PBS NewsHour full episode, April 4, 2022
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: the horrors of war.
International outrage grows over atrocities apparently committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including the mass murder of civilians. Then: the tipping point. The United Nations Panel on Climate Change calls for a dramatic shift away from fossil fuel to avoid a catastrophic global temperature increase.
And footsteps from the past. Prehistoric human tracks in New Mexico have the potential to upend conventional wisdom about how long humans have inhabited North America. MATTHEW BENNETT, Bournemouth University: It's probably the most important track site in the Americas, both in terms of scale, but also in the frequency of tracks. And that's what's really special about it. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Global outrage grew today as more horrific revelations surface from Bucha, Ukraine, a town northwest of Kyiv. Hundreds of Ukrainians died there, many apparently executed by Russian troops as they retreated from the town last week. President Biden spoke to these latest horrors of war this morning at the White House. JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter -- you saw what happened in Bucha.
This warrants him -- he is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information, we have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight, and we have to get all the detail so this can be an actual -- have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal. And what's happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone's seen it. JUDY WOODRUFF: Meantime, the National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said today that the Russians are making a strategic shift to focus their military efforts on Eastern Ukraine and leaving the towns and cities around Kyiv like Bucha.
Special correspondent Simon Ostrovsky and videographer Yegor Troyanovsky traveled to Bucha yesterday to see the horrific aftermath of the Russian occupation. And a warning: Many images in this report will upset viewers, but we feel it's necessary to show you what the Russian forces apparently did as they retreated from this area. SIMON OSTROVSKY: This was once a quiet suburb of the Ukrainian capital.
Now the town of Bucha is synonymous with the death and devastation. On the way in, smashed Russian columns and the body of soldiers bodies of soldiers who were ordered to take Kyiv, but never made it that far. Within Bucha itself, the Russian retreat has exposed the horrors of war for Ukrainian civilians. Volunteers bag the bodies of a group of men, unceremoniously dumped behind the building, presumably by the Russians who used it as a base and left behind their waste and army-issued food rations.
What we have seen here is eight bodies, some of them with their hands tied behind their backs. This could be evidence of war crimes. The soldiers we're here with say that they were tortured before they died. One of the men with tied hands is shirtless. His body is bruised, and he appears to have died from a bullet wound to the head.
SERHIY KAPLYCHNYI, Funeral Director, Municipal Funeral Service (through translator): I know one of these people personally. I have talked to him. His wife called me and asked me to help, Andriy Dvornikov.
He drove a minibus for a company in Kyiv. QUESTION (through translator): Also shot in the head? SERHIY KAPLYCHNYI there Yes, in the head. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Behind the local cathedral, a mass grave. We saw 13 bodies still exposed, but there are as many as 57 beneath the ground, according to Agence France-Presse. In all, more than 300 civilian bodies have been recovered in Bucha so far, according to the community's funeral director. Part of Russia's response to allegations that its forces committed war crimes has been to blame the Ukrainians themselves for killing their own people after Russian forces pulled out on March 31.
That timeline is not supported by the evidence bodies like these of men in civilian clothes with gunshot wounds to the head in a partially decomposed estate. It also st square with the accounts of residents of Bucha itself. VIKTOR, Bucha Resident (through translator): They just took people and shot them for nothing just before they fled. The last five days, they were here, you could hear it, because, before, it was relatively quiet. You just hear their vehicles.
But then there was automatic gunfire all over their place. They killed an old lady in the school. We carried a body with a head wound out of a nine-story building. We found civilians in a garden over there, all of them straight to the head.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: Bucha and Irpin are as far as Russia's armored column made it. This is where the tip of the sphere was broken by Ukrainian resistance. What we are finding now, as the Russians retreated, is the devastation that they have left in their wake. And the civilian toll has been really high.
YULIA TRUBA, Partner of Andriy Dvornikov (through translator): He is a veteran. In other words, he served for a year and defended our country. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Yulia Truba was visiting relatives when Russian forces occupied Bucha, where she lived with her boyfriend of three years, Andriy Dvornikov, the man whose body was found with his hands tied behind his back. From witness accounts, she has been able to piece together that Russian forces were looking for military veterans, and likely executed him when they fan when they found out he served in the war in Ukraine's Donbass region several years ago. YULIA TRUBA (through translator): I was told he was shot in the head.
But, in the photos, he is face down. You cant see anything on the back of his head. That means they were looking in his eyes when they shot him.
This is insane. A sane person would not do that. It is such cruelty. It is the height of cruelty. How can you do that? SIMON OSTROVSKY: With the atrocities in Bucha exposed to the world, Ukrainians no longer have any doubt they are fighting a war for their very survival, a war which is far from over, as Russia refocuses its efforts on conquering the country's east. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Simon Ostrovsky in Bucha.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Hundreds of miles to the east of Kyiv and Bucha is what was once Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv. Now it is largely emptied of its residents. While stymied from taking the city, the Russians are still pounding it with artillery, causing widespread destruction and sparking fires.
Special correspondent Jack Hewson and filmmaker Ed Ram travel with fire brigades, whose already difficult jobs have become more terrifying in the midst of war. (SOUND BLARING) JACK HEWSON: That sound means it is time to go, fireproof clothes and now bulletproof vests. Kharkiv is under a constant state of alarm. But few have felt its urgency like the city's firefighters. VLADIMIR PODGORNIY, Fireman (through translator): I throw all unnecessary thoughts out of my head, so nothing can interfere with me. JACK HEWSON: Before every mission, tensions are high.
But it is not just fires that these men have to face. SERGEI SEGIENKO, Fireman (through translator): Our work has become more difficult. And there was a risk before, but now has become riskier because of incoming shells. JACK HEWSON: They are on their way to northeast Kharkiv. On this day, Ukrainian authorities say more than 380 munitions landed on the city and its civilians.
Incoming rounds have started yet another apartment blaze. It seems the Russians are trying to smash the people's spirit. SERGEI SEGIENKO (through translator): Everyone experiences the situation in their own way. But people still do their duty.
Everyone is worried, but no one talks about it. We keep ourselves to ourselves. JACK HEWSON: But just as the firemen are starting to get this blaze under control, the area comes under renewed attack.
It is the third round of artillery that we have had incoming for the last 20 minutes. These firefighters here behind you, they are also hiding. Everybody is trying to take cover. Let's get down, get down. You can hear the fizz of the shells landing. That means they are particularly close.
There is a pause in the shelling, and the decision is made to pull back. It is too dangerous to operate. VLADIMIR PODGORNIY (through translator): Once, a shell hit 15 meters away from us. The windshield of our truck was damaged.
JACK HEWSON: Since the start of the war, one firefighter has been killed and at least four injured. There are more blazes than the firefighters can get to. Moscow says it is not targeting civilians, but this residential district has faced heavy bombardment for more than a month.
In the course of the morning, a gas main was struck, and this shop front incinerated in the blast. An eerie silence hangs over the street. But, as we film the devastation, it becomes apparent the Russian guns aren't done. (EXPLOSIONS) JACK HEWSON: We are having to stay on the ground. The shelling continues around us.
It is very close, frankly. This is what people here have to live with every day. (EXPLOSIONS) JACK HEWSON: The relentless bombardment of Kharkiv has destroyed more than 1,000 homes and public buildings. The fire service's area of operation has been divided by the front line. YEVGEN VASYLENKO, Kharkiv Region Fire Service Spokesman (through translator): Yes, rescuers are working in terrible conditions from the first day of war.
So, every fire warning call is like new training for our service. Every fire, every obstruction, every blast, every departure is never the same. JACK HEWSON: Shelling forces the firemen back to base, and as it continues into the afternoon, the order is given to move underground. MAN (through translator): Wait.
I will light the way. JACK HEWSON: It is a long wait for the all-clear. And the shift commander tells me a mixture of artillery and rockets have been most commonly used the Russian forces.
DENIS MAMCHENKO, Fireman (through translator): There was a hit of a Grad rocket in this apartment on the ninth floor. As a result, there was a fire started in two apartments. JACK HEWSON: Cluster munitions, banned in many countries, but not Russia or Ukraine, have also been used in Kharkiv, according to Human Rights Watch.
DENIS MAMCHENKO (through translator): But this type of cluster projectile was found while putting out a fire in the city's biggest marketplace. JACK HEWSON: While Russian forces have moved away from Kyiv, they continue to terrorize Kharkiv. There is no rest for the fire service, as the city continues to burn. For the "PBS NewsHour," I am Jack Hewson in, Kharkiv, Ukraine. JUDY WOODRUFF: The bravery.
And a note: Our coverage of the war in Ukraine is supported in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. As we mentioned, this weekend's horrific image is has led President Biden and others to accuse Vladimir Putin of war crimes. Ukraine's president and some European leaders even accused Russia of genocide. Nick Schifrin looks at the different crimes and how Russia might be held accountable. NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, U.S. administration officials accused Russia of deliberately killing
civilians in Ukraine as part of its campaign, and said President Biden would work with allies to determine how to hold Putin accountable. To discuss this, we turn to Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London and the author of "East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide." Philippe Sands, welcome to the "NewsHour." Let's start by talking about what is the difference between war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and a fourth term, crimes of aggression? And why do you think crimes of aggression might be the most important here? PHILIPPE SANDS, University College London: Sure. Well, hi, Nick.
And I'm sorry to join you in these horrific images. But thank you for your coverage. There are four international crimes.
War times, which includes the targeting of civilians. Crimes against humanity, where it crosses a scale because it is systematic. It essentially focusing on individuals. Genocide, where you are targeting groups. And, finally, the crime of aggression, which is the waging of an illegal war.
All four were installed by the famous Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946. And they are established now in international law. In the present circumstances, where Russia has waged a war that is manifestly illegal, it is plain to me that the crime of aggression is being perpetrated.
And the significance of that crime is that it is the only one with any degree of certainty which reaches the top table, Mr. Putin, Mr. Lavrov, the defense minister, senior military, senior intelligence, senior political leaders. For all the other crimes, the challenge you have got is linking the terrible images we have just seen with the leadership at the top. And that can be difficult.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But as the images show, as Jack reported from Kharkiv, the indiscriminate attacks on civilian neighborhoods, as we saw from Simon, the horrific attacks outside of Kyiv and Bucha this weekend, as you point out, international law requires protecting civilians. So, is the war crimes accusation not a clear-cut one? PHILIPPE SANDS: So, we saw two different sets of images. One was plainly of civilian targets, buildings, apartment blocks, being targeted by someone. And that is a violation of the laws of war.
It is a war crime to target a nonmilitary objective. The other images were obviously appalling to look at. It looked like individuals who had been tied up, bound, hands behind their backs, apparently shot.
They appeared to be civilians. That looks to me likely as a war crime, and one that is carried on systematically. So, there is no difficulty proving, I suspect, that war crimes have happened. The question is, who committed them? Was it a bunch of soldiers on the run going a little bit crazy? Or was it on instructions from on high? Did the leadership know about it and turn a blind eye about it? And the difficulty of proving what's called command responsibility, the leadership, for war crimes and crimes against humanity is well-established from Yugoslavia and from other conflicts, which is why I and many others say that the principal objective for President Biden should be focusing on the illegality of the war, from which all these other illegalities Stephen Mull.
And that requires going against Mr. Putin for the crime of aggression. NICK SCHIFRIN: As we noted, President Biden today accused Putin of war crimes, but not genocide. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy accuses Russia of genocide and gave this reasoning to Margaret Brennan on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, Ukrainian President (through translator): The elimination of the whole nation and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities.
This is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities. NICK SCHIFRIN: Extermination of the Ukrainian nation, do you believe that that meets the legal threshold of genocide, the intent to destroy? PHILIPPE SANDS: Look, Nick, I understand exactly what President Zelenskyy is doing. And, obviously, I have a great deal of sympathy, and in the view of all of these horrors. He's using the term genocide, I think, in its political sense, which is the killing of large numbers of people. But that's not the legal sense. The legal sense in international courts and national courts is, you have got to prove something that's very difficult to prove, the intention to destroy a group in whole or in part.
And courts have been notoriously reticent to do that. So I -- from what I have seen, I think it's going to be tough to make out genocide as a crime, although I think crimes against humanity are taking place and war crimes. And what President Zelenskyy did last night is, he called for the creation of a special tribunal to target the leadership with the crime of aggression.
I think he knows that genocide, crimes against humanity, tying that to the leadership may be more difficult. And he wants to bring the top people, if you like, at the top table into the dock. And I think that's what President Biden needs to be focusing on. When President Biden calls Mr. Putin a war criminal, he's probably mixing up, in a sense,
the different international crimes. And the question for the administration will be, which of the various crimes do they really want to focus on? NICK SCHIFRIN: Quickly, because we only have about 30 seconds left, as you pointed out, Zelenskyy called for a special tribunal. You have called for a special tribunal, even though it would not be created by the Security Council, because Russia would veto it.
Could that special tribunal undercut the work of an International Criminal Court case? PHILIPPE SANDS: No. I mean, I'm very supportive of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. And it's continuing its work. It's exercising jurisdiction on war crimes, crimes against humanity, maybe also genocide.
I and about 100 former leaders from around the world have called for the creation of a special criminal tribunal, which will sit alongside the ICC in The Hague and investigate in parallel the crime of aggression. It's very important to support the prosecutor, as the U.S. Senate has done, remarkably, in a unanimous resolution adopted last week.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Philippe Sands, thank you very much. PHILIPPE SANDS: Thank you for your work. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news, leading climate scientists warn that governments are falling well short on lowering the planet's temperature. Instead, the United Nations panel said that global warming could increase this century by twice the limits agreed in 2015.
It called for urgent action this decade. We will get details after the new summary. U.S. Senate negotiators agreed today on a pandemic relief package of $10 billion. It would buy more tests and vaccines using unspent funds from previous aid measures.
It would not include aid for other countries. Lawmakers hope to pass it before a recess in two weeks. The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked today on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court. Democrats then moved to bring it to the full Senate on a procedural vote. Earlier, Jackson earned both praise and criticism, as committee members spoke one by one. SEN.
PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Our nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, in my mind, embodies the highest ideals of our judiciary and the legal profession. I know that's going to fall on deaf ears with some members of this committee, members who unfortunately cared more about seeing their sound bites on the social media fields than seriously and respectfully questioning the nominees. SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I can say definitively that I like her. I think she's a good person, but I cannot support her.
When you look at her record in-depth, her consistent policy position is that the federal sentencing guidelines are outdated, they are outmoded, they are too harsh, and that criminals in general are oversentenced. And I just have to say, I couldn't disagree with her more. JUDY WOODRUFF: Jackson is still on track for confirmation with the support of all 50 Democratic senators, plus Maine Republican Susan Collins and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, who announced her support late today.
Police in Sacramento, California, have made an arrest after a shooting on Sunday that killed six people and wounded a dozen more. It happened in the wee hours after a fight broke out in a crowded street. At least two shooters fired more than 100 rounds. Initial jury screening began today in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people in 2018.
The defendant, 23-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has pleaded guilty to the crime. The jury that is ultimately chosen will decide if he gets the death penalty. In Hungary, prime Minister Viktor Orban and his nationalist party have claimed a sweeping victory in Sunday's elections.
Orban is an ally of Russia's President Putin. Last night, he declared his newly won fourth term is a rebuke of liberalism, the European Union and of Ukraine's leaders. VIKTOR ORBAN, Prime Minister of Hungary (through translator): This victory will also be remembered for the rest of our lives, perhaps because we had to fight the biggest overwhelming force, the left at home, the international left all around, the Brussels bureaucrats, the international mainstream media, and, in the end, even the Ukrainian president. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in Serbia, another Putin ally, President Aleksandar Vucic, won reelection in a landslide on Sunday.
In Pakistan, the Supreme Court adjourned today after a hearing on Prime Minister Imran Khan's move to dissolve Parliament. On Sunday, Khan and his allies staved off a vote of no confidence by sending lawmakers home and calling for new elections. The hearing resumes tomorrow.
The World Health Organization reports at 99 percent of the global population breathes air that exceeds pollution standards. The U.N. agency today blamed the problem for millions of preventable deaths. It urged more action to reduce particulate matter that damages lungs. On the pandemic, China has sent more than 10,000 health workers to Shanghai, including 2,000 troops, as a COVID-19 outbreak spreads. The workers are helping with mass testing of some 25 million residents. But streets remain desolate today, as the city entered its second week of lockdown.
Back in this country, big tech and communication stocks led Wall Street higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 103 points to close near 34922. The Nasdaq rose 271 points.
That's nearly 2 percent. The S&P 500 added 36. And the 2022 Grammy Awards are in the books, with an unexpected big winner.
Jon Batiste took home five Grammys, including album of the year. R&B duo Silk Sonic won song of the year for "Leave the Door Open," plus three other awards. And Olivia Rodrigo was named best new artist of the year. Still to come on the "NewsHour": Tamara Keith and Amy Walter break down the latest political news; ancient footprints in New Mexico raise questions about early humans in North America; coach Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks take home the women's basketball championship title; plus much more. We return now to climate change and the U.N. panel's latest report stressing the need for
dramatic cuts in greenhouse gases to head off the worst impacts of climate change. William Brangham has the details. ANTONIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General: The jury has reached the verdict, and it is damning. This report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a litany of broken climate promises. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In his typically blunt language, U.N. secretary-General Antonio Guterres was
withering towards the world's leaders, calling todays U.N. report an indictment of their inaction against climate change. The third and final part of the latest IPCC report written by hundreds of scientists from around the world finds that greenhouse gas omissions from 2010 to 2019 were at their highest level in human history.
At this pace, the planet will blow past the goal of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius in just eight years. The U.N. report argues that, without substantive, sweeping changes, warming will make life on Earth increasingly dangerous and deadly. While the report cited some increase in positive climate policies, it said much more were needed. This report is principally focused on the concrete actions that nations can take to reduce the emissions that are driving climate change.
Those include a rapid turn to cleaner ways of generating electricity and using it as the principal source of power in our buildings and our vehicles, adapting the infrastructure of our cities, where over half the world's population lives, to make them more efficient, harnessing the ability of the land, forests, waterways, and how we farm to release less carbon and store more of it. JIM SKEA, Co-Chair, IPCC Working Group III: Human activities got us into this problem. Human agency can get us out of it. It is not all lost. We really have the chance to do something. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, given those warnings, how likely is it that world leaders will, in fact, do something? I'm joined by someone who looks closely at clean energy technology and broadly at the politics of climate policy.
Dave Roberts writes the newsletter called "Volts," which is also a terrific podcast. Dave Roberts, great to have you back on the "NewsHour." This U.N. report, again, paints a pretty damming picture. Warming is accelerating. The pledges thus far to do something about it are nowhere near enough. But they try to lay out all of these things that we can do if we really get our act together.
What do you take away from this most recent warning? DAVID ROBERTS, "Volts": Well, it's interesting. There's sort of two parallel paths going on here with each passing IPCC report. On the one hand, we continue running out of time and not acting fast enough. And the sort of cliff, if you will, of 1.5 degrees gets closer and closer.
But, on the other hand, there's the second story running alongside, which is, the tools we need to solve the problem, to mitigate the problem are growing ever more sophisticated and ever more cheap and ever more plentiful. So ,the need to do something and our ability to do something are both rising alongside one another. So it's just a -- the intensity of the whole message is cranking up and up and up.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, I know this is one of the things that you have written about, that people don't really appreciate the real revolution that is under way in clean energy technology. We always hear about the doom and gloom side and less about that flowering. When you look at that landscape, what are the things that give you some sense of, you know what, this stuff really could work? DAVID ROBERTS: Sure. Well, I'd say the biggest chunk of decarbonization, the biggest single item on the list is clean electrification, which means cleaning up the electricity sector, generating electricity without carbon, and then hooking up the transportation sector to electricity by electrifying vehicles, and then hooking up the building sector to the electricity sector by electrifying building, heating and cooling, and then, to the extent you can, hooking up the industrial sector, to use electricity for industrial heat and process heat and stuff like that. So electrification is the big menu item. And the tools for electrification, which are mainly wind and solar power, batteries, and then electrolysis to create green hydrogen, all four of those technologies are on what are called learning curves, which means, every time the deployment, the global deployment of those technologies doubles, their price drops by a predictable amount.
This has been going on for decades now. It's very predictable going forward. And if they just stay on those learning curves that they're on now, they are going to dominate the landscape within a few decades, purely because they will be so much cheaper than the alternatives that no one will -- the sort of political argument around them will fade.
They will just be the obvious option. It's all just a matter of speed, trying to nudge that process along faster. But it's under way already. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So what are the levers to nudge those things along? Are they happening at a pace, though, that is fast enough? Or does this require the lever of, say, a state, a government, a nation, to push them in the right direction? DAVID ROBERTS: Well, yes, they require policy. To get -- to hit our target, to hit our temperature targets that we're talking about, we definitely need public policy to accelerate them, because we're at the point now where no sort of market -- purely market-driven substitution could ever work fast enough. We're talking about completely transforming several sectors of the economy, the global economy, within 10 years.
And that's just not something that will ever just happen, no matter how cheap they get. So they have got to be pushed along by government policy, and it's been very frustrating. Government policy has not kept up, has not pushed hard enough.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On the U.S. policy front, I mean, President Biden surprised many with the Build Back Better legislation, which had a lot of very substantive climate change policies. But that has thus far been shelved, as far as I can tell.
And doesn't that make it very difficult for the president both to meet America's goals, but also cajole other nations to try to do the right thing? DAVID ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely. If the U.S. does not -- if the Congress does not pass the climate and energy provisions of the Build Back Better, which Manchin says he's OK with and everyone says they support, if we don't do that, it will be a failure, a complete failure on climate change, and we will lose credibility in front of other nations. And, conversely, if we pass those provisions, we will be almost very close to the trajectory we need to be on and it will be an enormous boost for our credibility on the international stage.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Dave Roberts of the "Volts" newsletter and podcast, thanks so much for being here. DAVID ROBERTS: Thanks, William. JUDY WOODRUFF: As we reported, on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan deal is emerging to give the White House some of the money it says it needs for COVID testing and vaccinations. And in the far northern reaches of the country, in Alaska, a vacant congressional seat has brought former Governor Sarah Palin back to the national political stage. Joining me to discuss all of this is our Politics Monday duo. That's Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter and Tamara Keith of NPR.
It is so good to see both of you on this Monday. And we have a little bit of news. Just in the last few minutes, we have learned that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has picked up a third Republican Senate vote, and that is Mitt Romney. It's a landslide, I guess, by modern standards.
(LAUGHTER) TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Modern standards. JUDY WOODRUFF: It looks like she will get at least 53 votes, three Republicans. I just want to quote quickly. He said: "While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make, I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity." AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right. And this was not a very difficult thing for a member of Congress, for the Senate to say not so long ago, which is, I might not have picked this person.
This isn't somebody that I agree with their political philosophy, but there's a president. That president gets to pick. And it's our job to just make sure that person is able to faithfully execute the job. That is becoming rarer and rarer. Instead, it is now a party-line vote.
So three votes now is actually pretty bipartisan. JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, most Republicans, Tam -- we heard Josh Hawley saying, yes, I like her, she's very nice, but she's completely wrong. TAMARA KEITH: Right. So three crossovers is about all we have been able to see in the Senate since they went nuclear and did away with the filibuster and sort of lowered the threshold for confirmation. But you're right.
We have seen a number of Republican senators come forward and say, this is a history-making nomination. She has made her family proud, she has made America proud, all of these things. She will be the first Black woman confirmed to the court. And it now looks quite clear that she will be confirmed to be on the court. JUDY WOODRUFF: And possibly the fact that she won't change the ideological balance of the court has something to do with the fact that she is getting some Republican votes.
AMY WALTER: Correct. It lowers the stakes. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, something else to talk about, and that is this -- Amy, the news of the COVID funding bill, it's -- it's $10 billion.
It's less than half what the White House was looking for. What does it say about -- I mean, at one point, the president's were getting all the money they wanted for COVID. AMY WALTER: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: What's changing here? AMY WALTER: Right.
Well, I think what's changing is, COVID is no longer the top issue for Americans. The issue of inflation is the top issue and the economy. And so pumping more money out, even though it is going to directly to the states and localities to handle things like vaccinations and treatments, still a lot for Congress to swallow.
They wanted to make sure that this money was offset by -- you could find the money to pay for this. It's no longer just Uncle Sam writing a check, saying, we will worry about it later. I also think it's interesting. We just noted Mitt Romney becoming the third vote there. Mitt Romney was instrumental in making this deal happen. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.
AMY WALTER: He has become sort of the fulcrum. We have talked a lot about Joe Manchin. Now, on the Republican side, it's Mitt Romney who's willing to actually cross the aisle and also be -- he's seen by Democrats clearly as somebody who they can deal with and as an honest broker. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tam, the administration's been really sweating this. And they're saying they're going to come back and ask for more, because they're really worried about filling some of the needs that are out there.
TAMARA KEITH: Well, one of the big things that this bill is lacking, that this deal is lacking is funding for the global effort to vaccinate the world. And it's not just producing vaccines and shipping vaccines, but it's also getting shots in arms. And that has been a real problem and a real concern. The administration is saying that some of those programs are going to have to stop pretty much right away without the funding.
But what this does contain on the domestic side is much needed funding that the White House has been raising alarms about, for instance -- and they haven't really talked about this explicitly that much, but in an interview I did with Jeff Zients last week, the White House COVID coordinator, he explained that they're already getting calls from companies that make those at-home rapid tests. Companies are already calling saying they want to shut down production lines because demand has fallen through the floor because people aren't testing right now. Omicron, you couldn't find a test. Everybody was begging for tests. Now they're everywhere. You get them by the gum at the drugstore.
And the concern, though, is what happens in six months? JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. TAMARA KEITH: And so this money will be there to prop up an industry that clearly the free market will not keep it going, will not keep those lines up. AMY WALTER: But, as we also know, there are countries that do have vaccines, whether it's China, for example, but their protocols are so strict, that they still are shutting down major portions of that country, which has an impact on this country, right, with supply chains and other items that we get from China. So, even when things are theoretically going well, which is supplying vaccines, people getting vaccinated, the rules country by country are going to impact us too. JUDY WOODRUFF: And so much of that is out of control of whoever is calling the shots here. AMY WALTER: Exactly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Terrible. Sorry about that. (LAUGHTER) AMY WALTER: You didn't mean to have that pun.
TAMARA KEITH: Bad vaccine pun. (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: We will just erase that. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: But I do want to ask you both about -- and I will start with you, Tam, in Alaska, some news. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: The former Governor Sarah Palin has stepped out of quiet, I guess, for a while to say she's one of -- going to be, what, of 52 people -- 51 people running for that one congressional seat in Alaska.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes, 51 people. It is -- but it is a really important seat. It is the congressperson for the entire state of Alaska. So the stakes for the people of Alaska are fairly high.
What Sarah Palin has been doing for a while is basically, since she ran for vice president, didn't win, ended up just quitting as governor, she's been sort of a reality TV political star for the last many years. Throwing her hat in the ring immediately. Donald J. Trump endorsed her, several other top Republicans too. I don't know that she's a shoo-in. I don't know that it's a guarantee.
She has a lot of name I.D., but I don't know that it's all totally great name I.D. in Alaska. JUDY WOODRUFF: She's not lacking for name identification. (LAUGHTER) AMY WALTER: No, or an ability to raise money.
And they're -- not only are there 51 candidates, but there's a new system now in Alaska. It's rank choice voting. There's also a top four primary process, so the top four candidates, regardless of party, of those 51 will go on to this run-off. So this is all brand-new.
This was designed, this new law that was passed by the voters in 2020, in many ways to help moderates, like Lisa Murkowski, so that you can't win a primary or a run-off just by getting a big slice of the base. You have to appeal to a broader slice. One thing I want to say about this too which is quite interesting, Sarah Palin, if she were to come to Congress, remember, in 2008, she was an outlier. She comes to Congress, she is now part of the majority, essentially, and the McCain wing of the party has -- basically is no longer there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The wing of the man who chose her and... AMY WALTER: Right, the wing of the man who chose her. JUDY WOODRUFF: ... and propelled held her into national -- international prominence. AMY WALTER: That's right. TAMARA KEITH: I mean, she was Trump before Trump.
She was a precursor for all of the politics of outrage, both stoking outrage in voters, and also creating outrage among liberals and then sticking it to them and raising money all along the way. Like, she really helped create this model... AMY WALTER: That's right. TAMARA KEITH: ... that Trump then used to get into the White House and is now -- there are numerous people using this model to raise money and potentially be the next Trump. AMY WALTER: That's right.
And it's what the party looks like now, and it's what Congress looks like now, the Republican side. JUDY WOODRUFF: This is one House race -- excuse me. AMY WALTER: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, this is one House race that's going to get a lot of attention. And we're all going to be reading up on rank choice voting. AMY WALTER: We will. It's first time it's open in almost 50 years too, so there's a lot of pent-up demand.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That's right. Don Young was there for half-a-century. AMY WALTER: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you both, Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, Politics Monday.
Thanks. AMY WALTER: You're welcome. TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: When humans first populated North America and how they arrived has long been a matter of spirited debate.
As Stephanie Sy reports, a recent study dig detailing what archaeologists believe are the oldest known footprints in the United States is sparking new questions and upending long-held assumptions. STEPHANIE SY: Within the sprawling expanse of gypsum sand dunes in dry and dry lake beds in New Mexico's White Sands National Park, researchers have spent years examining ancient footprints. David Bustos says is the park's resource program manager. He and a team of scientists discovered ancient animal tracks here over a decade ago from giant ground sloths, ancient camels and mammoths. Previously buried under layers of sand and clay the sequence of footprints called a trackway were revealed after a flood.
Matthew Bennett is a footprint expert. MATTHEW BENNETT, Bournemouth University: It's probably the most important track site in the Americas, both in terms of scale, geographical scale, but also in the frequency attracts. And that's what's really special about it.
STEPHANIE SY: In 2017, the team confirmed they had found human footprints. DAVID BUSTOS, White Sands National Park: We were brushing out a set of sloth prints, and Matthew found the human print right inside the middle of the sloth print. And that's sort of what sealed the deal. Oh, yes, you definitely have the megafauna and humans together. So that's sort of where the human side of the story all began.
STEPHANIE SY: The footprints show how humans coexisted with large wild animals. Many are of children and reveal a story about everyday life and play. MATTHEW BENNETT: The stories of children jumping in a puddle created by a sloth track, for example, that's one of the most fantastic things. Children love jumping in puddles everywhere. STEPHANIE SY: But one big unanswered question remained, how old the human footprints were, and whether they showed if humans inhabited North America earlier than previously thought. MATTHEW BENNETT: The peopling of the Americas is one of the most controversial archaeological debates, from an indigenous perspective of having always been here, from a more traditional archaeological perspective saying that peopling the Americas was quite a recent event.
And in a controversy, one of the issues is a lack of good data points. STEPHANIE SY: That's where Jeff Pigati, an expert in radiocarbon dating, and Kathleen Springer, a geologist and paleontologist, came in. JEFF PIGATI, U.S. Geological Survey: And so we need to be able to find an area where the
footprints are in the layers of sediment where we can find something to date below and above, so we can basically constrain the age of those trackways. KATHLEEN SPRINGER, U.S. Geological Survey: You need to sort of carve out a big trench to sort of, what I always say, reveal the belly of the beast and get inside.
STEPHANIE SY: It's like a cross-section. KATHLEEN SPRINGER: It's a cross-section, exactly. So then the hope is, OK, we found tracks in cross-section. And then the hope is, there better be something that is suitable for radiocarbon dating. STEPHANIE SY: It turns out there was, layers of seeds from aquatic grasses that grew near the trackway.
KATHLEEN SPRINGER: Some places, there's seeds underneath these human footprints. So we know that those seeds were and those plants were actually actively living and dying there. STEPHANIE SY: They used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the seeds. JEFF PIGATI: And so if we measure the amount of radiocarbon that's in a seed, for example, and we know how fast it decays, we can calculate how old the plant actually is.
STEPHANIE SY: Once they crunched the numbers, what they found was astounding. JEFF PIGATI: At the very bottom, where people were starting to walk around and where we have our lowest seed layer age, it's about 23,000 years old. And at the top, where the people were still walking around, and where we have our highest seed layer, it's about 21,000 years old. So we basically documented 2,000 years of human occupation in this area at White Sands a long, long time ago. STEPHANIE SY: Archaeologists have long believed that humans arrived in North America 13,500 to 16,000 years ago, after a period of warming had melted massive glaciers, opening up a land passage from Asia to North America. JEFF PIGATI: This is just so much older.
And then our first reaction is, oh, my God, we better check everything, because these better be right. STEPHANIE SY: Jeff Pigati says he has a 95 percent confidence level in the accuracy of the dating. JEFF PIGATI: We're as sure as you can possibly be scientifically that that's actually the case. STEPHANIE SY: But the evidence isn't rock-solid, say some archaeologists.
DAVID MELTZER, Southern Methodist University: The critical issues here are, is the dating reliable? STEPHANIE SY: David Meltzer is an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas. He believes dating seeds from an aquatic plant to tell the age of the footprints is potentially problematic, and says it's just too early to be confident. DAVID MELTZER: The people that are doing this, that are doing the work, they're pros. They know what they're doing. They know what they're about.
But here's the thing. Nature has a mischievous streak. And nature has fooled us before.
So the motto here is trust, but verify. STEPHANIE SY: Jeff Pigati and Kathleen Springer with the U.S. Geological Survey expected scrutiny and are now working to radiocarbon date pollen found in the rock layers.
And even then, there's so much yet to uncover. KATHLEEN SPRINGER: So we want to expand the story to not just occupation for 2,000 years, between 23 and 21, but what if it looks more like this, people were here for much longer? STEPHANIE SY: If the findings hold up, it could spark a reexamination of similar dry lake bed sites in the Southwest. And that could reveal even older evidence of humanity's foothold in North America.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: South Carolina emerges as a powerhouse in women's college basketball. The Gamecocks defeated the University of Connecticut last night, largely controlling the game from beginning to end. Amna Nawaz looks at the champions, their coach, and the state of the women's game.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, the UConn Huskies had won 11 NCAA titles, and they had never lost a championship game once they made it to the final round. But, last night, coach Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks were the ones who came out on top. Staley is now the first Black coach, male or female, to win multiple Division I national basketball championships.
She won the first title with South Carolina back in 2017. Rachel Bachman is a senior sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal. She joins me now from Minneapolis. Rachel, welcome to the "NewsHour." Thanks for being here.
You were there last night. You watched all of this unfold. Winning a title for any team at any time is a really big deal. But for this particular team, why was this such a big moment? RACHEL BACHMAN, The Wall Street Journal: Well, this really was more than a year in the making. Of course, last year, the South Carolina Gamecocks lost in heartbreaking fashion to Stanford, the eventual champion, on a last-second shot that fell out by their star, Aliyah Boston, who was back this year and really was laser-focused on getting back exactly where she did last night. And, this time, they did finish the job.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, they dominated pretty much the entire game, I think it's fair to say. They have dominated much of the season. They came in 35-2 in the regular season, ranked number one. For anyone who hasn't been watching them, why are they so good? RACHEL BACHMAN: Well, they really have an unstoppable combination of Boston down low. She's 6'5'', incredibly skilled.
She's the national player of the year. And then they have fantastic outside shooters, and including Destanni Henderson, who had a career high 26 points last night. And so this combination is extremely difficult to defend.
At the same time, they have got a great defense. And so they really can beat you almost any way. And that's exactly what they did to UConn. They really shut them down in every facet of the game. AMNA NAWAZ: What about their coach? Talk to me about Dawn Staley.
She herself is a trailblazer in so many ways, right? She was an All-Star in the WNBA, an Olympic gold medalist, now two-time national championship winning coach. Is this a dynasty she's building here now? RACHEL BACHMAN: Well, it's funny, because, last night, she was hesitant to call it that, because, of course, there are teams like UConn that have 11 titles. But she -- I think she's definitely building. Two titles in basically five seasons minus the COVID year. And they were they were number one the entire year this season.
So, I think, with Boston coming back, as she is next year, and the incredible recruiting that she's done and will continue to do, Dawn Staley, I don't see any reason why they wouldn't continue this winning stretch. AMNA NAWAZ: Coach Staley has talked about the pressure she feels as a Black coach, saying, especially going into these high-profile games, she feels that, because she knows, if you don't win, you close doors for other people coming up behind you. Performing as she has, two national titles now, what's the impact of someone like Dawn Staley on the game? RACHEL BACHMAN: The incredible thing about her is really she shoulders that responsibility. She embraces it. And she reaches out to other Black coaches. Last -- the last time she won the title, she shared pieces of the net with other Black women who coach basketball.
And she's planning to do something similar with Black male coaches with the net that she cut down last night. And so she really does shoulder that responsibility. It is a lot of pressure, she said, but she embraces it. And she really is a pathbreaker.
AMNA NAWAZ: At the same time, we should note she's among the higher paid coaches when it comes to women's college basketball. But it doesn't even compare to what the men get paid. She's even noted this before. She said: "In the men's game, even if you're unproven, you come in making what I'm making now. And it's ridiculous." Those are her words.
How are we doing on closing the pay disparity gap and just the investment gap that we know exists between the men's game and the women's game? RACHEL BACHMAN: Well, this is where it's very important to point out that the women's game is much newer. The men's championships started in 1939. The women's started in 1982. So, the women still have a lot of catching up to do. That being said, there could be more investment.
This is what the coaches are saying a lot, administrators are saying. And one of the reasons why coach Staley insisted on the highest salary that she does -- I think it's nearly $3 million a year, on average -- is, she wanted to set a marker for other coaches, so that they could say, hey, if I'm close to achieving that, I should get close to her pay as well. And this is very important in the women's game. I think a lot of coaches have grown up historically taking what they could get. And there are more and more coaches now who aren't satisfied with just accepting that.
AMNA NAWAZ: Coach Dawn Staley is going to be one to watch for years to come, and those South Carolina Gamecocks. Congratulations to them. That is Rachel Bachman, senior sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal, joining us tonight. Thank you so much.
RACHEL BACHMAN: Thank you so much, Amna. JUDY WOODRUFF: Congratulations to that South Carolina team. And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.