ABC News Live Prime: Tuesday, January 18, 2021

Airlines’ concerns about 5G were ‘well known for years': former FAA head; Chairman of Jordan Brand shares dark secret; Documentary spotlights trailblazing women reporters in rural India
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Transcript for ABC News Live Prime: Tuesday, January 18, 2021
LINSEY DAVIS: A deadly explosion and fire today in the Bronx, a row house collapse and killing at least one and injuring nine people, according to the New York Fire Department. Today's blast and fire comes just nine days after another fire in the Bronx, which killed 17 people. The voting rights battle heats up. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate square off over sweeping legislation that would make it easier to vote. Democrats still don't have the votes to push it through. Rachel Scott gives us the very latest from Capitol Hill. And across the country, a record average of 850,000 new COVID cases a day, a million children testing positive just last week. Many hospitals out of ICU beds and having to treat patients in hallways, waiting rooms, and closets. We will get how the Omicron surge is still spiraling across much of the country. how the hardest hit states beginning to turn the corner. 24 hours before launching their 5G service, two major cell phone carriers agreed to hold off on the rollout over concerns the technology could dangerously disrupt airline traffic across the country. Airlines say the launch would have been catastrophic, but what's next? ABC's Gio Benitez has the latest. Also tonight, new images coming out of the Pacific Island nation of Tonga revealing the devastation from volcanic eruptions and the tsunami that followed. It is more than twice the size of the Empire State Building and whizzed by Earth today, thankfully safely. What we can learn by looking up. And while he rose to the highest heights in the NBA and the sports world, for decades, Larry Miller kept a dark secret until now. Let's start with this secret that you write about that is corroding you from the inside, haunting you day and night. - For 40 years, I lived in the corporate world, and no one knew about my past. - Good evening, everyone. I'm Linsey Davis. Thanks so much for streaming with us. Help is on the way. We begin tonight with the pandemic. And the relief for many Americans eager to know if they have COVID or not will soon be able to readily make that determination inside their home for no charge. This comes as the Omicron variant now accounts for 99.5% of all new cases in the country. Six weeks ago, in early December, it was less than 1%. Today, the government officially opened the website that allows each household to order at-home COVID tests for free. And for many concerned parents, this, of course, cannot come soon enough. We learned today one million children tested positive for COVID 19 just in the past week, and a staggering 21,000 COVID-positive Americans are being admitted to the hospital each day. But there is a bit of good news. In 12 states and Washington D.C., the first places to see Omicron, cases are starting to slow down. But throughout the rest of the country, cases are still going up by at least 10%. And while those at-home tests will likely be a big help for those hard hit areas, we are already getting some reports of hiccups in the rollout. Stephanie Ramos leads us off tonight. STEPHANIE RAMOS: Tonight, that new website where Americans can start ordering four free at-home tests, COVIDtest.gov, up and running a day ahead of the official launch tomorrow. Families across the country are already placing their first orders. Some who live in apartments having no problem, others running into glitches when trying to order to the same address as other tenants. Nisha McCray tried ordering for elderly relatives who live in apartments. NISHA MCCRAY: I noticed it was saying that four tests have already been requested from this household. There has to be a way that we can work around this, that it has to know the difference between an apartment and the apartment building. STEPHANIE RAMOS: McCray's orders eventually going through after she searched for the addresses by zip code and went backwards. The White House acknowledging there could be some hiccups at first. - Every website launch, in our view, comes with risk. We can't guarantee there won't be a bug or two. STEPHANIE RAMOS: The rollout of free tests comes as Omicron cases, nationally, are still skyrocketing, pediatric cases tripling in the last two weeks to nearly a million. And hospitals are waging an all out battle that could last weeks. In Oklahoma City, doctors describe a war zone, with zero ICU beds and more than 100 patients waiting. JULIE WATSON: Our emergency departments are overflowing. We have to care for patients in hallways, sometimes closets. STEPHANIE RAMOS: With 1,000 workers in quarantine, doctors warn they are running out of staff and critical supplies, like syringes and saline. Still, in the Northeast, where some cities were hit with Omicron first, signs of a light at the end of the tunnel. New infections in New York state diving 40% since their peak. ERIC ADAMS: Let's be clear on this. We are winning. STEPHANIE RAMOS: With a highly-contagious Omicron sweeping the nation, some are pointing to the natural immunity that comes from infection, but Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's too soon to say whether Omicron will help lead to the end of the pandemic. - It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability, with new variants emerging. STEPHANIE RAMOS: And some experts say protection from natural infection with Omicron won't last long if you are unvaccinated. - I think what's going to happen is those individuals who have been infected and recovered and have not gotten vaccinated on top of it are going to be vulnerable to yet another wave - Doctors still sounding the alarm about the importance of getting vaccinated. Stephanie Ramos joins us now. Stephanie, let's get back to the White House's new website to order those free at-home COVID tests. How many tests can each household order, and when can we expect them to arrive? - So Linsey, each household can order up to four tests, and they will ship out in seven to 12 days. So those first orders would arrive by the end of January or early February. The White House is also saying that they will launch a call line for those who don't have access to a computer, Linsey. LINSEY DAVIS: All right, very helpful there. Stephanie Ramos, our thanks to you. Next, to the high stakes showdown over safety in the sky, which has been averted, at least for now. Airlines and two major cell phone providers have been at odds over 5G wireless technology going live tomorrow. Airline CEOs warned of potentially dangerous disruptions to travel, but today, both Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay 5G near some airports. But as ABC's Gio Benitez reports, there is no long-term solution in sight. GIO BENITEZ: Tonight, crisis averted. AT&T and Verizon agreeing to temporarily limit the number of towers around airports that will carry their high speed 5G signals. The unexpected move coming just a day after major US airlines warned that there could be a, quote, catastrophic disruption to air travel if 5G rolled out near major airports. Here's the worry. That stronger 5G signal is very similar to the frequency of a plane's radio altimeter, a device pilots use to judge their distance from the ground. Airlines say in poor weather conditions, when visibility is low, pilots might not have reliable information to land safely, potentially leading to thousands of diverted and canceled flights, and not just for passengers, but cargo, too. - The FAA cannot tell us if there is a problem. The airlines are erring on the side of safety to make sure that they scientifically determined that there isn't a problem and that the flying public stays particularly safe. GIO BENITEZ: The wireless carriers have long said 5G would not interfere with aircraft electronics. AT&T saying in a statement, we are frustrated by the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services. The FAA says other countries have created permanent buffer zones, keeping the signal away from airports. But the signal in the US would be more than twice as strong as those used in Europe. Our Mary Bruce asking the White House today why they didn't act sooner, despite two years to prepare for the 5G upgrade. - Did the FAA drop the ball here? - You know, I think, Mary, there'll be lots of time to look back and see how we got here. - We'll talk to the former head of the FAA in just a moment, but Gio Benitez joins us now from Newark Airport tonight. Gio, despite the rollout delay near some major airports, the FAA says it still expects some disruptions tomorrow. - Yeah, that's right, Linsey, especially among international carriers. We're talking about Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines. They already canceled some flights in advance, just in case. But the FAA says that overall, we have avoided the chaos that the major airlines were expecting and warning us about. - And Gio, for anyone like me, we see already in the top corner of our phone that 5G symbol, and we're wondering what is all this fuss about because it seems like it's already there, can you explain what's different about this new rollout? - Yeah, so it's a little bit confusing, but here's the deal. 5G is already here. This is a new frequency, a stronger, faster frequency for AT&T and Verizon. So you already do have some 5G, but starting tomorrow, in certain areas, if you have AT&T and Verizon, you're going to start getting a faster 5G. You're going to notice videos downloading a lot faster. And so that's what we're talking about. It's a totally different frequency, and this is that frequency that they're concerned about with airplanes. - Kind of a complicated matter that you've been able to simplify for us so thank you for that, Gio. Joining us now is the former head of the FAA under presidents Obama and Trump, Michael Huerta. Thank you so much for your time, tonight. As I mentioned, you led the agency for five years in this 5G transition. It didn't happen overnight. It involves planning by the FAA, as you know. Officials have known that this was coming. Why are we at this point right now, so late in the game? Did current officials drop the ball? - Well, I think the big challenge is that the telecoms correctly point out that 5G has been rolled out in more than 40 countries, and there haven't been issues, but it's been after extensive consultation between the regulators for the telecom industry and for the aviation industry to ensure that towers are positioned and power levels are such that there were no interference problems. And that's what needs to take place here. The concerns that have been raised by the aviation industry and the FAA have been well known for at least the last couple of years. Why that information and these detailed discussions have not taken place, I really can't answer that question. But those are discussions that need to take place to ensure that 5G can coexist with aviation safety. - Why would 5G safety be different in France, for example, than it would be here? - Well, there are two things that are different. First of all, where 5G is deployed in the spectrum and its proximity to the spectrum that is used by the aviation industry as the first issue. What we're talking about here is the spectrum that is being made available to Verizon and AT&T is located in close proximity to the spectrum used for these critical aviation safety systems. The second thing is that France did engage in a lot of consultation between their safety regulator on the aviation side and their telecommunications regulator to ensure that towers were placed, and power levels were such, that they could mitigate any concerns that were there. And that's the conversations that have not taken place here. - Are you surprised that it's gotten to this point, essentially the 11th hour, where literally the CEOs of top airline companies had to publicly disclose our entire air system could collapse tomorrow if the cell phone companies did not pause implementation of this new technology? - It is surprising, and it's unfortunate. I do think that the concerns have been well known for years. And again, this is a problem that can be solved through the leadership of the appropriate government agencies, the FCC and the FAA, the administration, all working together to ensure that there are no safety concerns. If you look at it from an airline standpoint, if their safety regulator says there is a hazard, obviously, they have to adopt a very cautious position and do everything that they can to ensure that flights are safe. And so what the airline CEOs are doing is really calling on the government to work together to solve this problem. To a certain extent, the airlines and the telecommunications companies are caught in the middle. What we really need is some leadership from the agencies. - And as we've reported, AT&T and Verizon both said that they will give a temporary reprieve in blocking the implementation of this new 5G close to airports. But they paid $80 billion for this. How long do you think it'll take for the FAA to deem the safe? - I think that it's-- you know, it's not all on the FAA. It's also the FCC. I can't explain why, when the spectrum was auctioned, these concerns were not made known at that time. But I do think that everyone needs to focus over the next few months in ensuring, airport by airport and aircraft type by aircraft type, that any concerns can be mitigated so that-- there is a solution here. It just requires everyone working together. - And lastly, is this a situation where, in essence, our government bureaucracy has failed us? I mean, we've known that this was coming, as I said. Other countries use this technology, and we were all left waiting today for private companies to step in and take this action. If you were leading the FAA today, what would you do to resolve this situation? - Well, the most important thing that has to happen is to bring everyone together, the technical spectrum experts at the FCC and the FAA. I think that, you know, the FCC has great spectrum experts. They don't think there's a problem, but what they need to understand is the FAA has to make its own independent finding of no hazard. And so what that requires is bringing all those technical experts together to decide on what is the best policy. Communication is key here, and that's what everyone really needs to focus on. - Thank you for communicating with us today. Former head of the FAA Michael Huerta, thank you so much for your time. - Thank you. - Now, I want to show you those terrifying images that you saw at the top of the show from the Bronx. Tonight, a gas explosion left at least one person dead and multiple officers injured. The harrowing aftermath was all captured on body camera. Our Will Reeve has this report. WILL REEVE: The body camera video shows NYPD officers running toward the building in flames just after the explosion in the Bronx. You can hear someone screaming. That someone is trapped under a couch, the officers scrambling to try and get to the woman, finally freeing her. OFFICER: Get her over the couch. WILL REEVE: The police alerted by a neighbor. - I definitely heard her, and she definitely showed me her hand so I already knew where she was at. WILL REEVE: Authorities say the home exploded just after 11 o'clock this morning, one person killed, at least eight injured. - The action of FDNY, and NYPD, and residents, their quick response really allowed many that were part of this crisis not to, in some way, be seriously injured or to die. WILL REEVE: Residents left homeless. - The metal just melted away. I saw, I saw flames, and the metal just melted. - Over 100 emergency personnel responded to the scene, and New York Mayor Eric Adams said their quick actions saved lives and that because someone smelled gas, it is under investigation, Linsey. LINSEY DAVIS: Will, thank you. Next, to the new developments in the January 6 investigation. The House Committee issuing new subpoenas tonight to members of former President Trump's legal team, including Rudy Giuliani. ABC's chief White House correspondent joins us now. John, this committee was already having a tough time getting close allies of the president to voluntarily cooperate. How are they going to get over this hurdle of attorney, client privilege with someone like Rudy Giuliani? - Well, that's certainly a complicating factor here. I would not hold your breath to see-- before seeing any of these four who were subpoenaed today testified before the committee. All four are lawyers. All four would have some claim on attorney, client privilege. But I think what the committee is doing here is sending the message that their investigation is going far beyond the events of January 6, that they are focusing more broadly on the effort to overturn the presidential election and, with these subpoenas, going after four of those who are most aggressively pushing the lie that the election had been stolen. - All right, Jonathan Karl, our thanks to you. - Thank you, Linsey. - Staying in Washington now, we turn to the Voting Rights battle that continues to play out. The Democratic leader is vowing to - vote so that every Senator will be on record. ABC's congressional correspondent Rachel Scott explains. RACHEL SCOTT: Tonight, the Senate, for the first time, moving ahead with a debate on voting rights, even though the bill appears doomed to fail. - Senate Decomcrats, we are going to fight the fight. RACHEL SCOTT: It comes after 19 states imposed new restrictions, making it harder to vote, the vast majority pushed by Republican state legislatures. The effects already plain to see, in Texas today, the county clerk in the state capital of Austin announcing she had to reject 27% of mail-in in ballot applications on technicalities. - Your next door neighbor, who just turned 65, and who's voting for the first time because they were afraid of COVID, is not a fraudulent voter. RACHEL SCOTT: On Capitol Hill, Democrats accuse Republicans of stifling democracy. - We cannot sit back and let one political party continue to unravel the threads of our democracy one voter suppression bill at a time. RACHEL SCOTT: The voting rights bill would, among other things, make election day a federal holiday and guarantee all voters can request the mail-in ballot. It would also empower the Justice Department to police potential voter discrimination by states. But Republicans are opposed, and two key Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, refuse to change the Senate rules to let Democrats pass the bill with a simple majority vote. - Think if you have a situation we have right now, where you have the executive branch of government and you have Congress, the House and the Senate, all the same, and there's no check and balance because, basically, it'd just sweep right through. And the same thing could happen if Republicans had everything. - Senator Manchin still defending his decision there. Rachel Scott joins us now from the Capitol. Rachel, Senate Democrats met on Capitol Hill tonight. Any idea what came out of that meeting? - Well, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Democrats behind closed doors that they will push forward with this vote tomorrow to try to change the Senate rules in order to pass voting rights legislation without any Republican support. I'm told Senator Manchin also spoke to Democrats during this meeting. He defended his position. He is still a hard no on this one. So at this point, that vote is likely to fail, which means voting rights legislation will not get through the Senate for the fifth time, Linsey. LINSEY DAVIS: Wow still a no go it would seem. Rachel Scott, our thanks to you. And for more on voting rights, let's bring in ABC's political director Rick Klein. Good to see you, Rick. - Hi, Linsey. Good to be with you. - We've been talking, certainly, a lot about the legislative fight, but let's take a step back at this point. Which voting rights are really Democrats most concerned about at this point? And if you can, give us some specific examples as far as how difficult it can be to vote in some states. - Right, not all 19 states that Rachel talked about have done the same thing. Some have cut back on the number of hours that you can vote early. Some have made it a little more onerous to to vote absentee, changed some of the places that ballot drop boxes, and the like, can be. But other states have gone quite a bit further than that. In Georgia, for instance, they've cut back on the the number of hours that are available. They have also criminalized the concept of bringing assistance to people that are waiting on a line. So even bringing food or water to a voter in an urban precinct online for a long period of time could potentially be considered a crime. And in Texas, where people are already asking for ballot applications for the March 1 primary, there's a new requirement that when you mail in that that request that you have documentation that matches up exactly to state records, so the last four digits of a Social Security number or a date of birth. If that doesn't match precisely with how you originally registered to vote with the state, then they are required, by state law, to reject that application. That's why in big cities like Houston, San Antonio, Austin, the clerks are telling us between a quarter and a third of the ballot applications are rejected under this new state law. - But how far does the Democrats' legislation go in addressing these concerns? - It creates a national standard for mail-in voting. It allows everyone the opportunity to vote by mail, which not all states allow at the current time. It also creates a federal holiday of election day, which would alleviate some of those very long lines if everyone, or more people, had it off as a holiday day. It also allows the Justice Department a lot more leeway in terms of how they would pursue any efforts to disenfranchise voters. It would give a lot of powers back to the federal government, and it would create a national standard that would probably make it a lot easier, overall, for people to vote. Though, in the view of some Republicans, it could make it easier to cheat. - Of course, Republican leaders say that the Voting laws that we're talking about aren't too restrictive and that they're needed to protect election integrity. Senator Mitch McConnell accuses the Democrats of what he calls fake hysteria over our voting system. What's their argument? Is it a fair one? - Well, what is fair is that, historically, the voting rights and the opportunity to vote has been different state by state. States have guarded the right to vote. Now, they have, some of them, taken it too far, and that's why the federal voting rights legislation of the 1960s came into play. A lot of the changes, Linsey, that are happening now are actually just rolling back some more liberal laws that were put in place during COVID, when people were worried about lockdowns and how that would impact things, just kind of going back to pre-COVID times. But I think the broader concern that Democrats raise is that so many of these new laws were inspired by the big lie about the last election. Even if their impact may not be tailored to try to respond to the concerns that Trump falsely played into, a lot of the political energy has been behind that. So as Republicans will say that yes, there hasn't been this evidence of fraud in the past, they're actually making an argument against the bills that that are being passed with the inspiration and the backing of many people who continue to support the mistruths about the last election and followers of President Trump. - And just about out of time, but I do want to ask you Rick. Of course, as you know, this legislation has almost no chance of passing. Do you think that the Democrats will get another opportunity to get a substantial election bill through Congress anytime soon, or is this potentially the end of the road on this issue for the foreseeable future? - Realistically, this is it. It's not just the politics, Linsey. It's the calendar, the fact that voting takes place in Texas in about a month and other states start to have their primaries. The maps are in place under the new congressional district writing, and the applications are being printed as we speak. It is, functionally, already pretty much too late to do anything about these new state laws. - All right, Rick Klein, our thanks to you. - Thank you, Linsey. - Now, to a bitter cold blast that's heading our way after frigid weekend temperatures are set to drop again. And there's possibility of snow later this week. ABC's chief meteorologist Ginger Zee is tracking it all for us. Hey, Ginger. - Hey there, Linsey. My heated vest is on the fritz, and so I really got to get that thing fixed by the weekend. I'll tell you at least that much because it is chilly now. If you think it's chilly now, it is only getting colder. Hastings, Nebraska actually had a record high of 66 today. By tomorrow morning, they'll feel like two. You see those wind chill advisories just smothering the map from Montana right through North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Well, that air doesn't stop there. The cold front keeps sliding to the South and East. So Oklahoma City, by Thursday morning, will feel like one. It'll feel like nine in Cincinnati. And see that little burst of snow that comes through from Maryland and Delaware, all the way up through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Boston. Well, that's Thursday morning. That's not even the storm we're talking about because that's going to be an inch or two. It's this one we really worry about impacting South Carolina and North Carolina, for sure, into, say, Roanoke. But then, depending on how close it stays and what's moving to the East of it, that's going to really impact your weekend, Friday into Saturday, especially here from the mid-Atlantic through Northeast. The closer it remains, the more snow we get. It looks like the models, as of right now, are trying to pull it East. So if you don't like snow, you want to go for that second option, Linsey. LINSEY DAVIS: But those heated vests, that sounds absolutely like a great idea. I got to get my hands on one of those. Ginger, thanks so much. When we come back, the officer under investigation for allegedly grabbing one of his female colleagues by the throat. Wonder Woman Gal Gadot standing up for herself after a famed director denies accusations of misconduct that involve her. But up next, the decades-long secret of the high powered executive now in charge of the Nike Air Jordan empire who didn't tell anyone about a crime he once committed. It's a remarkable story you won't want to miss. Stay with us. [MUSIC PLAYING] LINSEY DAVIS: A Florida police officer has been relieved of his supervising duties while the investigation into this incident that you are looking at continues. Take a look as the officer puts his hand on another officer's throat. The incident happened last November, when police were called to a convenience store after an individual attacked several people. The suspect allegedly resisted arrest, but the incident between both officers happened when the suspect ended up in the patrol car, but the officer under investigation did not de-escalate according to the other officer. Well, he rose to the highest heights in the NBA and the sports world. But for all that time, he was keeping a dark secret from everyone about what he did decades ago, until now. We talked with Larry Miller about why now is the moment to come clean and what he hopes that young people can learn from him now, as he shares his story. LARRY MILLER: Muhammad Ali gloves are-- signed gloves are always one of my favorite. He was one of my all-time heroes. LINSEY DAVIS: Over his storied career, Larry Miller has amassed an impressive sports collection. LARRY MILLER: I still have to pinch myself that I work with Michael Jordan. LINSEY DAVIS: But all the memorabilia belies the memories of a past he buried for decades, until now. When was the last time you've been here. LARRY MILLER: It's been quite a while since I've been here. LINSEY DAVIS: Does it feel like it's been a long time since that incident, or a relatively short time. LARRY MILLER: It feels like it's been a long time sometimes, but then other times, it's like it's fresh in my mind, like it's yesterday. LINSEY DAVIS: He's the former President of the Portland Trail Blazers, now the chairman of the Jordan brand. And like the icon of the brand he oversees and helped create, Miller himself has become a symbol of human possibility, soaring to dizzying heights, but carrying a secret along the way, which he now reveals in his new book Jump My Secret Journey from the Streets to the Boardroom. - You write, this secret will die because of this book. - The biggest secret was the homicide that I was involved in when I was 16 years old. LINSEY DAVIS: It was 1965 in West Philadelphia, a hotbed for gangs. Battles over territories erupted into bloodshed and often ended in death. At the time, Miller embraced the power he felt came from street life. And by the time he was 12 years old, he'd already started a fairly frequent spate of stays inside a juvenile detention center. So let's talk about September 30, 1965, corner of 53rd in Locust. How do you end up there? - I was 16 years old, drunk. One of my gang members had gotten killed a little while before that., and we were just angry and out to get somebody. It was totally senseless. He just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and I regret that every day. Every day I think about the fact that I took the life of a young Black man. - How do you not have, in that moment, any remorse? - It was just the mentality that I was functioning with in that environment, and in that world. Life is not valued, and I didn't really understand the concept of life and death. - You didn't value your own life. LARRY MILLER: I didn't value my own life, and my hope is that some 16-year-old Larry Miller out there that's about to go and do something crazy, that maybe reading this, or hearing this story, might make them stop and have second thoughts. LINSEY DAVIS: He never reached out to the family of his 18-year-old victim. His name, Edward White, is not mentioned in the book. Why didn't you approach the family at some point before the book and say I'm sorry? - Mainly because I was trying to like Black that part of my life out. I was, you know, trying to hide that story. I didn't want it to come out. And I guess, for that reason, I never thought to reach out, or to try to connect with them, because I was almost trying to pretend like that part of my life didn't happen. Have you reached out to the family? LARRY MILLER: I have. - Can you share, at all, the conversation? - Can't share the conversation, but I will say that my goal is to work with them to come up with a way to memorialize him into the future. LINSEY DAVIS: Edward left behind two children. His sister Barbara Mack is now 84 years old. She describes the book as opening an old wound. BARBARA MACK: He owed the family apology. He owe, he owed the family to correctly say this is not a stranger, this was Edward White. LINSEY DAVIS: Miller pleaded guilty to second degree murder and served 4 1/2, but it would not be his last time behind bars. One daughter and a string of armed robberies later, Larry found himself locked up again, but this time, he was determined to never return. While incarcerated, he used educational programs to earn a high school diploma and college degree, ultimately, helping to land his first job, despite his criminal past. - I didn't lie or hide it, I just didn't share it. So the question on the application was have you been convicted of a crime in the last five years? Well, the answer was no. - And then you didn't have to fill out applications at that point because you had a resume. - After that, it was you know it was pretty much based on resume and things like that. LINSEY DAVIS: Over the years, he continued to go back to SCI Graterford, but only as a visitor to see Wazir Agin Mumin. A former mentor who was also in for homicide, someone who knew of his past and accepted him in spite of it. What made Larry different? - Once he latched on to the educational thing, that's where his dedication was. And he was never really-- he in prison but not a prisoner to the prison environment. - Toward the end of the book, you quote Frederick Douglas in your book, and you say knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave. Is education the key? - I think education is a key. It's also changing the perception of yourself. And I think at the end of the day, you have to realize and believe that you can do something different with your life. LINSEY DAVIS: That something different for Miller includes taking Nike's Jordan brand and building it into a $5 billion empire, immortalizing the Jumpman logo. - I still always felt like I wasn't being true to myself because I was holding and hiding a part of me that people didn't know about. LINSEY DAVIS: The higher he climbed, the greater the stakes. Nightmares and severe migraines plagued him, the weight of his secret taking a toll. His daughter Laila, who didn't know the entire truth herself, suggested he write a book. And over the course of 12 years, they set out to tell his story, healing their own complicated relationship in the process. What was your reaction when you heard about September 30, 1965 and what happened. - It was difficult to hear. I'm a mother, I have a Black son, and so it was not an easy thing to listen to. But you know, it-- I just had to really process it and sit with the fact that none of us are perfect. We've all made mistakes. So I was ready to be forgiving and understood about redemption. LINSEY DAVIS: Miller, it would seem, has been redeemed. - I've forgiven him. I had no choice. I have no choice. if I do not forgive him, I cannot be forgiven. LINSEY DAVIS: While the aim of this country's criminal justice system is said to be rehabilitation, for people like Mr. Wazir, who received a life sentence and served 52 years before his crime was commuted, he mourns that he never got a second chance to do good. - You don't ignore taking a life. You don't, I mean, not if you've got any humanity in you. It bothers you, you know. I left a lot. Excuse me, it's the only time I cry when I think about that. I went in 20, I left at 72. I'm asking to really sometimes ask is this the same person that took my loved one. LINSEY DAVIS: It's been years since Miller walked through his old hood. Though far removed, the memories linger. Does it feel any way to kind of come back to the scene of the crime? LARRY MILLER: It does. It feels, it feels a little strange. It feels like almost kind of coming full circle and, you know, wishing I could go back to all those years and be on this corner and have a different outcome. LINSEY DAVIS: Many of the educational programs that helped Miller get released from prison no longer exist, but he's trying to change that. - I didn't have to do this. You know, I could have just continued to live my life, but I felt like I've been so blessed in my life that if I didn't share this story, then I wasn't really showing my appreciation for the blessings that I've received over the years. - So those nightmares are totally over, they've stopped? - I've not had a nightmare, not that kind of nightmare, since I started getting all this out. LINSEY DAVIS: His is a story of redemption, of grace, and proof that the circumstances we live in don't have to live in us. LARRY MILLER: So you're going to lose, you're going to miss the shots, but if you can learn from that mistake, if you can benefit and grow from that mistake, then you still win. - You still win. Our thanks to Mr Miller for sharing his story with us. Still ahead here on Prime, Microsoft's big potential jump into the metaverse. We'll explain. And how close to the potentially deadly asteroid come to giving us all a very bad day? We take a look by the numbers. But first, our tweet of the day from the National Portrait Gallery, the author of the famed Winnie the Pooh books, his son, and the original Pooh Bear. [MUSIC PLAYING] - Welcome back, everyone. If you happen to catch that new Netflix movie Don't Look Up, well, you might be a bit paranoid about a life-killing asteroid hitting the Earth. That is not likely to happen, but today, a giant asteroid did come close enough to be considered a so-called near-earth object. We look up by the numbers. About 1.2 million miles, that's how close asteroid 7482 flew to Earth today at 4.50 PM Eastern time. That's more than five times the distance between the Earth and the moon, but still the closest that this space rock will come to our planet in 200 years. The massive asteroid measures roughly 3,200 feet, about 2 1/2 the height of the Empire State Building. And it whizzed by us at a brisk clip of nearly 44,000 miles per hour relative to Earth. And unlike the fictional asteroid in Don't Look Up, we've known about this one for decades. It was actually discovered back in 1994. And if you are worried about an asteroid like this someday hitting Earth, rest assured that would be a once in a 600,000 year event, according to researchers at MIT. And we still have lots to get to here on Prime tonight. Our team now in the region, what we know about the volcano catastrophe in Tonga. And the horror on the subway tracks, the deadly unprovoked attack and the search for answers. But first, a look at our top trending stories on abcnews.com. REPORTER 1: Crisis averted, AT&T and Verizon agreeing to temporarily limit the number of towers around airports that will carry their high speed 5G signals. Here's the worry. That stronger 5G signal is very similar to the frequency of a plane's radio altimeter, a device pilots use to judge their distance from the ground. Airlines say in poor weather conditions, when visibility is low, pilots might not have reliable information to land safely. - The FAA cannot tell us if there is a problem. The airlines are erring on the side of safety to make sure that they scientifically determined that there isn't a problem and that the flying public stays particularly safe. REPORTER 1: The wireless carriers have long said 5G would not interfere with aircraft electronics. Our Mary Bruce asking the White House today why they didn't act sooner, despite two years to prepare for the 5G upgrade. - Did the FAA drop the ball here? - You know, I think, Mary, there'll be lots of time to look back and see how we got here. REPORTER 2: Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot standing up for herself. In a new article for New York Magazine, the famed director of hits like the Avengers and the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Joss Whedon now on defense that he threatened gadot's career while filming the 2017 film Justice League. Gadot telling the Israeli news outlet N12 last year, "I had my issues with Joss, and I handled it. He threatened my career and said that if I do something, he will make sure my career is miserable." Now, more than eight months later, Whedon speaking out for the first time about gadot's allegations, telling New York Magazine, "I don't threaten people. Who does that? English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech." Gadot telling the magazine in an email, "I understood perfectly." Whedon admitting to the magazine he slept with employees, fans, and colleagues while working on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which eventually led to his marriage ending. And those wanting to order free at-home COVID tests from the federal government are able to do so today, one day earlier than expected. You can place an order online at www.COVIDtest.gov. And they're free so you won't have to pay any shipping costs or provide any credit card information. But there are limits. At this point, you can order for per household. And we're told that they'll ship within seven to 12 days of ordering, about a week to a week and a half. REPORTER 1: The mayor's confession that even he does not feel safe using his own city's public transit comes just three days after Michelle Go was killed in Times Square, shoved into the path of a 40 ton subway train at 9:30 in the morning on Saturday. 61-year-old Simon Marshall confessed shortly after his arrest, while proclaiming himself God. Investigators say he is homeless and emotionally disturbed. - We can do better than this. We can do better than letting somebody who has a history and a criminal record, of somebody who has time and time again been mentally ill be on the streets and allowed to be violent. REPORTER 1: I'd say just over 300 people are out here in the bitter wind chills, mourning Michelle Go, who, ironically, had volunteered her free time to help the homeless. Microsoft says it's buying the gaming company Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 million. SATYA NADELLA: This would be the largest acquisition in our history, and we are investing to create a thriving gaming ecosystem, one where world class content can more easily reach every gamer, across every platform. REPORTER 1: Activision currently faces allegations of misconduct and unequal pay. It makes games like Call of Duty and Candy Crush. - Welcome back, everyone. Now to the South Pacific, where a powerful underwater volcano and massive tsunami has virtually cut off the island nation of Tonga. Tonight, the new images of what was there before and what remains now as ships are sent to deliver much needed water and supplies. ABC's Matt Gutman is in the region tonight. MATT GUTMAN: Tonight, more than three days after the Hunga Tonga volcanoe's once-in-a-century explosion that triggered worldwide tsunami alerts, those new images from Australian and New Zealand military reconnaissance flights slowly painting a picture of the devastation. And these before and after images showing the volcanic island itself obliterated, now open ocean. Tsunami waves gouging chunks of land from Tongan islands, wiping out structures. A blizzard of ash turning the lush green islands a sludgy brown. Ships carrying aid racing to the island nation of 100,000. The Tongan government still assessing damage but confirming that crucial undersea communications cable is severed. So far, officials can only confirm at least three dead. Families in the US desperate for word on their loved ones. Liberty Latu trying to reach her 11-year-old son, Gordon. LIBRETY LATU: It's really tough. Most of the time, I can't sleep. I just stay up and think about him. - So many stories like that, of heartbreak, that are just emerging. Matt Gutman joins us now from Fiji, where shock waves from that volcano are rattling buildings. People need necessities right now, but it sounds like there are also concerns, and legitimate ones, about COVID. - There are, and you know, Tonga is a place that right now needs shelter, food, and water. And it's not an easy place to get to, even on a good day. But throw into that mix the near blackout of communications, the ash on the runway, the ash in the air, and there's a real humanitarian challenge here. Added to that, that dilemma that you mentioned by the Tongan government. They have been basically COVID-free the past two years. They've had a single case. So do they now allow aid groups in who could also bring in COVID, Linsey? - And Matt, of course, you've covered many disasters like this one over the years. What strikes you most in this case? - I think that this is really an historic event, certainly for the South Pacific. We are talking about the loudest, or one of the loudest, explosions since 1883, since Krakatoa. It has affected so many people here, and there is the fact that in this really fast paced world, we still know so little about what is actually happening there on the ground because of that cable that was severed, which allows communications, both phone and internet, between Tonga and the outside world. So in many ways, this is a humanitarian challenge that we're experiencing, basically, like 100 years back. It's so hard to get there, to even know what they absolutely need, in order to get the help that they need, Linsey. - Yeah, so much that we still just don't know. Matt Gutman reporting in for us from Fiji. Thanks, Matt. During a time where so many of us are in need, a love of the land led farmer Paul Buxman to lend a generous helping hand to fellow farmer Will Scott in order to renew a much needed resource on his Fresno farm. Dale Yurong at our ABC station in Fresno, California, KFSN, has the story. [VIOLA MUSIC PLAYING] DALE YURONG: Paul Buxman says playing the Viola helps heal his soul. - Music goes in, and without your realizing it, click, your heart's open. DALE YURONG: Fresno farmer Will Scott saw that firsthand. - People like Paul, you know, who step up and see the other need, you know, regardless of who you are. DALE YURONG: When Scott's well ran dry in 2015, Buxman offered to help, even though his own wells were drying up because of the drought. - He said, I had given up, and I consider your phone call today a voice of God. DALE YURONG: Buxman helped raise $30,000, enough for Will to put in a new ag and domestic well on his 40-acre farm. - I haven't had a chance to say publicly, you know, how I appreciate the people who participated. You really, you lifted me up. - They did their part. When the domino tipped, and they just went brrrrr, like that. DALE YURONG: Paul paint's during the winter. His Drill for Will fundraiser, in which he sold prints, was a masterpiece. - Paul is an amazing artist. - You just need $5, and then the funny thing happens. $5 turns into $10 somehow. $10 turns into $100 because when, when the domino tips, but you got to tip that first one. DALE YURONG: Will now has enough water to expand his offerings. - Well, this year that I-- I guess I got to prove myself now, that I'm either a farmer, or I'm just out here as a hobby, you know. DALE YURONG: Buxman was inspired when he heard Scott teaches kids in West Fresno how to farm. WILL SCOTT: What's important to me is that whatever knowledge I have acquired, because it doesn't belongs to me, and I need to share it. DALE YURONG: They both share a love for the land. PAUL BUXMAN: He is right out of the South, and so is my family out of Arkansas, on my mom's side. All of Will's things are things that we grew. DALE YURONG: Black-eyed peas, okra, broccoli, and cabbage. Buxman ended up putting his farm into a special trust and uses of the funds to pay off his own wells. His half acre of fruit still allows him to make jam. - Make jam, do paintings, play music. WILL SCOTT: But that was amazing, what he did. - Just hearing his voice gives me hope, you know. And boy, do we need hope right now. - We have some good people in this country. - Jam, music, paintings, doesn't get much better than that. Our Thanks to Dale Yurong wrong for bringing us that piece. And before we go tonight, the image of the day. We spoke to him last night, and tonight, Willie O'Ree, the first Black player to break the NHL's color barrier, had his number 22 Jersey retired by the Boston Bruins. And the City of Boston declared today Willie O'Ree Day. That is our show for this hour. Be sure to stay tuned to ABC News live for more context and analysis of the day's top stories. Thank you so much for streaming with us. [MUSIC PLAYING] LINSEY DAVIS: Coming up in the next hour, Florida lawmakers consider a bill that would prohibit public schools from teaching certain things that make some feel uncomfortable. And we've talked so much about COVID being a global struggle, we'll introduce you to a Texas doctor who, alongside with another colleague, may have created a low-cost COVID vaccine. Hey, everyone. I'm Linsey Davis. Thanks so much for streaming with us. We're monitoring several developments here at ABC News at this hour. In Florida, the Senate Education Committee approved a bill that takes aim at critical race theory, which is an academic concept about systemic racism. According to the Associated Press, the bill that was backed heavily by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis would, quote, prohibit public schools and businesses from making white people feel discomfort when learning about discrimination and racism in our country. Republicans are largely in favor of the bill becoming law, while Democrats are not. A Delaware County District Attorney announced charges today against three police officers in connection with the shooting death of eight-year-old Fanta Bility. The incident happened on August 27, after the police officers allegedly discharged their weapons in the direction of gunshots at a local high school football field. Each is charged with a total of 12 criminal counts of manslaughter and reckless endangerment. A vote to fire the officers will be held Thursday. A bitter Arctic blast is sweeping from the northern plains to the East Coast, wind chills expected to plummet as low as 30 degrees below 0 in some areas. A wintry weather mix could develop for the East Coast by the end of the week, with the potential for heavy snow. The relief for Americans anxious about whether they have COVID or not will soon be on the way. Today, the government officially launched the website that allows each household to order at-home COVID tests for free. And for many concerned parents, it cannot come soon enough. ABC'S Stephanie Ramos has the details. STEPHANIE RAMOS: Tonight, that new website where Americans can start ordering four free at-home tests, COVIDtests.gov, up and running a day ahead of the official launch tomorrow. Families across the country are already placing their first orders. Some who live in apartments having no problem, others running into glitches when trying to order to the same address as other tenants. Nisha McCray tried ordering for elderly relatives who live in apartments. NISHA MCCRAY: I noticed it was saying that four tests have already been requested from this household. There has to be a way that we can work around this, that it has to know the difference between an apartment and the apartment building. STEPHANIE RAMOS: McCray's orders eventually going through after she searched for the addresses by zip code and went backwards. The White House acknowledging there could be some hiccups at first. - Every website launch, in our view, comes with risk. We can't guarantee there won't be a bug or two. STEPHANIE RAMOS: The rollout of free tests comes as Omicron cases, nationally, are still skyrocketing, pediatric cases tripling in the last two weeks to nearly a million. And hospitals are waging an all out battle that could last weeks. In Oklahoma City, doctors describe a war zone with zero ICU beds and more than 100 patients waiting. JULIE WATSON: Our emergency departments are overflowing. We have to care for patients in hallways, sometimes closets. STEPHANIE RAMOS: With 1,000 workers in quarantine, doctors warn they are running out of staff and critical supplies like syringes and saline. Still, in the Northeast, where some cities were hit with Omicron first, signs of a light at the end of the tunnel. New infections in New York state diving 40% since their peak. - Let's be clear on this. We are winning. STEPHANIE RAMOS: With a highly-contagious Omicron sweeping the nation, some are pointing to the natural immunity that comes from infection. But Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's too soon to say whether Omicron will help lead to the end of the pandemic. - It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability, with new variants emerging. STEPHANIE RAMOS: And some experts say protection from natural infection with Omicron won't last long if you are unvaccinated. - I think what's going to happen is those individuals who have been infected and recovered and have not gotten vaccinated on top of it are going to be vulnerable to yet another wave. - Our thanks to Stephanie for that. So often, we have heard from health officials that getting as many people vaccinated as possible around the world is key to getting this virus under control. Well, a dynamic duo of scientists at the Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Development and Baylor College of Medicine were able to create a new low-cost COVID vaccine that could help significantly speed up the fight against COVID and slow down the amount of lives lost, globally. Joining us now is half of that duo, Dr. Maria Bottazzi. Doctor, thanks so much for joining us tonight. Let's talk about this new vaccine, Corbevax. Explain to us how it was developed at such a low cost, and how does that cost compare to the others that are already out there on the market. - Well, thank you, Linsey, so much for having me. And yes, this is the fruit of our collaboration for the last 20 months with the company Biological E, who has, of course, trademarked this vaccine called Corbevax. We have 10 years of experience making protein-based vaccines, which we use the yeast system to make these synthetic proteins, in this case, the receptor-binding domain protein of the spike of the COVID-19 virus. We transferred this technology to them, co-developed it with them. And as you can see, it's simple in the context of vaccine development. It can be scaled at large quantities. Biological E showed very promising safety and efficacy data in India, and it's been authorized now for its use in India. - That's very exciting. And unlike Pfizer and Moderna, most of your funding came from private investors, including the Austin-based company Tito's vodka. What's the fundraising process like for vaccine like this? - Well first of all, it was challenging at best, but very privileged to Indeed having received so many groups, foundations, individuals who really believed in our strategy. We, indeed, got some seed funds from the National Institutes of Health. Certainly, they enabled our work 10 years ago to look at coronavirus vaccines for SARS and MERS. But of course, there's priorities. I mean, we are a small research lab within Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, but with a big heart, trying to do big things. And I think people really saw the value of advancing this type of work and really decolonizing a little bit of how vaccines are being made. It's really transferring and giving the opportunity to many around the world, manufacturers and producers around the world, that really can make vaccines for their own countries, or for their own regions. - And I want to pull up an article that our Houston station KTRK did back in March of 2020, right before COVID took over the world. The article's headline reads, Potential Coronavirus Vaccine may be Tucked Away in houston Freezer. What's your reaction to seeing that article today, almost two years later? - Amazing, right? I mean, yes, we still have that vaccine in the freezer. It's our old SARS prototype. We actually had been showing that there's a value, potentially, of using even an older molecule to cross-protect against future coronavirus variants, for example. So in fact, one of our next strategies is can we even re-evaluate this whole concept of multivalency, or even doing universal types of vaccines by mixing and matching vaccines against many of these different coronaviruses. But that clearly just reminds me that, having been worked, that sustainable capacity of doing research in an area really teaches us to how to respond to emergencies such as this. So my hope is that we continue supporting research and development, especially academic units and small units, like enable others to really advance products such as this one. - And a large part of your mission for health equity is driven by your own personal experience, as someone raised and educated in Honduras. During an interview at your institution, you were asked about your main goals with vaccine research. And you said, "my aspiration is to go beyond Houston, beyond Texas and the US. I have never disconnected myself from my roots in Latin America, especially Central America." With the development of this vaccine, do you feel like mission accomplished? - Well, partially mission accomplished because we still have lots to do, right. And I think more than anything is you're right, it's feeling proud that I was trained in the National University of Honduras. I think it's very important to highlight that we get as high quality as an education as anywhere and therefore incentivizing more young scientists to don't discourage. Look for how to open doors, how to build your networks, and certainly seeing more of this concept that we need more research locally to find solutions for local problems. And I think that my role is, as I said at that time, is to continue forging those relationships and incentivizing the young scientists to get into this kind of field, even though it is not easy. But it's definitely very rewarding, especially when you want to do something good for so many people around the world. - Well, Doctor Bottazzi, we thank you so much for your time. And for everyone around the world, we are grateful for the fruits of your labor. - Thank you, Linsey. - Now to the investigation into the synagogue hostage siege in Texas. UK authorities confirm that they investigated the suspect back in 2020, but he was determined to not be a threat. And tonight, we have new details about his time here in America leading up to that terrifying day. Here's ABC's Mireya Villarreal in Texas again for us tonight. MIREYA VILLAREAL: Tonight, we're learning how British National Malik Akram was able to enter the US just weeks before that Texas synagogue standoff, despite being on the UK's radar. Law enforcement sources tell ABC News British authorities investigated him a year ago, but determined he posed no threat that would stop him from traveling, allowing him to fly into New York over two weeks ago and then make his way to Texas, where he bought a gun from someone he met at a homeless shelter. - He was checked against US government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the US government did not have any derogatory information about the individual. MIREYA VILLAREAL: Akram interrupting Saturday's Shabbat service at Congregation Beth Israel, allegedly holding rabbi Charlie Citron Walker and three others at gunpoint, demanding the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui. One of the hostages, Jeffrey Cohen, telling CNN. - At one point, he even said that I'm going to put a bullet in each of you, get down on your knees. I glared at him, and I mouthed no. MIREYA VILLAREAL: The 11-hour standoff ended with the hostages escaping at Akram shot dead as FBI agents converged. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security now warning law enforcement nationwide that communities of faith will likely continue to be targets of violence and extremist actions. (SINGING): My spirit-- MIREYA VILLAREAL: The former captives, now finding strength through the community's support. - And while very few of us are doing OK right now, we'll get through this. - Linsey, officials in the UK will not comment on this case because it is an ongoing investigation. But the White House says they're going to take a hard look at what happened at Congregation Beth Israel to see what lessons can be learned to try and prevent this from happening again, Linsey. - Mireya, thank you. And now to the escalating tensions over Ukraine. The White House calling the situation there extremely dangerous, claiming Russian military action could happen at any moment. Secretary of State Blinken is heading to the region, but our Pannell is already on the ground for us there and files this report. IAN PANNELL: Tonight, an urgent diplomatic mission to stave off a potential war in Ukraine as the White House ramps up the rhetoric, claiming military action by Russia could happen at any moment. - This is an extremely dangerous situation. We're now at a stage where Russia could, at any point, launch an attack in Ukraine. IAN PANNELL: Today, more Russian troops and hardware arriving in Belarus, to Ukraine's North, for war games, adding to the pressure from thousands already massing to the East. The Kremlin threatening a military technical response unless there's a guarantee Ukraine won't join NATO. - President Putin has created this crisis by amassing 100,000 Russian troops along Ukraine's borders. This includes moving Russian forces into Belarus, recently, for joint exercises and conducting additional exercises on Ukraine's Eastern border. IAN PANNELL: Secretary Blinken, now en route to the region for talks in Ukraine, then a face to face with the Russians. It could make the difference between war and peace. Linsey, the Pentagon tonight saying there's still room for diplomacy to work, but three meetings last week producing no obvious compromise. And now more troops are gathering at a different parts of the border. Yes, there's still time for diplomacy here, but it may also be running out, Linsey. LINSEY DAVIS: Diplomacy now the last hope. Ian, thank you. Next, to the high stakes showdown over safety in the sky, which has been averted, at least for now. Airlines and two major cell phone providers have been at odds over 5G wireless technology going live tomorrow. Airline CEOs warned of potentially dangerous disruptions to travel, but today, both Verizon, as well as AT&T, they agreed to delay 5G near some airports. But as ABC's Gio Benitez reports, there is no long-term solution in sight. GIO BENITEZ: Tonight, crisis averted, AT&T and Verizon agreeing to temporarily limit the number of towers around airports that will carry their high speed 5G signals. The unexpected move coming just a day after major US airlines warned that there could be a, quote, catastrophic disruption to air travel if 5G rolled out near major airports. Here's the worry. That stronger 5G signal is very similar to the frequency of a plane's radio altimeter, a device pilots use to judge their distance from the ground. Airlines say in poor weather conditions, when visibility is low, pilots might not have reliable information to land safely, potentially leading to thousands of diverted and canceled flights, and not just for passengers, but cargo, too. - The FAA cannot tell us if there is a problem. The airlines are erring on the side of safety to make sure that they scientifically determine that there isn't a problem and that the flying public stays particularly safe. GIO BENITEZ: The wireless carriers have long said 5G would not interfere with aircraft electronics. AT&T saying in a statement, we are frustrated by the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services. The FAA says other countries have created permanent buffer zones, keeping the signal away from airports. But the signal in the US would be more than twice as strong as those used in Europe. Our Mary Bruce asking the White House today why they didn't act sooner, despite two years to prepare for the 5G upgrade. - Did the FAA drop the ball here? - You know, I think, Mary, there'll be lots of time to look back and see how we got here. - Our Thanks to Gio. And still to come, our look at a remarkable group of female journalists armed with smartphones and ready to break traditions in India. They were featured in a new documentary, Writing With Fire, which some say should be on the Oscar shortlist. Welcome back. We're tracking several headlines around the world. At least 26 people are dead and three others injured after twin earthquakes hit Western Afghanistan and one of the country's most impoverished regions. The UN announced three villages of around 800 houses were completely flattened by the quakes. Many villagers are still searching the rubble for loved ones, while spending the night homeless sleeping among the ruins of their homes. A Mexican journalist was shot and killed outside his home in Tijuana on Monday. Margarito Martinez was known as a fearless freelance photographer who covered gang violence in the city along the US border. He is the second journalist to be killed in Mexico just this year. A total of 48 journalists have been killed there since December, 2018. Mexico is notoriously one of the most dangerous places for reporters outside active war zones. Nearly 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, are set to be put down by Hong Kong authorities after several rodents tested positive for COVID. This comes after one pet shop employee, and several hamsters imported from the Netherlands, tested positive for the Delta variant. The city-- the city will also stop all sales of hamsters and the import of small mammals. - We don't take bribes to report news. - Speak within your limits. Don't overdo it. - In our region, a Dalit woman journalist was unimaginable. - That is a clip from a remarkable new award-winning documentary, Writing With Fire, about India's only newspaper run by Dalit women. These are people once considered to be in the lowest rung of India's caste system. Now, this unique digital, rural news outlet employs 18 female reporters whose stories have gained nearly 500,000 followers and 10 million views on YouTube alone. They are reshaping the news industry and transforming societal norms one story at a time. Earlier today, I had the pleasure to speak with the filmmakers, Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh. Thank you both so much for joining us, and congratulations on your film, now, what, five years in the making. So let's talk about the journalists behind waves of news. And traditionally, they are coming from and reporting in these regions known for corruption, violence, and oppression. Is that the particular reason that they are reporting in these areas. Because quite often, the mainstream media was forgetting about them. RINTU THOMAS: These are stories missing from mainstream media and mostly underrepresented, or completely, completely invisible. So the most important thing is them visiblizing themselves through the medium of journalism and newsmaking. And they've been in a region which is extremely harsh, as you said, and had been rooted there, mostly in media dark villages, for 14 long years. And when we met them, they were at a very interesting cusp of transitioning from print to digital, and audacious because most of these women had never touched a smartphone. - And we see that in the film as they're opening up their iPhones for the first time. How transformative has this technology been as a tool for their craft. - Immensely, so, so when they were a print edition, they were doing about 5,000 newspapers a month. And they calculated that the readership was about 15,000 a month, mostly men because in these parts of the country it is essentially men who would complete their education and not women. When they shifted to digital, and they started using YouTube and WhatsApp, they were able to amplify their work using digital. And it's had a tremendous impact on the growth of the news agency itself. - There's one moment in the film where a woman says, well, what would you have me to do if you were in my place? She says that to the man, and then he says I would focus more on housework. How unusual is this for women, in particular the Dalit women, to to have these kinds of professions? - As a Dalit couple, I think women have always worked outside of the house because that that's how you earn your livelihood. And so working is not new, but working as a journalist is transformational, radical, because that's not a profession that women are generally expected to take up because it's considered risky. They are doing hardcore crime investigation, political beats. So that is risky, definitely, and dangerous. And part of the resistance comes from that, as well. - You know, I'm curious because India, in theory, has banned caste systems. Even though we know that those systems of oppression quite often are just kind of knit into the fabric of society, and these women in particular, being Dalit women, which is considered to be the lowest caste. How does that play out, and what did you learn in particular from Mira about that? - We constantly experienced men in positions of power and privilege always flummoxed when you would have Mira and her team stand up to them, questioning them about health budgets, questioning them about development budgets, or, you know, the lack of transparency within the leadership system in the administration. And these are men who were stunned because they are not used to seeing Dalit women challenging their authority. I think the fact that when more people in the community, and in the region, see these women step out in positions of power as journalists, and challenge, and question, these authorities, and hold them accountable, I think that completely changes the dynamics. And I think it's having a ripple effect in the region. And the fact that, you know, the news agencies own sort of viewership has exploded online, and it's all organic growth. - And let's talk about the rise of Hindu nationalism and the effect that that has had on freedom of the press. - I mean, it's sort of like-- I think it's a matter of fact that you see in all parts of the world, the rise of populist governments, from the Philippines all the way through Europe, as well as America four years under Trump. And it's not easy, essentially, being an independent journalist is anymore. I think that the fact that these women are not only doing their job but growing, and that there is such a huge demand for the news that they are producing, speaks to the fact that people want to see more of this. And people are pining for what the real news really is. - And with that, what would you like viewers to take away from the film, and also the journalists themselves. - We've all, at some point in our lives, been at the receiving end of injustice. We've been told that we're not good enough, we don't belong, that this is not our space. Watch these women in action being articulate, being dreamers, being badass. And go, if she can do it, what's stopping me? We really hope that people make that connection, that every last person, every last voice matters, and it starts with myself. If people take that away from the film, I think it's worth the five years of joy and pain on this one. - We hope that more people across the world will be able to sort of find this film, and watch this story, and be able to imagine another world, just like Mira is, and work towards it. - We promise that you've never seen such women on screen. That's, that's a challenge. - Never seen anything like it. Our thanks to Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh. And that is our show for tonight. Be sure to stay tuned to ABC News Live for more context and analysis of the day's top stories. I'm Linsey Davis. Thank you so much for streaming with us. Have a great night. 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This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"12:37","description":"Airlines’ concerns about 5G were ‘well known for years': former FAA head; Chairman of Jordan Brand shares dark secret; Documentary spotlights trailblazing women reporters in rural India","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/US","id":"82340729","title":"ABC News Live Prime: Tuesday, January 18, 2021","url":"/US/video/abc-news-live-prime-tuesday-january-18-2021-82340729"}