December 28, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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December 28, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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12/28/2020 | 56m 45s | Video has closed captioning.
December 28, 2020 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
Judy Woodruff is off.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: crisis averted.
Economic aid is green-lit and the federal government stays open, after the president signs the massive COVID relief bill.
Then: The Nashville bomber is named.
Authorities identify the man behind the Christmas Day bombing, as the investigation turns to possible motives.
And getting the vaccine.
As COVID inoculations begin, we report from the Democratic Republic of Congo on when developing nations will be able to treat their citizens.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: Though the African CDC has promised not to leave them out, African nations do not know when or how many doses of the vaccine will be available to them.
AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: The showdown is over.
In a surprise move late Sunday night, President Trump signed the COVID relief and government funding bill, after days of delay, and demanding last-minute changes.
William Brangham begins our coverage.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The House will be in order.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Lawmakers returned to Washington today, after a high-stakes stand-off with President Trump over coronavirus relief and government funding.
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: It really is a disgrace.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For days, the president refused to sign the $2.3 trillion bill to provide $900 billion in coronavirus relief and to fund the federal government through the rest of fiscal year 2021.
But then, last night, he suddenly reversed course.
In a statement, the president said he had signed the bill, but was demanding many rescissions to claw back what he said was wasteful spending.
That's even though his own administration had helped negotiate the legislation.
Still, his demands for cutbacks are unlikely to go anywhere.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said she and other Democrats will reject any rescissions submitted by President Trump.
The president's statement also called for Congress to increase the bill's $600 checks for Americans earning up to $75,000 a year to $2,000.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: Republicans have a choice: Vote for this legislation or vote to deny the American people the bigger paychecks they need.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That gave Democrats in the House of Representatives the opportunity to vote today on an attempt to push through those $2,000 checks, forcing Republicans to either approve the spending or break with the president.
REP. KEVIN BRADY (R-TX): I worry that this whopping $463 billion won't do what's needed.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But that measure is unlikely to pass the Senate, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans opposed to such relief spending.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Senate Democrats are fighting for $2,000 per person.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today in New York, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for President Trump to lean on Senate Republicans to get those bigger checks passed.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: Today, I am telling Donald Trump, don't just talk about it.
These Senate Republicans have followed you through thick and thin.
Get them now to act and support the $2,000 checks.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President-elect Joe Biden today said he also supports the $2,000 checks.
President Trump's decision to sign the bill did avert the government shutdown that was set to begin tonight, but his delay of several days likely cost millions of Americans a week of the additional $300 in federal unemployment assistance and delayed the $600 direct payments.
CHANDA MCCOY, Ohio: I'm kind of relieved right now that he signed the bill, but still kind of worried a little bit, because what's going to happen in the near future with us?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Chanda McCoy was laid off from her job at the Dayton Airport in Ohio at the beginning of the pandemic.
She says the bill's unemployment benefits can only stretch so far.
CHANDA MCCOY: I pay rent, utilities.
I have to pay car insurance, a car payment.
I have grandkids.
And these are young parents that still need some help.
I can't help my grandkids as much.
ANGELA RETAMOZA, California: I lost my job in 2008 when the economy crashed.
And I did end up being homeless for a while.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Angela Retamoza was laid off from her job as an accounting assistant in March.
She says she tried to save what little she could from the last round of COVID relief, knowing it could expire at the end of the year.
ANGELA RETAMOZA: I'm at least able to know that I have enough money to pay rent next month.
But, after that, I just -- I don't know.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That uncertainty is a reality for millions of Americans, still waiting for relief amid this pandemic.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.
AMNA NAWAZ: And just this evening, the House voted to increase stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000.
Forty-four Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for that increase.
For more on this vote and President Trump's decision to sign the bill and what comes next, Anna Palmer joins us now.
She's senior Washington correspondent for Politico.
Anna, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
And thanks for being here.
Let's start with President Trump's decision to sign that relief bill.
What do we know about what took him so long, and why he finally changed his mind?
ANNA PALMER, Politico: I mean, this was really a crisis of the president's own making.
The bill was on its way to being signed.
It had been negotiated by the White House and both houses of Congress.
At the last minute, he decided to throw this wrench in it.
And, for days, everybody was in limbo, certainly, the people that were expecting and needing those checks, but also the fact that it was tied to government funding, which would have really shut down the government.
And there was not a real endgame there.
We know that several members of Congress, Senate Republicans, like Lindsey Graham, went to him, spoke with him, made the case that he needed to support this COVID relief bill, that Georgia, which is obviously in play with the two run-offs, would be locked by Republicans if he shut down the government and they did not get the relief that was needed for Americans before the end of the year.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, as William Brangham just reported in a statement last night, after signing the bill, President Trump said he wants less wasteful spending from Congress.
He's demanding these rescissions, sending to Congress a red-line bill, basically itemizing all the funds that he wants removed.
Is the president going to get any of that?
What is the practical impact of those requests?
ANNA PALMER: This gives the president a way to say that he had a win in terms of what he wants to actually have happen with funding.
This is not a reality.
The -- both houses have moved on from this spending bill.
The House appropriators, which are really the power of the purse, has said they will not be considering any of the rescissions that the president will, would or could give to them before he leaves office.
But this is really more of a talking point for the president.
It has no basis in reality.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, we see now the House supports that suggestion to raise the stimulus payments to $2,000.
Democrats have always been asking for more money.
But this puts Republicans in a pinch, particularly in the Senate.
So what's going to happen there?
Are they going to back that increase in stimulus payments?
ANNA PALMER: Yes, House Democrats just eked out a two-thirds majority, which they needed in order for this bill to move forward into the Senate.
The real question is going to be what, if any pressure does President Trump put on his allies in the Senate to actually take this up?
There was already some strong rejections of it in previous smaller amounts.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a key ally of the president's, opposed a $1,200 check bill before this.
So it's hard to see where he would be mounting up the support, and, in particular, because he isn't making those calls.
To our knowledge, he has not been on the phone trying to press the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to actually take this vote up.
So, unless he does that, it appears that this will just move past the -- pass in the House, but it will die in the Senate.
AMNA NAWAZ: Anna Palmer, senior Washington correspondent with Politico, always good to talk to you.
Millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits expired this weekend were watching and waiting to see if President Trump would sign the relief bill.
One of them is 60-year-old Michael West.
And he joins us now from his home in Huntington Beach, California.
Michael West, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thanks for making the time.
We should fill folks in and tell them you were working as an Uber driver before the pandemic hit.
Then the pandemic hit.
Your doctor told you it is probably not a good idea to go out and work because of your underlying health conditions.
So, give us a sense how hard it has been to make ends meet since then and how you have done it.
MICHAEL WEST, California: Well, it has been extremely difficult.
I didn't really know what I was going to do.
And then the CARES Act passed.
And that was a godsend to get that -- the PUA program, which, as a gig worker, allowed me to collect unemployment.
And then the additional $600 a week on top of that allowed me to basically replace what I was making prior to having just stopped working.
And so that got me through the spring and summer.
And then, at the end of July, when that program ended, the additional $600, it was really difficult.
It was very difficult.
I live in Southern California.
It's one of the most expensive places in the world to live.
And trying to make ends meet on $300 a week was excruciatingly difficult.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you this.
As you have watched the political back-and-forth over this latest relief bill, and then you saw the president say part of the reason he delayed signing it was because he wanted to get more money to people like you, what did you think?
What was your reaction to that?
MICHAEL WEST: Well, quite frankly, it was infuriating.
When he finally did sign the COVID relief bill, after the delay, it basically cost the people that are on PUA week of income, which effectively takes away our $600 stimulus check, because that's roughly about how much we lose - - or at least I do.
So, I feel like this has been a political football.
I feel like we have been pawns in it.
And I'm angry.
I'm angry that, in the richest country in the world, our Congress has done so little to help those that are suffering.
AMNA NAWAZ: Mr. West, you shared with us earlier, of course, that you have lost family in recent years.
Your 20-year business went under.
You have had some tough years.
And then you have endured 2020 and all it brought with it.
What do you think you need now to get back onto your feet?
MICHAEL WEST: It's difficult for me.
I have worked hard my whole life.
I have never really asked for anything from the government.
I have never had to rely on government assistance.
But I didn't choose to lose my job.
I didn't choose to have all of this happen.
This happened through no fault of my own, and the same thing with millions of other Americans that were caught in the same situation.
We didn't choose this.
So, what I'd like to see happen is, I would like to see them increase the amount that they give us in the way of that stimulus payment for the $2,000 that's been discussed.
And I would like to see the $300 additional unemployment backdated back to be paid retroactively back to the beginning of August, when the previous program ended.
That would help.
That would help.
Otherwise, it's just a matter of trying to dodge the inevitable economic fallout that's coming, the fear of eviction, not being able to pay rent, car payments, all the other expenditures, to have to decide whether you're going to spend your money on food or whether you're going to spend it on rent.
It's just a very unfair proposition for us to be facing.
AMNA NAWAZ: Mr. West, I know millions of Americans can relate to what you are saying.
So, I'm very grateful to you for joining us to share your story.
That is Michael West of Huntington Beach, California.
MICHAEL WEST: Thank you.
I appreciate it.
AMNA NAWAZ: And now to the Christmas Day bombing that rocked Nashville, Tennessee.
We now know the who.
The why remains a mystery.
Stephanie Sy has our report.
STEPHANIE SY: Investigators are still going through the wreckage, as they did all through Christmas weekend.
Among their discoveries, DNA evidence that linked back to 63-year old Anthony Quinn Warner.
They now say he died in the explosion, an apparent suicide, and the only fatality.
DAVID RAUSCH, Director, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation: It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death.
That's all still speculation at this point, as we continue in our investigation with all of our partners.
STEPHANIE SY: Authorities made clear Sunday that they do believe Warner acted alone.
Over the weekend, federal agents searched Warner's house in a Nashville suburb.
A Google maps image from 2019 showed an R.V.
in the backyard.
It looks similar to one in a photo police say was captured on a surveillance camera on Christmas in downtown Nashville.
parked, and a loudspeaker blared a warning to evacuate, along with a minute-by-minute countdown to the explosion.
The moment of the blast was captured on video.
Even in the empty early morning streets, chaos erupted.
The bomb was so powerful, it damaged more than 40 buildings.
Jeffrey Rasmussen and his family escaped, but felt the bomb's force.
JEFFREY RASMUSSEN, Nashville Resident; As we're driving away, this massive explosion.
I mean, it's this huge -- I mean, I was looking forward, driving, and I hear the sound, and the whole car shifts.
STEPHANIE SY: Damage done to the AT&T building, where the explosive-laden R.V.
parked, disrupted phone and Internet services in Tennessee and beyond.
As of this morning the company said that the majority of services have been restored in Nashville.
But the question of motive remains unanswered.
JOHN COOPER (D), Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee: To all of us locally, it feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing.
That's a bit of just local insight, and -- that it's got to have something to do with the infrastructure.
STEPHANIE SY: The bomber's late father had worked at AT&T, and authorities said his mother was cooperating with the investigation.
And while the question of motive remains unanswered, a neighbor recounted the suspect saying less than a week ago that the world would not forget him.
Warner was a computer consultant with a scant criminal record.
A single marijuana possession charge dated back to 1978.
He had not been on law enforcement's radar.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other news: Health officials sounded new warnings about surging COVID-19 infections.
That's due in part to the rise of new, more contagious mutations of the virus in Britain and South Africa.
In Geneva, the World Health Organization called this moment a wakeup call for a weary public.
DR. MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, World Health Organization: I know everyone is tired.
I know that we're all kind of fed up with this and we want this to be over.
But this should push us even further to have even more resolve to end this pandemic.
AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa reimposed a ban on alcohol sales and ordered all bars closed.
As of Sunday, the country has topped one million infections.
Across the U.S., holiday travel fueled concerns, as nearly 1.3 million people passed through U.S. airports on Sunday.
That's the most since March.
Logan Airport in Boston was one of many still packed this morning.
A Chinese court handed down a four-year prison sentence today for a citizen journalist who reported on the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
Zhang Zhan posted videos from Wuhan disputing the government narrative that the situation was under control.
China has denied covering up the initial outbreak and delaying release of vital information.
President-elect Joe Biden charged today that President Trump's administration has damaged national security agencies.
In a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, he said many have agencies been -- quote -- "hollowed out."
And he said political appointees at the Pentagon and the Budget Office refuse to give a clear picture of the situation.
JOE BIDEN (D), President-Elect: Right now, we just aren't getting all the information that we need for the ongoing, outgoing and - - from the outgoing administration in key national security areas.
It's nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.
AMNA NAWAZ: Pentagon officials have denied earlier complaints from the Biden team that they were not getting cooperation.
The U.S. House of Representatives moved this evening to try to override President Trump's veto of the annual defense policy bill.
It totals $740 billion in spending, including pay raises for the military.
Mr. Trump had demanded an unrelated provision that would strip social media companies of liability protection.
The Senate votes tomorrow on overriding the veto.
In Saudi Arabia, a criminal court has sentenced a leading women's rights activist to nearly six years in prison.
Loujain Alhathloul was charged with undermining the kingdom.
She protested the ban on women driving and called for repealing male guardianship laws.
She had been jailed since 2018.
And today's verdict suspended part of her sentence and backdated her term, meaning she could be released in March.
A white policeman in Columbus, Ohio, was fired today after body-cam footage showed him killing a Black man and then refusing to give first aid for several minutes.
The victim, Andre Hill, was fatally shot last Tuesday as he came out of a garage holding a cell phone.
A police union official says the officer was fired after a disciplinary hearing.
Back in this country, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the first regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from airliners and large business jets.
They apply immediately to planes of new designs and to earlier models starting in 2028.
The rules don't apply to military aircraft.
Some environmental groups, plus 11 states and the District of Columbia, have said the rule does not go far enough.
And on Wall Street, major indexes all finished at record highs, after President Trump signed the COVID relief bill.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 204 points to close near 30404.
The Nasdaq rose 94 points, and the S&P 500 added 32.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": a look back on mistakes made early in the U.S. response to the pandemic; a "Frontline' report from the Democratic Republic of Congo on vaccine equity; our Politics Monday team breaks down the president's decision to sign the COVID relief bill; and more.
The time-honored tradition of casting back on the past 12 months at the close of the year is a somber occasion this year.
The coronavirus pandemic brought untold hardship and suffering that, in one way or another, touched nearly every American in 2020 and millions more around the world.
"The New Yorker" magazine devoted nearly its entire current issue to the subject this week.
And in his piece, "The Plague Year," staff writer and award-winning author Lawrence Wright chronicles some of the principal events and people of the pandemic and the effort to contain it, and he points to three critical moments when he says events might have turned out differently.
Lawrence Wright, welcome back to the "NewsHour," and thanks for joining us.
Those three critical moments, those mistakes, as you called them in your piece, they are basically a U.S. team being denied entry to China early in the pandemic, the failure of the U.S. government to have a testing plan and flawed tests being sent, and then the failure to support mask use.
In your reporting, and everyone you talk to, how differently do you think things would be today if those three things had been done differently?
LAWRENCE WRIGHT, Staff Writer, "The New Yorker": Well, it still would have been a tragedy.
It has been for every country, really.
But the dimensions of the tragedy are so much greater in America than anywhere else.
We're really an outlier in the rest of the world.
And had we taken advantage of the opportunities we had from the very beginning, we would be in a lot better shape.
There would be many more Americans who would be alive now.
But starting with the very first thing, when Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, on January 3 called his counterpart in China, George Gao, Gao told him there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
And -- but the main thing was -- the big secret that we didn't understand was that this was a -- not like a flu.
This was something that spread mainly asymptomatically.
AMNA NAWAZ: The two other things you identified as mistakes were really strictly within the White House and the administration's control, and that was a failure to get out, real tests, flawed tests that they had sent out around the country, and then a failure to support mask use.
Now, you talked to a number of White House insiders, and what did they tell you about what led to those decisions and those failures?
What was happening inside the White House?
LAWRENCE WRIGHT: Well, it was a very divided White House.
And Matt Pottinger was the deputy national security adviser.
And he was the main advocate all along, even before the public health people got on board.
The Treasury and Office of Management and Budget, they were all frightened of doing anything that would disrupt the economy and so on.
But Matt was pushing for travel bans and for mask use.
And these were the two things that we could do before a vaccine arrived or any kind of real therapeutic.
Matt put on a mask.
He was the first person to put on a mask in the White House.
And he said it felt like wearing a clown nose.
And people gawked at him.
The president asked if he was sick.
And he said: No, I just want to not be the guy that goes down in history for knocking off the president with COVID-19.
AMNA NAWAZ: You chronicle in a number of different ways -- and it is striking to see how many of these antidotes there were over the last year -- the number of times that President Trump publicly downplayed the threat, said, masks are voluntary, and I don't think I'm going to be wearing one.
Is it fair, though, I wonder, because this is a once-in-a-century pandemic?
And a lot of people point the blame towards the White House and President Trump.
Is it fair to do that?
LAWRENCE WRIGHT: There are things that he should be given credit for.
I think Warp Speed was a great success.
Getting these vaccines out in record time, this is something that we should be thankful for, especially for the scientists who developed that.
And I think, also, we should give him credit for the travel bans, which were not part of the orthodoxy of public health at the time.
But I fault him on two things.
One was the politicization of our health institutions.
Essentially, the CDC and FDA became captive agencies of the propaganda wing of the Trump administration.
And the other thing that is - - really, you really have to lay at the feet of the president, there is no national plan, even to this day.
On March 11, I think it was, the president was in a conversation with the 50 U.S. governors, and he said, we will be standing behind you.
But then he explained what that meant.
If you want to get PPE, that sort of thing, do it yourself.
And, suddenly, the governors realized it wasn't a national pandemic.
There were 50 epidemics.
And they were totally unprepared for this.
AMNA NAWAZ: You do tell a number of very intimate narratives about people at every stage in every different part of this pandemic and how they were affected, including those front-line health care workers that we have heard so much about, who didn't have enough PPE, who remain on the front lines trying to save people's lives today.
What stood out to you from your conversations with them?
LAWRENCE WRIGHT: Oh, gosh, it's so touching, because, in the midst of this catastrophe that has taken such a toll on our country and our spirit, there have been a number of heroes.
And I was privileged to have the opportunity to write about -- start with the people that are on the front line in the health industry.
Ebony Hilton, a young black anesthesiologist in University of Virginia, who is advocating so strongly for ethnic -- better outcomes in ethnic disparities in health care.
It's hard for me to even begin, but Barney Graham was the one who developed the actual vaccine that we're now getting into our arms.
The vaccine that is both Pfizer and Moderna contain the same vital protein that was designed by Barney Graham at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
AMNA NAWAZ: Lawrence, it's really hard for many people to remember what the early weeks of 2020 were even like.
And you call your peace "The Plague Year," but it's fair to say we're still in it.
The virus isn't done with us yet.
LAWRENCE WRIGHT: Yes.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, after looking at all the many strands of this, the political, the social, the medical, and so on, what do you think we can learn from all of those things that tell us about what our next year could look like?
LAWRENCE WRIGHT: Well, I think this virus has been like an X-Ray on our society.
And it allows us to see all the broken places.
And it could be that now that we're so aware of them, we will do something to mend them.
Health care, for instance.
We're the only country in the world that separates clinical health care from public health.
And it's lunacy to separate them.
We should have a system that's unified.
We should have people being able to turn to get medical care as soon as they start showing any kind of symptoms at all that.
Also, I think a big part of what we have to fix is the disunity in our country.
And it's a sad commentary that something like this, which should have brought us together, only drove us further apart.
AMNA NAWAZ: There are big challenges ahead for us as a nation, for sure.
Lawrence Wright, your new piece, "The Plague Year," is the entirety of the latest edition of "The New Yorker."
Thank you so much for joining us today.
LAWRENCE WRIGHT: A pleasure.
Thank you very much.
AMNA NAWAZ: The development of COVID-19 vaccines is raising questions about their rollout across the world.
As the richest nations buy up the lion's share of doses, how and when will developing countries be able to vaccinate their populations?
Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo are now wrestling with that reality in a nation that's already endured recent epidemics.
Chris Ocamringa has more from Kinshasa.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: It's a typical private clinic on the outskirts of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Patients come here with all with types of ailments.
This schoolgirl is here for a fever, in the midst of a power blackout.
The doctor and health care workers here are used to making do with the little they have.
They also have a big need.
DR. CYPRIEN KATURISI, Owner, Saint Cyprien Health Centre (through translator): We have no medical supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here.
There's no disinfectant to sanitize the clinic or masks to give to our patients.
We are exposed to the disease.
The government should support us with some equipment.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: But the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Decades of conflict and corruption have blighted its health care system.
Even so, the DRC has learned how to win wars against epidemics.
A campaign to vaccinate 18 million children here helped the DRC overcome the world's largest measles epidemic in the last two years.
The government declared the end of an Ebola outbreak in a northwestern province last month.
That outbreak was the 11th to occur in the DRC since 1976.
The World Health Organization says vaccines and treatments played a role in fighting the outbreaks, as did the DRC's success in mobilizing health workers and educating the public.
The DRC is now trying to use that hard-won experience.
STEVE AHUKA, DRC COVID-19 Incident Manager: Our previous fightings on -- against infectious disease, not a lot not only Ebola, but measles, yellow fever and other epidemic diseases, helped us a lot to organize fighting on this pandemic crisis.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: But there's a long way to go.
When the pandemic broke out in March, many Congolese suspected the government made the announcement just to get funding from donors.
They ignored the health measures aimed at limiting its spread.
And the DRC is now experiencing a second wave of infections, with over 14,000 cases recorded.
And health authorities are eager to use COVID-19 vaccines.
STEVE AHUKA: There is a special group of scientists and public health specialists who are discussing on all those issues related to COVID-19.
But, definitely, I think our country is committed to use COVID-19 vaccination as a tool.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: But the government doesn't have the money to procure the vaccines.
Its health care system is grappling with other diseases like cholera, polio and monkeypox.
Even if it did have the funds, rich nations are stockpiling the world's most trusted vaccines, buying up doses that outnumber their populations.
That leaves most of Africa scrambling for options.
DR. JOHN NKENGASONG, Africa CDC Director: We have developed a strategy for the continent, which we call the whole-of-Africa strategy for -- to access vaccines in a timely, fair and equitable manner.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its director, Dr. John Nkengasong, are working with a global initiative known as COVAX to ensure that countries like the DRC get access to the COVID-19 vaccines and are not left behind.
But an internal investigation by the program's own promoters reportedly indicates it's struggling from a lack of fund and faces a high risk of failure, leaving billions of people without access to vaccines for years.
As the richer nations reserve more doses than they need of the U.S. and European-made vaccines, Africa may have little choice than to turn to the Russian or Chinese vaccines.
DR. JOHN NKENGASONG: Africa CDC is watching over all vaccines that are being trailed.
We are analyzing the results.
And only the most effective and efficacious vaccines will be allowed to be used on the continent of Africa.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: But it may be years before any of the vaccines are available for many Africans.
And though some African countries are already preparing to supply coolers for the COVID-19 vaccines across the continent, a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization found that only 40 percent of African countries are prepared to roll out a vaccine.
Poor infrastructure, frequent power outages, roads in disrepair, all will be challenges for the DRC when planning how to store and distribute the vaccines.
The DRC is among the countries that are not yet ready to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.
Health experts here say they are still discussing the modalities of introducing and distributing a vaccine that will suitable for their environment.
And though the African CDC has promised not to leave them out, African nations do not know when or how many doses of the vaccines will be available to them.
The incident manager of the DRC's COVID-19 pandemic team told us they have no idea yet when a final decision will be made.
And when the DRC government does get the vaccines in hand, it will face resistance from some Congolese citizens in the rollout.
GILEAD NSAKALA, Resident of Kinshasa (through translator): I'm not sure about what was used in making that COVID-19 vaccine by foreigners.
I won't accept it if they bring it here.
Congo has a lot of plants with medicinal properties that can cure that disease.
MONICA TSHILANDA, Kinshasa Resident (through translator): I won't accept any vaccine because I know Jesus is much bigger than any medication.
He has kept me alive for so long.
And only he will decide when I die.
I'm not worried about COVID-19.
FAUSTIN TALAMAKU, Kinshasa Resident (through translator): If that vaccine will really save lives, then it's OK for our leaders to approve it and start vaccinating people.
CHRIS OCAMRINGA: The epicenter of the DRC's COVID-19 pandemic is in the capital, Kinshasa, home to 12 million people.
The vast majority have to hit the streets daily to put food on the table.
The lockdown restrictions imposed by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year had a devastating impact on their lives.
It will take a lot of convincing from the government for the population to turn up in large numbers to get vaccinated once it's approved.
But it's the key to solving the crisis here, a nightmare many are longing to wake up from.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Chris Ocamringa in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, today is the last Monday of 2020.
Here to break down the week's political news, from the COVID relief bill to the Georgia Senate races, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and host of public radio's "Politics With Amy Walter," and Errin Haines of The 19th News.
Tamara Keith is away.
Welcome to you both.
Congratulations for making it to the final Politics Monday of 2020.
Let's jump right in and talk about this latest bit of chaos in the COVID relief bill.
Amy, we heard the reporting earlier today, of course.
The president has been involved, the White House has been involved in these negotiations for months.
The president stepped in at the last minute with some last-minute demands.
And, as Anna Palmer reported earlier, it doesn't look like he is any of those rescissions or the cuts he's looking for.
What was accomplished in all of this?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, it looks as if right now, at least, the House was able to pass the $2,000 bill.
The question now becomes what happens in the Senate, where it is the Republicans in charge, not Democrats, like in the House, where it's Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
But the bigger point, Amna, I think, you're right, is this.
It wasn't really about policy, as much, I think, is it was about branding and messaging.
Donald Trump's message from the very beginning of his time as a candidate to the end of his presidency has been about, I'm the only one who can fix this, I alone can do this, that everything else is sort of rigged against me.
He talks, of course, a lot about the fact - - unfounded -- that the election was rigged against him, that the media is rigged against him.
In this case, it's Congress, right?
He wants to keep making the claim that Washington is so dysfunctional, they can't help you, I can help you.
And so he will leave not necessarily with getting an accomplishment, a policy accomplishment, but he has his message that he's going to continue to put forward for the foreseeable future, which is to continue to destabilize an already dysfunctional Washington and to make that where he spends so much of his time in the next few -- well, we don't know how long he's going to keep doing this.
But it's certainly the way he sees coming back into the conversation post-presidency.
AMNA NAWAZ: It's one of the many things we do not know in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Errin, what do you make of all this?
I mean, you look at these last few days.
What does President Trump get out of this?
ERRIN HAINES, Editor at Large, The 19th News: Amna, just like Amy said, I mean, that is definitely unclear.
This kind of game of will he or won't he has refocused the press' attention him, as we haven't seen or heard very much from the president, except for him to continue to assert that he won the election.
In fact, we know that he lost, and, in 22 days, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president, Kamala Harris will be sworn in as vice president.
And he just resurfaces to continue to assert that he does not accept the results of the election, that he's challenging those results.
This is a problem, particularly in Georgia, in these consequential Senate run-offs that are going to decide the balance of power in that chamber.
And you have two incumbent senators that are on the ropes because of a president who is raising the specter of both a rigged election and really making pandemic relief so difficult for so many of the Georgia voters, for whom the reality of the pandemic, both from a public health and an economic standpoint, is very front and center for them, especially over these holidays, as benefits are expiring.
And they are seeing the real-life stakes of policy and legislation in their lives and wondering why Congress is not responsive and why the president has been playing politics with real life-and-death issues for so many Americans.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, Amy, what about that?
What about Georgia?
I mean, we know President Trump has said in a recent tweet he plans on heading down there.
He said that he's going to be going on behalf of two great senators, as he says, Senator David Pervue -- Perdue, rather, and Senator Loeffler.
He's going to go on Monday night, January the 4th, for a big and wonderful rally, he says, all caps.
But what kind of position did the president put his own party, with these last-minute demands by demanding that the stimulus payments are increased from $600 to $2,000?
We don't know what the future of that will be in the Senate.
But we know the Democratic challengers in Georgia are already calling on Perdue and Loeffler to back that $2,000 increase.
Has this become sort of a loyalty test for Republicans.
AMY WALTER: Right?
Well, we have seen in the House that many of those Republicans voted against this $2,000 bill.
It looks like about 44 Republicans ultimately voted for it.
So, in that sense, this is one place where Congress did not vote in lockstep with the desires of the president, in large part because they know how challenging this will be for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in their Senate race.
But it goes back to what I said sort of at the beginning here, Amna, which is, it's never for Donald Trump about what he can do to help his party.
It's much more about helping his brand.
And his brand is disruption.
And his brand is sowing discontent and undermining much of what happens in Washington.
And so I think what we're going to see, the good news, if you are Loeffler, Perdue, is the fact that a bill was signed, there will be money going out to people who need it.
The government will not shut down.
That's also pretty good news, if you're campaigning as a Republican, and it's your -- the president of your party who has made that shutdown happen.
And the next question, of course, becomes how does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deal with this new wrinkle, which is, does he make his senators vote on something that many of them do not want to do?
There are ways that he could slow-walk this.
We will see if President Trump really puts the pressure on McConnell and his Republican colleagues in the Senate.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, Errin, as I mentioned, it is the last Monday of 2020.
We have an outgoing president who is still very much pushing the bounds of orthodoxy, right, courting controversy in these final weeks of his presidency with who he pardons, with the way he deals with Congress, insisting, as you mentioned, that the election was rigged and trying to overturn the results.
Errin, at this moment, how are you looking at these final weeks of the Trump presidency when it comes to the totality of his time in office?
ERRIN HAINES: Well, Amna, I think that what we have seen is a president who, for him, has acted presidential in these past four years.
This is presidential for Donald Trump.
He certainly redefined the presidency as we know it in these past four years.
And I think that, as we look at the last 22 days of his presidency, what we are seeing is a president who is finishing much as he started.
He came into office raising the specter of the integrity of our election system in his own victory.
And then in his final year of being president, his response to both the pandemic and the systemic inequality that was here even before COVID-19, but was laid bare in this pandemic, he was not responsive to either of those things.
We do not hear very much from him now on either of those things.
He prefers, even in signing pandemic relief, to continue to talk about voter fraud.
That was in his memo before he signed that bill.
He's headed to Georgia, as you mentioned, allegedly on the eve of the election.
The last time that he was in Georgia for an election rally, he was again talking about a rigged election, even as he was asking Georgia Republicans to cast their ballot for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
So, I think that what we are seeing is really just a full circle moment for this president.
This -- his legacy is -- the final chapter of his legacy is being written now.
And, frankly, it has been, if nothing else, consistent with what we have seen since 2017.
AMNA NAWAZ: Amy, Errin mentions the word legacy.
These are those weeks in a presidency that usually end up solidifying a legacy for the administration.
How are you viewing these last few weeks of the Trump presidency?
AMY WALTER: Yes, I think that what Errin laid out is pretty -- pretty much right on the mark, which is, he's leaving as he came in, that the system is still broken, that there were forces that conspired against him, that only he can fix this, and sort of setting himself up for two things, either to be a 2024 candidate for president or to be a kingmaker.
He could do both.
But I think we're going to see, at least in these next couple of months, the role he plays as the face of the Republican Party and the one who can make or break candidates.
And that's where he is most comfortable, not necessarily in pursuing policy, but in pursuing the message that the system itself remains broken, and people should continue to be upset at it.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Amy Walter and Errin Haines on this, the last Politics Monday of 2020.
Always good to talk to you both.
Thanks for your time.
AMY WALTER: You're welcome.
ERRIN HAINES: Happy new year, Amna.
AMNA NAWAZ: The pandemic shut down theaters across the country, but some independent theaters could get help from the new COVID relief bill, which includes $15 billion grants for certain cultural institutions.
Even though most theaters remain closed, a consistent lockdown conversation starter has been, so, what are you watching?
While we're apart and as we cope in this year that's unlike any other, shows and movies have offered us some kind of shared experience.
Two critics help Jeffrey Brown look at some of the shows and movies helping us to get through it all.
It's part of our ongoing arts and culture series, Canvas.
JEFFREY BROWN: The cineplex was closed, but, more and more, the world of entertainment streamed into our homes.
Lorraine Ali is a television critic at The Los Angeles Times.
LORRAINE ALI, The Los Angeles Times: Overall, what stands out the most is television.
Thankfully, we had it, because we didn't have phones, we didn't have theater, we didn't have music concerts.
JEFFREY BROWN: What we did have, attention-getting shows like "The Queen's Gambit."
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY, Actress: Chess can also be beautiful.
JEFFREY BROWN: "The Crown," Hulu's adaptation of "Little Fires Everywhere."
ACTOR: Someone burned down your house with you inside.
JEFFREY BROWN: And there were also new platforms presenting shows.
LORRAINE ALI: I think streaming is the model now.
And I think the question this year was, we have so many more streamers coming in.
Will Netflix be knocked off its throne?
No, that didn't happen.
But we did see Apple TV+ come in.
We did see Disney+ come in with "The Mandalorian" and big things like that.
Now you have HBO in on the game and Peacock.
So, it -- streaming is it.
JEFFREY BROWN: What about your personal list of favorites?
LORRAINE ALI: Best picks, "Never Have I Ever," which was also unexpected, but I loved it.
ACTOR: You're a weird girl.
Yes, I am.
LORRAINE ALI: I think the whole immigrant aspect to it, you don't see enough of that on television.
ACTRESS: Buckle up for some steamy teen romance.
LORRAINE ALI: "I May Destroy You," which is a British series that was on HBO, it is a drama, millennial drama.
You could almost say it was a little hipstery.
But then it just dealt with sexual assault and the aftermath of that, and also with gender identity and race.
And it's just brilliant.
It was really well done.
Switching gears totally was a series called "Upload" on Amazon.
And it was essentially an afterlife comedy about, when you die, you can have your soul uploaded or essentially your consciousness uploaded into a cloud, where the living can talk to you.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the meantime, big budget movie releases like "Top Gun: Maverick" and "James Bond"'s No Time to Die" were delayed throughout the year.
"Tenet" eventually was released in theaters.
But other films came out on streaming platforms, further blurring the lines between the big and small screens.
And earlier this month, Warner Brothers took the next step, announcing that all its 2021 films will be released on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously, including the highly anticipated "Wonder Woman 1984" and "Dune."
The movement plenty of resistance.
ANN HORNADAY, The Washington Post: In some quarters, that is seen as a fatal blow to theaters.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ann Hornaday is a film critic at "The Washington Post."
ANN HORNADAY: That tells me that visual storytelling is alive and as crucial as ever.
And I really do think that we will have pent-up demand to get out of the house and go back to theaters as soon as it's safe.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, give me so give me a few of your top picks, Ann.
ANN HORNADAY: Well, my top pick is actually kind of representative of this year, because it's not just one movie.
It's five that are being shown on Amazon.
It's called "Small Axe."
It's an anthology of these films by Steve McQueen, each of which deals with the West Indian community in London in the '60s, '70s and '80s, often dealing with real-life situations of police brutality and inequality, but also portraits of great joy and resilience.
ACTOR: I have met hundreds of people out here.
And they don't ever say a final goodbye.
ANN HORNADAY: My number two is a terrific movie called "Nomadland" starring Frances McDormand in an indomitable role.
She just is flinty and funny.
And she's a real survivor in this movie about a woman who goes on the road, some kind of an itinerant 21st century worker, beautifully directed by Chloe Zhao.
And then my number three is called "First Cow."
This was the last movie I saw in a proper theater.
It's a movie by "Kelly Reichardt."
It takes place in the 19th century in the Pacific Northwest, dealing with kind of the great Western Expansion, the definition of what it means to be an American.
JEFFREY BROWN: Hollywood also faced a renewed reckoning in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the protests for social and racial justice.
This summer, the Oscars announced new rules for eligibility surrounding diversity and inclusion.
ANN HORNADAY: Lip service has been paid in the past, but I think, actually, people are more serious, to which these new rules at the academy about best picture attest.
I think people are now -- they got it.
They're getting it.
But it's even more important to then do something about it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Some films this year, Hornaday says, offered hope of what could be.
ANN HORNADAY: Uncannily, I feel that the movies provided this really fascinating and, I think, restorative counternarrative to what we were seeing in terms of the assaults on Black bodies with the COVID-19 epidemic and the disproportionate effect of that on people of color.
There's these -- were these multivalence portraits of Black life that got to trauma, yes, pain, suffering, yes, but also joy, sensuality, the full spectrum of experience.
And so I was really heartened by that JEFFREY BROWN: What's next for TV, movies and our viewing habits?
Both Ali and Hornaday see continuing evolution, but also some things that won't change.
LORRAINE ALI: Now that line is blurring, and that line, I think, is going to blur even more as we move forward.
Everything's been on what you would think of as a television screen or your streaming scheme.
Or however you watched television, that's how you're watching films now.
ANN HORNADAY: That is the question.
Did it change it forever?
It certainly changed the economic model for now.
But I do think people have an enduring and continual need to want to get out of the house and do something, including going to a movie.
It's just a time-honored ritual.
I wouldn't underplay theaters quite yet or write their obituaries yet.
JEFFREY BROWN: On one screen or another, we will be watching.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown.
AMNA NAWAZ: And on the "PBS NewsHour" online: In a year of multiple crises, many of us turned to music to help get through it.
We have been asking artists what songs helped them survive 2020, and dozens of you have shared your own picks too.
We have put all those songs into one powerful playlist something to keep handy whenever you need a moment of joy or inspiration or reflection.
You can find it at PBS.org/NewsHour.
And while you're there, you can still add to our growing collection by leaving a comment.
All that and more on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Amna Nawaz.
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.