
that wouldn't destroy our economy.
So, I think that, when we talk about pro-climate change or anti-climate change, I think that
that becomes divisive. I think that what we have to do is put our effort towards solutions.
What are we going to be doing to make sure that we can optimize for the right calibration
between making sure that we have clean air and clean water, which the president supports,
but also not doing radical things that will destroy our industry and make us less globally
You looked at the last administration, they did the Paris climate deal, which basically
had huge restrictions on American business, while it had no restrictions on China and
Russia and a lot of the worst polluters in the world. So it basically whitewashed...
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you agree that -- you agree with the president that science doesn't know
when it comes to something like this?
JARED KUSHNER: Look, the president will speak for himself.
I work for the president. My job is that, when he gives me a task to try to work on,
I try to come with the most constructive ways to do it. We look at the data here in the
But what I will tell you is, the president's a very open-minded person. One thing I brought
him early on is, I brought him prison reform and criminal justice reform. The president,
being a businessman, had no experience with that topic.
But when I showed him that people leaving prison were more apt to commit crimes because
they didn't have the training and didn't have the family structures, and now they had a
criminal record, he says, let's do it. Let's fix it.
And we passed landmark criminal justice reform that Washington couldn't get done for decades.
And so President Trump is a pragmatist. He's open-minded. If you show him data on things,
and you show him constructive solutions, we can do it.
But I just think that we all agree we want clean air and clean water. President Trump's
been very clear on that. But, at the end of the day, if you come with instructive solutions
for him as to how to -- as to how to do it, he gets things done. And he will be very happy
to engage to push things forward.
Nobody likes the forest fires that we're seeing. And I think it would be great if we can make
sure that we're working together to prevent them in the future.
And in the short term, our focus is on providing aid to California and making sure that we're
helping them do everything to make sure we can preserve life and keep -- and keep the
area as safe as possible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there.
But, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Trump, thank you very much for joining us.
JARED KUSHNER: Thank you, Judy. Good to be with you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Hurricane Sally inched toward the Gulf Coast, heading
for the Alabama-Mississippi state line late tonight.
It's moving at just two miles an hour and could linger long enough to dump two feet
of rain. Storm surge waters pushed into bays and beachfronts along coastal Alabama today.
Governor Kay Ivey warned against underestimating the danger.
GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): Hurricane Sally is not to be taken for granted. We are looking at
rapid flooding, perhaps breaking historic levels. I know you all want to protect your
family and your property, but this is not worth risking your life.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We will hear from the mayor of Mobile, Alabama, right after the news summary.
The death toll has reached 36 in the wildfires raging across the West. And concerns are building
about all the smoke in the air. Oregon was under an air quality alert today, while some
flights in and out of Portland and Spokane were suspended. A milky haze of smoke from
the fires even drifted over New York.
The city of Louisville, Kentucky, agreed today to pay $12 million dollars in a settlement
with Breonna Taylor's mother. It came six months after police shot and killed Taylor
in her apartment. Her death has helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement.
We will have more details later in the program.
New efforts are under way to get another COVID relief package through Congress. House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi said today that her chamber will stay in session until there's a deal.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers endorsed spending $1.5 trillion.
Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger said it's a way forward.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): The American people need help. Businesses need help. This
isn't about any one person. This is about the hundreds of thousands of people, the millions
of Americans who are in need.
What the House put forth months ago isn't moving forward, didn't get us a deal. Now
the next step is what comes next.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The bipartisan bill is less than House Democrats want and more than Senate
Democratic leaders said today that it falls short. The White House said it provides an
opening for discussion.
The United States has issued a sweeping new warning against travel to mainland China and
Hong Kong. A statement today said that Americans could face arbitrary detention and lengthy
interrogations. Beijing insisted that it protects the legal rights of foreigners.
The World Trade organization today ruled against U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese
goods. But the ruling may not have much effect. The U.S. can appeal, and the WTO's appeals
court is in limbo, because Washington has blocked appointing new members.
The number of Americans in poverty fell for a fifth straight year in 2019 to 34 million
people. The Census Bureau reports that finding. It was before the pandemic erased millions
And, on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained two points to close at 27995.
The Nasdaq rose 133 points, thanks to big tech stocks, and the S&P 500 added 17.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the latest on Hurricane Sally hitting the Gulf coast;
what races to watch in November that could determine who controls Congress; how schools
are reopening across the globe; and much more.
Hurricane Sally is slowly making its way to the Gulf Coast tonight.
And, as of now, Alabama is squarely in the path. The city of Mobile is on high alert.
It could see rainfall of 10 to 20 inches and a surge of water that is seven feet above
Sandy Stimpson is the mayor of Mobile, and he joins me now.
Mayor Stimpson, thank you so much for talking with us.
Tell us, as of now, what do you expect?
SANDY STIMPSON, Mayor of Mobile, Alabama: So, we're expecting, just as you said, maybe
10 to 20 inches of rain.
You combine that with the storm surge, plus a high tide, and you could have seven to nine
feet of additional tidal influence in the Mobile River and Mobile Bay.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And how does that compare to storms that Mobile has seen before?
SANDY STIMPSON: So, our most recent storm was 2018. And it was a tropical storm.
So, it was more wind than flooding. If you go back to 2004, Ivan was the last major impact
we had, which actually hit just a little bit east of here. But it's been a while since
we have had a major storm really impact the city.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you believe you are prepared?
SANDY STIMPSON: I think we're very prepared for it.
This has been a very slow-moving storm. Early in the press conference, I was saying we have,
truly, thousands of first responding personnel from the sheriff's department, police departments,
National Guard, Coast Guard.
I mean, everybody is on the highest alert right now to respond to the needs of our citizens.
So, we are as prepared as you can possibly be for this kind of situation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: To what extent are you asking people to evacuate, to be ready to go into
shelters and so forth?
SANDY STIMPSON: So, earlier today, the governor issued a voluntary evacuation order, really
for the low-lying coast areas, our barrier islands and our beaches.
And it was done voluntarily, because some of those places are not as vulnerable as others.
If it was a Cat 4 or 5, she probably would have said it was a mandatory evacuation.
But there has been some. I mean, we're seeing traffic on some of our interstate highways.
But, pretty much, people are just moving from the low-lying into places where there are
family, friends or shelters where they know that they won't have to be affected by the
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you're comfortable with that level of preparation?
SANDY STIMPSON: We continue to send the message out about, if you're in a low-lying area,
to please let us know, so that either you can leave or we come get you, because, once
you start having the combination of the surge, the tidal influence and flooding from flash
flooding, when you call at that point, and we have to send first responders to get you,
their lives are in jeopardy at that point.
And we have just continued to beat that drum about, please let us know now how we can help
you get out of the low-lying areas.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear you refer to having a lot of first responders.
Do you now have sufficient personnel, people to do what you -- and equipment to handle
what may come?
SANDY STIMPSON: Absolutely.
And we're very fortunate that the collaboration between our law enforcement agencies, our
cleanup crews is really second to none. I mean, Alabama Power Company, which services
this area, they have 500 people on standby in close proximity, another 500 that could
be here really at a moment's notice.
So, we feel very comfortable that we will be able to come in, in the aftermath of this
storm and restore things to some sense of normalcy in a short order.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, finally, where do you plan to spend tonight?
SANDY STIMPSON: Well, I will be here for a while. I'm not saying that I will be here
all night long, but we will have people monitoring this facility all night.
And that will be fire rescue, as well as our police department, and public works to -- in
the event of trees falling down, that we can deploy them to address any situation that
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we certainly wish you the best and hope that it is not as serious
as some of the forecasts say.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile, Alabama, thank you so much.
SANDY STIMPSON: Thank you, Judy. I appreciate it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As Election Day looms, the race for the White House circles around key
Our Yamiche Alcindor reports.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Today, former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Florida, his first
visit to the state since being nominated. There, he delivered harsh words for President
Trump's policy and rhetoric towards veterans
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate: Quite frankly, it makes me very upset the
way he gets in front of the camera and crows about how much he has done for veterans, and
then turns around and insults our service members and fallen heroes when the camera
is off, call them suckers and losers.
Donald Trump has no idea about the ideas that animate women and men who sign up to serve,
duty, honor, country. That's what service and patriotism is all about.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The Sunshine State has the largest military and veteran populations in
the country. Biden stressed the need to strengthen the VA.
JOSEPH BIDEN: We have a responsibility to ensure that we are providing veterans with
world-class health care they deserve in every situation.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Veterans make up a critical voting bloc in one of toughest battlegrounds.
A statewide poll released today from Monmouth University showed Biden just barely ahead;
50 percent of Floridians said they planned to support him, while 45 percent back President
Today, President Trump began his day by calling into "FOX & Friends."
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: We have agreed to do it once a week in the
morning. And I look forward to it.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: He spoke to the hosts for more than 45 minutes. And he again claimed
a coronavirus vaccine could be approved by Election Day and distributed immediately.
DONALD TRUMP: Because we're going to have a vaccine in a matter of -- in a matter of
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: President Trump also lashed out at the Democratic governor of Nevada,
who criticized him for defying warnings and holding an indoor rally in Las Vegas last
The president accused the governor, without evidence, of rigging the election.
DONALD TRUMP: No, he will cheat on the ballots. I have no doubt about it. This is the same
man who's in charge of the ballots.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And following his visit to California yesterday, President Trump doubled
down on his denial of climate change. He repeated a misleading claim that poor forest management
is the only factor behind the wildfires raging in the West.
DONALD TRUMP: You have forests all over the world. You don't have fires like you do in
California. In Europe, they have forest cities.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In California today, Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential
nominee, lambasted the president's remarks on climate change.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), Vice Presidential Candidate: This is not a partisan issue. This
is not -- and just -- ideology should not kick in. It's just a fact. It's -- this is
just a fact.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And promised a different approach.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: It is incumbent on us, in terms of leadership of our nation, to take
seriously the extreme changes in our climate and to do what we can to mitigate against
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Tonight, Biden and Harris are campaigning on opposite sides of the country,
Harris in Nevada, Biden in Florida. But they have a common goal, courting Latino voters,
while President Trump heads to Philadelphia for a town hall with undecided voters.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, today witnesses the last primary elections before November.
Once winners are declared in Delaware, we will know who all the nominees are for every
congressional race across the country.
Here to break down what to watch for in the fight for control of Capitol Hill, our own
Hello to Lisa -- to you, Lisa.
So, let's start with the Senate. Catch us up on the contest to either take over or keep
control of the Upper Chamber, now that we're just seven weeks away from Election Day.
LISA DESJARDINS: That's right, so much to talk about.
Let's dig right in, the Senate. Democrats need three or four seats. That's the key number.
They need to pick up three or four seats to take control of the Senate.
So, let's go to the graphics, the maps that we have got ready for this.
First of all, these are the seats that are in play right now. These -- there are more
tossups increasingly on the map. It's about 12 seats. Here's what Democrats like. If you
look at another map, these red states -- look at red states. These are vulnerable Republicans.
Of those 12 seats in play, 10 of them are Republican.
So, Democrats have 10 chances, they believe, to pick up the three or four seats they need.
Now, what's interesting here, Judy, though, one more map. These are -- of those competitive
seats, these are the ones in the Senate that are tracking very closely to the presidential
There is no question, Judy, that Democrats are benefiting from Joe Biden doing well,
the president falling behind him nationally. And these Senate races could change if that
presidential race changes. So that's something we're going to have to watch closely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, not on the list of most vulnerable, but a race we're all watching,
and that is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.
What does that look like, Lisa?
LISA DESJARDINS: This is a fascinating race. Mitch McConnell is currently the third most
senior senator in Congress.
He has survived many challenges before. Some people see him as Teflon. But, this year,
he's up against a challenger who has nationwide recognition. Amy McGrath was the first female
Marine combat pilot. She closely lost a congressional election in 2018.
Let's look at the race is looking like between the two of them, massive amounts of money.
We will look at some numbers here; $60 million at least has been spent. These candidates
are spending more money in their campaign funds than any other race in the country right
Now, in addition, Senate Democrats, however, still see this as a long shot. They would
need some help from the presidential race. So, President Trump is a factor in Kentucky.
He's very popular in Kentucky. But, if that decreases, if Trump voters do not go out to
the polls in Kentucky, Democrats would have a chance, potentially, at unseating Mitch
But I will tell you what, Judy. Republicans like this race, not only because they believe
McConnell will win, but they also like that Democrats are sending money here, because
they think it's a long shot. They don't want Democratic money going into those other races
they believe are closer.
Who knows. We will have to watch on Election Day.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, move over to the House, Democrats clearly in control there now, but
what does it look like? What are both parties saying right now?
LISA DESJARDINS: OK. Here is the big picture, Judy.
Let's just look at another graphic for that. There are some 55 House seats in play. Of
course, that's a very -- a smaller fraction of the entire House. But those are the races
we're looking at that will decide control. Republicans essentially need about 20 of those
And what's interesting, Judy, is, half of these competitive seats in the House are held
by Democrats, half by Republicans. That's good news for Democrats, because, usually,
they would be on defense, after having such a huge year as 2018. Judy, Democrats believe
they might be able to pick up some seats, have a larger majority in the fall, if things
continue as they are.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, you were telling us, yes, these are the numbers, but you're
also seeing some bigger trends at work here. Tell us about that.
LISA DESJARDINS: That's right.
Following on the good work of my friend Domenico Montanaro talking about trends electorally,
Judy, the suburbs are going to decide so much about the House of Representatives. It's where
Democrats are seeing gains, but it's where the vast majority of these competitive seats
are, outside of Richmond, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Chicago. That's where the battle of
the U.S. House is happening.
Another couple of things, Judy, we're also seeing a larger-than-usual number of rematches.
Nearly a quarter of these competitive races in the House, voters saw before. They're the
exact same race that we had two years ago. And these are often Republicans trying to
regain a seat they lost in that sweep in 2018.
And one more thing, Judy, the money. I mentioned this in the McConnell-McGrath Senate race,
but it's true almost everywhere. We're seeing historic levels of spending on these House
races as well.
And I'm sorry to tell our viewers, if you live in one of these battleground states or
battleground districts, and think you have seen a lot of campaign ads, you probably haven't
seen anything yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mind-boggling, a lot of it. And we're going to be looking at some of those
ads in weeks to come.
Lisa Desjardins, thank you so much.
After months of homeschooling, students across the globe are back in the classroom, even
as people brace themselves for a second wave of infections from the coronavirus pandemic.
We now look at the issues facing millions of schoolchildren, their parents and teachers
around the world, from countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe, but, to begin, from the
Here's special correspondent Olly Barratt.
OLLY BARRATT: Britain's schools are back, with children returning to classrooms for
the first time since March. After weeks of remote learning because of coronavirus lockdown,
this start of school received a cautious welcome.
CHARLOTTE WESLEY, Student: I'm excited to come back because I have missed being here,
and I will be able to catch up on extra work, and I will be able to see my friends and teachers.
But, obviously, it's nervous coming back.
OLLY BARRATT: Across the U.K., all schools have been told to reopen and all children
urged to return.
But the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic means reopening is, by its very nature,
an experiment. Schools have to follow guidance from the government limiting contacts between
different groups of children, extra cleaning measures, desks which all face in the same
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described it as a national priority to get
schools back. There have been concerns from teaching unions and some parents about safety,
and also about whether schools returning could help the virus spread more quickly.
But most teachers have been keen to get back behind their desks.
School principal Andy Fitzgibbon:
ANDY FITZGIBBON, School Principal: We do have a moral duty to open our doors and get our
children back in to education and get them back into learning. I think it's really important.
OLLY BARRATT: The national priority status given to schools being open effectively means
that, if and when lockdown measures need to be reimposed, schools will stay open, while
other parts of the economy, such as pubs, could be forced to close down again.
But to be completely sure classrooms don't empty once more, that will depend on the direction
of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United Kingdom.
LUCY HOUGH: This is Lucy Hough, across the English Channel in Belgium, where school is
also back on, despite rising COVID-19 case numbers since July.
For Laurence Glidden, mother of three, it's a relief. Six months of home learning have
been a challenge.
LAURENCE GLIDDEN, Teacher: This year has been really shortened. We are now entering second
grade, and he's not able to read or to write, as my other children did.
LUCY HOUGH: He is not alone in falling behind. Studies show school closures have widened
the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their classmates, and the largest gaps
are for younger children.
At the Montgomery School in Brussels, Belgium's capital, there's catching up to be done and
new rules to be followed.
DANIELLE FRANZEN DAOUDY, School Principal: They were able to follow online classes, so
we adjusted the schedule a bit for them, but we still managed to finish the program.
LUCY HOUGH: Belgium's schools have reopened under a four-color code system, currently
on yellow, meaning a full-five day week. Masks are mandatory at all times for kids over 12,
with contact limited to small class bubbles.
If there's a major outbreak, and it moves to code red, class sizes for older pupils
would be halved and school time cut to two days a week.
Playgrounds like this one are also emptier than usual. Children returning from summer
holidays from high-risk red zones are being asked to quarantine for 14 days, even as the
new academic year begins.
But, across Europe, cracks are already starting to show. Several schools in Belgium have already
had to close due to localized outbreaks. France and Germany have also seen dozens of closures.
As the spread of COVID-19 accelerates across Europe, teachers and their unions are concerned
about safety, with some calling for stricter measures and limits on class sizes.
Measures differ across Europe, but there is agreement that the benefits of attending school
outweigh the risks.
MICHAEL BALEKE: This is Michael Baleke in Uganda.
Millions of children in countries across Africa are back in the classroom, despite a surge
in the COVID-19 cases on the continent. Schools in Tanzania reopened in June, after three
months of the COVID-19 lockdown, many with no running water and working toilets, but
classrooms are packed to full capacity.
GIANNA KOMU, Student: We believe in God, and God will help us. And, plus, we wear masks
MICHAEL BALEKE: Tanzania stopped publishing official figures on the extent of the coronavirus
outbreak in April.
This was followed by a declaration by President John Magufuli that the country is free from
the pandemic, ordering all schools to reopen with COVID-19 guidelines in place.
International public health experts are skeptical about the claim that Tanzania is free from
the pandemic, warning, if it exists in one country, it's bound to spread. South Africa
continues to carry the heaviest burden of COVID-19 on the continent, with nearly half
of all new cases.
The government reopened schools in June. But some parents have been reluctant to allow
their children back to class because of a surge in cases.
SIMPHIWE NONDWAYI, Teacher: Most of them, they were afraid of this COVID. Hence, they
decided to stay at their homes. And their parents, they said, no, their learners must
not go to school. You see? Yes. But most of them, they are at school. They are working.
MICHAEL BALEKE: The Democratic Republic of Congo is using a phased approach to reopen
schools. For now, the only classes in session are those for students in their final term
before graduating. The plan is for the rest of the students to return in October.
According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the continent has
more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 31,000 deaths. How the response to
the virus affects millions of school-aged children is a source of concern for all 54
In some African countries, like here in Uganda, schools remain closed, for fear that the pandemic
might get out of hand.
Distance learning in Africa is difficult, and sometimes impossible, given that 80 percent
of students have no access to the Internet. For many students, electricity is unreliable.
Others have no electricity at all in their homes.
MATSHIDISO MOETI, Regional Director for Africa, World Health Organization: The longer the
children are out of school, the greater the risk that they may not return to school.
MICHAEL BALEKE: The U.N. argues that reopening schools too quickly in Africa could undermine
the gains made so far in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
PATRICK FOK: This is Patrick Fok in Beijing.
At schools here, students arrive staggered, by grade, and line up in front of their teacher,
before they're allowed inside, passing through a screening point, where students have their
There's one more check once they reach the classroom. This is part of what's called the
anti-pandemic new normal in Beijing, to keep COVID-19 at bay, strict order from kindergarten
all the way through to high school.
STUDENT (through translator): They're doing lots of things, like alcohol disinfection,
using temperature measuring guns, and they make us wear masks all day long.
PATRICK FOK: Close to 600,000 students are now back to school in the Chinese capital.
For some, it's a second attempt at getting class under way.
Some middle and high schoolers returned in April, before a cluster of infections here
in June forced schools closed again. But there've been no locally transmitted cases in Beijing
since the end of July.
Across China, people are confident the country's overcoming the virus. Masks aren't mandatory
anymore in public. Some students don't see the point of following school rules.
STUDENT (through translator): Sometimes, I will take it off for a while. I'm not being
watched strictly all the time.
PATRICK FOK: Because it's the political heart of China, Beijing's had some of the strictest
COVID prevention protocols in the country.
A lot of restrictions are now gradually being lifted, particularly as new cases of infections
have dwindled nationwide. But authorities aren't likely to lift the lid on containment
measures altogether anytime soon.
Complacency could plunge the country back under the grip of the virus. South Korea's
learned the hard way. It's grappling with a resurgence, after the government loosened
restrictions early in August. About 200 cases were linked to a school in Seoul, forcing
authorities to put classes on hold.
YOO EUN-HAE, South Korean Education Minister (through translator): The cities of Seoul,
Incheon and Gyeonggi province will switch to full remote learning.
PATRICK FOK: Final year students taking college entrance exams are exempt. But it's unclear
when others can go back.
COVID cases in Japan are comparatively stable. Students there returned early in August. It's
just as well. Remote learning was hardly an option. The pandemic's exposed a massive digital
divide in the country.
A Ministry of Education survey found just 10 percent of public schools offered online
instruction after schools were shut in March. Critics say Japan's fallen behind in classroom
technology, and students are overreliant on textbooks and lack tablets.
In Hong Kong, there's another row over textbooks as schools prepare to reopen. The government
is accused of censoring them to promote patriotic education.
KEVIN YEUNG, Hong Kong Secretary of Education: I would not say it's political screening.
What we do is, professionally, we look at the textbooks already in market, and provide
some professional advice to the publisher.
PATRICK FOK: There are fears also about how the new and vaguely worded national security
law will impact schools. Pushed through by Beijing to quell unrest and calls for independence,
some teachers and students worry what they say in schools may land them in trouble.
And with tensions still simmering among many student protesters, how schools in Hong Kong
handle COVID only adds to their problems.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Patrick Fok in Beijing.
MICHAEL BALEKE: I'm Michael Baleke in Kampala.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The city of Louisville announced its settlement today with Breonna Taylor's
family, six months after she was shot by police and her death became a refrain of national
As Amna Nawaz tells us, policing changes are part of that agreement. But the larger question
of potential criminal charges against the officers remains front and center to the family
and to many around the country.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the eyes of her family, one step toward justice for Breonna Taylor.
TAMIKA PALMER, Mother of Breonna Taylor: It's only the beginning of getting full justice
for Breonna. Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground.
So, please continue to say her name.
AMNA NAWAZ: Today, the city of Louisville announced a $12 million settlement with Taylor's
mother, Tamika Palmer, after she sued over her daughter's killing by police.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer:
GREG FISCHER, Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky: I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer's pain,
and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna's death.
AMNA NAWAZ: It is the largest sum ever paid by the city in a police misconduct case, and
the settlement includes a package of police reforms.
PROTESTER: Say her name!
PROTESTERS: Breonna Taylor!
AMNA NAWAZ: The settlement comes after months of protests following Breonna Taylor's death.
The 26-year-old emergency medical technician was shot in her home March 13 by Louisville
police serving a drug warrant.
Police say, that night, they identified themselves before breaking down Taylor's door. But her
boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, says he never heard that, thought it was a break-in, and fired
a single shot from his licensed firearm.
Police responded, shooting Taylor more than eight times, and killing her. No drugs were
found in the home.
Of the three officers involved, only one was fired in June. A separate criminal investigation
is under way by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
PROTESTER: Say her name!
PROTESTERS: Breonna Taylor!
AMNA NAWAZ: But Taylor's story remains at the center of a nationwide movement seeking
racial justice, police reforms, and reminding people to say her name.
Now, the settlement may have taken six months, but this only relates to the Taylor family
civil suit, and there's no admission of wrongdoing by the city of Louisville in today's deal.
All eyes are now on the Kentucky attorney general to see if criminal charges against
the officers will be filed.
Joining me now to discuss this is Hannah Drake. She's an author and an activist in Louisville.
She's been leading the calls for justice in Breonna Taylor's name.
And welcome back to the "NewsHour," Hannah. Thanks for being with us.
Before we dig into some of these details, I just want to get your reaction to today's
news. It's been a long time coming. I just wonder, when you heard today's news, very
briefly, what did you think?
HANNAH DRAKE, Author and Activist: It has been a long time coming.
I was certainly very emotional. As one that has been protesting and demanding justice,
it was a very emotional feeling for me to see Breonna Taylor's mother get some form
of justice for her daughter.
AMNA NAWAZ: We mentioned it's not just the $12 million, the single largest city payment
in a police misconduct case. There's a whole slate of police reforms.
I want to tick through a few of them right now. They're now going to require commanders
to approve search warrants before that goes to a judge. They're going to offer housing
credits for officers to actually live within the cities that they police. They want to
expand drug and alcohol testing for officers involved in shootings. That's just a few of
the highlights there.
But, Hannah, when you look at those reforms, when you look at the disproportionate violence
by police against black Americans, what kind of difference do you think those reforms will
HANNAH DRAKE: Certainly, it's going to take manifesting these reforms on the ground actually
in the community.
I will say that I was encouraged that, for this to be a civil suit, for police reform
to be tied to it. I do not know if I have ever seen that has ever been the case when
there has been a payout for police misconduct, police brutality and the murder of a person
at the hands of the police.
So, I'm thankful to Breonna Taylor's family that they thought to have police reform tied
to the civil lawsuit. And I know that Lonita Baker said it was non-negotiable. There would
be no civil lawsuit without some type of police reform.
AMNA NAWAZ: That's right. We did hear from both attorneys for the family, Lonita Baker
and Ben Crump, saying that they knew reforms had to be part of this deal.
But I wonder, are there additional reforms you didn't hear about today that you think
are necessary in Louisville?
HANNAH DRAKE: I think there are additional reforms.
I think we have a section of our population that is certainly calling on defunding the
police. So, when you look at defunding the police, and you also look at reforming the
police, how do we work together as a community for those two things to work hand in hand
I certainly think it's a great opportunity for police to actually live in the communities
that they are policing, to actually know the people in the neighborhoods. I love that they
also mentioned that there will be some type of volunteerism for the police, so they can
actually know the people that they are policing.
And, hopefully, that will end some of the police brutality. But I certainly think we
still have such a long way to go when it comes for justice for Breonna Taylor and justice
just in our community.
AMNA NAWAZ: And we heard from several people who spoke today at that press conference in
her name, saying that they don't believe that there will be full justice until those officers
are arrested and charged.
Now, we mentioned that the attorney general is looking into possible criminal charges,
that a grand jury is being convened.
Hannah, I'm curious. Based on your work and your experience in Louisville, how much faith
do you have in that process right now?
HANNAH DRAKE: You know, to be honest, I do not have faith in that process.
I have tried to remain hopeful, as someone that is an activist and someone that speaks
out in the community. But we have seen how these cases have played out across the United
States. So, I'm not that hopeful that we will have complete and full justice for Breonna
Every day, I try to wake up and envision something different, that Attorney General Cameron will
see Breonna as a 26-year-old black woman that was murdered in her home, that she should
still be here today, that she deserves justice.
If any one of us did this, went into our neighbor's home and killed them, we would be charged.
And so I do not think anything less should happen just because someone is a police officer.
AMNA NAWAZ: And, legally, we have already heard, Hannah, I should ask you, from some
experts who say it looks like it's an uphill battle legally to meet that burden, because
the officers can claim self-defense. They know there was a shot fired toward them in
I'm curious, if today's restitution is the only justice that ends up coming in the name
of Breonna Taylor, what do you think the response will be from you and others in the community?
HANNAH DRAKE: I think people in this community will be very upset. I think this is a community
that has been forever altered by what has happened in Louisville.
There's certainly a ton of trauma that has happened in Louisville. And this is a city
that needs healing. For us not to get justice, for the officers not to be charged will only
cause further trauma in this community.
And quite frankly, I don't think it will sit well for the people that have been protesting
for more than 100 days. I think the people that are protesting are demanding full justice.
We're very happy for Breonna Taylor's mother. We certainly expected that there would be
some restitution paid to her family. But justice is like an airplane. There are two wings to
it. So, we have restitution, and, on the other wing, we need criminal charges pressed against
AMNA NAWAZ: You mentioned the days and days of protests. There have been celebrities,
magazine covers, people making sure that her name continues to be said and that the pressure
is kept up.
What do you think this step today means for all the many other cases in which we don't
even hear about the names of black women killed?
HANNAH DRAKE: I think this is a very important step, especially for black women that have
been killed by the police, that have faced police brutality.
I have always said that Breonna Taylor had two things working against her. She's black
and she's a woman. And, often, that's where rock and a hard place collide for black women
And so I think this was a call-out that you cannot continue to brutalize black women.
You cannot continue to murder black women in their homes, and it's going to be OK, it's
going to be acceptable. That ends today.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Hannah Drake joining us from Louisville, Kentucky.
Thanks so much for your time.
HANNAH DRAKE: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that is 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.
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