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Vaccine Inequity; Interview With U.S. Special Envoy For Climate Change John Kerry; Interview with Representative James Talarico. Aired 1-2p ET.
Aired July 21, 2021 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: We need to provide action, and we need to do it now, because time is running out.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Torrential rain in China, raging wildfires in North America and Russia, cataclysmic floods in Europe. I ask the U.S.
presidential climate envoy, John Kerry, what needs to happen right now to reverse climate change and environmentalist Katharine Wilkinson about how
to change reluctant hearts and minds.
Then: victims of vaccine inequity. Kenyan reporter Larry Madowo on the price paid by his family for being born in the wrong place.
And Michel Martin speaks to James Talarico, a runaway Texas Democrat fighting to protect voting rights.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Politics and in many cases the profit motive are failing in our climate crisis. That is the message from U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry, as
the world is pounded by fires, floods, brutal heat and cataclysmic storms.
In China, a year's worth of rain fell in three days. Terrified subway passengers grasped through the ceiling inside flooded cars, trapped up to
their necks in rising water, as record-breaking rains devastated parts of Henan Province.
Meanwhile, in Oregon, British Columbia and Siberia, monster fires rip through tinderbox forests.
Kerry, looking ahead to the upcoming COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow, says that, in about 100 days, we can actually save the next 100 years. But how
many more meetings will it take before measurable, meaningful change actually happens?
In a moment, I will talk to John Kerry about the fierce urgency of now.
But, first, correspondent Bill Weir looks at intense weather devastation across our overheated world.
BILL WEIR, CNN CLIMATE CHANGE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is becoming more obvious by the year, as humanity overheats Earth at a terrifying rate,
our planet's atmosphere now holds way too much water in some places, not nearly enough in others.
And from the U.S. to Europe, corners of the so-called First World are getting their first taste of what fossil-fueled wealth could ultimately
There are so many fires burning out West, there's now a fuel shortage for the planes used to fight them. And there's so much dry vegetation to burn,
in part because of the mega-drought now covering over 90 percent of the American West. Scientists estimate it will take 10 rainy years to refill
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just really a bad time to be a Christmas tree farmer. It's probably the worst year we've ever had.
WEIR: But while people from San Diego to Siberia have been praying for rain, Western Europe spent the week praying for it to stop. Parts of
Belgium, Austria and Germany are reeling under standing water and mud, after some of the worst flash floods in memory.
"It is horrendous," Angela Merkel said, after touring towns and lives crushed by walls of water.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The German language doesn't really have words for this devastation.
WEIR: When the E.U. released its ambitious climate plan last week, many saw Germany's entrenched manufacturing base as a block to progress. But
now, as elections near, politicians from the chancellor on down are calling for climate action.
But what will it take to move American politicians in ways that climate marches and strikes have not? Sadly, the data tells us we are about to find
RUSSELL VOSE, U.S. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: The last seven years have been the warmest on record, and they really stand out
from the record that preceded it. In fact, to me, when I look at them, it almost hints that a bit of an acceleration in the rate of warming we're
WEIR (on camera): That's horrifying. And is it safe to say, then, to flip it, in a more alarming way, these were the coldest seven years for the rest
of our lives?
VOSE: Well, that's an interesting question. My line of (AUDIO GAP) is not so much making predictions. We tend to look back. And -- but having said
that, I don't expect, 10 years from now, that will be cooler than we are today.
If you're a betting person, it's probably a safe bet to assume will be warmer in the future, barring, say, some major volcanic eruption.
WEIR (voice-over): Which means that, in addition to stopping the source of the problem to avoid cascading pain, we must brace for the pain that is
already on the way.
AMANPOUR: Bill Weir laying out the facts, the figures and the high stakes, which I then put, of course, to John Kerry from Rome.
He was heading to Naples to meet with G20 environment ministers there.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Kerry, thank you for joining us on the program.
We have just seen these awful pictures from China, the subways flooded in some areas, and people up to their necks literally in water. It's
terrifying. Your reaction to that, in the context of what you're trying to achieve, and what you hope China, as the biggest polluter, might be
motivated to do?
KERRY: Well, my reaction to that is horror, as I think it is for everybody in the world, but not just there. In Germany, Belgium, in the United
States, in California, and fires, people all around the planet are beginning to feel the impacts that were predicted years ago by the
So there's no surprise in this. But it's a -- it right now, hopefully, will create an urgency, a level of engagement that nations need to provide in
order to get the job done. We are not getting enough done. We have to raise ambition in terms of our reduction of emissions, in our efforts to try to
hold the temperature increase of the Earth to a low enough level, which is 1.5, or as close as we can get to that.
And China is doing a lot, actually. I mean, China has already -- it's one of the -- it's the largest producer of solar panels, one of the largest
deployers of alternative renewable energy. But -- and there is a but -- but China is still using coal-fired power plants and planning to bring more
And it's increases in emissions threaten the success and progress of a lot of other countries that are currently trying to hold the Earth's
temperature down. So, we hope China will join us in this effort. China is a partner. China was a partner in Paris. We really are looking forward to
working with China to have a partnership that does what we need to do as we go to Glasgow.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, then, because you mention the other countries.
And, actually, I know you say it's predicted and it's not a surprise, but a lot of people were surprised. People don't look at Oregon, which is -- has
rain and cold temperatures, as an inferno, and the others you mentioned. Look at Germany. More than 100 people died in Europe in these terrible,
The fact that this is now manifest on a daily, life-affecting way in rich countries, do you think that that will change the impetus for the policies
required? Because its policies. It's not just recycling plastic bags. It's policies by government that are required.
Will it add impetus, do you think, or not?
KERRY: Yes, I believe it will, no question about it.
But most of those countries have already adopted pretty aggressive plans for reducing emissions. But, hopefully, it will create the extra urgency to
embrace even higher ambition as we head towards this U.N. conference in Glasgow.
Why? Because we're not getting the job done, obviously. And we need to significantly accelerate. The next decade, Christiane, the 10 years of 2020
to 2030, is the decisive decade for our implementing decisions that avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
And I hope -- nobody wishes for what is happening now. The dome, the heat dome, that Oregon and other states experienced was a once-in-1-000 years
event, allegedly, but scientists will tell you it happened because of climate change and crisis. So we clearly need to get ahead of this and we
have an opportunity to do so in these next months.
AMANPOUR: So, you have said a decade, less than a decade, some nine years, are left to fix this.
Here in the U.K., they have just for the first time ever instituted an extreme heat sort of emergency, extreme heat warning here. And, again,
countries that you say are doing well and are trying and they're putting climate at the heart of all their Build Back Better out of the pandemic,
even Europe, which is talking about no gas or diesel cars by -- I think it's by 2035 and stopping the sale of them, it requires industries to pay
for those emissions.
And that may get -- all of that might get bogged down inside and outside Europe. Even the United States of America has problems in these massive,
turn-the-ship-of-state methods that are required. Where do you see the hope to finally get that actually turned?
KERRY: Well, nobody -- nobody will deny that it's difficult, and it's hard to turn that ship of state, but it's doable.
And it is imperative that we do it because the crisis is legitimately existential, as people have been saying. And you can't talk about it being
existential or believe that it is, and then not do the things necessary to respond to that reality.
And so I believe that this is a huge opportunity, actually, for all of us economically. In the new technologies that we need to discover, not just
discover, but bring to scale, and to commercial scale and get out there in the marketplace, there are a huge number of jobs to be created.
The private sector is already realizing this, and there are now trillions of dollars that are dedicated over the next 10 years to begin to move into
that investment. I think economies around the world are going to recognize this is the future, and as the private sector moves, because it is both
imperative in terms of sustaining their businesses and their products and so forth, but also, because the future is going to be determined by that.
So we have a big task ahead of us, but it is doable.
Yesterday, when I spoke in London, I talked about the sort of efforts of a World War II, for instance, or an example of what happens when countries
can come together when it is truly treated as existential and people pull together. We have to do that on a global basis now.
We need China and Russia and India and the United States and Europe and all of these entities to come together and leverage even faster initiatives
that can address this, because we're -- we're not on a track. Even if we did everything that we promised to do, all of us, in Paris, we still would
have a rise in the Earth's temperature that is unacceptable, somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 degrees.
That's catastrophic. So, we obviously have to accelerate. And the Paris agreement contemplated that countries would come together several years
down the road and make a judgment about where we are and then raise ambition.
So, Glasgow is definitively about raising ambition. And if we do that, we can, I think, have unbelievably positive outcomes that help people have a
better quality of life, less particulates in the air, less cancer, less disease, less complications of COVID, more -- cleaner air in our cities,
less impact on the oceans, negative, with the rising acidity and the warming of the ocean; 90 percent of the heat goes into the ocean.
That's changing the ocean. So, we're really playing with fire. And I don't mean to -- no pun intended, obviously.
AMANPOUR: And we're going to dig down a little bit afterwards in why this message isn't getting through to people, because, clearly, what you're
saying is absolutely in what we're witnessing, and yet human beings are not quite doing the adaptation they need to.
But, finally, I want to ask you this. Yesterday, Jeff Bezos became the second billionaire to head out to the frontiers of space. And when he came
back, like many who have been to space, he described how beautiful our planet is, how fragile it is, how must we all take care of it.
But he also said something kind of interesting, or maybe alarming. He thought we should outsource our garbage and our pollution perhaps into
Let me just play for you what he said to Anderson Cooper after he touched down yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: What we need to do is build a road to space, so that future generations can take all heavy industry and polluting
industry on Earth and move it up into space, so that we can keep this gem of a planet as it is, instead of ruining it, which, unfortunately, we might
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Secretary Kerry, your reaction to that?
I mean, after all, we do outsource garbage and landfills to places like China. But putting it into space, is that the solution?
KERRY: Well, first of all, China doesn't take our waste anymore. That is over.
KERRY: And people are now talking about -- people are thinking about much more creative ways of managing our refuse, our -- the detritus of our
We're finding better ways to manage that here on Earth and create a circular economy, where we're using products that have already had one kind
of use, and then we put them to a different kind of use and we recycle. And I think that's where most people are moving.
We also -- look, we don't litter our roads. We have all kinds of rules against -- laws against littering. Why would we want to litter the road to
space? In my judgment, that would be a mistake.
I think we need to create the circular economy. And I think Jeff Bezos is to be thanked for having embraced a very and created a very significant
fund that is going to be dedicated to helping to do that here. So I think most people are looking to the ways that we can actually live sustainably.
And that's something that is pretty far from our grasp right now, but it's a hell of a good principle around which to organize our economies and our
AMANPOUR: All right, Secretary Kerry, America's climate envoy, thank you so much for joining us.
KERRY: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, again, why is it so hard to talk about climate in a way that actually drives real change?
Katharine Wilkinson is an environmentalist and an educator. She is called one of the 15 women who will save the world. That was from "TIME" magazine.
And she is co-editor of "All We Can Save." It's an anthology of women's writing on the climate crisis. She joins me now from New York.
Katharine Wilkinson, welcome. Welcome to the program.
You know, you heard me ask Secretary Kerry how to get the stories across. You heard all his policies and facts and figures that make eminent sense.
But you say we have to reach people's hearts and connect the dots for them.
Tell me what that means.
KATHARINE WILKINSON, CO-EDITOR,"ALL WE CAN SAVE": Absolutely.
So, I think the first thing to note, Christiane, is that, most of the time, the climate silence is deafening, right? We know that this is true in day-
to-day conversation. People are not talking about this with their friends and family. We have had way too much silence from the media.
And, often, as you're suggesting, when climate has been communicated, it's coming through couched in the language of science and policy, and we're not
speaking to people's values and beliefs, right? We understand this with so many other topics. We have to tell human stories that reach not just our
heads, but our hearts, and quite literally bring it home for people.
When we start with the things that people already care about, and connect the dots to those things, we are welcoming people in, rather than expecting
them to have a Ph.D. in climate science before they can join the conversation.
AMANPOUR: So, can you give me, Katharine, a bit of an example?
Because, again, Secretary Kerry and many economists rightly point out that this is the future economy of the world. This is what's going to really
drive the world, this technology that will help in our climate crisis.
And yet people seem not to still want to want to take notice of that, as we have seen in the hostility, not just hesitancy, over vaccines, the ongoing
hostility about the idea of science and climate.
Give me a few examples of reaching the heart, and how you have seen that it might have made a difference, even on a small level.
Well, I think when we're talking about reaching people's hearts, it's worth remembering that the messenger is just as important as the message. And
when we take a step back and look at whose voices are we hearing on the climate crisis, the data tells us that we are mostly, we meaning the
public, are mostly hearing from white men.
And we absolutely need them on the team. But when we look at polling data, it's actually people of color and women who are the most concerned about
climate change and ready to engage. They're also disproportionately affected by climate impacts.
So, we have got a mismatch. And I think, when we look at something like the anthology that I co-edited with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, we
deliberately created a kaleidoscopic approach, 41 women climate leaders, essays from them, but we also incorporated art and poetry, so that we're
reaching people through different mediums.
We're also seeing this increasingly through climate podcasts, telling narrative articulations of where we are on climate, why we're in the mess
we're in, and what we can do going forward.
"How to Save a Planet" is a great example, the podcast I co-host with Dr. Leah Stokes,"A Matter of Degrees." These are all efforts to not leave the
science and policy behind, but wrap them in a way that people can get their heads around and ultimately feel moved to action.
AMANPOUR: So, we have seen, and, certainly, we have covered on this program how women are transformative in many, many conflict resolution
situations in just war and peace, for instance.
And this is a conflict resolution situation that we're talking about.
I want to dig down a little bit about this, because you're right. Most of the voices we hear are a particular kind of voice and a particular kind of
But you have written a lot, as you have said. We know that, for instance in Germany, the leading candidate, certainly the -- to replace Angela Merkel,
one of them is the leader of the Green Party. We have known about Greta Thunberg, obviously, for all these years, many, many women.
You mentioned, a woman called Eunice Newton Foote I'm not sure whether many Americans know. She was apparently the first person to recognize carbon
dioxide's heating effect. That was back in 1856. But she's a hidden figure. Or at least she's become that.
How do you tell those stories? And what actually have you noticed when women get involved on this issue?
It's not just sort of a sounds nice, right, that women should be at the table and leading. What we actually see is a growing body of research that
tells us this is a really critical strategy for how we win, because we see that, at a national level, when women have higher political, social,
economic status, that correlates with lower emissions.
We see that when women are president in shaping environmental policy, the outcomes are more effective. Countries -- parliaments -- excuse me -- are
more likely to ratify environmental treaties. This is really a strategy, women's leadership, to get to the outcomes that we need.
And the same thing is true when we think about the leadership of people of color. We have had -- what Jeff Bezos, to me, was saying in his comment is,
let's just make all of space a sacrifice zone. Well, we know that making certain places sacrifice zones have meant that communities of color have
suffered disproportionately from the extractiveness and the pollution of the fossil fuel economy.
We cannot keep going forward like that. And so we need to be thinking about, who are we hearing from when we hear what is and isn't a solution,
who does and doesn't benefit from that solution, and how do we move things forward?
So this is really critical, and people may not have heard of Eunice Newton Foote. She is someone who did really groundbreaking research in the middle
of the 1800s. We don't even have a photograph of her. But we celebrate other men who were doing similar research in that era as founders of
And we can't continue to make those mistakes. She was trying to tell us what was possible.
AMANPOUR: And then, to our responsibility, certainly, mine and my colleagues as journalists, many journalists are caught in this -- you have
to sort of do the plausible deniability. At least that's what they thought.
Now many, many news organizations are taking it super seriously, calling it what it is, just going with the science and not entertaining the denial.
But just this week, there was -- we have had terrible weather in Europe. And on the television here, we had the descriptions of what was going on.
And a climate scientist said the following.
He said, instead of reporters saying often some cataclysmic climate event, linking any one event to climate change is complicated, this scientist
says,"We should say we know climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, and single events are made worse by global
How much do you think the way we speak on our massive and important platforms could make a difference and shift the dial?
WILKINSON: I think it could make an incredible difference.
And we actually know this from research that was comparing a decade, two decades ago the difference between U.S. and U.K. media coverage, for
example, some research done by Max Boykoff.
We have to be drawing the connection between extreme weather events and the climate crisis. But we also need to take that one step further and draw the
connection to what is causing the climate crisis and, specifically, the fossil fuel economy, because so often what people are hearing is, well,
climate change is something that is happening.
Well, climate change, there's accountability and responsibility in the mess that we're in. The fossil fuel industry has had agency in causing the
crisis and in preventing incredible solutions already in our toolbox from moving forward at the scale and the speed that is required.
So, we need to be connecting extreme weather to the climate crisis and to the causes of that crisis, as well as pointing to solutions. Our economy
has to transform. So we need to be lifting up things like a federal clean electricity standard for the United States, a civilian climate corps,
really incredible policy solutions that are on the table today that could help us make investments at the scale of the crisis and take bold action
AMANPOUR: So, that, it absolutely makes sense. And then the other side will say, well, look, businesspeople are businesspeople, the bottom line is
the bottom line, and, as you say, so much investment is happening right now still into fossil fuels.
So, how about the political aspect of this? Pew Research says 87 percent of Democrats said that reducing the effects of climate change needs to be
prioritized. But, among Republicans, that number is just 36 percent. Of course, we know the Republicans weren't all like that all the time. Go back
to Nixon, go back to Teddy Roosevelt.
These were people who cared about our environment. So what's shifted, kind of, but are things shifting back? Do you notice any change, even in the
conservative community, who you have written about?
WILKINSON: That's right. I looked at this for my Ph.D. research and published a book called "Between God & Green," specifically looking at how
the lens and the framing of religion could be a potentially helpful tool for us.
I think the thing to remember is that we didn't just end up in this sort of partisan divide around climate in the United States. There was a decades-
long, still going, very savvy, well-funded misinformation campaign that specifically targeted conservative white men.
Nonetheless, I do think we are starting to see climate truth begin to win the battle of public opinion. We're not there yet. But the latest polling
from Yale tells us that seven in 10 Americans think that global warming is happening.
The majority understand that it's human-caused. The folks who are sure that global warming is not happening are now in the single digits and getting
smaller by the day. So I think it's really important to communicate to the public that the climate majority is real, it is growing. That's a story
that we need to hear.
But I also think that media companies have some responsibility in breaking up the greenwashing and propaganda that we are still getting from the
fossil fuel industry. We're seeing way too many commercials aired on news channels that are confusing the public and sort of meddling the very truth
that media and newsrooms are trying to convey to the public.
So, if we stop getting oxygen--
AMANPOUR: Then let me -- yes, yes, sorry. I hear you, stop giving oxygen to that kind of stuff.
But I want to follow up, because, as you have probably read, the Murdoch operation wants to start a weather channel. That's obviously bottom line.
They see that weather is very profitable. News is somewhat going down.
But what do you think? Are you worried that Murdoch might do to climate and the confusion and the denial what he's done to politics and the populism
and the denial of the election and all the other stuff? Or, or could it be a vehicle to actually shift this debate right where it's needed?
WILKINSON: Well, I am concerned about it.
I think that it is potentially a Hail Mary, knowing that they are losing the battle of public opinion this topic, but it's a dangerous Hail Mary,
because people do really trust meteorologists. They really trust the people who communicate the weather.
And we have actually seen outlets like The Weather Channel be quite a good communicator of climate science. So I think there's real concern about
furthering misinformation and confusing folks. Maybe I will be proven wrong, but I am -- I'm not hopeful about this news.
AMANPOUR: Well, we will keep watching.
Katharine Wilkinson, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
Now, just as we mentioned denial and profit motive can stall climate action, it can also be a matter of life and death during this pandemic.
My next guest highlights the tragedy of vaccine inequity. He's reporter Larry Madowo. And he has shocking and deeply personal experience about his
home country, Kenya, where just 1.1 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, compared to almost 50 percent in the United States, where
he was working and where he got vaccinated.
Larry is joining us now from Nairobi.
Welcome to the program.
You have such a sad and dramatic story, but it's one that is affecting so much of the world. Tell me what happened to your grandfather in Kenya,
where you are now.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Christiane, this is something that is not unique to me. And since I wrote this piece on CNN.com, I have heard
from so many other people across Africa who share a similar story.
My uncle died about five, six weeks ago now, and I heard about his death just as I was coming from filming a piece for CNN in Uganda, in the
capital, Kampala. And that was an overwhelmed ICU.
And my uncle didn't have a chance to get vaccinated. And so, within few days, he was on oxygen and then gone, I think, within three, four days. And
the same week that he died, my grandmother who is about 96 was put on a ventilator. We are giving her artificial oxygen so she can keep breathing
because she cannot breathe on her own.
And the difference is that for me, I was living in the United States, all I needed to do to get vaccinated back in April was walk into a CVS, a
drugstore, and get a vaccine and there were so many more appointments available at Walgreens and the D.C. Health Department e-mail to say you can
now book an appointment, anybody over the age of 12 in the U.S. can get vaccinated. Well, my grandma was 96. She had no access to vaccine.
In Kenya only 1.1 percent of people, like you mentioned, are vaccinated and the reality of that is that people like my grandmother might die because of
this unequal world where kids in the west can get vaccinated and older vulnerable people in this part of the world have no access to this
AMANPOUR: Yes. I'm sorry. It was your uncle and now, your grandmother is in grave danger. I want to ask you about what the head of your W.H.O. has
called basically a moral catastrophe and moral catastrophic failure. You have talked about and wrote in this powerful piece, when you meet people in
Africa, they are baffled by what we keep reporting about.
The vaccine hostility. The resistance to going to get the vaccines. And you have said, some Americans are even getting bribed with beer, doughnuts or
cash to get COVID-19 shots when many Africans would happily take them for free if they were available. While the world's wealthiest appear to be
entering a post-pandemic, the rest of us in the Global South are still in the throes of a devastating crisis with no way out for the foreseeable
How do you see it, as a reporter, and what you are witnessing, you know, playing out? How do you see, you know, the situation coming to a head or so
in Africa and elsewhere in the poorer part of the world?
MADOWO: The uncomfortably situation for me, Christiane, is that I'm a reporter. I reporter facts here on CNN. I don't give opinions. And yet, the
truth here, and you say it is about facts and not neutrality. The truth here is that there is an equal world where poorer countries like many of
the countries that I reported in Africa just don't have access to vaccines.
And even when they follow the World Health Organization guidelines like social distancing and masking like Rwanda has done, it's got one of the
strictest rules about making sure you wear a mask and socially distancing and restrictions on gatherings, they are still right now in a new lockdown
because they were just overrun by cases.
The Delta variant is 60 percent of the cases they are seeing there and they have got -- they had to, again, introduce new lockdown. And so many people
that I've reported on know this firsthand. Not just my family but also many of the people I've been hearing from. People across the continent. South
Sudan next door, the world's youngest nation, has completely run out of vaccines. They've shut down the program because they don't know when they
will be getting new vaccines. In Uganda, they are back end of another lockdown. Tunisia's health care system, Christiane, has collapsed entirely.
AMANPOUR: I actually want to play a little clip from your piece from Uganda and just to say also that last week, the World Health Organization
regionally said that the cases have increased by 43 percent in a matter of just weeks. So, here is a clip from your piece from Uganda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADOWO: Every patient in this wing of this small hospital is on life support. It's also taking a strain on the staff. Some have had to do 24
hour shifts because the need is far greater than the medical professionals available.
MADOWO (voiceover): Average age of the patient is 40, doctors tell us. Youngest was only 18.
DR. ERASMUS EREBU OKELO, TMR INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL: Why exactly are we seeing young people? One, for sure, it is a more aggressive strain. But the
other thing also could be that, you know, after the first wave we, might have gotten quite excited enough to slacken on our preventive measures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's such a stark example of what we now know. At the beginning, everybody was saying, we're all in the together. The whole world
is facing this. But the truth is, we're not all this in together in the same way.
MADOWO: No, we're not. And that is quite clear. When you see the entire African continent has only vaccinated 1.5 percent of the population. Of the
3.5 billion vaccines that have so far been issued around the world, only 1.6 percent are Africans. That's how stark it is. So, I think when you hear
the mantra that we're all in this together, you can see the holiness of it because not every part of the world has had equal access to vaccines. Even
when some African countries could afford to buy vaccines, they were just not available.
When countries in the west like the U.K. and U.S. and Canada have vaccines -- enough vaccines to vaccinate their populations several times over. And
yet, people here are dying. Often, older people who already have underlying conditions or terminal illnesses, they cannot afford this extra attack from
this vicious virus, and that's what we are seeing here.
And for me, as someone else living in New York at beginning of the pandemic last spring, so I saw what it does, it devastates people. As a BBC
correspondent reporting on the pandemic all over America. And yet, here it is now for me with my own family seeing this pain being through.
And I was watching yesterday, Christiane, Chimamanda Adichie, the Nigerian writer, and I agree with her about that formative public expression of
grief that we Africans have, happy when they're able and (INAUDIBLE) very similar ways to see off the dead. And I haven't had the benefit of doing
that for so many members of my family and that really just accentuates the pain.
AMANPOUR: It's really important you are there. It's really powerful, you know, ground zero, really, reporting. So, thank you for keeping the world
honest there, Larry. Thanks.
And turning to the United States where a group of Texas State Democrats have come to Washington, D.C. to battle a restrictive new voting law. The
Republican-backed bills disproportionately obstruct voting acts as amongst ethnic minority. One of those Texas Democrats is the state representative,
James Talarico. And he's joining Michel Martin to explain what needs to be done to protect national voting rights.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNNI CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Representative Talarico, thank you so much for speaking with us.
REP. JAMES TALARICO (D-TX): Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: And first thing I want to know is, what did you consider the most egregious aspects of the bill that Texas is trying to pass?
TALARICO: Yes., There is so many troubling parts to the voter suppression bill. It reduces voting hours. It makes it harder to distribute mail-in
ballot applications. It gets rid of things like drive through voting, which are really helpful for working families. And when you have a lot of kids,
it is hard to herd them all into the polling location quietly. You know, it's easier to just keep them in the back of the minivan and you drive
through and vote that way.
But probably the most troubling, to me, is the part of the bill that empowers partisan poll watchers, untrained partisan poll watchers to
intimidate voters at the polling place. You know, I represent a district in Williamson County, Texas where I grew up and I -- some of my constituents
are my family members, including my mama. And I can't imagine her going to vote at her polling place exercising her constitutional rights and having a
proud boy breathing down her neck as she does so.
That -- this is obviously politically but obviously very personal. And I think we all want our grandparents or parents or kids to have the freedom
to vote in the State of Texas and be able to vote without fear of intimidation.
MARTIN: Well, why do you say that though? I mean, why couldn't it go the other way? I mean, there was this famous case, you know, years ago in
Philadelphia that was a big sort of cause with the right-wing media where these members of the new Black Panther party, two, you know, with their
hats and some outfits were at a majority black poll in Philadelphia and said that they were providing security and some white people from outside
of the district were sort of driving around, not sure why, and found the presence of these people intimidating even though that wasn't their polling
place. And of course, it became a big case and they sued. And therefore, at least two individuals were prosecuted and there we go.
So, I guess what I'm wondering is why couldn't it be the other way that people -- the new Black Panthers party could sort of decide that they're
going to descend on, you know, wherever and do the same thing. How do you know it's directed toward people of color?
TALARICO: Yes. This bill would open it up any partisan actor to come in and disrupt the operations of a polling place, which should be disturbing
to everyone, Democrats, independents and Republicans. You know, the only reason that I bring up the fear about the Proud Boys is because I haven't
seen the Black Panthers storm the U.S. capitol and I haven't seen them question the legitimacy of the election.
And so, what I worry about is given the current climate, what type of people are going to be attracted to this role of being a poll watcher.
Because I think we need to be very honest that there is no -- you know, we don't want to paint a false equivalency. One side of the political aisle
has questioned the legitimacy of American elections and one side hasn't. And so, we've got to be very honest and clear eyed about that fact.
MARTIN: But one of the reasons I'm curious about this is I'm just curious about why you see it so differently from your Republican colleagues. I
mean, if they are going to change the rules, why do they assume that these rules were down to their benefit?
TALARICO: You know, so, I should say that the opposition to this bill has been bipartisan. So, some Republicans do believe that this is undemocratic
and un-American. One of my Republican colleagues in the State House joined us in voting against this bill first time around back in the spring. And
his argument was really interesting.
He said that in the 2020 election, we saw historic voter turnout in the State of Texas and Republicans did quite well. They won at all levels of
the ballot, up and down the ballot. We have to convince our Republican friends and colleagues to believe in democracy again. Unfortunately, the
modern Republican Party has become a minority party. They don't feel that they can or need to create a majority government coalition. And, you know,
they have lost the last seven -- or they have lost seven of the last eight popular votes in this country, which is a troubling statistic for them.
So, we've got to have both political parties invested in the democratic system if this is going to survive for future generations.
MARTIN: When you -- well, you know, of course, the governor, Greg Abbott, says that if you return to Texas or whenever you do, he will arrest all of
you. He also implies that this is kind of a junket, like a fun junket you are all on, that you're, you know, on private planes and hanging out in
Washington hotels and essentially shirking your duties. What would you say to that?
TALARICO: You know, this is anything but fun. We have left behind everything we love back in Texas. And many of my colleagues, especially
those who are over the age of 65 or those that have preexisting conditions are risking their health by traveling in the middle of this active
I have colleagues of mine who are quarantining in their hotel rooms right now because they have been exposed to the virus. But all of that is worth
it because this is bigger than any individual legitimator, it's bigger than any individual Americans. This is about whether or not our precious
democracy will survive.
You know, we just celebrated America's birthday. And if we expect this American experiment to survive another 245 years, then we have got to stand
up now. Democracies around the world die slowly. It is not something that happens overnight. You can't point to a particular date and time when the
democracy withered on the vine. It just happens over time when journalists and when elected officials refuse to stand up for democratic values. And I
refuse to let that happen in my beloved home State of Texas or in this country that we all share.
MARTIN: Initially, I think, the move that the Texas Democrats made sort of to break quorum, to come to D.C. and make the commitment to wait it out,
even facing, you know, arrest and sort of ridicule in the state got lot of attention. But now, a lot of the political writers are saying, you know,
well, what else you got? You know, really all you have is headlines. And what do you say to that? That there really is no strategic way forward
And when you look at the numbers, you can kind of see the point. I mean, the reality of this, in Texas, you know, Republicans control 18 seats in
the State Senate. Democrats only 13. They control 83 seats in the House. Democrats only 67. And structurally, that's true around the country.
Republicans control far more state legislatures than Democrats do. And that's been a long-term project of theirs. So, what do you say to people
who say, you know what, you lost that war long ago?
TALARICO: So, I have to say a couple things. One is, you know, you have a little old state rep in Texas on your show talking about voting rights. So,
I think, in some ways, we've already won by focusing the national attention, the national conversation on the issue of democracy and on the
issue of voting rights. So, that's one.
Two, the reason that we're in Washington, D.C. right now and not in New Mexico, Oklahoma or Louisiana, which would be, as you know, much more
convenient for all of us in Texas, the reason why we're a national capital is because we are begging, pleading and imploring to our federal
counterparts to take federal action to protect voting rights. That is the only way we can stop Republican-held legislatures around the country from
undermining the sacred right to vote.
And last, you know, we heard this week from the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. We heard from Dolores Huerta, the civil rights icon, both reminded
us that although journalists are sometimes focused on who's winning the day or who's winning the week, that this struggle is a lot longer than any
individual news cycle.
So, we may not win each individual day, we may not win each individual week but the hope is that we're bending that arc of the moral universe towards
justice. And that is bigger than any one of us and it's bigger than any one's career. It is about this American experiment and whether it will
survive for generations to come.
MARTIN: Well, there are one or two of you in Washington, Democrats, I mean by that, who do have sort of an outside or a bigger than usual voice in
there. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. And these are -- the structural problem that we spoke of earlier extends to the
United States Senate where it is a 50/50 Senate with the vice president being a Democratic obviously, Kamala Harris being in a position to break
But that only works if Democrats are willing to forego the filibuster, you know, a Senate rule which makes it easier for the minority or the -- even -
- or, you know, your equivalent at this point, to block legislation. They could do that. But these two Democrats are saying that they won't do that.
And I'm just wondering what kinds of conversations you have had with them. I know your group met with Senator Manchin sort of last week. I don't know
if you met with Senator Sinema yet. But what -- how are those conversations proceeding?
TALARICO: You know, we left the meeting with Senator Manchin, you know, very optimistic that the voting rights bill was possible in the U.S.
Congress and, you know, Senator Manchin is a former secretary of state. He knows all about election law. He cares a lot about voting rights. He
reiterated that multiple times in the meeting with our delegation. And so, I'm confident that we have an ally in Senator Manchin.
Now, we may disagree about what tactics are necessary to get us there or what the bill may look like. Many of us support, you know, the full version
of For the People Act because the attack on democracy is multi-facetted and it requires a comprehensive solution if we're going to save our democratic
But my constituents in Texas are out of time. You know, they are having their sacred right to vote undermined as we speak, as I'm talking to you
right now. And so, we need to -- at least some federal voting rights action, to protect the rights of my constituent, my former students, my
family members back in Texas. And so, I am very hopeful that some type of action on voting rights will pass through the U.S. Congress and will be
signed by President Biden.
MARTIN: There's one other issue I wanted to talk to you about while I have you, you have gotten a lot of attention for a couple of exchanges you've
had with people with some different political views. One of them that kind of stood out was an exchange you have with a fellow lawmaker around
critical race theory or around a bill that would regulate how history can be taught in Texas schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TALARICO: When you look at this side-by-side comparison throughout the bill, it reads like a how to guide in historical whitewashing. Are you
aware this new version of the bill from the Senate removes the writings of Frederick Douglas?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am.
TALARICO: Are you aware that this new version of the bill from the Senate removes the writing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TALARICO: Are you aware the new version of the bill from the Senate removes the history of native Americans?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way the bill is laid out --
TALARICO: That's a yes or no question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- because we're a very clear that we could not be --
TALARICO: Are you aware of this new version of the bill removes the history of native Americans?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to give you an answer. You are not -- this isn't a trial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: But why would it remove those writings? What is the stated reason for taking those out?
TALARICO: If you can give me an answer to that question, I'd be very appreciative. But I think what you are seeing is the farthest fringes of
the Republican base want to see a certain type of white power preserved. Both cultural, political and social. And that's how they are attempting to
do this. You know, I don't think it is all Republicans and I certainly don't think it is all my Republican colleagues, but we've got to see a
little more political courage from members of the Republican Party to stand up to those voices in their own coalition.
MARTIN: One of the things about that Texas bill that stood out to me is that it would allow -- it would require things to be removed from the
curriculum if they caused distress, if they make somebody feel uncomfortable at hearing it. And I just -- as a teacher, I'm curious how
that strikes you.
MARTIN: It's like I'm thinking, gosh, if learning chemistry made you uncomfortable, would you say you can't, or calculus or algebra or geometry
or trig or whatever, you say, oh, that makes me uncomfortable. Would you not teach that? Or I mean, I'm just saying, as an educator how does that
strike you? How is that actually going to work?
TALARICO: So, I always had one rule in my classroom as the teacher and that was to be honest with my students. You know, kids have some of the
best BS detectors around. Like they can tell whether or not you are not shooting it straight with them. And if true learning is going to happen, if
true growth is going to happen in the classroom, if you are going to cultivate a deep relationship between a teacher and student, it has to be
built on trust and it has to be built on honesty.
You know, I think some of my colleagues, maybe authentically, feel that if we're with our kids about our history, if we're honest about the good, the
bad and the ugly of our past, that student wills stop loving America. That has not been my experienced. Ronald Reagan talked about informant
patriotism. And I think that's what we're trying to achieve in our classrooms. We want our students to develop a true love of country, right?
And just like in any relationship, true love means that you recognize someone for who they are. Everything about them. The good parts and the bad
parts and you choose to love them anyway. You make a commitment. That is different from puppy love, right, when you are younger. When you really
didn't know anything about the person.
You just like them. You felt they were cute. You like, you know, that they were funny, and that as about it. It's superficial. What Republicans are
trying to do with this bill is instill a puppy love of country. And I think what we have to do, especially in this moment of our history, is instill a
true love of country from within our students.
MARTIN: But really, you know, I'm just wondering, what do you think happened in your state? You know, a former governor, George W. Bush, later
became of course President Bush, you know, 43rd president of the United States, was noted for his bipartisanship. I mean, he had, you know, a
cabinet of people who he regularly consulted with, people who were Democrats.
He was known for having good working relationships with Democrats. He was known for as president had a diverse cabinet. His nominating convention was
one of the most diverse in history, ethnically and racially diverse. I'm just -- you know, like what's happening here? What do you think happened
TALARICO: So, something I've learned in politics is to focus less on personalities and focus more on systems. You know, I think if Former
President Bush or Former Governor Bush, as is the case here in Texas, you know, if he were in the Republican Party today, I think you would see him
act a lot more like Former President Trump and Leader McConnell and others because politicians are rational actors. We pursue what incentives are put
in front of us by the systems in which we work.
And so, what you are seeing in this current political system is the Democratic Party, because of our geographic distribution, right, we -- the
Senate and the Electoral College give special preference to white, rural states, as we all know, which tend to be in the Republican category.
Because of that basic structural fact, it forces the Democratic Party to try to appeal to as many voters as possible to build a majority coalition.
You know, you saw that in President Biden and Vice President Harris in their campaign for the White House. You know, they were not just trying to
appeal to the Democratic base, they were trying to build a coalition of progressives and moderates and suburban voters in order to win because the
system forced the Democratic Party to do so.
Because of these structural factors, the Republican Party can win election through the Electrical College and maintain power through the Senate by
appealing to a strengthened minority of white rural voters. Primarily men. And that is bad for democracy because that means that one party doesn't
feel the need to govern for the entire country.
They only feel the need to govern for their shrinking minority. And that leads to bad policy outcomes, but we've already been discussing, voter
suppression bill and the historical whitewashing bill in the Texas legislature.
MARTIN: So, you know, there is a chance you could lose your seat as consequence of the decision you have made. There's a chance you could get
arrested. I don't know how real a possibility that is. But let's say you do lose your seat. Will it have been worth it?
TALARICO: Absolutely. I'll be able to look myself in the mirror every night before I go to bed. And that is worth more than any political seat
you could have ever. I also know that my community members, my family members, my former students will be proud of me, and that is all you can
really ask for in this life.
Being elected official is a wonderful honor. It is a wonderful privilege. But if it comes to the cost of sacrificing your own principles, your own
beliefs, your own values, then it is not worth having. And so, I know what we're doing here is right. I know that we are honoring the legacy of great
Americans from Normandy to Selma who have spilled blood, to sacrifice and to stand up and say the right to vote. And that is all you can ask for.
MARTIN: Representative James Talarico, thank you so much for talking with us today.
TALARICO: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: Following his conscience. And finally, tonight. Let the games begin. The Olympics kicked off today in Japan ahead of the formal opening
ceremony on Friday. On everybody's mind though is, what impact COVID will have on the competition. But that is not the only sports news making waves.
Norway's women's beach hand ball team, there they are, were fined by the European Hand Ball Federation for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms
to a European championship game. Now, the guidelines say that female athletes must wear bikini bottoms with a close fit and cut on upward angle
towards the top of the leg. Seriously? Men on the other hand, must wear shorts that are not too baggy and 10 centimeters above the kneecap.
Meanwhile, the double power Olympics sprinter and long jump world champion, Olivia Breen, says that she was speechless when an official at the English
championships told her that her sprinting briefs were too short and therefore inappropriate. So, some bottoms are too long. Some bottoms are
too short. Maybe it is time to let women decide just what is their bottom line.
That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcasts and across social media.
And Bianna Golodryga will take you through the rest of the week. I'll be back on Monday. See you then. Thanks for watching. Bye-bye from London.