PBS NewsHour full episode, March 18, 2022

PBS NewsHour full episode, March 18, 2022

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: The war grinds on. Russian forces strike an aircraft facility in Western Ukraine, as civilians continue to come under attack and as Western sanctions against Russia hamstring its economy. Then: imprisoned. A Russian court extends American basketball star Brittney Griner's detention, raising broader questions about political prisoners.

JASON REZAIAN, Journalist Detained in Iran: What is often termed as wrongful detention or unjust detention is really just foreign governments taking U.S. citizens hostage. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's Friday. David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart consider the United States' ongoing response to the war in Ukraine and the congressional fight over COVID funding. All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden spoke with China's leader, Xi Jinping, today for nearly two hours about the war in Ukraine. The White House said Mr. Biden warned Xi against any possible Chinese support for the Russian invasion. Meantime, in Ukraine, the deadly carnage continues, with civilians the principal victims. Russian airstrikes hit near the Polish border to the west and rocket and artillery fire continued to target Kyiv.

That's where Jane Ferguson begins tonight's coverage. And a warning: Images and accounts in this report may be upsetting. JANE FERGUSON: Another morning brings another neighborhood of Kyiv under attack. The people of this community will never know why they were the target of Russia's bombs today, a missile lobbed from miles away thrown in anger by a thwarted army stuck outside the city.

At least one person was killed and several wounded. This morning's attack hit a residential neighborhood. This building is just filled with civilian apartments, now completely ripped open onto the street.

The bomb itself landed right here just feet away, leaving a huge crater now being cleaned up. This area is packed with civilians, and you can see, in the distance here, that building is a childhood nursery. The days have taken on a dark sort of routine, attacks in the early morning, followed by the mournful cleanup. Those returning to their homes hours later pick through the debris. We entered one building where residents were trying to salvage belongings. Svintlana called us into her shattered apartment.

"Look at me. I have cuts all over me," she tells us. You were here? She's a single mother living here with her 12-year-old son. This morning, like any other, she was making coffee by the window in her kitchen. SVINTLANA, Kyiv Resident (through translator): I was standing here, and the explosion was there. My son was over there, and I screamed at him, "Go and hide."

And he saw that something was burning, and he hid behind the wall, and I turned around, and this had happened. JANE FERGUSON: Svintlana is not just in shock. She's angry. SVINTLANA (through translator): Look at this. Look at me. Please show this on the news.

I want everyone to see me and to see my apartment. Look at me. These are deep wounds, not scratches. Look at me.

I am bleeding. Am I a military target? This is the clear murder of people. He was counting on us being killed. JANE FERGUSON: A colleague bandaged a deeper wound on her arm. SVINTLANA (through translator): My son was very frightened.

He was asking: "Mommy, are you alive?" And I said yes, but the blood was running all over my face. I tried to cover it with my hand, but he saw the blood. I'm afraid. What if another bomb comes in? JANE FERGUSON: She sent her son away to the bomb center immediately. Tonight, she will join him and the millions of others in Ukraine forced from their homes, yet still defiant. Beyond the capital, the war continues relentless.

Near the Polish border, Russian missiles hit a facility used by Ukrainian forces to repair Soviet era jets. It was the closest strike yet to Lviv. The city had until now been largely spared from Russian bombing. It has also been an important hub for relief efforts and civilians fleeing the worst attacks in the east. MAKSYM KOZYTSKYY, Governor of Lviv, Ukraine (through translator): This strike is a confirmation that they are not at war with the Ukrainian army, but with civilians, children, women, displaced people.

JANE FERGUSON: And further south, people still try to escape the besieged city of Mariupol, where Russian bombs this week destroyed a theater that sheltered women and children. Today, authorities said 130 have been rescued, but more than 1,000 may still be trapped. Elsewhere in the city today, residents buried loved ones near their damaged apartments, Bodies scattered both above ground and in fresh graves.

ALEXANDER, Mariupol Resident (through translator): My mother-in-law was born in 1936. She had a Russian passport, Russian citizenship. She is there. JANE FERGUSON: A senior U.S. defense official said today Russian advances remain largely stalled, but the cities of Chernihiv, Sumy, and Mariupol are still encircled.

To help Ukraine, the U.S. and allies have accelerated weapon shipments, which, today, Russia again threatened to target. SERGEY LAVROV, Russian Foreign Minister: Any cargo moving into Ukrainian territory which we believe is carrying weapons would be a fair game. JANE FERGUSON: But the U.S. has raised concerns that China would be the one sending weapons to Russia. Earlier today, President Biden spoke with China's Xi Jinping for nearly two hours.

In their first conversation since Russia's invasion, Xi reportedly called for peace, but did not condemn Moscow. And in what the U.S. called a direct conversation, President Biden said China would suffer consequences if it were to send material support to help the Russians.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Jane joins me now from Kyiv. So, Jane, we heard in your reporting that, despite these missile strikes, that the Russian ground forces are largely stalled. The Ukrainians have been able to hold them off. Is there a sense that they could -- that the Ukrainians could continue to do this and push them back even farther? JANE FERGUSON: There is a hope for that here on the ground in Kyiv, Judy. There have been some counteroffensives actually launched outside Kyiv to try to push the Russians back.

Now, that could potentially tip things in this war. Not only have the Russians, of course, been fought to a standstill, but if they could actually make them -- if they could push them back on the battlefield, then what that would do for morale here would be enormous. We know that some of the more professional units of the Ukrainian forces have been pushing out to do that. We have not been able to find out any more information ability how successful they have been, but, in recent days, there has been that push.

We have to remember as well that we're also getting increasing reports of more weaponry and more aid coming in, whether it's vehicles, also body armor, and potentially more of these anti-tank missile systems, which have been hugely impactful on the battlefield here. Much has been said about no-fly zones and whether or not that could help the Ukrainian forces, but, really, it's these handheld missile systems that take out tanks and helicopters that have been most menacing to the Russian forces. At the same time, you also have, on the other hand, the Russian forces struggling, struggling with supplies, struggling even with food. We have spoken with villagers outside of Kyiv who have just recently escaped areas under Russian control, and they say Russian soldiers are going to houses and asking for food. So, it's not just about the momentum that the Ukrainians are facing, but it's the huge, massive problems and logistical challenges that the Russians are too. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jane, you have also been talking to many of the Ukrainian people who have stayed behind.

They have stayed in their country. What are you hearing from them in terms of how committed they are to seeing this through? JANE FERGUSON: People here in Kyiv have really pushed into getting involved in much more voluntary work. Everyone you talk to who says that they have stayed, they don't say they're just hunkering down.

They say that: We have stayed to help with the war effort. Everywhere we go, we see people, not just volunteers with organizations, but individuals, people who will come down from the apartment blocks with a plate of sandwiches for those who have recently been evacuated from the fighting and from areas where people have been held up. So there is this real sense here of solidarity that you can feel in Kyiv.

In other parts of the country, of course, there are areas like Mariupol and Kharkiv and other cities that are massively under attack, that are facing even more fierce bombardments. And it's clear that some of the strategy behind those bombardments is to try to break that resolve of the Ukrainian people, that sense that many Ukrainians have that they very much so have the moral high ground in this war, that they are the wronged party. That is certainly what Ukrainians say to us every time we talk to them after an attack.

So, so far, we're seeing a huge amount of unity and coherence here within the capital and across the country. JUDY WOODRUFF: It's just a remarkable thing to watch. Jane Ferguson reporting for us again tonight from Kyiv in Ukraine. Thank you, Jane. In the day's other news: Wildfires are burning largely out of control in Central Texas today, fueled by low humidity and gusty winds.

In Eastland, about 120 miles west of Dallas, four of those fires merged into one. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate, and a sheriff's deputy died trying to save people from the flames. Some residents lost everything.

DEBBIE COPELAND, Lost Home in Eastland Fires: I did grab my wedding ring. And I couldn't find his. We didn't grab anything, I mean, I got some coats, and I'm still wearing what I had on. And... JUDY WOODRUFF: The fires have burned more than 70 square miles and are only 4 percent contained. The death toll from a string of chain-reaction crashes on a foggy interstate highway in Southeast Missouri rose to six people today.

Many more were injured. Scores of vehicles were involved in yesterday's pileup in the Charleston area, with wreckage spanning half-a-mile long. The interstate reopened early this morning.

Moderna has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve a second COVID-19 booster shot for all adults. That comes as cases in Asia and Europe are surging, driven by a more contagious version of the Omicron variant that is known as BA.2. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warned the pandemic is -- quote -- "far from over."

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bill that would prohibit hair-related discrimination. They voted 235 to 189, largely along party lines. The bill's lead sponsor, Democratic Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, insisted people shouldn't be denied employment or housing based on their hair texture or style. REP.

BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN (D-NJ): There are folks in this society who get to make those decisions who think, because your hair is kinky, it is braided, it is in knots, or it is not straightened, blonde, and light brown, that you somehow are not worthy of access to those issues. Well, that's discrimination. JUDY WOODRUFF: The measure now heads to the Senate, where passage is uncertain. President Biden has already pledged to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

And a doctor's union in Sudan today reported nearly 200 people were wounded in the latest protests against military rule. Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets yesterday, as thousands gathered in Khartoum to protest poor economic conditions. At least 87 people have been killed in the near daily protests since the military coup last October. An Australian government agency warned today that the Great Barrier Reef is suffering its worst coral bleaching damage in two years. Warmer ocean temperatures have caused severe and widespread bleaching in the north and central parts of the World Heritage Site.

The reef provides essential food and shelter for marine life. Volkswagen is recalling more than 246,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada over faulty wiring that makes the vehicles brake unexpectedly, sometimes in traffic. Many drivers also reported warning lights and alarms going off and the driver's side windows rolling down.

The recall impacts certain Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs. And on Wall Street today, stocks notched their biggest weekly gains since November 2020. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 274 points to close at 34755. The Nasdaq rose 279 points. The S&P 500 added 51.

Still to come on the "NewsHour": a Russian court extends American basketball star Brittney Griner's; a new exhibit honors the influential career of often-overlooked video artist Ulysses Jenkins; health writer Max Lugavere gives his Brief But Spectacular take on preventative care; plus much more. The economic sanctions leveled against Russia by the U.S. and its allies are the harshest ever handed down, and their effects are being felt widely in Russia. Special correspondent Ryan Chilcote has been in Moscow for more than two weeks, and has been speaking to Russians about how their lives are being affected.

He sent us this dispatch. RYAN CHILCOTE: It's the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin is throwing a party. It's also three weeks since Russia launched what it calls its special military operation. And as far as the Kremlin is concerned, there's a lot of celebrate. The concert is free, most of the 181,000 seats taken, the main act appearing in front of signs that read "For a World Without Nazism, "For Russia." Across town, there's little to celebrate.

The mass corporate exodus that began on February the 24th is still under way, more than 400 of the world's biggest brands fleeing so quickly, they left the window dressing. This going out of business sale doesn't have many discounts. It doesn't need to. WOMAN (through translator): Of course, people are losing their jobs, and that's bad. But I hope some other brands move into their niches.

RYAN CHILCOTE: Rive Gauche, meanwhile, is booming. Mastercard and Visa work. So does cash, and that's good news. This is a Russian chain, but the cosmetics come from abroad, but no one knows for how long. WOMAN (through translator): Of course, we're a little nervous. All my favorite brands are from abroad, and they can disappear.

RYAN CHILCOTE: McDonald's is also disappearing. When this one first opened, 30,000 people lined up. In case you're wondering how popular McDonald's is, it's 11:15 at night, and all these people have been standing out here to get inside. It's so full inside.

Tonight, it's last chance for a Happy Meal. This was the very first McDonald's to open in Russia. It was in 1990, and it was, in fact, still the Soviet Union. And it's just extraordinary to think that, after 32 years, they're all closing because of Ukraine. All 847 McDonald's will be shut, putting more than 60,000 jobs at risk, and, for some, a way of life. WOMAN: We go to the cinema or to the theater and then, after that, we go to McDonald's and eat something, like some order fries.

RYAN CHILCOTE: Yes. WOMAN: And I don't know what will happen next. RYAN CHILCOTE: Some of what will happen next has happened before. In 1998, the ruble lost two-thirds of its value over a month, accelerating inflation to 80-plus percent, and Boris Yeltsin's resignation a year later. Then, after a decade of unprecedented economic growth, the ruble fell again in 2014 after Vladimir Putin sent troops to annex Crimea. According to official statistics, Russian prices rose by 2.1 percent last week, the

kind of inflation central banks aim to see over a year. The official annual inflation rate is running above 12.5 percent. Auchan, a French chain with more than 300 supermarkets here, is well-stocked for now. One Russian economist says the country may be headed for Soviet-style inflation, where the prices don't rise, but goods disappear. Just like Americans, Russians are accustomed to an extraordinary range of groceries and assortment in their supermarkets, and yet, in this one, two days running, zero white sugar. Videos circulating on social media show elderly Russians, who remember Soviet shortages, swooping sugar.

The price rose nearly 13 percent last week. The government says there's no shortage. Sugar exports are now banned. The opening salvo in the West's economic war didn't pierce the Bank of Russia's facade, but cutting off the Central Bank's access to more than $300 billion did deprive it of more than half of its reserves.

Western sanctions have also taken aim at the Russian capital's monument to capitalism, its financial district called Moscow City, freezing its commercial banks out of the global financial system. Russia's financial system remains in shock. These Citibank customers are still trying to pull their money out, despite interest rates now at 20 percent. They have just been told this Moscow branch has run out of cash. Come back after lunch. The sanctions have also made flying difficult.

Leaving Russia isn't easy. Aeroflot, Russia's national carrier, has suspended all international flights. Options with other international carriers are limited.

You can still fly from Moscow to places like Israel, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and India. But U.S. and nearly all European airspace is close to Russian planes. And where it's open, there are still plenty of cancellations. Russia leases more than 500 of its some 800 planes from foreign companies.

For fear they will be seized abroad, those planes have been rerouted to domestic destinations. In the next couple of years, Russia's entire fleet could be grounded. Sanctions have blocked parts deliveries from Boeing and Airbus.

Andrey Movchan is a London-based economist. Movchan believes sanctions on imported technologies could bring up to 60 percent of the Russian industrial complex, the country's lifeblood, to a halt. Politically speaking, what do you think these sanctions will do? ANDREY MOVCHAN, Economist: I don't think they will do much. We see the remarkable examples of Iran and Venezuela, for example.

Both countries are under severe sanctions. Both countries lost much because of the sanctions. And the political situation didn't change.

And, in a certain sense, it was strengthened because of the sanctions. RYAN CHILCOTE: Dmitri Trenin is a Moscow-based political scientist. He thinks the sanctions are an opportunity for Russia to reform and build a more productive and equitable society. DMITRI TRENIN, Director, Carnegie Moscow Center: If you're able to do that, then Russia will emerge from this crisis materially poorer, but spiritually stronger and more coherent.

If not, then you're in trouble. RYAN CHILCOTE: And what's trouble look like? DMITRI TRENIN: In this country, you should be very careful with the bulk of your people. And they may be with you for a very long time.

They may be very patient, more patient than maybe any other people in the world. But, at some point, this patience may snap, as it did in February 1917, as it did in the final years of the Soviet Union. RYAN CHILCOTE: Neither analyst thinks the so-called oligarchs are capable of pulling off a Kremlin coup.

The sanctions against them, while painful, they say, won't change anything. Most Russians are reluctant to share their views about the conflict and sanctions. And here's why. On the city square above an underground mall the day we visit, this protester unveils a sign that literally says "Two Words."

Then, a woman who wants to voice her support for the Russian military is taken away. The subsequent chills seemed to permeate below. We have been here a while, and it is hard work getting people to talk to us in this mall. The reason? Well, one couple told us, the further you get away from this square, the more comfortable people are going to be talking. WOMAN: Yes, I don't want to talk about politics. MAN (through translator): That's a good question to ask me in the arrival area in another country.

RYAN CHILCOTE: Back at the concert, the live broadcast of President Putin's speech abruptly cuts to a pre-recorded concert. The Kremlin blamed the snafu on a server problem, a reminder perhaps that the Kremlin's carefully choreographed P.R. campaign doesn't always go according to plan.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Ryan Chilcote in Moscow. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Ryan. And a reminder that "NewsHour"s coverage of Russia and Ukraine is supported in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.

Amid the much larger conflict between the U.S. and Russia, there's mounting concern about the detention of Brittney Griner, a WNBA basketball star who also plays in Russia. She's been detained there since mid-February. And, yesterday, a Russian court extended her to attention to late May.

Amna Nawaz has the story. AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, Brittney Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport, allegedly for possession of vape cartridges with cannabis oil, which is illegal in Russia. Griner plays for a Russian team during the WNBA's off-season to earn more money. Her detention wasn't disclosed for weeks, and U.S. officials have not been allowed to

see her. Griner is one of dozens of Americans held by other governments, even as this week saw the release of two British citizens from Iran, charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, freed after five years of detention. Joining us to examine this all is Jason Rezaian, columnist for The Washington Post.

He was unjustly imprisoned in Iran for 544 days before his release in 2016. Jason, welcome to the "NewsHour." Thank you so much for being with us. JASON REZAIAN, Journalist Detained in Iran: Thanks for having me.

My pleasure, Amna. AMNA NAWAZ: So we should ask first about the case of these two British nationals. We have been seeing pictures they're sharing of their reunions with family, Nazanin's reunion with her young daughter, Gabriella, as well. What should we understand about why they were released and why now? JASON REZAIAN: Well, first of all, neither of the people should have been arrested in the first place.

They're completely innocent of crimes. The same goes for other U.K. citizens, American citizens, Germans and French, who are being held now by Iran. The timing of their release is interesting, because the U.S. and the U.K. had been trying to negotiate together to get their people being held hostage by Iran released simultaneously. It appears that the U.K. broke away from that and decided to do this on their own, found

a way to repay the historical debt to Iran, which seems to have been the impetus for arresting these people in the first place, even though they had nothing to do with it. AMNA NAWAZ: Seems that unfreezing involved millions of dollars that went to the Iranian government. But there's different nations and different circumstances here. But are there lessons the U.S. government should be pulling from what happened in that case with Iran that the U.S. government could apply to help release Brittney Griner from

Russia? JASON REZAIAN: Yes, I have been arguing a long time that what is termed as wrongful detention or unjust detention is really just foreign governments taking U.S. citizens hostage. In the case of Brittney Griner, it's hard to know if the allegations against her have merit. But, even if they do, it's a major red flag that she's been denied consular access and then, just in the last 48 hours or so, her detention extended through May. These are all ways that authoritarian governments use to present a veneer of a judicial process while they unjustly hold Americans or citizens of other liberal democracies as political leverage against our governments here in the West. So, I'm worried that that's the case here.

And I think that the approach that the U.S. government has taken to many of these similar cases, whether it's Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, which are -- these are the most common offenders of this particular kind of crime -- has been rather a flat-footed approach and one that hasn't got us quick results of freeing Americans who are imprisoned for no other crime than holding an American passport. AMNA NAWAZ: Jason, you have been among those calling attention to the timing of this, right? Brittney was detained in Moscow just days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now you have the U.S. and Russia at a major point of tension, and Russia has in its custody

a major WNBA superstar. What about that? JASON REZAIAN: I have heard a lot of people saying that this approach that the WNBA and her family and her representatives are taking of trying to be quiet about it, so that this can be resolved quietly, how do you resolved quietly the apparent abduction of a major international celebrity by a foreign government that we're in a confrontation with, frankly? So I think that the circumstances around trying to get her out already very complicated, exacerbated by the fact that the U.S. has been putting sanctions on the Russian government and officials close to it. And so I think that this notion that we should keep this under wraps, I have been following cases of Americans detained in other countries since the day that I was released, and I have never seen an instance where keeping it quiet was the way to go. Once the Russian state media presented a picture, a mug shot of Brittney Griner and announced the alleged allegations in her case, the cat's out of the bag. This is a matter of public record and concern at this point.

And we should be talking about it and we should be shining a light on it, for no other reason than her treatment will probably be much worse if we don't talk about her. And I think the fact is that the likelihood of a long detention, whether it's weeks or months, seems pretty clear. AMNA NAWAZ: Jason, what should we know about what kind of pressure, what kind of tactics the U.S. government is probably putting into place right now?

I mean, we should mention among those sanctioned in Russia are very rich men who are involved with this basketball team she plays for. Could that be a way to try to apply some pressure and get her freed? JASON REZAIAN: I think that there's always multiple ways of going about this. You know, hiring a lawyer and going through the official judicial legal process of a country is one step that you have to take, but there are all sorts of other ways that the U.S. government has to reach out to brokers within the Russian regime, to apply potential sanctions pressure, as you indicated, and also to kind of seek out what it is that the Russians might want, what kind of demands that they have. I'm not saying you necessarily give in to those, but you should at least know what they are.

AMNA NAWAZ: What do you think is the best-case scenario for Brittney Griner right now? JASON REZAIAN: The best-case scenario is that sometime in the coming days the charges are trapped, and she comes home. I would love nothing more than to see that happen. I think it's possible, but I don't think that that's at all likely. AMNA NAWAZ: We will certainly be following in the days ahead. Jason Rezaian from The Washington Post, thank you so much for your time.

JASON REZAIAN: Thank you, Amna. JUDY WOODRUFF: How the United States should respond to two major global crises was a topic of major debate again this week. President Biden announced a new round of military assistance for Ukraine, while the administration's request that Congress approve billions in emergency COVID spending has met opposition. Well, that brings us to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart. That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post. It is very good to see both of you within reaching distance.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: We're so glad to have you here, even if the subject is -- that we start out with, again, David, is grim and difficult. And that's, of course, Ukraine. The Russian military grinds on. We heard Jane Ferguson say they're not making ground advance, but they're still killing civilians.

This week, you had Zelenskyy's speech to Congress. You had President Biden announcing more military aid. Today, he talked to the Chinese president. Is any of this making a difference? DAVID BROOKS: I think so. It's just tragically slow.

I don't -- even the footage we saw today from Kyiv, it does not look like the Ukrainian people are going to be backing down. And bombing, aerial bombardments of civilian populations, when there's strong leadership, just doesn't work. That's London in the Blitz. And what we're doing is, we're -- what Zelenskyy asked for.

He asked for the no-fly zone, and that was never going to happen. He asked to do more. And the U.S. government and governments around the world are doing more, and so another $800 million in aid.

I think we do more in terms of especially anti-aircraft missiles. Right now, people using these shoulder-launched things. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

DAVID BROOKS: But you can do long-range stuff and get a no-fly zone, in effect. And so ramping that up is one thing that can do more. And I think the central message is, trust what we're doing. We're putting on severe pressure. We have to do more. The shots of Moscow suggest we really have to do a lot more about making sure Western goods are not on shelves in Moscow.

We have to do a lot more economic sanctions on good-to-good transfers. But trust what we're doing. We're putting on a lot of pressure.

Putin is in a very bad position. He's still -- I was told today that there was some hope that there would be a negotiated settlement in the next few days. But people who have spoken to Putin over the last 48 hours suggest that's not going to happen anytime soon.

And so we just have to trust our strategy, that it just tightens and tightens things around him. And we don't know how it's going to end. All we can do is press. JUDY WOODRUFF: And is that pressing -- do you see anything changing in coming days or weeks? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, all we do -- all we can do is press, but also pray, because one of the things we keep hearing about Vladimir Putin is, folks are questioning his sanity. Folks are questioning whether, if we push him into a corner, will he lash out in ways that are unpredictable? There is all the talk about the use of chemical or biological weapons.

Would he actually do that in the way that was done in Syria? And that would force the United States, NATO, the Western alliance, the allies around the world to do something I don't think they're really quite mentally prepared for. And that is to go toe to toe with a nuclear power that has unleashed hell on a neighbor. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meantime, David, we hear -- we hear pretty uniform opposition or criticism, I should say, of President Biden from Republicans. I interviewed Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, this week, who said Biden is not doing enough, he's doing it too late.

Is there some legitimacy in that chorus of criticism? DAVID BROOKS: I'm -- they're going to criticize, because that's what we do here. But I'm glad the criticism is over the pace of what we're doing and not over whether we should be doing it. And so, to me, that -- there's an underlying unity, and in American public opinion. Very few Americans want troops on the ground. Some do, but we want to increase the pressure.

And so, if there's going to be criticism, maybe for more. I think Biden is moving in the more direction. And if we're going to have an argument over how fast we move in the more direction, that, to me, is a pretty useful argument to have. And so I don't think the criticism is a major problem for what we're doing.

What Jonathan said, we have to psychologically read, how much is this too much? How -- are we doing anything that's really risky in escalation? I still think we're a long way from that. But we have to face the fact, it's in Putin's interests at some level to try to engage NATO directly and to spread this. And he's bogged down now. But if he can turn it into a bigger thing, that might turn out to be in his interests. So we have to be alive to that possibility.

But I think we still have to be really hard on him, and not shrink back because of fear of what he might do. He's going to do what he wants to do anyway. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it your sense, Jonathan, that the U.S. is prepared, that NATO is prepared if Putin does go off in a direction that we don't -- we're -- don't want him to go? JONATHAN CAPEHART: I want to believe that NATO and the United States are prepared for that situation.

One of the things that I -- one of the criticisms against the president that I think was valid was that he kept communicating what the United States would not do, communicating what he would not do, and instead has gone mute on those things, won't talk about those things, would only talk about the things -- he's only now talking about the things that he's doing. And that is exactly what he should be doing. But I just want to push back a little bit on this. You said underlying unity. Sure, there's some underlying unity. But I -- it's a little aggravating that certain Republicans, particularly in the Senate, especially if they're thinking of running for president, are -- they're playing games at a time when the president of the United States and the Western alliance are going are -- trying to contain -- trying to contain Putin.

And you can't argue that the president has taken too long, he's not doing enough, when you just voted against the $1.5 trillion omnibus bill that had millions of dollars of aid for Ukraine in that bill. So, this sort of domestic play that Republicans are bringing to foreign policy, I think, is regrettable. And I hope, going forward, especially if we get to that situation where the United States and in the world is grappling with a chemical or biological attack on Ukraine, that folks think better about what they're saying about the president and the United States, of what they're both trying to get accomplished. DAVID BROOKS: Thank you. I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy.

(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: So, I rarely praise Ted Cruz, but Ted Cruz, for the last few years, has been pretty much right on Ukraine and Russia. And he's been very aggressive. A lot of Republican senators have been very aggressive: We need to do this to prevent a war. So I find, in general, Republicans have not followed Trump in any soft-on-Putin direction.

Quite the reverse. The one thing that I think we need to think about -- I read a good piece -- that this may be -- what Korea was for the Cold War, this may be for the next contest against the authoritarian regimes. Mao goes into Korea, with Russian support. And, at the time, people don't realize what's happening. It's only, over the years, they realize, oh, Korea is part of a larger Cold War conflict. And so this could be seen as part of a larger contest, which Biden talks about, between democracies and autocracies.

And if that's the case, we need to be using this moment -- and I think we are using this moment -- to really build a very practical -- rebuild a practical set of alliances with Japan and the West to prepare for a long contest, and to see this context in the -- this war in the context of that larger rivalry. JUDY WOODRUFF: But you're, in a way, suggesting it's harder to do that when you have got the parties, as you put it, playing games. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right, constantly criticizing the party and the president who's not in your party simply because he's a Democrat. And I just also want to point out that, despite your nice words about Senator Cruz, he was one of those senators who voted against the omnibus bill, which had aid to Ukraine in it. So, just...

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. We played games during the Cold War. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: Setting the record straight.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of this omnibus bill, David, there was money originally in there for COVID funding for prevention, for treatment, $22 billion, down from an earlier number. It ended up being taken out, mostly because of Republican opposition, but also some liberal Democrats had problems with it. Now the administration is scrambling, trying to get this passed.

I talked to Tony Fauci yesterday, who said: We need this money. Who's making the right argument here? DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I'm going to disappoint Jonathan and be on both sides. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: The Democrats are right. We need the money. We need to spend the money on the medicines, on the coverage, all the stuff that is in there. But I think we need to get back to a normal situation, where we pay for what we spend.

If we just spend money without raising taxes, A, we fuel inflation, not a big -- in this case, because it's not a big bill. But we fuel inflation. And, B, we run up our debt at a time when interest rates are rising. So we need to get back to normal life, where, if we're going to spend money, we're going to pay for the spending.

And it should not be hard to raise $22 billion in taxes. We're a gigantic country. That's like what we spent, I don't know, every 10 minutes. And so I think the Republicans are right to make that point that we need to pay for this money. But the Democrats are right that we need the money. JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you say raise taxes? Is that what you just said? DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: I just want to make sure I heard you correct... (CROSSTALK) DAVID BROOKS: ... raising taxes on Jonathan. (LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, David.

(LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: What -- it is interesting that Republicans always, when it comes to domestic programs, we have to pay for what we spend. And yet we're talking about the same group of Republicans who are lashing out at the president of the United States because he won't do as much as they think he should do in support of Ukraine. That's not free.

That's not a rounding error. We're talking billions, maybe even trillions of dollars. And so there are Americans who look at what's happening with Ukraine, and they're all for it. We should support them. We should do whatever it takes to defend -- help the Ukrainians defend their country. But then they look at, wait, wait, we can't get COVID funding? We can't get these other things because people are now worried about the checkbook? I'm with David.

We -- on the other part. (LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: ... that -- that you had a report earlier about the strain of coronavirus cases going up in Europe and in Asia.

We know, in a couple of weeks, it's going to be here, and we're not going to have any money to protect the American people? JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the inconsistency that he's pointing out, though, David, among Republicans in... DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I'm trying to point to the right policy. And Jonathan is saying, well, they're a bunch of hypocrites. Well, yes, that's true.

But I'm still trying to put to the right policy. JUDY WOODRUFF: I guess this is what happens when I bring the two of you back together in person, right? (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: But we're so glad... DAVID BROOKS: We have more fun. JUDY WOODRUFF: We do have more fun. JONATHAN CAPEHART: It's much more fun. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you both very much.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you. An exhibition in Los Angeles is bring the work of a groundbreaking video artist to the attention of a new generation. Jeffrey Brown has the story for our arts and culture series, Canvas.

JEFFREY BROWN: It's bright and electric, a swirl of movement, a whirlwind of images. And it's the first major retrospective for 75-year-old artist Ulysses Jenkins. How does it feel to get this recognition? ULYSSES JENKINS, Video and Performance Artist: Well, Mr. Brown, it is amazing. In a lot of ways, it's just -- it's a bit overwhelming.

JEFFREY BROWN: Jenkins is considered a pioneer in the world of video art, which emerged as artists in the 1960s and '70s began using lighter and more affordable video cameras to create work and tell stories. One of the first Black artists in the field, Jenkins focused on stereotypes he saw in the media and popular culture, the -- quote -- "Mass of Images," as he titled a 1978 video. ULYSSES JENKINS: You're just a mass of images you have gotten to know from years and years of TV shows. JEFFREY BROWN: Now that work can be seen in the exhibition Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation at UCLA's Hammer Museum, co-curated by Meg Onli and Erin Christovale. ERIN CHRISTOVALE, Co-Curator, Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation: He, in my mind he has always sort of been the godfather of experimental video, I think especially for Black artists and curators and scholars. MEG ONLI, Co-Curator, Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation: For me, thinking about his work as ahead of its time, he was picking up a lot of tools that we use today, like literally using this tool right now of Skype for us to have this conversation.

JEFFREY BROWN: Jenkins was born and raised in Los Angeles, close enough to feel the excitement of Hollywood studios, while also experiencing the reality of the racial exclusion and tensions of the time. He became interested in art in high school and went on to get a degree in painting and drawing from Southern University in Louisiana. But it wasn't until his return to L.A. that he became interested in video work. MEG ONLI: So he's thinking in ways that are not necessarily part of traditional filmmaking. He's producing kind of weird and odd videos. He's often out shooting with his friends, and it just has this kind of psychedelic, California vibe to it.

And you really get this sense that they're at the edge of America producing work together as a band of people, really thinking outside of, let's say, art world norms at the time. JEFFREY BROWN: One approach Jenkins adopted, turning himself into a kind of actor or storyteller, taking on a performance role of the African griot. ULYSSES JENKINS: The griot tells the story of the culture through music, through song. People on the outside did not want to necessarily understand what we as African Americans were trying to express. Taking on the character of a griot fit very succinctly with my heritage and, to that degree, the artistic notions that I wanted to present. JEFFREY BROWN: The work is experimental, sometimes wildly so.

WOMAN: I'm very proud of the Black man's progress. And we're going to make it, baby. We're just going to make it. JEFFREY BROWN: Sometimes more straightforward documentary style, as in "Remnants of the Watts Festival," his take on an annual event commemorating the 1965 Watts uprising. ERIN CHRISTOVALE: The goal for Ulysses for that sort of experimental documentary was to capture a community and particularly a festival that was really being attacked by the mainstream media. And so his goal for that documentary was really to show Black people feeling empowered, Black people feeling excellent and Black art being valued.

JEFFREY BROWN: As a graduate student at what was then called Otis Art Institute, he made "Two-Zone Transfer," a film that furthered his examination of Black representation in media. MEG ONLI: It's really presented as a fever dream. Ulysses wakes up, and he suddenly is confronted with the history of minstrel performance.

You see him at one point becoming a preacher. He then jumps into a performance as James Brown and is dancing. He's thinking about the trappings of Black masculinity, in the sense of the roles that you can play within society.

JEFFREY BROWN: Jenkins eventually turned his focus to teaching. He's been a professor of studio art at the University of California, Irvine, since 1993. What is it you most want to convey to young artists today? ULYSSES JENKINS: Well, first of all, if they can free themselves from the notion of the stereotypical concepts that are embedded in the culture, then, in terms of their usage, that's what I'm trying to get them to recognize. JEFFREY BROWN: For the curators of the show, the work is as relevant now as ever, especially for younger audiences.

MEG ONLI: Whether it's questions of representation, multiculturalism, digital technologies, connectivity, questions of colonialism and critique, Ulysses was having all of these conversations really starting in the 1970s, and I think it's really important for us as a younger generation to understand our roots. JEFFREY BROWN: Do you feel like it's been a long time coming? ULYSSES JENKINS: Oh yes. With all the work that I have created, you're just wondering, when would I get the recognition that the work deserved? And this is it. I have been waiting for you all. JEFFREY BROWN: Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation is at the Hammer Museum through the middle of May.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown. JUDY WOODRUFF: When health care journalist and podcaster Max Lugavere's mother was diagnosis with a form of Parkinson's, he immediately began researching best practices for improving brain health through food. He is now releasing a cookbook of brain-healthy recipes titled "Genius Kitchen."

And, tonight, he shares his Brief But Spectacular take on what he learned. MAX LUGAVERE, Author, "Genius Kitchen": Preventative medicine is everything. By the time you show up to your doctor's office, what you're looking for in most cases is sick care, not health care. Health care, to me, happens when you are pushing your shopping cart through the supermarket, when you're sitting on a couch debating whether or not to get up and go to the gym. That, to me, is a health care opportunity. I have always been incredibly close with my mother.

And it was in the year 2011 that my mom started to complain of brain fog. That was not something that I was used to hearing coming from my mom. My mom was a fast-walking, fast-talking New Yorker. I would be in the kitchen with her cooking and I would ask my mom to pass me something, a spoon or a spice. And it would -- it would take her just a few extra beats to register. We booked a battery of appointments.

And my mother received a diagnosis of a Parkinson's-plus condition. And I started to read phrases like no disease-modifying effect. Parkinson's disease is a -- is ultimately a terminal condition.

And for the first time in my life, I had a panic attack. I felt like the walls were closing in on me. From that point on, it was all about trying to understand to the best of my ability why this would've happened to my mom, what, if anything, could be done to help her, and what could be done to prevent this from ever happening to me? Dementia often begins in the brain decades before the first symptom of memory loss. We know that a healthy dietary pattern can be very protective of the brain. We know that exercise is medicine when it comes to the brain.

Every day, I try to find new ways of communicating these ideas. I really transitioned into that role of being the head chef of my household. And so I ended up cooking for my mom and cooking for my brothers, and infusing all kinds of brain-healthy ingredients into the meals that I was making.

Health literacy is something that I think we are all lacking in, the same way that we are all lacking in financial literacy. I think that the advantage that I get is that I'm able to see all of these different topics from 30,000 feet. And the fact that I'm a creative allows me to connect the dots in a way that I don't think many scientists or medical doctors are able to. That's a journey that began about a decade ago at this point and will probably continue on until the day that I die. My mom passed away in 2018.

I feel that, if there's a stranger on the other side of the world that gravitates to my content, integrates the recommendations that I make, and is able to then buy themselves an additional month or year or decade of healthy life, what it was that my mom and my family suffered wouldn't have been in vain. I'm Max Lugavere, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on how to eat like a genius. JUDY WOODRUFF: And what an amazing gift for his mother. Thank you, Max Lugavere. And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

For more on the war in Ukraine and analysis of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's speech to Congress this week, join moderator Yamiche Alcindor and the "Washington Week" panel. That's tonight on PBS. Tune into "PBS NewsHour Weekend" for the latest developments on the war in Ukraine and a look at how people in Alabama could soon get a chance to vote for a new state Constitution that removes outdated and racist language. And join us on Monday morning for live coverage of the Senate confirmation hearings for President Biden's Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson. That begins at 11:00 a.m.

Eastern at PBS.org/NewsHour and right here on PBS. You can check your local listings. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and have a good weekend.

2022-03-20 04:32

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