PBS NewsHour full episode, Sept. 16, 2021

PBS NewsHour full episode, Sept. 16, 2021

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: Atlantic divide. The new U.S./U.K./Australia alliance to counter China's ambitions in Asia angers France. We speak to the French ambassador about this fraught moment. Then: the ongoing surge. Hospital administrators in sparsely vaccinated areas prepare to ration

services, as COVID-19 continues to overwhelm intensive care units. And fentanyl frontier. The threat of cartels leads ordinary people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to take the law into their own hands. MIGUEL, 13 Years Old (through translator): They have attacked our families, they have kidnapped us, they have killed us. Since then, I have grabbed a weapon. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The COVID crisis is casting new shadows tonight. The daily virus has killed roughly 2, 600 Americans for two days in a row. That is the most since early March. Meanwhile, Idaho today imposed health care rationing statewide. It has one of the nation's

lowest vaccination rates. And two dozen Republican attorneys general warned that they will sue to block President Biden's vaccination mandates. New jobless claims rose last week in a sign that layoffs increased as COVID infections kept spreading. Claims for benefits were up 20,000 to 322,000. Still, the four-week average of new claims fell for the fifth week in a row. The French government expressed anger today over a new U.S. defense pact with Australia and the United Kingdom. It's because Australia will scrap a $40 billion contract for conventionally

powered submarines from France in favor of nuclear-powered subs from the United States. Paris called it -- quote -- "a stab in the back." In Washington, Secretary of State Blinken responded, as he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hosted their Australian counterparts.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. Secretary of State: France in particular is a vital partner on this and so many other issues stretching back generations, and we want to find every opportunity to deepen our transatlantic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. JUDY WOODRUFF: France also likened the U.S. move to unilateral actions by then-President Trump. The White House dismissed the comparison.

We will hear from the French ambassador to the U.S. after the news summary. A new migrant emergency is building along the Texas border with Mexico. More than 8,000 people, mostly Haitians, have crossed to Del Rio, Texas, in the last two days. U.S. federal agencies say they're rushing in staff, portable toilets and other aid. Also today, a federal judge gave the government two weeks to end rapid expulsions of migrants during the pandemic.

Across the Deep South, it's been another day of rain for parts of storm-battered Louisiana from what's left of Hurricane Nicholas. Even heavier rain spread over Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and Georgia today. Flash flood watches remain in effect for much of the region. The secretary-general of the United Nations warned today that only immediate large-scale cuts in carbon emissions can head off a climate disaster. In Geneva, Antonio Guterres cited extreme weather events, and he said that a U.N. report shows the world has reached its tipping point. ANTONIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General: The disruption to our planet and our climate is already worse than we thought. And it is moving faster than predicted.

Yet we are far from meeting the goals of the five-year old Paris agreement. This report shows just how far off course we are. JUDY WOODRUFF: Guterres urged governments to offer new plans for emission cuts ahead of an upcoming climate summit. As if to bolster his argument, reports out today say that the ozone hole over the Southern Hemisphere is larger than usual this year and still growing. Scientists say it covers an area larger than Antarctica, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to reach Earth. A ban on ozone-depleting chemicals is helping, but it could be decades before the ozone layer recovers.

Special counsel John Durham, reviewing the original Russia investigation into former President Trump, charged a cybersecurity lawyer today with lying to the FBI. It involved alleged Russian contacts with Trump associates during the 2016 U.S. presidential race. The lawyer's firm represented Hillary Clinton's campaign. The original investigation found that Russia

interfered to aid Mr. Trump's candidacy. For the first time, an all-amateur crew circled the Earth today carried aloft on a SpaceX capsule. The company's first space tourism flight blasted off last night with billionaire Jared Isaacman, two contest winners and a health care worker on board. They will land

on Saturday. And on Wall Street, stocks had an up-and-down day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 63 points to close at 34751. The Nasdaq rose 20 points. The S&P 500 slipped seven. Still to come on the "NewsHour": we break down negotiations in Congress over critical economic legislation; how hospitals in sparsely vaccinated areas prepare to ration care; a new report details the problematic inner workings of Facebook; plus much more. We return to the U.S., British and Australian decision to build nuclear-powered submarines

for Australia, a move sparking fury among another ally, the French. France had a $40 billion agreement with Australia to build 12 conventionally powered submarines. That deal is now in doubt. With me is the French ambassador to the U.S., Philippe Etienne. Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. The United States, the Biden administration is saying that this is all about the Indo-Pacific, it is not directed at France.

So, why is your government angry? PHILIPPE ETIENNE, French Ambassador to the United States: Well, this is a point. We are also very much involved in the Indo-Pacific. France, of course, is a European country, but we are also an Indo-Pacific Country. We have territories, we have populations, we have armed forces, both in the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific Ocean. And we have presented or introduced already three years ago our own Indo-Pacific strategy with a security and military component, but also with other elements. And we have just updated this strategy. I know the European Union as such is presenting

its own strategy. So we are very active. We also have the goal of a rule-based order, multinational order, and free circulation and democratic values in this region. And so we are obviously disappointed by what happened and how it happened. JUDY WOODRUFF: I mentioned the deal that France has had with Australia about selling them French-built submarines.

But, today, we heard the Australian defense minister say -- and I'm quoting -- he said: "A conventional submarine will not provide us with capability after the year 2030. The French has a version that is not superior to what the Brits and the U.S. have, so we did what is best for our national security interests." PHILIPPE ETIENNE: Well, this, of course, has been discussed in the last month with our Australian colleagues and friends and was still being discussed very recently, actually. And we had also an exchange on the comparison of the different merits of the different categories.

But we have also nuclear-powered submarines in France. And this model had been chosen by Australia. And now, if there is a newer addition by Australia, of course, it is their decision, but it means it will take more time for them. It is not for me to command this. But I just want to say that we have also the capacities to and the interest to discuss all of this with other involved countries. We have also the technological capacities. We had started with this category, and we thought it was

a good contract, a good implemented contract. JUDY WOODRUFF: What does this mean for the relationship between your country and the United States? PHILIPPE ETIENNE: Well, it is a difficult moment, of course, because we felt, as we had -- our minister made strong statements. And we felt really a strong disappointment by the decision, the Australian decision first, in terms of trust, which was there, and which is not anymore there. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you feel -- does your government feel betrayed by the United States? PHILIPPE ETIENNE: I think that, on this very issue, we feel -- we have a feeling, yes, of not being treated like an ally, which -- who still -- and even the American president said it, and it was obviously sincere when he said that we play -- France plays a key role in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Yes, we have this feeling. We -- it is disappointing. It is disappointing. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it a matter a loss of trust now in the United States? PHILIPPE ETIENNE: I'm sure trust can be redeemed, but, yes, we had a -- we have an issue of trust here, indeed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And I also want to ask you, Mr. Ambassador, about Afghanistan. The United States says, the secretary of state said again today the U.S. had consulted with its European allies before the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Was there sufficient consultation?

And what does what happened in Afghanistan say to you about the United States? PHILIPPE ETIENNE: We had an incredible evacuation operation in the second half of August. We have now the same goals. We have to resume free travel for Afghans and, of course, for our nationals. We have to fight for the rights of men and women. And we have to get the humanitarian

aid to the Afghan people. And all this, we will do together. The E.U. also here must learn maybe to do more things together, in agreement with the U.S., but maybe the Europeans should be able to do more by themselves. JUDY WOODRUFF: It sounds as if you are saying that not only France, but other European countries can't be as sure as they were before of American actions, of consultation? PHILIPPE ETIENNE: The American people don't want to be necessarily involved and to be on the front line at every time, every time we have to do something. So I don't think it is bad for the United States to have allies which can take the first role, with U.S. support. I think it is in the interests of everybody.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. We appreciate it. PHILIPPE ETIENNE: Thank you very much. JUDY WOODRUFF: This week has been a big one for Democrats attempting to pass a priority piece of federal legislation for them and President Biden. The so-called Build Back Better plan would address paid family leave, childcare and climate change, to give a partial list. But, as Democrats started moving on major portions of the bill, this week also exposed major obstacles ahead, including the $3.5 trillion price tag.

Here to clear up the latest, our congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins. Hello, Lisa. So, a lot has been going on this week. Tell us, as of now, where do the Democrats stand on this? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, a reminder, we're talking about this because this is historic legislation, maybe once-in-a-generation legislation, that would change the face of child care in this country, would deal with climate change, higher education, you name it. Very important debate here. This week, House committees met to actually put their legislation on the table, four long days of back-and-forth votes and amendments in committees. And, actually, the legislation

did move out of committee. But we learned something. One of the tougher things that they will have to sell the American public is, of course, there are tax increases to pay for it. So let's look at what we learned

about those tax increases I know we mentioned earlier this week. First, this is what Democrats are proposing right now, that large corporations would see an increase to 26.5 percent in their tax rates. Then wealthy Americans, the top 2 percent, their tax rates would increase to a maximum of 39.6 percent, the ultra wealthy, those making more than $5 million a year, a 3 percent surtax.

So this is the importance of this week. Democrats actually put down in paper their initial starting point on this plan. This is just the very beginning of all of this, of course. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, bottom-line question, do they have the votes for what they'd like to do? LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, they do not yet have the votes. And they have problems in two areas. One, as you pointed out, is the price tag on this bill. But I want to talk about what we're dealing with for Democrats. The margins here, there's really almost no room for error in either chamber.

Look at this. In the House, Democrats can spare just three votes out of a chamber with 535 -- 435 members. In the Senate, they can't spare any votes. They have 50 Democratic senators. They need all Democrats. Now, this is assuming no Republicans join them, but we don't expect them to. So, the problem in the Senate is the cost. We know Senator Joe Manchin has said he wants

a package half the size of what Biden has called for. He's not alone. Moderate Senator, also Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has a problem with the cost. There's issues about climate portions. Now, also revealed this week, though, Judy, in the House, in committee, big problems for three of those Democrats. And, again, remember, three is the magic number in the House, who don't like the idea of allowing Medicare to negotiate all the drug prices in this country.

That's a really popular idea with voters, but those Democrats said it could hurt drug companies and what they're able to innovate. Expect a lot of negotiations over that. JUDY WOODRUFF: Another piece of this that, as we have learned, is controversial, again, is state and local tax deductions. So what -- how is that fitting in to this? LISA DESJARDINS: That's a big deal. Now, this, of course, is something that happened with the Trump tax cuts. They actually put a cap on how much anyone in this country can deduct for their state and local taxes. For

most Americans, it didn't affect them. But it did affect states with a big tax bill for state and local. What are we talking about? New York, New Jersey. I know all those viewers are not in with me right now. So the representatives from those states say they want that cap lifted altogether. And if it doesn't happen, four Democrats -- again, the magic number is three -- said they will oppose this legislation altogether. Expect negotiations perhaps to sort of have a targeted change in that area. But, right

now, it is a problem. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, given all this, Lisa, what is next in the Democrats' push to get this done? LISA DESJARDINS: Yes. All right, let's keep our faces forward and look at how this may work. Here's the process

as we know it right now, looking at the different steps that are coming. These are the typical steps you might see ahead. You see these five steps going forward to get this all the way through Congress. Where are we right now? Just at that first step, House committees. Those are what -- those

met this week. And those where we're forwarding legislation. What's next? House, Senate and the White House will be negotiating largely behind closed doors. How are they going to get all this done in just the few weeks that they have pledged to do it in? One thing they're hoping to do, that Senate committee step there, second from the bottom, it looks like they may skip that step. And what we will see is these negotiations behind closed doors will really tell us the tale of whether Democrats can do this or not. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, while all this is going on, there's another issue that Congress is looking at, which keeps recurring every year. LISA DESJARDINS: Right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that's the debt ceiling. What does that look like? LISA DESJARDINS: Right. We are expected to reach our debt ceiling in the next few weeks. The date is not clear, but it is coming very soon. And there is a major divide over how to raise it, with the parties not really being willing to work with each other. Democrats want Republican help. Republicans say they will not support an increase in the debt ceiling, if it goes along with what Democrats are doing.

Just listen to these two different kind of pictures of how this works from the two party leaders in the Senate just this week. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Every member of my caucus agrees we cannot allow a government shutdown or a catastrophic default. To prevent both of these from happening, it will require bipartisan cooperation, just as we have done in the past. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Yes, let me be crystal clear about this. Republicans are

united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling. LISA DESJARDINS: This is about the distrust. This is also about the disregard. And it's very much about the politics in the U.S. Congress. And it is a problem we're going to have to watch closely. JUDY WOODRUFF: Perennial, but it just seems to get worse in years like this.

LISA DESJARDINS: This time, there's -- it's worse than usual. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. Lisa Desjardins, thank you. I know you're going to keep looking at all this. LISA DESJARDINS: You got it. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you so much.

As we have been reporting, the COVID pandemic continues across the country. Last week, we heard how some hospitals in Idaho were overflowing and starting to ration care. That crisis has now spread statewide. As William Brangham reports, it is forcing hospitals to start sending sick patients to neighboring states.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Judy, that's right. Washington state is now fielding transfer requests from Idaho hospitals, who say they can no longer handle the numbers they're seeing. And this comes as Washington itself is already dealing with its own spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Joining me now is Dr. Dan Getz. He's the chief medical officer for the Providence Sacred

Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington. Dr. Getz, thank you very much for being here. So, before we get to you getting these calls from other states, help us understand how things were in Spokane, where you are, already. DR. DAN GETZ, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center: Yes, thanks, William. We're in Spokane. We're on the eastern side of Washington state. And for reference, Sacred

Heart Medical Center, we're the second largest hospital in Washington, roughly 700 beds, highly specialized. We do heart transplants. We do kidney transplants. We offer the highest level of cardiac and stroke care. We're the only trauma center for the region. So, even prior to the pandemic, we were very busy taking care of diseases and illnesses which were common in our community. Since the inception of pandemic, we have just worked really hard to plan for the inevitable increase in patients. But over the last several weeks, we have seen a surge to the point where it's making it very difficult to serve just the needs of our community, as well as accepting the outline transfers that are part of being the largest regional medical center.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, when you compare this to, say, the worst parts of the winter surge for you guys, how does this compare? DR. DAN GETZ: We're significantly beyond that. Over the last week, it seems like, every day, we hit a new record for daily hospitalizations. The biggest area we are struggling right now is trying to create capacity in our ICUs, really where you take care of the sickest of the sick. And when you see COVID patients, really, really ill COVID patients, you're putting them on ventilators, so you're breathing for them. They can be in your ICU for two or three weeks on that ventilator. And so it's very difficult to create extra space for those incoming patients,

as well as care for the needs of our community. So those traumas, those heart attacks, those strokes that come in inevitably, we're trying to care for, in addition to the extra load of COVID patients. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you're already dealing with your own burdens, and then the phone rings from these other states saying, hey, can you help us out? I mean, it doesn't sound like you have that much excess capacity. DR. DAN GETZ: Yes, we're struggling for capacity. We're making due. We're not in a crisis standards of care situation, although that's possible

if we continue to see volumes to grow -- continue to grow. I think what's important, we look at these borders and our neighbors to the east. Idaho is very close. It's a 40-minute drive away to get to Coeur d'Alene. So, we consider those patients members of our community and we want to care for them. And in certain parts of our own community in Washington state, our vaccination rates are much higher. So this is a crisis that's created by poor uptake of the vaccine. And

if we had higher vaccination rates, we wouldn't be in this situation right now. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is that -- the majority of patients in your ICU are unvaccinated? DR. DAN GETZ: Almost the entirety. Currently, all of our patients on ventilators in the ICU right now are unvaccinated patients. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And you touched on this just a moment ago, but I understand you're also getting calls from Texas and Missouri, again, similar states that don't have very high vaccination rates and aren't maybe stressing mitigation measures as much. Given that, where does that -- where do you think we are headed in the next week, two weeks, three weeks? DR. DAN GETZ: No, we're going to continue to see more sick patients. And that's the most frustrating thing right now for people that work in health care, all across the board, whether you're a physician or an R.N., or a phlebotomist who work in

environmental services and clean rooms. We feel like the community is not taking this seriously. And we know, when you look across the country in states that have mask mandates, the higher masking utilization, you see the lower incidence of COVID, the fewer people are in hospitals. And I don't think the general population realizes that health care, we have limited resources. Once you saturate all of our resources, use up all our ventilators, we no longer will provide dialysis, people will die as a result of that. We have to make those really challenging decisions trying to care for all. And, eventually, we're

going to run out of those essential tools that we need. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, that's got to be incredibly frustrating for people like yourself. I saw earlier today you were lamenting that local officials were allowing the county fair to go on, where a lot of people are going to be unmasked and crowded together. DR. DAN GETZ: That's incredibly frustrating. I understand that people have lost a lot of venues for socialization and entertainment, but it's not worth trading human lives for, right? I mean, fairs are fun, but we're not going to trade lives for a fair. And it's really at that point now where, as a society, as Americans, if we can adopt vaccination broadly enough, a vaccine that has proven to clearly be safe and highly effective, we can get through this pandemic, we can go back to life as normal and sit alongside one another without masks and having to worry about this disease.

And people think this disease only strikes people that have medical conditions, which is entirely not true. We're seeing young people that were previously very healthy developing severe COVID disease. And we don't understand why those certain people develop this severe disease. But we know that, if they have been vaccinated, they'd be protected from this. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Dr. Dan Getz of the Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center

in Spokane, thank you very much for being here. DR. DAN GETZ: My pleasure. Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Now our third and final story on the ravages of the cross-border drug trade with Mexico. With the support of the Pulitzer Center, special correspondent Monica Villamizar and producer Zach Fannin traveled to the mountaintop village of Ayahualtempa in Guerrero state, Mexico. They found children learning how to use firearms, preparing for an attack by a nearby cartel. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: After Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador saw images like these of children as young as 6 learning how to shoot, he became enraged.

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, Mexican President (through translator): Children should not be used like this. I am emphatic about that. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: But despite the president's harsh reaction, the Nahua indigenous community are still preparing to defend themselves against a drug cartel known as Los Ardillos, or The Squirrels. The children are part of what's called a community guard that's made up of 96 adult men and a dozen children who defend this village, Ayahualtempa, where 600 people live.

Mexican law allows some indigenous communities to establish their own police forces. So, children over 12 can have real guns, but all of the very small ones have toy guns. And the reason is, it gets them used to the idea that they have to defend themselves. This self-defense group is filling the void left by the state. There are no armed Mexican

security forces nearby to protect the besieged town. There is no medical facility, and no financial aid has been provided to these villagers so they can weather the crisis that has isolated them from the outside world. After decades of growing poppy plants, the raw material for heroin, this impoverished agricultural community stopped growing the illegal crop in 2015, cutting off all transactions with the local cartels and their intermediaries, fearing a takeover from the increasingly powerful and violent group. In November of 2019, as the cartel gained more power, the murder rate started steadily increasing. In the past few months, nine people have been killed in this village and 34 others were slain in surrounding towns. The villagers believe the violence is a deadly message from the cartel that wants to take over this drug corridor and tax local businesses as a form of extortion.

Today, this picturesque town has still not been invaded and occupied by the cartel, but the security situation is so bad, locals can't travel to the nearby farmers market. The local school shut down because it sits in a cartel-controlled area just past this chain that serves as a demarcation barrier. BERNARDINO SANCHEZ, Nahua Indigenous Leader (through translator): We the farmers, our job is to work the land. But, since there's no security, well, we feel obligated to take up arms, prepare the kids, because we don't know when or at what hour they are going to kill us. So, if we don't prepare the kids, soon, they won't be able to defend themselves. The advantage that we have is that we prepare the community police for each shot they take, so they don't miss, that we don't waste bullets, because we don't have resources to purchase ammunition.

MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Every time the leader, Bernardino Sanchez, is out on patrol, his bodyguards follow him; 13-year-old Miguel is the youngest armed guard in the village. He says he misses school, and splits his time between herding goats and weapons training, preparing for a possible cartel invasion. MIGUEL, 13 Years Old (through translator): They have attacked our families, they have kidnapped us, they have killed us. Since then, I have grabbed a weapon. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Do you think it's normal that a kid your age is armed and has a rifle? MIGUEL (through translator): No, but I use it to defend my village. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: This man, who preferred to keep his identity anonymous, says his brother, a community police commander, was murdered by the cartel.

Afterwards, this community wrote a letter to the Mexican government asking for help, but it fell on deaf ears. Now he has a warning. MAN (through translator): The government needs to listen. We are defending ourselves, yes, not because we like to carry weapons or because we want to kill. So long as our enemies don't provoke us, all is OK. But if they provoke us, who knows what will happen to us? Yes, I know they will kill us, but they will also die, so that's all. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Citizens taking up arms to defend themselves from cartels is nothing new here in the states of Guerrero and neighboring Michoacan.

The last civilian uprising in 2012 made the region one of the most volatile in the country. Writer Ioan Grillo explains that the militia movement is complicated. IOAN GRILLO, Author, "El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency": With this self-defense movement, you then had very different things that was outside of indigenous communities, which is all kinds of groups of people creating armed squads. Some of them are genuine and really defend their community. Some of them are mixed, to look a bit dubious, that they might be defending the community, but there are suspect people. And some of them are full-on drug trafficking organizations that are using the autodefensas, self-defense, America to just to do their other activities.

MONICA VILLAMIZAR: With this new uprising well under way, it's unclear if local militias like this one will help decrease or increase Mexico's sky-high homicide rate of 34,000 murders last year, many of which were drug-related. And just over the border from Mexico in Southern Arizona, these men are part of a training session given by the Arizona Border Recon. The group calls themselves an intelligence-gathering operation, but they're armed to interdict and capture. Their leader is this man, Tim Foley. TIM FOLEY, Founder, Arizona Border Recon: We love our country. We have taken an oath. Most of us were in the military or law enforcement. And we took an oath to defend the country.

And it doesn't end when you get out. It's a lifelong oath. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Tim Foley traveled to the Capitol on January 6. Foley didn't enter the building, but says he doesn't think the violence was initiated by Trump supporters.

TIM FOLEY: We were there, I would say, 45 minutes before Trump even ended his speech. And there were instigators already there harassing the police, and tear gas was already being shot. And I got gassed five times that day. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: This training is preparing Recon members for a hypothetical attack by smugglers illegally crossing into the U.S. Do you guys train with live ammo? TIM FOLEY: No. It's a safety thing. We do carry rounds with us and we do have sidearms

that are loaded just in case. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Foley says he finances his militia through paid training and speaking engagements. The Recon also conducts armed patrols using loaded AR-15s, pistols, and shotguns, on one of the routes where drugs are smuggled on foot for the Sinaloa cartel. This militia patrols the area because they say the government has failed to. Groups of men crossing this public desert by foot with backpacks can be seen in footage that Foley captured on his hidden cameras. Foley calls them dope mules. TIM FOLEY: The dope mules nowadays, they're packs. They're bigger. They're camouflaged,

but every cubic centimeter in that pack is full. And, basically, it's fentanyl, meth, heroin, cocaine. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Foley's cameras caught this man with an automatic weapon. And just over the border inside Mexico, one of Foley's drones captured this man pointing his gun at the camera. Foley believes he's a cartel lookout who feeds information to mules on foot. Foley says the

Recon is in the business of combating the cartels' delivery service. TIM FOLEY: Like any business, they have delivery schedules and everything else. So, when we come out, what we do is, we try to mess up their logistics. If we can get in front of them and deter them from coming in that way, and they have to move to go, say, two miles, but if were sitting there also, then they have to move again. So they are burning up their food and logistics. So, that way, it makes it harder and harder

for them, and they're not keeping their delivery schedule. So you're going to get some upset customers. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Foley has stopped groups that he believed were illegally crossing into the U.S. He says he gives the border crossers water and immediately notifies the Border

Patrol. It's nonetheless an armed private citizen taking law enforcement duties. So far, he hasn't gotten into a shoot-out. Customs and Border Protection would like Foley and his men to stand down. They provided this

written statement: "CBP does not endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands, as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences." Mark Napier was the elected Republican sheriff of Pima County, where Foley conducts his patrols, from 2016 until last year. Today, Napier works for the neighboring Cochise County Sheriff's Department. MARK NAPIER, Former Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff: How do you determine who a good guy and a bad guy is when people are carrying rifles and they are all cammied up? I am not interested in armed militia out there playing soldier of fortune. I think that's problematic. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: However, Sheriff David Hathaway, a Spanish-speaking elected Democrat of neighboring Santa Cruz County, points out that, since Arizona is an open-carry state, conducting training programs and patrols is not against the law. DAVID HATHAWAY, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Sheriff: As sheriff, in my position, as long as they're not violating the laws, as long as they're not assaulting somebody, intimidating somebody, threatening somebody, they are free to go on public lands. There is a lot of public

government-owned land in Arizona. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Tim Foley says he's been called a racist, but he points out that members of the recon are Latino. HUGO, Arizona Border Recon: If we see somebody crossing, we will just notify the Border Patrol. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Hugo owns a taxi service on the East Coast of the United States and spends his free time with the Recon. He didn't want to tell us his last name, due to fear

of reprisals. HUGO: I was born in Uruguay, and I first came to this country as an exchange student. A few years later, I became a U.S. citizen. MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Foley concedes, more drug mules get around him than the Recon can stop, but given the deadliness of fentanyl and other drugs, he's still dedicated to the pursuit. TIM FOLEY: The way I look at it, every little bit helps. That load I stopped might have saved two people. That load I stopped might have saved one. I can walk away. When I look

in the mirror and go, what didn't we try to stop? MONICA VILLAMIZAR: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Monica Villamizar in Pima County, Arizona. JUDY WOODRUFF: It is a deep dive into the inner workings of Facebook. A Wall Street Journal investigation out this week alleges deceit and dangers at the social media giant. Among its conclusions? Facebook's platforms are -- quote -- "riddled with flaws

that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands." John Yang has more. JOHN YANG: Judy, the series called "The Facebook Files" is based on The Journal's review of internal company documents.

The stories highlight the ways in which Facebook handles or doesn't handle a range of issues across its vast digital empire, from the negative effects of Instagram on young people to misinformation and violent content. Jeff Horwitz is the lead reporter on the series and joins us now. Jeff, thanks for being with us. You have got four installments that have published so far. You have a fifth coming. Is there a common thread or a common takeaway to all these stories that you're finding? JEFF HORWITZ, The Wall Street Journal: There are probably a couple. One is that Facebook has, in the last few years, come to understand, through significant research, what its effects are on society. And they turn out to be pretty grave in some

instances. And it is not all good news they're finding. In fact, a lot of it is very bad. And I think how the company has done that work and responded, or more often than not, not responded to it, is, I think, a very important thing. And then I think there is also an element of this where it's just Facebook appears to have a very hard time managing itself, keeping attention on problems to fix them, and actually sort of adhering to its own rules internally. JOHN YANG: And a lot of these issues, when they arise and are talked about, the -- Facebook's leaders, Mark Zuckerberg and others, often, to me, seem surprised that this is an issue.

But you're finding otherwise. JEFF HORWITZ: Yes, it is a strange thing, given that the company just sort of doesn't seem to expect the misuse of its platform that people who are misusing its platform should have trained them on by now. So, one of the stories is Facebook's failure to address human trafficking and cartel violence on its platform. They really turn out to sort of have a hard time focusing on this and putting resources in. And every once in a while, it sort of suddenly pops up, and it is very embarrassing,

and they have to run around. But they don't ever sort of manage to get it done on a day-to-day basis, if that makes sense. JOHN YANG: And on that issue of drug cartels, human trafficking, Facebook provided us a statement that says: "In countries at risk for conflict and violence, we have a comprehensive strategy, including relying on global teams with native speakers covering over 50 languages, educational resources and partnerships with local experts and third-party fact-checkers to keep people safe." But, as I read your story, they -- employees may be flagging things, but there isn't necessarily reaction within the company. JEFF HORWITZ: Yes.

So, to start off with, Facebook offers its services in over 100 languages. So the 50 languages might not be as impressive as one would hope there. But, yes, I think there are a whole bunch of really dedicated people who are working for this company. They have been asked to solve really, really horrendous societal issues, or at least to address them on the platform, such as people being sold into indentured servitude in the Gulf states on their platform. And they sort of recommend the company do things. And then, oftentimes, the follow-through

just isn't there. JOHN YANG: In talking -- about one of your stories that got a lot of reaction, or has gotten a lot of reaction, is about Instagram, the photo sharing app that Facebook owns. You write that Facebook's and Instagram's own research shows the harmful effects this app has or can have on young people, and especially teenage girls. JEFF HORWITZ: Yes, so this is something that, over the last -- since basically 2018-2019, they have been researching what they call negative social comparison.

And I think at least, listen, when I started this stuff, I would have assumed that sort of Instagram's kind of like high school or something, right, in the sense that there's going to be social pressure, but we all get through it for the most part. I think the thing that was really surprising was how heavily it seemed to impact people who Instagram identified as already vulnerable. So, we make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls is a conclusion that they drew internally and presented to management. And, in fact, they found that, in some instances, for young women who were thinking about self-harm within the last month, that 6 percent of those traced that thought directly back to Instagram. So we're not talking necessarily huge numbers of people, but it is potentially life-or-death issues here.

JOHN YANG: Instagram's head of public policy providers with a statement about that story. She said: "We take these findings seriously. And we set up a specific effort to respond to this research and change Instagram for the better." These issues that you have you have uncovered about Facebook or you write about, how much are they -- to what extent do they drive the bottom line for Facebook? Do they drive their revenue, sort of define what Facebook is? JEFF HORWITZ: Yes, I think Facebook has really sort of built itself around the idea that the more usage of Facebook is, the better the world is in general. And so they have kind of engineered this system to be as sticky as possible, to keep you coming back as often as possible, and to be as entertaining as possible. And they don't really -- focusing on the quality of the things and the types of content that succeeded wasn't really the focus.

So I think it's becoming more of a focus now. They're thinking about it more, but it never has been the focus. And there still is a very large company attached to this work that wants to just sort of keep on doing the things that made it big and successful. I think, with the teenage mental health in particular, it's extremely awkward, because they have done this really good research. They have invested in understanding the problems in ways that I'm not convinced other tech giants actually have.

But the problem is that the findings were that some of their products' key features are uniquely problematic, that Instagram focuses attention on the body, unlike competing social media apps, which focus on the face or on performance. And there's not an easy way to sort of get around that. So I think this is kind of a situation where they have realized the negative side effects of what they do, but I'm not totally clear that there's an easy way to address them, nor are they.

JOHN YANG: "The Facebook Files," a series in The Wall Street Journal. Jeff Horwitz, thank you very much. JEFF HORWITZ: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, Amna Nawaz speaks to actor Riz Ahmed about his upcoming films, increasing Muslim representation in Hollywood, and 9/11's lasting impact on Muslims 20 years later. It's part of our arts and culture series, canvas. AMNA NAWAZ: For Riz Ahmed, his acting career... ACTOR: You don't have kids? RIZ AHMED, Actor: There's no time, man. I got to go.

AMNA NAWAZ: ... his music career have always gone hand in hand. And in his new film, "Mogul Mowgli," which he co-wrote, the two art forms collide, with a story that hits close to home. ACTOR: Forget this damn tour! RIZ AHMED: OK, so what's it's going to be, huh? AMNA NAWAZ: The main character, Zed, is British, like Ahmed, of Pakistani descent, like Ahmed, and a rapper, also like Ahmed.

RIZ AHMED: It's in English. It's in Urdu. It's an acting piece and a rapping piece. And though it's rooted in my specific experience, I think a lot of people can really relate to that of all backgrounds. ACTOR: And was I ever successful? Did you ever listen to me? RIZ AHMED: No, but can't you just let me do my thing, man? ACTOR: Do your bloody thing, yes.

AMNA NAWAZ: There's clearly a lot of you in this new film. Could this have been something you did five years ago or 10 years ago? Or is this sort of the perfect story for this time? RIZ AHMED: I don't think I would have had the guts to make this five or 10 years ago, because I think I was still in a place where I was thinking about wearing masks in order to fit in for other people. What I'm interested in now is bringing all of myself to my work, bringing all of myself into every room I enter, not leaving the British side of the door, the Pakistani side, or the posh side or the working-class side, the actor or the rapper. AMNA NAWAZ: Though the 38-year-old's been acting since the early 2000, Riz Ahmed became more of a household name after a breakthrough turn and critical acclaim in HBO's 2016 miniseries "The Night Of." That propelled him to big screen blockbusters, like Disney's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," in which he played Bodhi Rook, an Imperial-pilot-turned-rebel. 2020's "Sound of Metal," in which Ahmed played a punk drummer losing his hearing, earned him his first Oscar nomination, making history as the first Muslim nominated for best actor.

And he continues to make music, most recently releasing a new album called "The Long Goodbye." RIZ AHMED: I'm a fool. When you're at war with yourself, you're easy to divide and rule. She had me locked down, beat me red and blue until I knew that right was white and not brown. AMNA NAWAZ: Ahmed's success has come in spite of an industry influenced by a surge of anti-Muslim sentiment post-9/11, narrowing Muslim representation to reductive stereotypical roles Ahmed says he worked hard to avoid. Years later, that strategy has paid off, and his superstar status has been cemented. But that, he says, isn't enough.

RIZ AHMED: Exceptions don't change the rules. Real change comes from not someone having a moment, but by people creating a movement. I know for a fact I'm here because people before me have kind of carved out a path. None of us is getting to the finish line. We all just running a relay race. We all just

doing a stretch of the race and we just pass the baton forwards. That's just how it is. AMNA NAWAZ: New numbers show just how far Hollywood has to go. Ahmed joined forces with the University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Ford Foundation, a "NewsHour" funder, and the Pillars Fund, aimed at amplifying Muslim narratives, to back a first-of-its kind study breaking down the 200 top grossing films between 2017 and 2019. Of more than 8, 500 speaking roles, fewer than 2 percent were Muslim, and over 75 percent of those roles were boys or men. Over 90 percent of films had no speaking role for any Muslim character.

RIZ AHMED: We got the numbers back and, surprise, surprise, the numbers are terrible. Of I think these 200 movies, Muslims are only 1.6 percent of all speaking characters. And three-quarters of the time, they're either victims of or perpetrators of violence. What does that do when we're fed this image of a group of people? It makes it easier to dehumanize them and destroy their lives. AMNA NAWAZ: In response, Ahmed and the Pillars Fund have created a multiyear fellowship to jump-start and support Muslim artists in the U.S. and U.K.

RIZ AHMED: You know, it's 25 grand unrestricted cash grant to this new generation of Muslim writers and directors, storytellers, along with an amazing, I call it the kind of Muslim Avengers, collective of Muslim talent in Hollywood that can mentor them and make their professional networks available to them, people like Bisha Ali, who just wrote "Ms Marvel," or Mahershala Ali, Hasan Minhaj, Ramy Youssef. Yes, it's about access, but it's also just about making sure people can pay the bills and keep the lights on. So we thought that that would be a solution. AMNA NAWAZ: Do the Muslim Avengers have like secret handshakes, a secret hideout somewhere? I am imagining all of that in my head.

RIZ AHMED: They do, but if I had mentioned it, wouldn't be secret, so, yes. AMNA NAWAZ: Good point. Good point. A new initiative for a new generation of creatives entering the industry 20 years after the attack that turned scrutiny and suspicion onto Muslims worldwide. RIZ AHMED: Suddenly, it became about the West vs. the East, us vs. them. And, actually, a lot of us, people like you and I and millions of people around the world, found themselves to not fit in to those neat boxes and those kind of clean lines. You know, there's a kind of hybridity to our identity and to the identity, really, of most people in the world. There's a complexity and nuance to our views. My whole career really

has taken place in this post-9/11 era. The kind of impetus behind it is to try and make that no man's land habitable, try and make it fertile ground to try and, yes, create a home for those of us who don't fit neatly into these black-and-white narratives that were imposed on us. AMNA NAWAZ: So, I'm curious, from your perspective, over the last 20 years, do you think it's gotten better? RIZ AHMED: Isn't it strange? It feels like things are getting worse and better at the same time. For me, the hope comes in seeing the next generation, seeing how passionate they are about change, about real change. To go back to that relay race analogy, I don't know if we're going to be the guys that are going to fix this, but maybe we can help the next lot to do that.

AMNA NAWAZ: And along that journey, Ahmed says, there are plenty of stories left to tell. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz. JUDY WOODRUFF: Millions of students are headed back to school in person after a year of online learning. We asked students in our Student Reporting Labs network what returning to in-person learning looks and feels like amid new Delta variant concerns, vaccination debates, and mask mandates. VICTORIA TONG, Student: It's only been like two weeks of school so far, and there are already like COVID cases. SYLVIE POWELL, Student: School me honestly feels like it's my first time being here.

JAMES JOHNSON, Student: I am at a school with a few hundred people, and I would say about half of them are either not wearing -- like, either have the mask on their chin or don't have it covering their nose. And it's just the most frustrating thing ever. ARIANNA AMARAL, Student: I'm just really glad to be back in a classroom, because online school is just so mentally draining. ANNA ARRINGTON, Student: The thing I'm most worried about going back to school is, am I going to have the motivation to do my schoolwork? MICHELLE XU, Student: It is definitely frustrating to see kids who think they're way too cool to wear a mask.

ZION WILLIAMS, Student: I'm kind of frustrated about that there's no mask mandate, just because I would be more comfortable if people wore masks. ANNA LONG, Student: For me personally, it is quite a nightmare. No one is wearing masks. The numbers are completely rising, which is quite concerning, because I personally have asthma and respiratory problems.

SYDNEY WILLIAMS, Student: This year, it's honestly just really scary, because I feel like it is going to spread, which we're actually out of school right now because of COVID numbers, so... KAITLYN RODRIGUEZ, Student: It's going to take us a while to get readjusted into an in school setting, so not bombarding us with a bunch of homework, a bunch of tests. KAELYN MAE, Student: Everybody handles stress differently. Like, some people are going to make jokes about COVID. Some people are going to be anxious and shy when they normally aren't. JULIA WILKINS, Student: I wish the adults making our decisions for our district focused more on mental health and our resources.

ANNABELLE UBENCE, Student: I have lost a lot of social skills during the quarantine, and I'm worried that I'm going to be too nervous to talk to people. CHARLIE ANDERSON, Student: I think a lot of people are going to get COVID and have to step out of school again, like they did last year. SOFIJA KLEINSCHMIDT, Student: It's definitely a time of a lot of compassion, empathy and mutual understanding that we are in very unpredictable, unprecedented times. And I feel like we're doing the best we can. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, yes, they are, but so hard to watch the things we are asking them to do.

And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.

2021-09-17 15:32

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