April 28, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
04/28/2023 | 57m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
April 28, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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04/28/2023 | 57m 46s | Video has closed captioning.
April 28, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Russia bombards cities across Ukraine, killing numerous civilians, including children, as Ukrainian forces prepare for a major counteroffensive.
GEOFF BENNETT: Federal regulators blame management and oversight failures for the bank collapses that are still rippling through the economy.
AMNA NAWAZ: And Los Angeles struggles to provide housing for the tens of thousands of homeless people, including veterans, in the city.
KEITH HARRIS, Department of Veterans Affairs: We know what the solutions are.
Either we get eligibility caps raised, so that veterans who are receiving VA benefits can qualify, or we stop counting VA benefits as income.
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Welcome to the "NewsHour."
Ukrainians woke today to a barrage of deadly strikes in Russia's first large-scale air attack in almost two months.
GEOFF BENNETT: Russian missiles and drones rained down on residential areas across the war-torn country.
Officials said at least 25 people were killed, including three children.
The missiles struck as Ukrainians slept miles from the wars front line.
This morning, rescue workers scrambled to search for survivors at a residential building now reduced to rubble.
It was once the home of 58-year-old Serhii Lubivskyi, who's now grappling with the immeasurable loss.
SERHII LUBIVSKYI (Uman Resident): What can I say?
I have no place to live.
My neighbors are gone.
No one is left.
An elderly woman, her daughter and two grandchildren lived on the ninth floor.
They are gone.
A man with his son lived on the eighth floor.
They are gone.
GEOFF BENNETT: The airstrike targeted the central city of Uman, around 130 miles south of Kyiv, while Ukrainian officials say another strike on nearby Dnipro killed a woman and a child.
Hours after the attacks, Russia's Defense Ministry posted a mocking message on social media, with the words "Right on target."
And for the first time in nearly two months, explosions rocked the capital, Kyiv, today, leaving debris, but no casualties.
Ukrainian officials say they shot down the incoming missiles and drones.
Meanwhile, social media footage showed a minibus ablaze in the Russian-held eastern city of Donetsk.
Moscow-appointed officials blamed Ukrainian shelling and said it killed seven civilians.
Ukraine has vowed to respond to today's Russian attacks with an iron fist.
U.S. officials expect Kyiv's counteroffensive to come as early as next week.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other headlines: The U.S. began its overland evacuation of Americans trapped by the conflict in Sudan.
Some 300 U.S. citizens were bused out with armed drone escorts in the first organized U.S. effort to evacuate Americans there.
That came as explosions battered the capital, even after the army and paramilitary rebels extended their truce.
Smoke billowed in the skies above Khartoum.
More than 500 people have been killed in two weeks of clashes.
Meanwhile, supermarket shelves remain empty, as residents brace for what's to come.
TAREK AHMED (Khartoum Resident): People's minds are now 90 percent worry.
They're not thinking, except to worry about themselves and their families.
Food supplies are diminishing, and citizens will soon face a famine, or at least a crushing food crisis.
AMNA NAWAZ: Also today, Turkey said one of its evacuation planes was struck by gunfire as it was landing outside of Khartoum.
No casualties were reported.
Tunisian Coast Guards have retrieved the bodies of 41 drowned migrants.
They were recovered off the coast of the port city of Sfax.
Authorities have found more than 200 victims of migrant shipwrecks in Tunisian waters over the past 10 days.
Tunisia is struggling to contain a surge of migrants trying to reach Italy now that neighboring Libya is cracking down on departures from its shores.
Back in this country, two army helicopters collided in Alaska, killing three American soldiers and injuring a fourth.
It happened Thursday as they were returning from a training flight near Healy, northeast of Denali National Park.
It's the second military accident involving Apache helicopters in Alaska this year.
Officials are investigating what caused the crash.
Rapid snowmelt from Minnesota has caused water levels along the Upper Mississippi River to hit near-record highs.
In parts of Wisconsin and Iowa, floodwaters have inundated homes, streets and parks.
Farther south, crews built flood walls and other protective barriers.
Officials say a combination of extreme weather events is to blame.
MELISA LOGAN, Mayor of Blytheville, Arkansas: This flood is being primarily fed by the melting of a historic snowpack.
The drought of the fall of 2022 has created slack in the system and in the soil for water.
As we know, rains are coming in from the north, east, south and west.
AMNA NAWAZ: Officials in the Midwest expect the swollen Mississippi River to crest as early as Monday.
It could take up to 10 days for the water to recede.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito says he has a -- quote -- "pretty good idea" who leaked his draft Dobbs opinion last May.
The landmark abortion decision overturned Roe v. Wade.
In his first extensive response, he told The Wall Street Journal the leak was meant to intimidate justices and was -- quote -- "part of an effort to prevent the Dobbs draft from becoming the decision of the court."
The court's own investigation failed to identify the culprit.
North Carolina's state Supreme Court today threw out a recent ruling that deemed gerrymandering unconstitutional.
The reversal is a major win for the Republican-controlled legislature, which can now redraw the states voting maps in their favor ahead of next year's elections.
The court also reinstated a ban on convicted felons voting and upheld photo I.D.
requirements for voters.
And Wall Street ended this bumpy week of trading on a higher note.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 272 points to close at 34098, notching its best monthly gain since January.
The Nasdaq rose 84 points.
And the S&P 500 added 34.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": states become ground zero for the political battles over reproductive rights and trans care; David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart weigh in on the week's political headlines; author Judy Blume pushes back on efforts to ban her books; plus much more.
GEOFF BENNETT: The Federal Reserve today issued a stinging report about the multiple failures that led to the historic collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last month.
As William Brangham reports, the main targets of the report?
The Fed's own regulators.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Federal Reserve's report says Silicon Valley Bank collapsed because of a -- quote -- "textbook case of mismanagement."
But bank executives, by -- but it was especially critical of its own regulators, alleging they missed clear danger signs as the bank ballooned in size and acted much too slowly on the problems they did identify.
For more on this regulatory autopsy, we're joined by economics reporter Jeanna Smialek.
She covers the Federal Reserve for The New York Times.
Thank you so much for being here.
Before we get to how regulators failed, can you remind us of what mistakes that the executives at Silicon Valley Bank did that basically imperiled the entire banking system?
JEANNA SMIALEK, The New York Times: Yes, so they made two big buckets of mistakes, I would say.
The first is that they had a huge chunk of their deposit base in really, really big deposits, over the $250,000 limit that the government ensures.
And that meant that, when depositors got nervous, they were much more likely to try and pull all of that money out.
So that was mistake number one.
Mistake number two is that they made what was essentially a bet that interest rates would stay low for a really long time.
They invested in securities that were pretty predicated on that.
And when that didn't happen, when the Fed instead raised interest rates to try and control inflation, the bank was facing big losses.
And so that combination of decisions really was pretty fatal for this bank, because when the bank was facing these big losses, its nervous depositors took their money and ran.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So this is now touching on the report that came out today.
Federal regulators, who are supposed to have eyes on this particular bank and looking out for the exact things that you're describing, seemed to really drop the ball.
What did this report say that they failed to do?
JEANNA SMIALEK: It was a whole range of failures.
But I think that they really boiled down to failing to recognize the full extent of the problems and failing to follow up on the problems that were recognized.
So it's the case that the supervisors at the San Francisco Fed and across the Fed system were aware of some of these issues, and they pointed them out, and they flagged them.
But what they didn't do was act decisively enough to get the management at this bank to deal with the problems, to make them go away, to take care of them before they became lethal to the institution.
And so the Fed report was very critical of the Fed itself for failing to achieve that, that goal of making this institution safer.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is it clearer from this report whether or not they had -- was it a lack of will to act?
Was it a lack of authority to step in and say, hey, you guys, there's multiple fires going on here, we need to put these out?
JEANNA SMIALEK: Yes, that's a great question.
I think it was actually some mixture.
So what we saw under the Trump administration and over the last few years was a real shift in tone around how banks ought to be supervised, how they ought to be regulated.
And this was bank of just the sort of size that that shift in tone apply to.
And so rules applying to banks, in sort of this mid -- what we call a midsize range, had become less onerous.
And that probably mattered in this case.
The other thing that mattered was just, I think, on-the-ground supervision.
The supervisors, for whatever reason -- and the report is not super clear on this -- didn't feel empowered to really say, hey, this is a problem, we need to deal with it now, and the regulations themselves weren't sort of nimble enough to allow them to address this stuff in a really rapid and forceful way.
And so I think we're going to see a lot of changes both on the way that banks are overseen on a day-to-day basis and in the way that they are regulated coming out of this episode.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Michael Barr, who's the Fed oversight chief, who drafted much of this report, calls for some of these reforms that you're talking about, what does he want to see done?
And how likely are those to be implemented?
JEANNA SMIALEK: Yes, I think it was a very ambitious wish list that he put out today.
But the thing is, the Fed actually has quite a lot of discretion when it comes to the kinds of things he wants to see.
So, for example, he would like for the Fed to reconsider how it is overseeing banks that have more than $100 billion in assets.
The Fed has pretty wide discretion to take a closer look at those -- that group of banks.
And so I think it'll take a couple of years, but it's likely that we're going to see some changes there.
Similarly, it seems like the supervisors are in for a sort of more aggressive approach to banks going forward.
I think stress tests, which are sort of the annual health checkups these banks get, could get another look.
I think it's going to be a vast array of changes.
And we got a lot of e-mails from bank lobbyists this afternoon expressing distress at these changes.
So I think, to the extent that that's a signal, it seems like these could be pretty real.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just in the last 30 seconds we have I want to ask you about this other bank in Northern California, First Republic Bank.
Lots of concerns about this bank cratering.
Its stock has dropped, I think it's 97 percent over the year, dropped over 40 percent, I believe, today.
Concerns that the FDIC might take it over.
What is going on with that bank?
JEANNA SMIALEK: That bank is clearly on its last legs.
It is in a lot of trouble.
And it has been in a lot of trouble all week.
Here in the media, we have all kind of been playing the, will they, won't they?
When will this bank potentially go into receivership?
Reuters has been reporting that it could be imminent, that the government could take this bank over sort of any minute now.
I think that it's an open question exactly there timing will be.
But it seems like First Republic is clearly heading for some kind of big change.
I think that the bank has a lot of problems.
It has seen a huge deposit outflow over the last week-and-a-half, two weeks, three weeks.
And it probably is not going to be able to weather that.
So it's developing story.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On its last legs.
Jeanna Smialek of The New York Times, thank you so much.
JEANNA SMIALEK: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: The airstrikes on Ukraine today hit as NATO and the U.S. said this week they'd sent Ukraine 98 percent of the vehicles promised to Kyiv.
They're designed to be ready for Ukraine's highly anticipated upcoming counteroffensive, as Nick Schifrin discusses with the head of Ukraine's military intelligence.
NICK SCHIFRIN: They're the tools of Ukrainian liberation, newly arrived Western armored vehicles, seen in Ukrainian Defense Ministry videos.
Ukraine has received nearly 2,000 of them, and some 40,000 troops have been trained, for what's expected to be one of the wars most pivotal moments.
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV, Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Chief (through translator): Of course, the counteroffensive has a very important meaning for Ukraine and for the future of Ukraine, because its main goal is to liberate the occupied territories.
NICK SCHIFRIN: General Kyrylo Budanov is the head of Ukraine's military intelligence.
He spoke to us from Kyiv earlier this week.
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): The liberation of our temporarily occupied territory is the top priority for our country.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The 37-year-old is former special forces, one of the country's youngest ever generals, but considered one its most influential.
He's survived multiple assassination attempts, and lives in his office.
He's in the middle of negotiations to release prisoners from Russia, attends soldiers funerals, and knows much more than he reveals, especially about the upcoming counteroffensive.
When I talk to U.S. officials here, they describe that, even if you can't reseize all of the territory occupied by Russia, they hope that at least you can create some local advantages along the front lines, to a point where you can be in a position where you can threaten Russian supply lines in Crimea and deep in the Donbass.
Does that kind of goal make sense?
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): I share that opinion, absolutely.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Could you say when you believe ground conditions favor the offense?
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): In the near future, everybody will see the expected results.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Budanov's expertise is foreign intelligence, as in Russia.
Russia blames Budanov personally for explosions in occupied Crimea and inside Russia.
But Ukraine doesn't claim official responsibility for these attacks and is restricted by the U.S. from using American weapons beyond its borders.
Do you believe you're hindered by the U.S. insistence that U.S. weapons not be used to attack inside Russia?
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): Absolutely not.
And we do not need weapons from the Americans or anyone else to get to the Russians.
We have enough Ukrainian means and weapons to do this.
Any perpetrator that committed any war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine or even very egregious crimes, like the group rape or killing of civilians and children, will be found and eliminated in any part of the world.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. says Ukraine has killed or wounded more than 200,000 Russian service members and military contractors.
And now Western officials say Russia is trying to find 400,000 recruits, including with a new ad.
"You're a real man," it says.
"Be one by becoming a soldier."
Have you seen any evidence that Russia can actually field the troops that it wants?
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): In theory, they can recruit 400,000 people.
They're still mobilizing 20,000 to 22,000 recruits monthly.
So, as of now, they have mobilized roughly 120,000 additional troops.
Moreover, they are actively recruiting paramilitary units, as well as the new private military companies, such as Redut or Gazprom, the gas company.
There are a lot of them.
And, right now, they want to have all of them united by creating an umbrella organization, Russian volunteer corps, that will gather all of the paramilitary and private military groups, and place them under single command of the Russian general staff.
NICK SCHIFRIN: So far, there's been no evidence, at least from where were sitting here, that the Russians have managed a unified command.
Is that how you see it?
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): That's exactly what I'm telling you.
They want to create this umbrella organization that will be directing and commanding all of these paramilitary units, because, obviously, right now, there is no unity.
NICK SCHIFRIN: For months, the war's epicenter has been Bakhmut.
Ukraine has sacrificed dearly to hold the city, as I saw in February.
Have you lost men?
Have you lost friends?
OLEXANDER, 93rd Brigade: We have all friends.
We have all lost... (through translator): We have all someone in this war and keep losing.
That's how it goes.
This is war.
You can't do anything about it.
But these are all losses that cannot be prevented.
They just happen, because people kill people.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Multiple U.S. officials in the intelligence community and in the military told me that they raised the possibility that Bakhmut was not worth defending, raising the possibility that the Ukrainian military should go back up to the high ground towards Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.
Why do you think you ignored that advice?
Why is Bakhmut so important?
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): I personally do not accept these recommendations, because we're talking about our people and our cities.
And losing even an inch of our land is a big tragedy.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Bakhmut has become a symbol of determination for both sides, far above its military importance.
But Ukraine sees the seeds of Russia's downfall being sown in the city's bloodied earth.
You have said that Russia understands it can't drag out this war.
You have even predicted that Russia will collapse.
Many of the people I speak to here believe that's, frankly, overly optimistic and that the war is more likely to last for years.
Are they wrong?
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): I can just say one thing, that time will show.
I stand by my position.
NICK SCHIFRIN: General Budanov, thank you very much.
MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV (through translator): Thank you.
GEOFF BENNETT: On any given night, there are more than 65,000 homeless people living in Los Angeles.
There is not enough affordable housing, and, even when there is, some people struggle to get into those units, including veterans on disability.
Stephanie Sy looks at some of the obstacles leading to L.A.'s homeless population, the largest in the country.
STEPHANIE SY: On the sprawling 388-acre campus of the West Los Angeles VA, dotted with palm trees, a construction boom under way.
Three new buildings have gone up this year to provide qualified veterans low-income housing.
Sixty-three-year old Jack Vicente has been settled in his gleaming new studio apartment for a month.
The Army vet was working as a bellman at a hotel when he suffered a back injury and was let go from his job.
JACK VICENTE, Recently Housed Veteran: And that's what led to me being pretty much homeless for the next four or five months, until I was able to go to the VA. And the VA helped me get into a lovely, secure place like this.
In my opinion, the promise that they made when I joined up, they're really keeping their word now.
STEPHANIE SY: But there are other veterans who feel the opposite.
Where are you living now?
LAVON JOHNSON, Unhoused Veteran: Right there.
STEPHANIE SY: Thirty-six-year old Lavon Johnson, an Army veteran lives right outside the VA campus in a tent.
You have been back here for about, what, a week-and-a half?
LAVON JOHNSON: About that.
STEPHANIE SY: He was living in one of these tiny shelters on the VA campus, but he says it caught fire and he was removed from the temporary housing program.
Johnson has been chronically homeless for more than a decade.
Even as new apartment buildings on go up on the VA campus, he is locked out.
You applied to stay at one of these buildings, and you were rejected?
LAVON JOHNSON: Yes.
STEPHANIE SY: Why?
LAVON JOHNSON: My annual yearly income was not -- was not -- was too much by $200.
STEPHANIE SY: Johnson's income is actually his monthly disability check.
While deployed in Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division, he says his unit was hit by a rocket.
LAVON JOHNSON: I get shot back.
I land on my feet.
Then I fell over.
I remember falling over, hitting my head.
And I -- then it's just blank after that.
STEPHANIE SY: Due to a diagnosis of serious mental illness, he receives full compensation of over $4,000 a month.
So, you would think that would be enough to rent an apartment here?
LAVON JOHNSON: Not in California.
Plus, I have bills and other debts I have to pay off every month too.
So, like, all my money is gone.
I don't have anything for myself for the month.
It's just a vicious cycle.
STEPHANIE SY: Johnson falls into a category of veterans who stand on a so-called benefits cliff.
He gets so much in disability compensation that other essentials, like housing, fall off.
It is estimated 8,000 homeless veterans around the country may lose out on low-income housing opportunities because their benefits put them over income caps.
KEITH HARRIS, Department of Veterans Affairs: This particular building has very strict eligibility criteria.
STEPHANIE SY: We met Keith Harris, who oversees the VA's efforts to house homeless veterans in L.A., in one of the shiny new apartments on campus.
A veteran has to be at least 62 and make under $42,000 a year to qualify to live in this building.
KEITH HARRIS: We know what the solutions are.
Either we get eligibility caps raised, so that veterans who are receiving VA benefits can qualify, or we stop counting VA benefits as income.
STEPHANIE SY: Harris says another problem is that other dedicated housing lies in parts of L.A. where many unhoused vets don't want to live, so they don't use the affordable housing vouchers that are available to them.
KEITH HARRIS: There are close to 50 buildings.
There are a couple hundred vacancies in those buildings.
STEPHANIE SY: Why are there vacancies?
KEITH HARRIS: It's maddening.
I want to acknowledge it's very frustrating, because you have got thousands of homeless veterans.
You have got hundreds of vacant units.
You have got thousands of unused vouchers.
The biggest problem filling those is one of location.
Many of those are far away from the medical center.
STEPHANIE SY: And the medical center is located on the Westside of Los Angeles, where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is more than $3,000 a month.
A housing voucher or disability check doesn't go far here.
KEITH HARRIS: There simply aren't enough units for everybody who needs one, much less could afford one.
STEPHANIE SY: As challenging as it is to build affordable housing on the VA campus, it is even more onerous elsewhere in Los Angeles.
Between historically discriminatory zoning laws and community resistance, it's an uphill battle.
Few know that better than Dora Leong Gallo, the head of A Community of Friends, which has been providing housing for people with mental health disorders for 35 years.
Just like some veterans with disabilities, some people with serious mental illnesses in the general population benefit from having support services where they live.
A quarter of L.A.'s homeless population has these disorders.
DORA LEONG GALLO, President and CEO, A Community of Friends: The concept was to build apartment communities where people had a lease and that there would be services on site in the buildings to help ensure that people had the services they need to live independently.
STEPHANIE SY: Leong Gallo walks us through the lengthy process of developing what's called permanent supportive housing.
DORA LEONG GALLO: The first thing we have to do is find property.
STEPHANIE SY: That's also the first roadblock.
DORA LEONG GALLO: Because were kind of restricted in where we can build apartment buildings, it costs -- it drives the cost higher as well, because we are all competing for the same limited land.
STEPHANIE SY: According to one study, more than 70 percent of residential areas in the L.A. area are zoned for single-family homes, a planning policy that has roots in racial discrimination.
DORA LEONG GALLO: At the same time, simultaneously, we are looking for financing.
STEPHANIE SY: That's the next roadblock.
A nonprofit has to compete for funding from various sources, all with different requirements, restrictions, and timelines.
DORA LEONG GALLO: And along the same time, we are also meeting with the community.
STEPHANIE SY: And that, many housing developers say, is one of the biggest roadblocks.
Even while Californians have approved measures to increase funding to address homelessness, not-in-my-backyard attitudes have blocked or delayed many projects.
DORA LEONG GALLO: When you don't allow this type of housing to be built, then people are forced to live further away.
People are forced to live in their cars.
STEPHANIE SY: Seventy-year-old Wallace Richardson had been living out of his truck for more than a year, when he was linked up with one of the 50 buildings developed by A Community of Friends.
He's been in his Silver Lake apartment for more than a decade.
One of his last jobs was with AmeriCorps.
WALLACE RICHARDSON (Los Angeles Resident): During the time that I was an outreach worker, I got a firsthand look at myself.
I thought that I was mentally sane, but I wasn't.
You know, I had issues.
And the issues I had was coming up from being an abused child.
STEPHANIE SY: What has it been like to have this stable housing for the last 10 years?
WALLACE RICHARDSON: It has made all the difference in the world.
In fact, it has saved my life, because I was on a downhill spiral.
STEPHANIE SY: Back near the VA campus, Lavon Johnson is still waiting for his life jacket, and he's losing his patience.
LAVON JOHNSON: I can't sit still, knowing that people like me are getting screwed over blatantly by them.
STEPHANIE SY: He's part of a recent lawsuit that accuses the VA of not providing enough affordable housing to the neediest veterans.
The plaintiffs demand 3,500 permanent supportive units on or near the VA campus.
My understanding is, there are lawsuit's going back to 2011 saying, why isn't the VA doing more to house homeless veterans here?
Why just in the last couple of years?
KEITH HARRIS: The draft master plan was put into place as part of resolving the first lawsuit.
And it had a very aggressive timeline on the units that would be built, turned out very unrealistically so.
STEPHANIE SY: The VA realized recently that if sites were prepared ahead of time for developers, they could speed up, the process.
They have already spent $70 million on things like leveling land and adding underground utilities to make sites build-ready.
KEITH HARRIS: That's why it looks like a rush.
This is the way it should have been happening all along.
STEPHANIE SY: The agency is aiming to complete 1,200 units by 2030.
Whether one of those units is in Lavon Johnson's future remains in doubt.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy in Los Angeles.
GEOFF BENNETT: Two Republican-led state legislatures, two strict anti-abortion bills rejected.
In both cases, Republican members helped defeat the measures by one-vote margins.
In South Carolina, five women in the state Senate, three Republicans, a Democrat and an independent, joined forces to block a near-total abortion ban.
Republican Senator Sandy Senn argued her GOP colleagues were blindly following the majority leader.
STATE SEN. SANDY SENN (R-SC): The only thing we can do when you all, you men in the chamber, metaphorically, keep slapping women by raising abortion again and again and again, is to -- for us to slap you back with our words.
GEOFF BENNETT: And independent Senator Mia McLeod, a sexual assault survivor, expressed frustration that she had to share such personal details to convince her male colleagues to vote no.
STATE SEN. MIA MCLEOD (I-SC): Just as rape is about power and control, so is this total ban.
And those who continue to push legislation like this are raping us again with their indifference.
GEOFF BENNETT: And in Nebraska, a six-week ban was defeated by an 80-year-old man.
Pro-life Republican Merv Riepe abstained over his concerns that the restrictions went too far.
In both South Carolina and Nebraska, abortion remains legal for now until 22 weeks of pregnancy.
And it's not just abortion that's become a flash point at the state level.
Battles are also raging over transgender rights.
The Washington Post reports that more than 400 anti-trans bills have been filed in the first four months of this year, higher than the past four years combined.
In Kansas yesterday, Republican lawmakers overrode the governor's veto and approved a bill that prevents trans people from using a bathroom or a locker room associated with their gender identity.
That even applies to crisis centers for domestic violence and rape.
Montana became the latest state to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth today.
Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed the legislation that will go into effect in October.
And, in Missouri, a state judge is set to weigh in on Monday on new rules from the state's attorney general that would ban the same kind of care for youth and adults.
Communities correspondent Gabrielle Hays is covering that and joins us now.
So, Gabby, help us understand what Missouri's A.G. is trying to do.
GABRIELLE HAYS: Well, essentially, Geoff, earlier this month, the Missouri attorney general, Andrew Bailey, announced that he would be implementing emergency regulations or rules that would restrict a person's access to gender-affirming care.
Those rules include different regulations, such as a person would have to receive 18 months of therapy before they would have access to that care.
When he announced this, he essentially said that he was doing it to protect children.
However, organizations who advocate for those who will be looking for this care for the trans community, for the LGBTQ community say that it is not only drastic and unprecedented, but it is also a dangerous move.
I spoke to Planned Parenthood earlier today.
They provide gender-affirming care in our state.
And they say, though the attorney general has argued that this is not a ban, that any rule or regulation that makes it significantly harder for an individual to get care is considered a ban.
GEOFF BENNETT: And, Gabby, these rules are being challenged as we speak, as I understand it.
So, where do things stand?
GABRIELLE HAYS: Absolutely.
Well, ACLU Missouri, Lambda Legal and other organizations filed a petition hoping for a temporary restraining order.
That was earlier this week on Wednesday.
A judge did halt the regulations from going into effect on Thursday.
However, the halt only lasts until Monday.
The judge says that they'd like to hear a little bit more from both sides.
And so we are told that we should get some type of judgment or ruling by 5:00 p.m. Monday, which would be May 1.
GEOFF BENNETT: How are advocates and folks that you have encountered in the course of your reporting, how are they responding to all of this?
GABRIELLE HAYS: Yes, that's a good question.
One of the things I have been told a lot is that organizations across our state have been thinking about this for a while.
And so, when the attorney general announced that this would happen, they were already implementing -- having things in play.
So, Planned Parenthood, for instance, held three pop-up clinics to provide gender-affirming care for individuals, not only on the Missouri side, but on the Illinois side, of our state line.
They tell me that those clinics were full and that they even had to open up 200 extra appointments.
But I think also, too, we hear from organizations such as PROMO.
Their executive director, Katy Erker-Lynch, told me that what they want people to understand is that they're trying to answer questions to those who would be most affected by this and make sure they know what's going on.
But, further, they want people to understand that there are actual human beings behind the policies and the regulations that are being challenged right now.
And so that's what they're hoping that people understand and consider as they work to bring care and resources to people across our state.
But, until then, we will keep our eye on this as we await a decision by Monday's deadline.
GEOFF BENNETT: All right, communities correspondent Gabrielle Hays.
Gabby, thanks so much.
AMNA NAWAZ: And we turn now to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.
That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post.
Welcome to you both.
Good to see you.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Hi, Amna.
DAVID BROOKS: Good to see you.
AMNA NAWAZ: So this week saw the end of probably the worst-kept secret in all of Washington, it's fair to say, President Biden officially announcing his reelection campaign.
We should note this comes as the latest "NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll shows his approval rating sitting at around 41 percent.
David, there was once upon a time a thing called an announcement bounce, an announce bounce, if you will.
You see your numbers go up a little bit.
Will he see that, or are these times just different now?
DAVID BROOKS: I would bet my bottom dollar we do not.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: Biden has been about 42, 41, 43 for the longest time.
And he -- to my view, he's passed a lot of legislation.
But when you look at where the polls are, just look at the raw numbers, it's sobering for anybody who's in the Biden camp.
I mean, the presidential approvals are a pretty good predictor of where the vote is going to end up.
And it's true that Barack Obama at this stage still had another four points to climb, and so he did have -- he did rise at the end of his term.
So it's possible.
But Joe Biden is just not where he should be to have an easy reelect.
And then, when you look at the head-to-head against Donald Trump, pretty much dead even.
So, for all that's happened to Donald Trump the last couple of years, he's still right there neck and neck, you would have to say.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan, he has passed a lot of legislation.
It struck me, in that big announcement video, you don't hear a lot about it.
The very first word was freedom.
It was all about, this is a battle for the soul of the nation.
Should he be talking more about what he's gotten done?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: This is the opening video, Amna.
Do you want it to be a couple of minutes or do you want it to be an hour-long special?
(LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: He will be talking about his record down the road, but that opening video is about setting -- making the case and the rationale for the candidacy, in the same way he did four years to the day earlier.
It's about the battle for the soul of America with the tagline of, "Let's finish the job."
I mean, he started with the tiki torch guys from Charlottesville four years ago and started this time with the insurrection on January 6.
Finish the job, restore the soul of the country, and then finish the job in terms of all of the things he's trying to get done.
But to push back on what David said about polls being a predictor of what's going to happen to the president... AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: ... we just had, like, the ultimate poll in the midterm elections, where the president's approval rating was stuck down there in the low 40s, some in the high 30s, people predicting 60 Republican seats in the House and maybe taking over the Senate.
And none of that happened.
And I think that's because the American people were able to do a couple of things, more than a couple of things at the same time.
They don't -- they blame the president because he's the president, but they also see what the big issues are.
And I think the biggest poll -- I'm going to say it now more than a year out -- will be in November 2024.
AMNA NAWAZ: When people actually head to the voting booth.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes.
AMNA NAWAZ: But back to this issue of the soul of the nation being at stake here, David, this moment we're in now is different than 2020.
The sort of imminency of this threat to democracy, the chaos of the Trump years, the thick of the COVID pandemic, we're not there anymore.
Do you think that that message still resonates with the American public?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think they will still think it's the core message.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And I love the phrasing, because the soul of America suggests that America has a morale essence, and that morale essence is under threat.
And, in my view, it's under threat from sort of an amoralistic realism, not only of Trump, but of Trumpism, and that the idea that it's a dog-eat-dog world, people are selfish, you just got to take care of yourself.
And I think that's really at the essence of a lot of the Trump philosophy and the Trump world view.
A lot of the Trump supporters I talked to even this week, it's sort of like, we can't help the Ukrainians.
We got to take care of ourselves.
And I think Biden's instinct is just very different, that we have to have -- we have to be a good country, and we have to be good in defending democracy.
We have to be good on race.
We have to good on fairness.
We have to be good to the marginalized.
And so I think there is -- unlike other presidential elections, there's really a contest between a moral vision and an amoral realism.
And so I think he's right to highlight that difference.
AMNA NAWAZ: What about the role Vice President Harris is going to play?
She featured very prominently in that video, right?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Mm-hmm.
And this is where -- to pick up, kind of to take the baton from David on this, this is where Vice President Harris is at her best.
We have seen, I think, probably two of the, darkly, best things to happen to her, the Dobbs decision, because she went right out there and started talking about freedom and liberty for women and their choices about their own health care, and then if you tie in Tennessee, meaning the killing of Tyre Nichols, where she went down and spoke at the funeral off the cuff, no notes.
But, more importantly, when she went down on a surprise trip to Nashville and met with the Tennessee 3 and then gave a barn burner of a 20-minute speech, not a campaign speech, but a speech where the subtext was the soul of America, but it was really about freedom and liberty and the ability of the American people to send people to their state legislatures in order for their voices to be heard, and that it is antidemocratic and not right to silence those voices.
You must watch that speech.
If you want to see the real, true Kamala Harris, what drives her, her values, that is it.
And so you put what David said about the president, add that to Vice President -- what I just said about Vice President Harris, and you have a formidable ticket going into 2024.
AMNA NAWAZ: It has been interesting to see.
She was tethered to the Senate for so long, having to stay close and be the tiebreaker.
We're seeing her out and about a lot more now.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right, but between being freed from having to cast a tiebreaking vote... AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: ... but also the pandemic.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Those two things, I think, stunted her ability to really get out there and really own the job.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, this week, we also saw a seismic shift for the most powerful conservative platform in the country.
Prime-time host Tucker Carlson was fired from FOX.
David, what does his ouster mean for the network and for those millions of folks who tuned in to watch him every night?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, FOX is an entertainment network, but it's also a company.
And executives don't like it when you annoy them over and over and over again.
And one has a sense that Tucker was sending e-mails, he was in internal fights, squabbles.
He was going further than they were comfortable with.
And there's one thing we know about FOX is, FOX is bigger than any person FOX.
And so they got rid of Bill O'Reilly.
They got rid of Megyn Kelly.
They will get rid of you if you are -- try to think you're bigger than FOX.
And so they did it.
It was a very bold move.
Their viewership has fallen in half.
And so it -- I was shocked by it.
I thought they'd never do it.
But Tucker has -- he has built, successfully built a very successful thing at doing what he does, and they decided business over pleasure.
AMNA NAWAZ: Were you shocked by the decision?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: I was shocked simply because, you get to the level of Tucker Carlson or O'Reilly, you think they're untouchable, until which time the company says, you are more of a liability than we care to deal with.
What I'm wondering, though, is what impact will Tucker's firing and disappearance from FOX have on the Republican Party?
Will they stand on their own however many feet they have and start articulating a vision for their party and for the country that is independent of Tucker Carlson and FOX?
And I don't know if they even know how to do that anymore.
AMNA NAWAZ: David, does someone else just step into that role?
We have to point out that the lie of the 2020 election being stolen, all of that was -- that was -- Tucker Carlson was one of the leading voices pushing that lie, getting millions of people to believe it.
They still believe it today.
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
Tucker was following in the audience.
He was not leading the audience, in my view.
He was at The Daily Caller before FOX.
He saw what the audience wanted.
He brought that to FOX.
And he represents the -- one version of the Republican future, which is a pure populist vision.
Tucker was very against hedge funds, very against corporations, very against big tech.
He takes the social conservatism and he takes an anti-corporate populism.
And that is one version of the Republican future.
And I think that audience will be there.
And if the audience is there, well, then Tucker will be there on some other network.
And whoever steps in to be the new Tucker will probably be there too.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan, before we go, we got a minute-and-a-half left, and I want to ask you sort of from the White House perspective on this.
We now have, when it comes to the debt ceiling debate, the opening salvo from House Republicans, their spending plan that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has wrangled his conference to get behind.
What do you make of the way President Biden is handling this, saying, no negotiations?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, I think the president is right.
Look, in a perfect world, the president presents his budget, which he actually did last month.
The speaker of the House presents his budget, which he has yet to do.
Instead, he's passed by two votes a spending plan that holds the debt ceiling hostage in order to get it done.
What should be happening is dual-track conversations, a clean debt ceiling bill, while, at the same time, the president with his budget and the speaker with the Republican Conference budget sitting at a table and hammering out all of the things that they want to do in terms of fiscal year 2024.
That's not happening.
And I think the president is right to say: Look, I'm ready to negotiate when you want to negotiate a budget, but I'm not going to negotiate over the debt ceiling.
AMNA NAWAZ: David, I know we're going to be talking about this a lot, but I have another 30 seconds or so.
Anything you would like to say on this?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
No, I think Biden was saying -- I think the Biden people thought McCarthy would never be able to do this.
He thought there will be too many Republican defectors.
McCarthy pulled it off.
It might be nice to split these into two tracks, but Republicans have leverage on the debt ceiling.
That's where you got to meet them.
AMNA NAWAZ: We will be speaking about this a lot more, I'm sure, in the weeks ahead.
David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, thank you so much.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Amna.
DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.
GEOFF BENNETT: A new film, "Are You There God?
It's Me, Margaret" is once again shining a spotlight on Judy Blume, author of the original novel for young readers, and many other books that deal with issues of sexuality and adolescence rarely found elsewhere back when Blume was writing.
The books endeared her to generations of readers, but also brought contention, including bans, that are once again front and center.
Jeffrey Brown has part two of his report from Florida for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
JUDY BLUME, Author, "Are You There God?
It's Me, Margaret": I love petting my books and taking care of my books.
JEFFREY BROWN: In 2023, at age 85, Judy Blume is a bookstore owner in Key West, Florida.
In 1970, she was a restless suburban New Jersey wife and mother, when "Are You There God?
It's Me, Margaret" came out, featuring an 11-year-old protagonist concerned with getting her first period and developing breasts.
The book would change Blume's life.
JUDY BLUME: I was a young writer, and a new - - new writer.
I was young in my life experiences.
I may have been almost 30 when I wrote the book, and I had two kids, I was married, and I was supposed to be grownup.
But, really, I was still growing up.
When that book came out, I was so naive, I think that I didn't even know to be anxious over reviews.
JEFFREY BROWN: What about... JUDY BLUME: I learned that.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: But what about the subject matter?
Were you anxious over putting that into the world?
JUDY BLUME: I was not.
Maybe the publisher was.
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: Many books later and some 90 million copies sold in 32 languages, Blume and her publishers have done just fine.
JUDY BLUME: Did you know there was a movie?
WOMAN: I heard that it's coming out.
JUDY BLUME: Oh, it's so good.
JEFFREY BROWN: But it began, she says, with a simple and, for so many readers, relatable feeling.
JUDY BLUME: I was really writing it from what I remembered, from what I knew to be true.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
JUDY BLUME: I wanted to be normal.
It's not that I wanted to be big or strong or anything.
I wanted to know that I was normal.
That was the big thing.
JEFFREY BROWN: Just normal.
JUDY BLUME: Normal.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
But, I mean, just... JUDY BLUME: Normal would have been good.
JEFFREY BROWN: Normal would have been good, yes.
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: Her books for middle grade and young adults made normal the inner realities and confusions of her characters and her readers.
She also wrote books, including the "Fudge" series, for younger children, and novels for adults, including "Wifey," about an unhappy suburban housewife, not unlike Judy Blume herself in her 30s, and 2015's "In the Unlikely Event," which she called her final book.
Maybe so, but Blume, happily married for 35 years to her third husband, George Cooper, is suddenly in the midst of a mini-renaissance, with the new film version of "Margaret," an upcoming series based on 'Forever," her novel of teenage lovers, and two more in development adapted from her novel from adults, "Summer Sisters," and the "Fudge" series.
There's also a documentary on her life, "Judy Blume Forever," that features celebrity and other women talking of the impact Blume had on their lives.
Over the years, Blume has received thousands of letters from young people looking to her as someone they could confide in.
JUDY BLUME: "Dear Judy, I am in fifth grade and developing.
It is kind of embarrassing."
JEFFREY BROWN: It brought her joy and friendships, but more.
JUDY BLUME: It was a huge responsibility.
JEFFREY BROWN: You felt that?
JUDY BLUME: Yes, I did, especially for all the kids who really needed to let out some kind of serious thing that was going on in their lives.
I went to a therapist, and I said: "You have to help me here, because I want to save the - - I want to save this one and this one and this one.
I have to save them."
JEFFREY BROWN: You felt, personally, you had to save them?
JUDY BLUME: I did.
Yes, I did.
And she said to me: "Your job isn't to save them.
Your job is to be a friend that they can trust and you're there for them.
And that's what you can do."
But, also, we talked about how to try and get professional help for the ones who really needed it and to provide phone numbers and everything.
It was very, very tough.
JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, it wasn't all about traumas.
In 2004, I spoke to Blume after shed been honored by the National Book Foundation for her distinguished contribution to American letters.
You read a very funny letter at the book awards.
Someone asked you to send, what was it, the facts of life?
JUDY BLUME: Oh, please send me the facts of life in number order.
JEFFREY BROWN: In number order.
(LAUGHTER) JUDY BLUME: I love that, yes.
I'm still trying to figure that out.
What is the number order?
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: A more serious issue Blume is still dealing with, actions to ban books by her and others.
According to the free speech advocacy group PEN America, several of Blume's books were banned last fall in school districts in Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, and here in Florida.
Her book "Forever" has been on the American Library Association's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books since 1990.
It's a battle she's fought since the 1980s and the rise of the Christian right.
JUDY BLUME: It was pretty bad then... JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
JUDY BLUME: ... but nothing like what's going on now.
There are people in power who want to control everything.
JEFFREY BROWN: She is fiercely critical of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and new requirements to review books based on a state list of guidelines.
Critics say this has led to removal of books focused on gender identity, sex and race.
One Florida bill would prevent the teaching of or, by some interpretations, even talking about menstruation before the sixth grade, even though studies show many girls first have their periods earlier.
On Twitter, referring to her beloved 1970s novel, Blume wrote: "Sorry, Margaret."
Your reaction to this bill?
JUDY BLUME: Cuckoo.
I don't know.
All of those words and many, many more.
And I hear there are groups around here, and they will say -- this is what I think, this is what I have read -- that we want to protect our children.
We don't want them to read anything that isn't nice.
We don't want them -- you know, everything should have a happy ending.
We don't want -- basically, we don't want them to think.
We don't want them to ask questions.
You know, we just want their lives to be perfect.
Well, that's not possible, because lives are not perfect, and kids have a lot going on.
And you can't control that.
You cannot control that.
JEFFREY BROWN: Her solution, as always, books and more books, what gave her life as a child, writer and now bookstore owner.
JUDY BLUME: That's cardboard Judy.
JEFFREY BROWN: Cardboard Judy.
One thing Judy Blume has never liked talking about, her legacy, too highfalutin for her, perhaps.
But amid this later-in-life reblooming, she had an answer.
JUDY BLUME: I want a stone that says "Are You There God?
It's Me, Judy."
(LAUGHTER) JUDY BLUME: But legacy, having touched lives, I guess.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that's a pretty big thing.
JUDY BLUME: That's a legacy.
JEFFREY BROWN: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown in Key West, Florida.
AMNA NAWAZ: Great interview with a living legend there.
GEOFF BENNETT: Absolutely.
AMNA NAWAZ: Be sure to tune in tonight to "Washington Week" later.
That's going to be hosted by our colleague Laura Barron-Lopez.
GEOFF BENNETT: And watch "PBS News Weekend" tomorrow for a look at the teacher shortage in rural America.
That is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.